The New Smyrna Beach fishing scene is diverse, to say the least. This town on Florida’s eastern coast sits on a barrier island cradled by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Indian River Lagoon on the other. Add the St. Johns River into the mix and you’ve got a freshwater and saltwater angler’s paradise!
With over 30 miles of fishable shoreline, access to the Gulf Stream, and plenty of fishing piers to cast a line from, you’re hard-pressed to find a better location for your next trip. In this guide, we’ll take you through the in and outs of fishing in New Smyrna Beach and show you how to make the most of your time on the water in this colorful beach town.
New Smyrna Beach Fish Species
Like we said, fishing here is diverse – and that applies to your targets above all else. You can easily spend the morning in the backwaters of the Mosquito Lagoon targeting inshore fish, before taking off into offshore waters to hook into pelagic trophies. You’ll fill the cooler while earning your keep against some of Florida’s most notable fish.
No fish in Florida is more prolific than the mighty Tarpon. In New Smyrna Beach, fishing for the “Silver King” is a year-round activity. You’ll hook into juvenile Tarpon, weighing in at between 5–40 pounds, in the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon year-round. The exception is the summertime when these monsters reach adult size and can come in at a whopping 100 pounds.
Sight casting is the name of the game when it comes to Tarpon fishing in New Smyrna Beach. You’ll need heavy spinning tackle and your choice of bait. To really challenge yourself, try to hook one on a fly. Your patience will be tested but you’ll be hooked for life as soon as you experience the thrill of reeling one in!
Redfish and Spotted Seatrout
New Smyrna Beach calls itself “The Redfish Capital of the World.” And it’s no surprise why! The Indian River Lagoon system is the ideal habitat for these tasty fish and challenging competitors. You’ll hook into cooler-worthy Redfish throughout the year. However, most anglers come with another goal in mind – reeling in a Bull Redfish.
These sought-after inshore gamefish are one of Eastern Florida’s best-known exports. Hooking into Bull Redfish weighing in at between 20–50+ pounds isn’t a rare occurrence and requires some serious muscle power. Spinning or fly fishing, live bait or jigs, the choice is yours – these fish aren’t picky.
Bull Redfish aren’t the only big fish lurking in these waters, either. There’s “Gator” Spotted Seatrout too! You’ll hook into smaller varieties of this non-migratory fish year-round, but hooking a 40″Gator requires some extra patience. These fish are easily spooked and a trolling motor or, even better, a kayak is key for staying stealthy.
The Shark bite is hot in New Smyrna Beach. In fact, the nearshore waters are home to one of the largest Shark populations in the nation. Despite their fear-inducing reputation, fishing for Sharks is a great family-friendly activity. The only thing you’ll need to beware of is the arm burn you’ll certainly feel the next day!
You can get your hands the likes of Blacktip, Bonnethead, Hammerhead, and Bull Sharks. Whiting and Bluefish both make for great bait and you can hook into these hard-fighting creatures from the beach or from a boat. Shark fishing is subject to strict regulations, however, and you’ll need to be especially mindful of if you’re fishing from shore.
Saltwater fishing isn’t the only thing on offer in New Smyrna Beach. Florida is home to some of the best freshwater, Largemouth Bass fishing in the nation. The nearby St. Johns River boasts a fantastic Largemouth Bass population, thanks to plenty of tributaries and lakes that are home to thousands of fish.
The best way to get the attention of a Bass is with a shiner or other artificial lure. These fish love to hide in the river’s grassy beds and in between rocks, so luring them out will require some patience. The hard work is well worth the reward, however, and you’re looking at reeling in fish in the 10-pound range.
Mahi Mahi and More!
Some would argue that we’ve saved the best for last. The offshore fishing in New Smyrna Beach truly is fantastic, with the Gulf Stream accessible just 20 miles from shore. You’re looking at hooking into a range of pelagic fish including Mahi Mahi, Kingfish, Cobia, and Barracuda. Head out in the spring and you can even reel in Sailfish and Wahoo!
What’s more, there are plenty of productive nearshore and offshore reefs and wrecks to explore too. Bottom fish for delicious Snapper and Grouper or fight it out with Amberjack on both artificial and natural underwater structures.
How to Fish in New Smyrna Beach
With so many different areas to explore and fish to target, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of ways to cast your line in New Smyrna Beach. From charter boats to pier fishing and beach fishing, we’ve outlined a couple of local favorites.
Charter Boat Fishing
There’s no doubt that chartering a boat gives you the most freedom. Not only will you be able to explore more than one fishing spot, but you’ll also have a knowledgeable guide with you. Your rods, reels, and tackle will be provided and, on saltwater charters, the captain will cover your fishing license.
