We’re going to start this off with a bold statement. Fishing in Fort Pierce offers up the perfect illustration of what a quintessential Floridian fishery should look like.
When you conjure up an image of this state, it probably involves plenty of sunshine. Nicknamed the “Sunrise City,” Fort Pierce certainly has this in spades. This beachside locale offers up unbeatable weather, a redeveloped historic downtown, and a perfect mix of fishing grounds. So we think our bold statement is more than justified.
First of all, there’s the prolific Indian River. This waterway is known around the world for its beautiful mangrove-lined shores, as well as the impressive number of fish that call it home. This isn’t where the inshore action stops, though. Fort Pierce also offers direct access to the frothy shorelines of the Atlantic, as well as its world-famous offshore waters. You’ll also find a scattering of natural reefs and deliberate wrecks right off the coastline.
Basically, name a Floridian-favorite species, and you’ll find it in Fort Pierce. Without further ado, let’s see what’s on offer…
What fish are biting in Fort Pierce?
The Speckled Trout is beloved throughout Florida and is often considered to be one of America’s favorite light-tackle game species. It’s also a fun target for anglers of all ages and skill levels, especially in Fort Pierce. The world-record Trout was hooked here, after all.
Head to the grass flats of the Indian River, immediately accessible from this city, and you’ll be greeted by a Trout bonanza. Local anglers recommend exploring these waters during the early morning and at dusk, when these fish come out to feed. It’s an especially popular location with newer anglers and families, thanks to its calm waters and beautiful scenery.
Trout fishing in Fort Pierce isn’t just about the Indian River, though. If you have a competitive streak and want the chance to beat the current world record, head to the nooks and crannies located just east of Fort Pierce. You’ll get to cast your line in the inshore waters of the Atlantic, around the bridges and jetties. This is where Gator Trout thrive.
Speckled Trout feed on a variety of bait fish, and are especially drawn to live shrimp and soft lures. Topwater fishing during “first light” is a tried-and-true technique for hooking ‘em, and is especially productive during the summer months. Head out during this season, and you’ll get to soak up some of that infamous Sunrise City weather, too.
The diverse fisheries around Fort Pierce really lend themselves to some top-notch Snook-chasing action. This hard-fighting fish is a firm favorite along the Treasure Coast, thanks to its feisty nature and ability to adapt to a variety of inshore waterways.
Fort Pierce is famed for its summertime Snook action, and it’s easy to see why. During these sun-drenched months, local anglers often find themselves reeling in this species from the shorelines of the beach. The inlets, jetties, and intracoastal bridges around Fort Pierce also transform into Snook hotspots during fall, with September being an especially productive month.
Unsurprisingly, the Indian River is also a favorite destination for Snook. This species likes to cruise along the mangroves as the gentle tide comes in and out of the river, and can be found lurking around the roots of mangrove trees and grass flats.
Snook are voracious feeders, and are especially fond of dead bait. Mullets are a favorite, as well as minnows, sardines, and herring. Fishing around the inlet? Make sure you bring a sturdy line with you – you’ll have to drop your bait around 15–20 feet deep and battle the current at the same time.
Snappers and Groupers
Is the main aim of your adventure hooking some tasty table fare? The nearshore waters of Fort Pierce are calling, and they’re brimming with plenty of delicious Snapper and Grouper species.
You’ll get to stay within state waters and plumb the wrecks and reefs for some impressive (and delicious!) bottom-dwellers.
Red Snapper is perhaps the most famous Snapper family member you’ll encounter here, and for good reason. It’s a real delicacy, and can grow to impressive sizes! Because of this, it’s pretty irresistible, which means you’ll have to pay close attention to the opening season. Keep up to date with local news and the FWC website and make sure you plan your trip accordingly.
It’s not the only Snapper species on offer in Fort Pierce, though. The reefs and wrecks here are also home to Mutton and Lane varieties, both of which put up an exciting fight and taste great. If you’re looking to introduce your kids to the magic of fishing for their supper, this is a great way to do it. You’ll be able to fill the boat and experience some first-class angling action, too.
Often, where you find Snapper, you’ll also find Grouper. That’s definitely true of this fishery! The nearby Gulf Stream’s current moves around the many underwater structures here, and brings with it plenty of Gag, Red, and Scamp Groupers. With both Snapper and Grouper species, bottom fishing with live bait such as squid, sardines, and octopus yields plentiful results. Make sure you bring some resistant hooks, too – when they bite, they bite hard!
The Gulf Stream curves in towards the coastline right near St. Lucie, which means that reaching the playground of these mighty beasts is closer than ever. We’re talking 10 miles from shore! Once you reach this sweet spot, chances are you’ll start coming across some hard-fighting fish, including the Sailfish.
