February 26, 2024

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Hillsboro Inlet: The Complete Guide

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You might have heard of the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse, the brightest lighthouse in the Sunshine State, but how much do you know about the community around it? Hillsboro Beach is a town nestled on a narrow and long peninsula that separates the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway. On its south end, you’ll find the Hillsboro Inlet fishing community, a somewhat hidden gem of Florida’s Gold Coast.

With Pompano Beach just across the Intracoastal Waterway and Fort Lauderdale further down south, Hillsboro Inlet is surrounded by top-notch fishing destinations. So much so that it’s often overlooked by passionate anglers coming to explore the riches of the state’s east coast. Which is a shame, because the inlet provides easy access to any type of fishing your heart desires. Let’s see what makes it so special!

What can you catch in Hillsboro Inlet?

All the popular species of the Gold Coast are biting around Hillsboro Inlet. The area is famous for its premier big game fishing, and there are a lot of charters in the inlet ready to show you just how good the action is. These are the favorite catches of locals and visiting anglers alike.

Snapper

You’ll find different types of Snapper in and around Hillsboro Inlet. They’re always a welcome sight because they’re delicious and fun to target. In these waters, you can run into Mangrove, Yellowtail, Mutton, and Red Snapper. You can target them for most of the year, but spring and summer are best.

Two fishermen on a charter boat, one holding a big Mutton Snapper, the other standing behind him, with blue skies and water in the background
Photo taken by Reel Addiction Charter Service

Out of all the species listed, Yellowtail and Mutton Snapper are the most common catches around the inlet. People love targeting them because you can catch your limit while staying close to land. What’s more, they grow big here! You’ll find some of the chunkiest Yellowtail Snapper in Florida right here, and the same goes for Mutton Snapper. Red Snapper are available in the summer, but much further offshore.

Snapper fishing in Hillsboro Inlet is a great choice for families and beginners. These fish aren’t finicky, they’re always hungry, and they’re not too difficult to reel in. This makes them the perfect first catch for kids. Freelining for Snapper is quite productive, especially if you use shrimp, silversides (shiners), and Bonito chunks to get their attention. After the trip – and with a few Snapper on ice – you’ll get to enjoy some of the best-tasting fish out there!

King Mackerel & Wahoo

If you’re on the prowl for the speedsters of the deep, then Hillsboro Inlet’s fishing grounds have got just the thing! King Mackerel and Wahoo are among the most commonly caught species, both offshore and closer to land. Kings are at their best during the late fall and winter, though they’re available year-round. Summer is the optimal time to go after Wahoo.

An excited man in a cap and sunglasses standing next to a boy on a charter boat, with the man holding a big Wahoo, as the wake of the boat is visible behind them
Photo taken by It’s Never Enough Sport Fishing

Easily one of the all-time favorite catches in the area, Kingfish are sure to give you a run for your money. They religiously follow schools of Spanish Mackerel and feast on them whenever they get the chance. That’s why Mackerel strips are the best way to get a Kingfish to bite. They usually weigh up to 30 pounds, but there are monster 50-pounders swimming around, too.

When it comes to Wahoo, you’ll need to go to waters that are at least 200 feet deep. Wahoo congregate around reefs and wrecks, where they can feed on ballyhoo and flying fish. Use these as bait, as well as bonito strips, and you’re almost guaranteed to get a hit. The peak of the Wahoo season is around the full moon in July and August every year. They’ll be biting like crazy, and you could even land a 70 lb specimen if you’re lucky!

Mahi Mahi

Also known as Dolphinfish, Mahi Mahi are the bread and butter of Hillsboro Inlet anglers. These bright-colored fellas are the full package – gorgeous, bodacious fighters that also happen to be super tasty. Spring and summer are the best time to target Mahi Mahi, just bear in mind they prefer the bluewater as their playground.

A smiling man with a beard on a charter fishing boat holding a big Mahi Mahi, with rods trolling in the background, along with cloudy skies
Photo taken by Killin’ Time Charters

Mahi Mahi, on average, weigh around 20–30 pounds, but there’s always a chance to hook into a lunker that’s twice as big. You’ll need to travel at least 10 miles offshore to get to them, and the further you go, the bigger they get. It’s not unusual to stumble into a school of Mahi Mahi when you’re fishing for Billfish in over 1,000 feet of water.