It’s also your only option if you’re planning to head into New Smyrna Beach’s offshore waters or into the reefs and wrecks. Inshore fishing for smaller specimens can be done from shore, but if you’re looking to reel in Bull Redfish and Gator Trout, don’t skip chartering a boat.
Party Boat Fishing
Anglers on a budget will be happy to know that party boat fishing is a popular choice in New Smyrna Beach. You’ll hop aboard a shared vessel with dozens of other like-minded anglers, which is bound to be a good time.
You won’t have as much freedom or 1-on-1 attention from your captain, but you won’t need to worry about gear or licenses, either. If you’re hoping to spend a couple of hours in the nearshore reefs and wrecks, this is a great choice for you.
Inshore anglers will be happy to know that pier fishing in New Smyrna Beach is easy and accessible. With two causeway bridges to choose from and plenty of piers within lush-green parks, the hardest bit is choosing where to go.
Pier fishing can yield a variety of catches including Snook, Trout, and Black Drum. Chumming for Sheepshead is also popular among locals. Your best bet for productive pier fishing is to head out early in the morning or after dusk, before the tide changes and when there are plenty of baitfish.
Lucky for you, New Smyrna Beach is one of only a few locations in Florida that allows for beach driving. Pack up your gear, pick a spot, and start casting! You’ll catch a real mixed bag of fish in the surf including Pompano, Redfish, Bluefish, Flounder, and Sharks. You’ll need more weight than you think, so be sure to gear up with heavier sinkers.
Kayak fishing is an especially popular choice among anglers looking to explore the Mosquito Lagoon. It’s a sight fishing paradise where you can hook into plenty of Redfish and Seatrout. Stealth is key when sight fishing in shallow waters and your paddles will give you the advantage over a motor.
One thing to remember when kayak fishing is to prepare for the unexpected – especially if you’re heading into open waters. Make sure to have a radio, GPS, phone, and an extra paddle with you in case things don’t go according to plan.
New Smyrna Beach Fishing Spots
The next step in planning your perfect New Smyrna Beach fishing trip is knowing where to go. We’ve highlighted a couple of our favorites spots for charter boat anglers, kayakers, and shore fishermen and women alike.
- Tiger Shoals: “X” marks the spot and, in this case, Tiger Shoals marks the middle of the Mosquito Lagoon. Sight fishing enthusiasts casting from a boat or a kayak will hook into plenty of keeper-sized Redfish and Trout.
- Buena Vista Park: Located east of the North causeway bridge, this scenic spot boasts two fishing piers. The larger extends 250 feet into the Indian River. You’ll hook into everything from baitfish to inshore treasures including Redfish, Trout, Sheepshead, and Pompano.
- Smyrna Dunes Park: This 184-acre park offers both pier and beach fishing. Anglers hoping to cast a line can choose among the 350′ pier facing the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic-facing New Smyrna Beach Jetty.
- Spruce Creek: You’re just as likely to hook into freshwater fish here as you are saltwater fish. Kayak and boat goers will be privy to incredible scenery and catches ranging from Redfish and Flounder to freshwater Bass.
- Rolldown: For big pelagic fish including Sailfish, Wahoo, and Tuna head to the Rolldown. This natural ledge sees the seafloor plummet from 200 to 2000 feet. You’ll need to head at least 40 miles offshore to get here so bear the travel time in mind.
Local Rules and Regulations
The last step in planning your New Smyrna Beach fishing adventure involves making sure you’re following the rules. Below, we’ve outlined some basic information on fishing licenses and fish seasonality to guide you in the right direction.
First and foremost, we need to talk about fishing licenses. Unless you’re saltwater fishing aboard a licensed charter captain’s boat, you’ll need to purchase one. This applies to all anglers between the ages of 16–64.
Going fishing in the St. Johns River? In most cases, you’re responsible for your purchasing your own license, regardless of whether you’re heading out with a charter captain or not.
There are a few local species that are subject to tighter regulations. Inshore, Snook is off-limits between Dec 15–Jan 15 and Jun 1–Aug 31. If you’re going after Tarpon, remember that this fish is subject to strict catch and release regulations year-round.
Fishing the reefs and wrecks? You can target Atlantic Grouper starting May 1. The Atlantic Red Snapper season is usually open for a few days in July, however, this is subject to change annually.
In order to ensure you’re staying up to date with seasonality, bagging, and size limits for the species you’re targeting, it’s best to consult the FWC before heading out.
You’re Ready to Head Out!
By now, we should have convinced you that New Smyrna Beach is the perfect destination for your next fishing trip. Incredible inshore opportunities, rod-bending offshore action, and beaches suitable for both casting and relaxing – this eastern Florida fishery does the “Fun Coast” justice.
Tell us about your New Smyrna Beach fishing experience! Is there anything we missed? Drop us a line in the comments to keep the conversation going.