Fishing Sebastian Inlet: All You Need to Know
Jun 16, 2020 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

You probably already know that the city of Sebastian got its name from the hidden Spanish gold said to be buried beneath its waters. However, we think the real treasure here has already been discovered – and it’s the thriving Sebastian Inlet fishing scene

After all, if you’re looking for plenty of diversity on your Floridian angling adventure, what could be better than heading to a location nestled right between the famous Indian River and the mighty Atlantic Ocean? 

An aerial view showing the Sebastian Inlet and how it divides the Atlantic and Indian River

Although it may be small, this inlet packs a big punch when it comes to casting a line or two. Head east, and you’ll come face-to-gills with the ferocious, hard-fighting inhabitants of the Atlantic’s deep waters. 

If inshore fishing is more your bag, you can explore the jetties that line each side of the inlet. A short journey west will lead you to the dreamy mangrove-lined waters of the Indian River, as well as its confluence with the St. Sebastian River. True freshwater fishing is also on the menu, with the St. Johns River’s Stick Marsh just a short car ride west. 

A view of Sebastian Inlet at sunset, with the rock formation from the jetty in the foregrounf

It’s all about variety when it comes to this location, which is surely every angler’s dream. It does mean, however, that trying to plan your adventure can very quickly turn into a mammoth task.

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve outlined our favorite catches in the area, how to fish these waters, and all the rules ‘n’ regs you need to know. Read on and discover the true gems of the Treasure Coast.

Top Catches in Sebastian Inlet

Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to the species on offer here, too. Narrowing down the list is no mean feat, but we’ve given it a go.

An infographic showing the top inshore, nearshore, offshore, and freshwater catches in Sebastian Inlet: Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Snappers, groupers, Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Cobia, Sharks, Redfish, Tarpon, Mackerel, Pompano, Speckled Trout, and Snook

Snook

If there’s one species that is synonymous with Sebastian Inlet fishing, it has to be the hard-fighting Snook. This feisty fish inhabits not only the shallow waters of the Indian and St. Sebastian Rivers, but also the shoreline and jetties of the inlet itself. This fish’s adaptability goes hand in hand with the diverse angling action on offer here.

A Sebastian Inlet Snook fishing excursion isn’t just about quantity, either. Anglers from all over Florida’s Treasure Coast flock to the inlet for one big reason. This species grows to seriously impressive sizes here! The north and south jetties of the inlet have gone down in local legend as the best places to reel in monster fish. They’re equally popular with anglers fishing from a vessel or on foot.

A man and a woman each hold a Snook on board a flats vessel, with the water in the background

May through September is the perfect time to set off on your adventure. Schools of Snook can be found swimming along the frothy shorelines of Sebastian Inlet State Park, winding through the Indian River, and lurking around the jetties.

These voracious feeders are attracted to live and artificial bait alike, and are a light-tackle favorite. More experienced anglers will be thrilled to know that they provide ample fly fishing action. Get ready for the fight of your life!

Redfish

Arguably the most popular inshore game fish around, this species is beloved by anglers all along the Treasure Coast. Why? Not only is it common to hook into huge “bull Red” varieties in Sebastian Inlet, but they can be targeted throughout the Indian River, St. Sebastian River, and around the inlet’s jetties. It doesn’t hurt that they’re serious hard-fighters, either.

Basically every fishery in the Sebastian Inlet area is the Redfish’s playground. Newer anglers can head to the calmer waters of the Indian or St. Sebastian River to try out some light tackle action. Experienced fishermen can explore the more volatile waters around the inlet to battle huge fish.

A man stands on a vessel holding a large Redfish in front of Sebastian's bridge

The quantity of Reds in this area has led local anglers to describe a unique phenomenon when fishing around the jetties. “The Red Waters” happens when a large number of Redfish come together near the surface, and their scales appear to turn the waters a beautiful golden-red. Head here at the beginning of the year, near the inlet’s deeper waters, and chances are you’ll be greeted by a fishery so full of Reds that it seems to change color!

