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At the intersection of the Saint Sebastian River, the Indian River Lagoon, and the Atlantic Ocean lies what some might call a quiet seaside town. Head out onto the water, though, and you’ll soon find that fishing in Sebastian, Florida is anything but. The combination of the ocean water rushing through the inlet and the constant influx of bait and nutrients from upstream makes these waters irresistible – both for fish and for anglers.
It’s no surprise then that in Sebastian, Florida, fishing has always been a way of life. The first recorded settlement here was a 19th-century fishing village. Indigenous people lived off these waters for centuries before that. Today, people visit the Treasure Coast from all over the world to sample its incredible seafood, explore the untouched nature, and catch some fish. Here’s what you need to know to join them.
What can I catch in Sebastian, FL?
Sebastian sits in the central part of the world-famous Indian River Lagoon. Despite its name, this is actually an enormous estuary, and its shallow waters are home to all sorts of saltwater fish. Hundreds of species run past these shores throughout the year as they cross the Sebastian Inlet to the open ocean. Here are some of our favorites.
The Treasure Coast is famous for its Snook – and for good reason. Sebastian is home to one of the healthiest populations of “linesides” in the world and hosts year-round fishing for this popular sport and eating fish.
Ask ten anglers when the best time to catch Snook is, and you’ll get ten different responses! Starting in May, they spend the summer schooling along the beaches, congregating around the docks and jetties, and getting mixed up in the mangroves. In fall, they join in the frenzy of the annual mullet run, chasing bait around the beaches, jetties, and lagoon shorelines. Winter fishing is still enjoyable, as Snook stick to warmer waters in the lagoon. And, come spring, it all starts up again!
Even though the population is thriving at the moment, Snook has been carefully regulated ever since it came close to extinction towards the end of the last century. It currently has two closed seasons per year – one in the summer and one in winter – and is subject to strict bag limits. But whether you’re keeping or releasing, Snook’s fighting ability will make the chase well worth your while.
Up for a challenge? The “Silver King” will put your fishing skills to the test. Large Tarpon migrate up the Atlantic coast every year, dropping in at Sebastian in the spring and returning in the fall. By the time of the fall mullet run, the Tarpon are enormous, making this the best time to catch a big one off the beaches or in the inlet.
Even outside of these times, Tarpon fishing is still rewarding. Sebastian is host to a population of smaller resident fish who seek out the sheltered waters of the Lagoon and the Sebastian River while they mature. Even though they’re considerably less demanding than a 100 lb giant, they still put up an impressive fight for a fish of their size. Look for them rolling in the shallows and set the hook. But beware, these fish have notoriously hard mouths.
Alongside Snook and Tarpon, the Indian River Lagoon is famous for its Spotted Sea Trout and its Redfish. This is historically one of the best places to catch a “Florida Slam,” when you hook all four of these species in a single day. Look around the backcountry’s grass flats and around the Saint Sebastian River mouth and fish in spring for your best chance of finding the holy trinity.
Venture out of Sebastian Inlet, and your fishing options change dramatically. Monsters of the deep hunt for bait around rock piles and ledges just a few miles from the coastline. That means there are some delicacies waiting for those who make the trip.
There are at least a dozen Grouper species living in the Atlantic around Sebastian and, as a general rule, the deeper you go, the more delicious they get. The sea floor drops relatively rapidly in this part of Florida, meaning you can deep drop for huge Grouper on a full day trip. But even if you don’t have that much time to spare, you still have plenty of options.
Fish over reefs and wrecks at 60–90 feet for a chance of catching Red and Gag Grouper. Go further to the bottom structures around 160–240 feet, and you could be hooking Black and Scamp Grouper. Deep drop around the 800 foot mark, and species such as Warsaw, Yellowedge, and Snowy Grouper start to appear.
Florida’s gentle giants – Goliath Grouper – come right up to the jetties in Sebastian Inlet. But be warned. You’re not allowed to target them in Sebastian Inlet State Park or on the piers. Simply seeing one in the water is breathtaking, and these strict measures will keep them safe for years to come.
Sebastian fishing is just as impressive in freshwater. Just a few miles west of town you’ll find the “Bass Stick Marsh,” which is also known as Farm 13. This world-famous fishing destination is known for its huge Bass population – both in terms of numbers and size. It’s entirely possible that you might catch the biggest Largemouth Bass of your life in this catch-and-release-only fishery.
The best thing about fishing in Sebastian is that no matter when you come, or what sort of fishing you’re doing, something is always biting. Look for tasty Pompano inshore, as well as enjoyable opponents like Ladyfish and Bluefish. Flounder, Tripletail, and Sheepshead all find their way onto lines and then quickly onto the plates of their captors around the jetties and shorelines.
Meanwhile, offshore fishing gives you access to the full spectrum of Florida’s Gulf Stream. Tuna, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, and more are all possible in a day trip. If you can’t find anything to catch, you’re probably not looking hard enough.
How to Go Fishing in Sebastian
There are clearly plenty of fish in the sea around here. But the overall experience of catching them depends on your budget, preferences, and time available. Let’s explore the options you have…
Local knowledge is the secret ingredient of fishing. Hiring a guide on a private boat gives you valuable insight into what’s been biting where in the days leading up to your trip. On a charter, you’ll fish areas that have been productive recently, using techniques that have a track record of working in these parts. It’s an all-round safe option.