These guys travel around in groups, so multiple simultaneous catches are always a possibility. Mahis hunt around flotsam and weeds, because that’s where their food hides. Squid is the preferred offering for these ferocious acrobats, but flying fish will do the trick nicely as well. When in doubt about what to fish for, Mahi Mahi is always a good choice!

Billfish

The Hillsboro Inlet fishing scene is remarkable in many ways, and it owes a lot of its glory to the magnificent Billfish that congregate in the bluewater. Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, and Swordfish are the ultimate catches of the Gold Coast, each more exciting than the last. Fall and winter are the best time to chase all three species and be successful.

Three men sitting on a fishing boat, holding a big Sailfish they caught, with two smiling women sitting in front of them and blue skies in the background
Photo taken by Reel Floridian Fishing Charters

The ultimate challenge of avid deep sea fishers is the Billfish Grand Slam. In one day, you need to catch and release a Sailfish, Blue Marlin, and a Swordfish to get this coveted honor. For Sailfish, you need only head to the so-called Sailfish Alley, where you can battle the fastest fish in the ocean. They weigh around 50–70 pounds, they’re as acrobatic as a fish can be, and they’re incredibly strong.

The same thing goes for Marlin, only they can grow to be ten times heavier than Sailfish. Yes, they can grow to well over 1,000 pounds! The sweet spot for these fish is usually 1,000+ feet, where they spend time around deep canyons. You’ll need a full day trip to get to them, and when you find Mahi Mahi, Marlin are usually not far away.

Swordfish thrive in similar depths as Marlin, only they stick to the bottom, where they feed and grow to over 100 pounds. However, there are specimens that weigh five times that, and even more! Swordfishing during the day is possible, but it requires strong bottom fishing equipment. Night fishing for Swordfish can be excellent because these bad boys come closer to the surface to feed. And that’s when the fun begins!

Blackfin Tuna

The list of game fish you can catch from Hillsboro Inlet is impressive, with Blackfin Tuna easily being one of the top catches. You can hook into these beauties practically all year, but spring is their time to shine. They’re a staple of South Florida’s fisheries, and they don’t back down from a fight once hooked.

A smiling middle-aged man in a cap and sunglasses standing on a charter boat, holding a Blackfin Tuna, with blue skies and open waters in the background
Photo taken by Local Fishing Charters

Blackfin Tuna are significantly smaller than their Yellowfin and Bluefin cousins, but that signature Tuna fighting stamina remains. On average, they weigh from 15–25 pounds, but in spring, there are 30-pounders out there. During their migration, they move erratically, so you can’t really pinpoint the ideal depth for finding them. In general, you should aim for waters that are anywhere from 100–300 feet deep.

But finding Tuna is only a part of the equation, now you need to get them to bite. Blackfins have incredible eyesight, so it’s not easy tricking them into taking your offering. Trolling, kite fishing, and vertical jigging all work well. Live bait is a must on a Tuna hunt, especially goggle eye, sardines, and pilchards. Hit the water during low light and cast your lines around reefs and wrecks – these are the Blackfin Tuna honey holes.

How to fish in Hillsboro Inlet?

Hillsboro Inlet’s fishing opportunities will wow you, no matter when you come. As you can see, deep sea action is the main focus, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have other options. Here are some ways to explore the waters of the inlet.

Hillsboro Inlet Fishing from Shore

A fisherman standing on a sandy beach holding on a fishing rod and looking away from the camera, with a soft surf coming in

Maybe you don’t have the time or the budget to go out into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t worry, you can have a lot of fun in Hillsboro Beach and Hillsboro Inlet without ever leaving land. You can hook into some good fish in the surf (on beaches where fishing is allowed) or go to the Intracoastal Waterway for a change of pace.

There are jetties jutting into the inlet, from where you can target Pompano, Snook, Redfish, and more. Around the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge, there’s some good Spanish Mackerel, Mangrove Snapper, and even Tarpon. Cast a line in the Intracoastal waters, and you can add Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, and Jack Crevalle to the list.

Hillsboro Inlet Fishing with a Charter

We’ve already established that Hillsboro Inlet is a great starting point for all types of fishing, but navigating it on your own can be intimidating, not to mention disappointing. If you don’t know where the fish are, it will be hard to enjoy the action. That’s where Hillsboro Inlet fishing charters come into play.