You’ll be heading out into federal waters in order to battle these beasts. Local anglers recommend trolling with ballyhoo or squid to tempt this beast. You want to bring your fish to the surface of the water. Nothing quite beats spotting the “sail” of your chosen prey slicing through the top of the Atlantic.
Once your Sailfish bites, you’ll be in for a pretty incredible battle, involving plenty of acrobatic leaps. They may be on the smaller end of the Billfish size spectrum, but they more than make up for it in energy. Local anglers recommend snapping a brag-worthy photo, then releasing your catch back into the ocean. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to deprive future anglers of a battle with this beast.
Want to try out a slightly more unique Sailfish-chasing technique? Kite fishing is popular along the offshore waters of Fort Pierce. You’ll be able to spread your bait out over a wider expanse of water. This means you really up your chances of luring in a monster. It’s also a great story to take home with you. How many people can say they tamed a deep sea creature using the humble kite?!
…And the Rest!
Heading inshore? You’ll have the chance to partake in a real Floridian tradition: bowing to the “Silver King.” Yep, Tarpon can be found here, inhabiting the Indian River and inshore coastal waters. You’ll also be able to cast a line for Redfish, as well as Mangrove Snapper and Jack Crevalle.
Around the reefs and wrecks, you’ll come across Cobia, Mackerel, and Sheepshead. Pier fishing the deeper waters for these species is a popular local pastime. Want to move past the 9-mile mark? As well as Sailfish, there’s Mahi Mahi, Tuna varieties, a mix of Marlin, and Wahoo.
How to go fishing in Port Fierce?
If you’re looking to head past the 9-mile mark and explore the playground of big game species, fishing alongside a local charter captain is a must.
Not only will they navigate you to the best fish-filled spots around, but you’ll also be provided with top-quality gear and plenty of local advice. You’ll generally be casting your line from a speedy sport fishing vessel, perfectly built to reach deep waters safely and comfortably.
Charter fishing in Fort Pierce isn’t just limited to offshore fishing, though. It’s also the perfect way to explore the inshore waters of this area, especially the Indian River lagoon system. It looks a lot different to deep sea charter fishing, though.
Chances are you’ll be stepping onto a flats or skiff boat, capable of navigating these shallow skinny waters. Your captain will likely “pole” you across the flats, while you keep an eye out for your target catch.
If you’re fishing for shoreline species in the summer, you’ll have the chance to cast a line from Fort Pierce’s beach. This is as simple as bringing or renting rods and reels, setting them up in the sand, and casting a line from shore. Looking to hook a wider variety of species? Heading to one of the many fishing piers or bridges in this area is a must.
Although on-foot fishing may seem like it’s reserved for more experienced anglers, the beauty of this method is that anyone can do it. You just have to pick the right spot. Fort Pierce is dotted with piers and fishing parks that are a perfect starting point for newbies. You’ll generally be able to rent gear and fish from specified locations, too.
The areas around Fort Pierce’s bridges can see some pretty strong tides and currents. This makes them more suitable for hardened anglers who are used to these conditions.
Although you can explore the Indian River from the comfort of a charter boat, there’s another option out there for anglers with a little more experience: kayak fishing! If your dream fishing adventure consists of you winding your way down a fish-filled waterway, rod in hand, taking in some incredible scenery, this is an unmissable opportunity.
Take it from us when we say that kayak fishing often appears easier to the untrained eye than it actually is! Firstly, you have to either pedal or paddle your kayak along these waters, which can oftentimes be shallow and skinny. Then, you have to combine it with wielding your fishing rod. It requires some serious strength and coordination. If you’re up for the challenge, it provides an experience unlike anything else.
Where to go fishing in Fort Pierce?
With such a wealth of locations to explore, knowing where to start your Fort Pierce fishing adventure can be a little daunting. Below, we’ve outlined our favorite inshore, nearshore, and offshore departure points, as well as let you know why they’re so special.
- Pepper Park Beachside: Located along the shorelines of the Atlantic on Pepper Park Beach, this 52-acre park offers up access to several shallow nearshore reefs that can be fished on foot. You’ll find Tarpon and Mackerel on offer here. There are clearly-designated fishing spots, making it a great option for beginners.
- Fort Pierce Inlet State Park: Located right at the mighty Fort Pierce Inlet, common catches in this park include huge Redfish, Snook, Trout, and Flounder. You’ll be able to fish from land, and there’s also a canoe and kayak launch, too. A local tip: Wildcat Cove is a great spot to explore within the park on foot, and provides access to the Indian River.