Largemouth Bass

It’s safe to say that this species is the most beloved freshwater game fish throughout Florida. Not only is it the biggest fish in the Black Bass family, but itss intelligent nature makes it seriously fun to target. It truly is a battle of the wits with this fella. 

Even better, you can enjoy testing your skills against this species in the quintessential freshwater environment. Always wanted your fishing adventure served with a heaping of tranquility, stunning natural scenery, and boats lazily drifting across the waters? The Stick Marsh has it all in spades!

A man smiles and holds a Largemouth Bass on the waters of Sebastian

The Stick Marsh has a strict catch and release policy on all Largemouth Bass. This means that this fishery doesn’t get depleted and can be explored for years to come. It also means that there are plenty of Largemouth lurking beneath the waters, just waiting to outsmart you. Whether you’re fishing on the fly or with light tackle, you’ve got your work cut out!

King Mackerel

The Sebastian Inlet’s jetties are home to plenty of ridges and crevices that particularly sneaky fish like to lurk in. None more so than the King Mackerel! Along the Treasure Coast, this fish is commonly known as the regal “Kingfish.” It is game fishing royalty, after all.

Famed for its impressive leaps and explosive runs when hooked, the Kingfish can be found in inshore, nearshore, and offshore waters. It’s especially popular with jetty and pier fishermen in the Sebastian Inlet area. 

A smiling man stands on a boat and holds a large King Mackerel, with the waters of the Atlantic behind him

This species is also incredibly greedy, and prefers to stalk and feed on whatever smaller fish it comes across. This means that anglers don’t have to be picky with their bait, although Kings are especially fond of herring, sardines, shrimp, and squid. 

Something you should be picky with, however, is your choice of tackle. Kingfish have notoriously sharp teeth, and are able to easily chomp through flimsier lines. Using a heavy or braided line is a must. Grab your sturdiest rods and reels and make sure you’re ready for battle!

Mahi Mahi

Thanks to the multiple inshore fisheries directly west of Sebastian Inlet, it can be easy to overlook what lies on the other side – the mighty Atlantic Ocean. We’re not going to make that mistake!

There’s no meandering through various winding waterways in order to reach your chosen fishing grounds. As you’ll be departing from an inlet, you’ll have a straight journey to these famous deep blue waters. And what lies beneath them? Well, there’s the magnificent Mahi Mahi, for starters.

Two men on an offshore vessel smile and hold a large Mahi Mahi

If you had to name one quintessentially Floridian big game fish, chances are the Mahi comes out on top. This fish really ticks every box. It’s seriously tough-fighting, capable of leaping acrobatically through the air, tastes incredible, and makes for a great photo, too. 

Trolling around reefs, drop offs, and surface debris is a popular local technique, and can yield seriously plentiful results. One minute you’re cruising along these azure blue waters, soaking up the Florida sun. Then the reel suddenly starts screeching, and it’s game on!

And the Rest!

If you’re exploring the Indian River, you’ll also come across Speckled Trout, Tarpon, Pompano, Bluefish, and even Spanish Mackerel. Tarpon and Trout can also be found in the St. Sebastian River, with Largemouth Bass also making an appearance. For pure freshwater action, the Stick Marsh is home to plenty of family-friendly Panfish.

A smiling couple sit on board a vessel, holding a Speckled  Trout with the Indian River in the background

The inlet itself offers up Mackerel, Tarpon, Flounder, Black Drum, Jack Crevalle, and Mangrove Snapper. Head further out to nearshore waters, and you’ll encounter Cobia, a variety of Snapper and Grouper, False Albacore, and Shark species.

Along with Mahi Mahi, the offshore waters of the Atlantic produce ample opportunity for a Sailfish or Wahoo battle. Want to encounter huge Tuna or fast-moving Marlin? Head to the Gulf Stream, also known as the “other side.” You’ll get to explore the deepest waters this side of the Atlantic for a catch to really brag about.

How to Fish the Sebastian Inlet

Charter Fishing

Looking to get the most out of your Sebastian Inlet fishing experience? Hopping aboard a local charter boat is the way to go. The shorelines of the inlet are dotted with experienced captains waiting to introduce you to these plentiful waters.