A center console charter fishing boat close to a marina, with a couple of kids holding their fishing rods, while the charter captain waves at the camera
Photo taken by Reel Stubborn Fishing

There are many advantages to coming out with a professional guide, especially on fishing grounds as productive as these. Whatever your angling appetite is, there will always be a captain who can make it happen.

Pick a 4 hour trip that will put you on inshore and nearshore waters or be bold and go for a longer expedition near the Gulf Stream. Half day options are enough to get a taste of the fishing, but for the big game, our advice is to book a full day on the boat. Want to target a specific species? No problem, there are charters that run specialized trips for bottom fishing, Goliath Grouper, Billfish, and Mahi Mahi. For the ultimate deep sea adventure, there are multiday trips to the Bahamas.

Hillsboro Inlet Party Boat Fishing

Maybe you’re coming to the area on your own but still want to go boat fishing. If that’s the case, reserving a spot on a local party fishing boat might be the right choice for you. There are pros and cons to going fishing with 20+ people you don’t know, but if you’re on a budget, then going out on a party boat is a good option.

A group of anglers standing on a dock, holding several fish they caught while fishing on the boat that's visible behind them
Photo taken by Local Fishing Charters

Bear in mind that most party boats only offer half day trips, which is enough to explore the inlet. That’s plenty of time to get on some Snapper, King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Pompano, and much more. The crew provides all the gear you need, as well as local expertise. They won’t be at your disposal as much as on a private charter because there are many people on board that also want their attention. Party boat fishing can be productive and a lot of fun as long as you don’t mind a crowd fishing around you.

Hillsboro Inlet Fishing Spots

So you’ve come to Hillsboro Beach and you’re ready to cast your line, but where do you go? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few of the best fishing spots around Hillsboro Inlet that are worth your time.

A view of the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse, with a jetty in front of it, a sandy beach and clear waters surrounding it, and blue skies in the background
  • Hillsboro Inlet Park: This is one of the best shore fishing spots in Hillsboro and Pompano Beach. You’ve got docks right under the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge from where you can fish for Mangrove Snapper, Snook, and even an occasional Tarpon.
  • Intracoastal Waterway: On the other side of the bridge is the ICW, which has a relaxed vibe and solid fishing action. You’ll have the opportunity to go after Snook, Reds, Snapper, and Mackerel here. 
  • Hillsboro Inlet South Jetty: Move away from the bridge and soon you’ll find the South Jetty. Because there’s a lot of underwater structure here, you could hook into Jacks, Parrotfish, Snapper, Barracuda, and Snook.
  • The Reef Tract: If your plan is to go offshore and you’re looking for a mixed bag, this could be one of your stops. The tract is separated into outer, inner, and middle reefs, each of them holding lots of Snapper, Cobia, Grouper, Mahi Mahi, and King Mackerel.
  • Sailfish Alley: Only a few miles from Hillsboro Inlet you’ll find Sailfish Alley, which needs no introduction. Not only can you battle Sailfish pretty much any time of the year, but you’ll also encounter all kinds of game fish, including big Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Snapper, and Grouper.

Hillsboro Inlet Fishing Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of Florida and text that says "Hillsboro Inlet Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a dark blue background

When you start planning your fishing trip, the first thing on your to-do list should be checking the local fishing regulations. Thankfully, the FWC makes it easy for you to figure out what licenses you need, as well as creel limits. If you’re a solo angler, make sure you have a valid Florida fishing license before you start exploring the local fishing potential.

If you book a trip with a guide, you don’t need to worry about licenses, everything is included in the trip’s price. Remember that some species are highly regulated in Florida, so discuss this with your captain. They’ll let you know what you can expect and what you need to bring so that you can make the most of your angling escapades.

Hillsboro Inlet’s Fishing Opportunities Are Open to You

A jetty on Hillsboro Inlet with clear blue waters surrounding it and the Hillsboro Lighthouse in the background on a clear, sunny day

There are countless noteworthy fishing destinations in Florida but, as you can see, Hillsboro Inlet should definitely make your to-visit list. Tapping into the inlet’s potential will open up a whole new fishery for you – only minutes away from the famous Pompano Beach. This Gold Coast gem is a treat for beginners and seasoned anglers alike!

Have you ever fished in Hillsboro Inlet? Do you have any advice? Is there any additional information your fellow anglers should know? Let’s talk in the comments below.

The post Hillsboro Inlet Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Andriana
Title: Hillsboro Inlet Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/hillsboro-inlet-fishing/
Published Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2023 10:32:00 +0000

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