- Bear Point Sanctuary Fishing Pier: This location is the perfect starting point for anglers who want to encounter Sheepshead, Snapper, Mackerel, and even Jack Crevalle. It extends around 100 feet into the Atlantic, and also offers departure points for kayakers looking to explore the Indian River Lagoon system.
- D.J. Wilcox Riverside Preserve Fishing Pier: This location also provides direct access to the bountiful waters of the Indian River. You’ll be able to make use of the kayak launch or cast a line from the pier itself. It’s also one of the best places to take in the local wildlife and scenery, too!
- Fort Pierce Inlet Jetties: These jetties are a great option for anglers who want to target bigger fish without stepping foot on a boat. You’ll find Snook here all year round, as well as Tarpon, Mackerel, and even Shark species. There are plenty of places nearby to grab some food, too, and you’ll get a glimpse of Fort Pierce’s fishing village charm.
- Fort Pierce City Marina: This is the go-to place if you’re looking to begin nearshore or offshore adventure. The majority of fishing charters are docked here. Its location means that you’ll have a straight journey right out to the hotspots. No navigating your way through winding waters to reach the open ocean!
Rules and Regulations
If you’re fishing alongside an experienced charter captain, you won’t need to worry about purchasing a fishing license. This will be covered for you. Fishing from a pier or launching a kayak? Rules differ from location to location, but the majority require you to purchase a valid Florida fishing license. Your best bet is to check with the fishing pier or park you plan on visiting, as they’ll have specific rules and regulations.
Some of Fort Pierce’s species are subject to strict seasonality, bag, and size limits. Check with the FWC to make sure that it’s legal to cast a line for your chosen fish during your visit, and make use of our seasonality calendar to avoid disappointment.
Fishing in Fort Pierce: a Quintessential Florida Adventure
It’s got sunshine, it’s got history, and it’s got an impressive mixture of species that you’ve come to expect when fishing in Florida. What more could you want from your angling adventure? No matter whether you’re looking for a delicious dinner, a magical day on the Indian River, or an offshore big game battle, Fort Pierce holds the key to the trip of a lifetime. Grab your rods and reels and come discover what Sunrise City has to offer!
Have you ever been fishing in Fort Pierce? What did you catch? Let us know in the comments below!
December 27, 2022 Dec 27, 2022
Curious if the Blacktip shark migration passes through Ft Pierce and if so, when?
I tag them and usually go to Palm Beach area but am interested in Ft Pierce this year. Thank you
Replied on December 28, 2022 Dec 28, 2022
Thanks for your very good question. Blacktips sure do pass by Fort Pierce on their way south every year, however, you may need to go a little further out towards the Gulf Stream to find them than when fishing further south in Palm Beach. They show up here only a short while before they turn up in Palm Beach, so head out a little earlier during the migration season (late January) for your best bet. I hope this helps.
April 1, 2021 Apr 1, 2021
I am a local recreational fisherman and I only think it fair to point out and admitt that our inshore fishery has seriously suffered in the past 5+ years. When the state release huge amounts of fresh water from lake Okeechobee into our Indian River the algae that accompanied the fresh water blossomed in huge amounts that were Wreaked havoc on our fishery when all of the grass that covered our flats died off and still to this day have not recovered. As a young man our Indian River was stacked deep with all the fish mentioned in this great blog… and to be fair there is still opportunities to catch all species mentioned here but not at all in abundance like years ago or hinted towards in this article. A good charter captain can put you on fish here but it is a lot harder than it used to be and harder than it should be. I only find it fair to acknowledge these facts and even give a little warning to our visitors on what to expect with the fishery. The inshore lagoon is still extremely beautiful and you can spot so much amazing wild life at any given time. Just this week I saw two pink flamingos, multiple manatees and scores of porpoise(dolphin). I believe everyone that visits here would have a wonderful time and pray that the grass returns to our flats and bring the fish back with it.
Replied on April 2, 2021 Apr 2, 2021
Thanks very much for sharing your local perspective. Your feedback is very important and I’m going to slightly amend the article to show that although it’s possible to catch these species in this area, it’s not guaranteed! Really glad to hear that the wildlife is still thriving, and let’s hope this incredible fishery returns to its former glory very soon 🙂
Replied on November 16, 2022 Nov 16, 2022
Pretty sure it was a pink spoonbill
I have seen pink spoonbill but never saw the flamingos in the lagoon. They could be here I just haven’t spotted one
Replied on March 29, 2023 Mar 29, 2023
Fort Pierce is pretty fished out. Don’t get me wrong, people still catch, but it is few and far between. I’m referring specifically to the places where you can fish from shore(a few from the list above). I agree with the comment above that the bloom around 5 years ago has had a huge effect, but there is just so much constant pressure from anglers in these accessible areas anymore, the fish are becoming extremely skittish and wary. I was out on the South Hutchinson fishing bridge (mainland side) last summer in the evening and you could spot tons of huge Snook and Tarpon hiding in the shadow line, but they wouldn’t touch ANYTHING anyone was throwing…no one caught. I think the Snook slot size range needs to be increased on the larger end as well to keep their numbers in check.