Nowhere is that more true than in Sebastian – especially if you’re planning to go out into the open ocean. That’s because most trips start and finish at the inlet.
Compared to other inlets, Sebastian’s is relatively narrow and shallow. That means the currents can be very swift, spelling danger for people who aren’t used to boating in these waters. It’s a good idea to hire a qualified local captain who can guide you through these waters safely.
Party Boat Fishing
If you want the guidance of a charter without the price tag, consider party boat fishing out of Sebastian. This involves joining a pre-arranged deep sea fishing trip on a large vessel that’s been specially adapted for lots of people to fish together at once. Rather than paying for the whole boat, you’ll just cover the price of your own ticket.
While you get considerably less tuition and advice from party boat staff compared to a fishing charter, these trips also get you through the inlet safely and will take you directly to a proven fishing spot. Just be careful not to tangle your line with the person standing next to you!
Sebastian Pier Fishing
Sebastian Inlet State Park is home to two of the best fishing piers on the Treasure Coast: Sebastian Inlet’s North and South Jetties. If you want to experience an amazing variety of fish from dry land, the jetties are the place to be.
Sebastian pier fishing is very popular because hundreds of species of fish pass between these two jetties every year. Most people prefer fishing the North Jetty because it extends further into the ocean and lets you fish both the surf and the inlet sides. This can make it crowded though, so don’t write off the South Jetty as an alternative.
Where to Go Fishing in Sebastian Florida
If you’re feeling spoiled for choice in Sebastian, we don’t blame you. Try any one of these fishing spots, though, and you’ll be in the middle of some world-class fishing:
- The Indian River Lagoon. Fishing the Indian River Lagoon at Sebastian Florida is about as close you can get to a guaranteed good trip. These waters are home to Snook and Tarpon and also host large numbers of Redfish and Trout when the seagrass is healthy. The sheer variety of habitats and fish in this enormous estuary means there’s something for everyone here. The surroundings and local wildlife are incredible, too. Novice or pro, this is our top pick for a failsafe good time out of Sebastian.
- Saint Sebastian River. Fishing in the river can be more challenging than in the lagoon, but it’s all the more rewarding because of it. The further up the river you go, the more beautiful it gets. And fishing the upper river through the St. Sebastian River State Park is magical from a kayak or canoe. Don’t let the tranquil surroundings fool you though. Sebastian River fish species include Bull Sharks, Tarpon, Snook, and Redfish. To test your skills and get away from the crowds, just travel upstream.
- Sebastian Inlet. Whether you’re fishing from a boat or the catwalks or jetties, Sebastian Inlet is the reason most people come fishing here. It’s generally best to time your trip to the inlet around the incoming or outgoing tide. This is when you’ll have the best chance of catching big Redfish and Snook, especially in the fall.
- Nearshore reefs. Just a few hundred yards from the beach, a limestone reef runs south from Sebastian Inlet towards Fort Pierce. This is a real fish magnet, attracting schools of Tarpon, False Albacore Tuna, and big Jack Crevalle. Often frequented by Sharks, this is also a great place to find migrating Cobia. Come in the summer and you’ll catch just about anything here.
- The Gulf Stream. Take a longer trip out of Sebastian, and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most amazing fishing phenomena in the Atlantic. The Gulf Stream is a warm jet of water running through the ocean, taking nutrients, bait fish, and predators up the eastern seaboard. This means Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, Wahoo, and King Mackerel are all possibilities on a full day trip out of Sebastian.
- Stick Marsh: We mentioned Stick Marsh as a prime location for Largemouth Bass. But there’s a lot more to it than that. This 6,500 acre impoundment is also home to Bluegill, Black Crappie, Redear Sunfish, and several varieties of Catfish. With lots of treacherous underwater stumps, it’s safest to fish this lake with a guide.
Sebastian Fishing Tournaments
Come in June, and you can experience the most popular Sebastian fishing tournament – the Sebastian Blue Water Open. This huge fundraising event has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities over the years while also offering a substantial prize pot.
June is also the month for the Indian River Firefighters for Clean Water Offshore Tournament. This partners with Captains for Clean Water to raise awareness of the Indian River Lagoon’s ecosystem. If you’re more into inshore fishing, visit in May for the Love to Fish Inshore tournament.
Sebastian Fishing Rules and Regulations
Almost everyone who goes fishing in Sebastian Florida needs a fishing license. The only exceptions are people under the age of 16 and certain groups of residents, such as those who are over 65 or with severe disabilities.
All legitimate saltwater fishing charters provide licenses for everyone on board. If you’re fishing freshwater or without a guide, you need to purchase a license in advance from the Florida Wildlife Commission.
If you’re planning to fish for Sharks from shore in Sebastian, you need to take a Shark fishing course and get a permit. No matter what you’re targeting, make sure to check the current regulations before harvesting any fish species in the area.
Sebastian, Florida Fishing: A Treasure Trove in Plain Sight
Florida’s Treasure Coast got its name because of a shipwreck that lost untold amounts of gold here hundreds of years ago. People are still searching for the remainder of the ship’s glittering cargo, but there’s something much more special under these idyllic waters. Fishing in Sebastian gives you access to an incredibly diverse ecosystem in pristine natural surroundings. Now that’s something far more valuable than gold. It’s high time you check it out!
Have you been fishing in Sebastian recently? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!
Title: Fishing in Sebastian, FL: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/fishing-in-sebastian-florida/
Published Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2023 16:01:54 +0000