This time of year, the fishing offshore can be a little tricky because of the weather. As you know we don’t have true seasons in North Florida; we just have frequent cold fronts which brings wind and rain. These conditions make the ocean rough so you have to pick your days between these systems. If you can get offshore, the fishing is really good, depending on what you go for. From now through April is the best time to fish for wahoo. They can be caught high speed trolling with large lures or trolling skirted ballyhoo from 120-1000 feet of water. The high speed trolling seems to be the preferred method for most North Florida fishermen for the simple fact you can cover a lot more water in a shorter amount of time.
The bottom fishing from 125-165 feet is the best for vermilion snapper, triggerfish, grouper, amberjack, red porgy, mutton snapper and mangrove snapper. The best baits for these fish are squid, cut bait, spanish sardines, and cigar minnows.
Inside 125 feet we can start expecting to see the black seabass migration any time. Along with the sea bass, you can catch vermilion snapper, grouper, some triggerfish, ringtail porgies, and plenty of red snapper that will have to be thrown back.
Inshore the sheepshead bite has been phenomenal. Live shrimp and/or fiddler crabs around rocks and piling in the St. Johns River and Intracoastal Waterway. Light spinning or casting combos with no more than 20lb test is best. You need a light tip when sheepshead fishing, but you’ll need some backbone in your rod to bring them to the boat since they are fighters!
Inshore bite for black Drum is picking up along with some speckled trout, yellow mouth trout, and even some pompano along the beach and river.
People always ask, “when is the best time to go fishing?” My answer is always, “when you get a chance to go”. Don’t forget to take a kid fishing with you. It builds character and creates lifelong, healthy hobbies!