Replied on March 29, 2023 Mar 29, 2023
Thank you for reading our blog and chipping in.
Always good to hear the first-hand experience, though it’s really sad to see that Fort Pierce is fished out.
Do you perhaps have any less accessible but prolific alternatives to recommend to our fellow anglers?
March 25, 2021 Mar 25, 2021
Where do you recommend to stay. We would be bringing our boat and need trailer parking as well. Thanks
Replied on March 26, 2021 Mar 26, 2021
Thanks for reading! Good question. You have a lot of boat ramps and trailer parking within the Fort Pierce area, so we’d basically recommend focusing your search around the following areas:
– Stan Blum Boat Ramp. Located right near Fort Pierce Inlet State Park. You’ll find a good selection of vacation rental homes and bungalows within this area. The ramp is also regularly patrolled by security, which makes it a very safe place to park your trailer.
– Village Marina. Located in nearby St. Lucie, along the eastern shore of the Indian River. Again, it’s a very secure location, and there are lots of rental homes along this shoreline.
– Causeway Cove Marina. This marina boasts BnBs, an RV park, direct access to Fort Pierce inlet, and trailer parking for your vessel.
We hope this helps! Come back and let us know all about your fishing trip in Fort Pierce.
February 13, 2021 Feb 13, 2021
I come in from out of state yearly. One item that would be helpful would be a list of piers that have gear and tackle to rent, and which piers have salt water licenses.
I understand ill have to buy a license but my Florida buddy wouldn’t have to if the pier has one.
Replied on February 15, 2021 Feb 15, 2021
Thanks for reading the blog and for your feedback! A lot of Fort Pierce’s piers and jetties don’t actually have gear and tackle rentals available “on site,” which is why we didn’t include this information. However, the area itself is chock-full of bait and tackle shops that offer gear and tackle rental, usually only a short distance’s walk from the piers themselves. A good example of this is the Fort Pierce Inlet, which has a choice of bait and tackle shops to choose from in nearby Fishermans Wharf Marina.
When it comes to whether or not a pier has a fishing license, the general rule of thumb is that state and county run piers have a “blanket” license that allows anglers to fish freely. If your chosen pier has this license, then neither you nor your Florida buddy will need to purchase a license!
However, if the pier you’re fishing from doesn’t have a blanket license, any non-resident needs to purchase a valid saltwater fishing license. Your Floridian friend, however, can fish from any pier license-free due to their resident status.
We hope this clears things up a little! Let us know if we can help you out any more 🙂
Replied on December 16, 2022 Dec 16, 2022
Check out some of the many pawn shops. You can pick up a rod and reel fairly inexpensively. After some experience fishing in the Fort Pierce/PSL area you will become more knowledgeable in what tackle you want to invest in. Also- if traveling, look for a two piece rod, locals have one piece, which are better, but……
October 26, 2020 Oct 26, 2020
Where can you fish with a freshwater license? Is the inter coastal considered fresh or do I have to be on the Indian river?
Replied on October 27, 2020 Oct 27, 2020
Thanks for your comment. Although it’s called the Indian River, this body of water is actually more of an estuary, and you’ll generally target saltwater species here! If you’re fishing the Indian River on foot and are a resident of Florida, you simply need to get the “no cost” saltwater shoreline license (more info here).
In the Intracoastal Waterway, you’ll have the opportunity to catch both fresh and saltwater fish. In waters like this, we recommend that you have both a salt and freshwater license, as you can’t guarantee what will end up on your line.
If you already have a freshwater fishing license and want to fish somewhere near Fort Pierce that is just freshwater, why not head to one of the freshwater lakes just a short drive away? Lake Garcia and the Stick Marsh are two legendary Bass fishing spots in nearby Vero Beach. Then there’s Lake Okeechobee, located just south of Fort Pierce.
We hope this has helped and that you get to enjoy some of Fort Pierce’s excellent freshwater fishing action very soon!
October 8, 2020 Oct 8, 2020
Do I need license to fish the inlets?
Replied on October 9, 2020 Oct 9, 2020
Thanks for your question! Yes, you’ll need a valid saltwater fishing license to fish Fort Pierce’s inlets. If you’re going to be fishing on board one of Fort Pierce’s fishing charters, with a local captain, then the license will be covered for you. If not, you can purchase one online easily.