Two men sit on a charter boat on the Indian River

Sebastian Inlet has an extremely varied fishing scene, and this is reflected in the charters on offer here. Want to wind your way down the Indian or St. Sebastian Rivers in search of huge Redfish and Snook? Chances are you’ll be stepping aboard a skiff or flats boats. Your guide will usually pole you across the waters, as you wait for your target fish to make an appearance. 

When it comes to exploring waters further offshore, the jetty is lined with high-powered sportfishing vessels capable of providing a comfortable and safe journey out to sea. They’re usually fully decked out with everything you need for a productive fishing adventure, including high-quality equipment and onboard amenities. Coupled with your captain’s local know-how, it’s the perfect set up for an incredible trip.

On Foot Fishing

How could we possibly write about Sebastian Inlet without mentioning its awesome on-foot fishing opportunities? With jetties to explore, as well as fish-filled shorelines, you can cast your line here without stepping foot on a vessel.

A view of a Sebastian Inlet fishing pier stretching out onto the ocean

Firstly, there’s the Sebastian Inlet State Park’s eastern side, which is home to two jetties located along either side of the inlet. This is where the rich waters of the Atlantic meet the plentiful Indian River. Head to either of these piers, and you’ll find yourself coming face-to-gills with Snook, Redfish, tasty Flounder, and more. 

Anglers can also choose to fish the Indian River itself on foot. The western side of Sebastian Inlet State Park provides access to these waters. It also offers up another way to explore these waters: kayak fishing. Perfectly striking the balance between charter fishing and surf fishing, this technique is a great option for anglers who feel confident in navigating a kayak and a fishing rod at the same time.

Where to Go

As Sebastian Inlet itself is so small, the majority of its fishing opportunities all share the same location: the jetty itself. You’ll find inshore, nearshore, and offshore fishing grounds all within reach, as well as the Indian River. Opt for freshwater fishing, however, and your departure point will change slightly. Basically, there are two locations that hold the key to your angling adventure:

  • Sebastian Inlet State Park: Depart from the eastern side to explore the jetties for inshore and nearshore saltwater favorites, or hop aboard a charter boat for an offshore trip. The western side is the perfect place to begin your Indian River adventure.
  • Stick Marsh & Farm 13: These waters are perfect for freshwater enthusiasts looking for a peaceful day on the water. Sebastian is the closest city to both Sebastian Inlet and the Stick Marsh, so head here to begin your Bass fishing adventure! Local captains departing from this location often provide transport to the fishery, too.

Rules and Regulations

Sebastian Inlet follows the usual Florida state fishing regulations, meaning that if you’re casting off alongside a saltwater charter captain, your license will be covered for you. Fish alone, and you’ll need to purchase a saltwater license.

A sign displaying the words "bait and tackle, fishing licenses"

Fishing the Stick Marsh, or the St. Sebastian River? As these waters are either fully freshwater or contain freshwater species, you’ll need to purchase a valid license, even if you’re fishing alongside a charter captain. We recommend purchasing both a fresh and saltwater license to make sure you’re covered. 

Certain Sebastian Inlet species are subject to strict bag and size limit regulations, which you can read more about on the FWC website. Although this fishery is productive year-round, some species are seasonal. How can you plan your trip around your chosen species? Check out our calendar, and see what’s biting!

Fishing the Sebastian Inlet: A Treasure Trove Awaits!

With freshwater and saltwater fisheries galore, as well as a mind-boggling variety of species to hook, it’s clear to us why Sebastian Inlet is located in prime position along Florida’s Treasure Coast. Anglers from far and wide will be treated to a fishing adventure that’s more than worth its weight in gold. All that’s left is to grab your rods and reels, and start planning. Sebastian Inlet is a real treasure trove, and it’s waiting for you!

An aerial view of a sunrise over Sebastian Inlet, showing the waves crashing against the shore and the pier

Have you ever fished the Sebastian Inlet? What did you catch? Any tips or tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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