Your Guide to Deep Sea Fishing in Jacksonville, FL

Mar 8, 2022 | 7 minute read
Reading Time: 7 minutes

When it comes to casting a line in the First Coast region, deep sea fishing in Jacksonville, FL is some of the best money can buy! There are plenty of things to see and do for anyone planning a vacation in good old Jax, but definitely don’t miss out on the angling action. If you’ve seen everything the River City has to offer on land, you’ll find a whole other world waiting for you out there in the deep blue.

A panoramic view of Jacksonville's coastline.

Those of you with the time and inclination for a deep sea trip will go after the biggest fish around. Fishing out in the Gulf Stream means you’ll be there for most of the day, but it’s worth it. By the end of this article we expect you’ll be chomping at the bit to get in on the action. So without further ado, let’s jump in!

Top Jacksonville Deep Sea Fishing Catches

Whether you’re a novice angler or an old hand at the sport, there’s sure to be something right up your alley in Jacksonville. Be it bottom fish to serve at the table later or various Billfish just for the thrill of the chase, your perfect trip is just around the corner. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular deep sea species Jax has to offer.

Red Snapper

Two smiling anglers hold a Red Snapper they just caught.

Anyone who thinks you need to go further south to enjoy quality Red Snapper fishing is sorely mistaken. Plentiful offshore reefs make these waters an excellent choice for all your Snapper fishing needs. While federal Red Snapper fishing seasons don’t last long, you can fish for them all year long in state waters. On the flip side, the “federal” Snapper are quite literally a bigger prize if you’ve got what it takes.

You know the Snapper fishing is on fire when popular fishing spots start looking like parking lots. Not only do Red Snapper make for an amazing meal at the end of the day, but they are aggressively voracious eaters that’ll jump at anything you present them with. So load up on some squid or minnows and go to town!

Billfish

Four anglers in the water holding a Sailfish they just caught.

If you’re more of a sportfishing type of angler, then you’ll not want to miss out on the excellent Billfishing action in the Gulf Stream. It’ll take a longer trip of some 60+ miles and back, but rest assured it’s more than worth it. With superstars like Sailfish, Blue Marlin, and White Marlin on the menu, you’ll be signing up for a day of unforgettable rod-bending action.

The best time to book a Billfishing trip is the tail end of summer for Sailfish and White Marlin. Blue Marlin fishing peaks a bit earlier, usually around early July. Generally speaking, you should have a good time fishing anywhere between April and October.

Mahi Mahi

Two anglers hold a Mahi Mahi they recently caught on a deep sea fishing trip out of Jacksonville, FL.

Compared to the previous entry on this list, Mahi Mahi are a more convenient target for the aspiring angler. This is because you don’t have to go all the way out to the Gulf Stream to have a chance at reeling in one of these colorful creatures. Couple that with the fact your regular Mahi Mahi is a stubborn fish that’ll give you a run for your money and you’ve got yourself a great introduction to deep sea fishing in Jacksonville.

The ideal time for Mahi Mahi fishing is late spring and early summer. However, you’ll still be able to see these wonderful pelagics at pretty much any time of the year. While your average adult Mahi comes in at around 15–30 pounds, with enough skill and luck you might also nab yourself a 40 pound trophy!

Amberjack

An angler holds up a large Amberjack he caught on a deep sea trip in Jacksonville FL.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the hard-fighting Amberjack. Having so many reefs and wrecks in Jacksonville’s offshore waters means plenty of Amberjack will be ready to jump on your line throughout the year. Fun fact: One of the more popular reefs is even called “Peanut Boy’s Amberjack Hole,” or simply “The Hole.” And when you’ve got several spots dedicated to Amberjack fishing, you know the going is good.

There’s never really a bad time to go out looking for Amberjack as far as Jax is concerned. That being said, if you’re determined to find that dream trophy catch, you’re best served with a deep sea trip in the summer and fall seasons. Feel free to use either live bait or artificials like plugs or spoons—Amberjack are far from picky eaters!

And More

Two anglers on a boat hold a Kingfish they recently reeled in.

We’ve shown you the best Jax has to offer, but there’s plenty of other fish in the deep sea. For the trolling enthusiasts, you’ve got the likes of Kingfish, Barracuda, Wahoo, Tuna, and more. For those looking to do some bottom fishing or deep dropping there’s also plenty of local Grouper you can target.

So regardless of whether you’ll be heading out for a shorter offshore trip or an overnight adventure in the Gulf Stream, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Now that you know what you’re up against, let’s talk a bit about how exactly you’ll be fishing for all these exciting species.

How can I go deep sea fishing in Jacksonville, FL?

One cool thing if you’re a newcomer looking to do some deep sea fishing out of Jacksonville? There are only two main techniques you need to know about. We assume you’ll be fishing with a licensed charter captain so you can count on them to do most of the heavy lifting, but even a little bit of prior knowledge can go a long way.

Trolling

The back of a charter boat showing trolling rods for a deep sea fishing trip in Jacksonville, FL.

Trolling is your weapon of choice for going after pelagic fish. Think Billfish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and others. It involves setting up several lines at the back of the boat and cruising close to where your targets are. Your chosen bait is dragged along, imitating easy prey. When an unsuspecting fish takes the bait and the reel starts screaming, the fight is on!

As far as rods go, expect to use heavier gear on any proper deep sea trip. Because you need the boat to be moving, trolling is something you can do on your way to a location. This allows you to mix things up and make the most of your time on the water. Who knows, you might reel in a hefty catch along the way too.

Bottom Fishing/Deep Dropping

An angler bottom fishing on a deep sea fishing trip in Jacksonville, FL.

At first glance, bottom fishing might seem like a simpler activity than trolling. After all, you just park the boat, cast the line, and wait for the bite, right? Wrong. Do it right, and a good bottom fishing session can be just as action-packed as a day of trolling. The key thing is to settle on a good spot where you’ll reel in fish until your back gives in.

Deep dropping involves the same principles, just with some specialized gear for deeper waters and bigger fish. These are techniques you’ll be using for species like Amberjack, Grouper, and Snapper that inhabit the offshore reefs and wrecks. Seeing one of these huge specimens on a photo doesn’t even begin to describe the actual feeling of holding one in your hands after a drawn-out struggle.

Where to Go Deep Sea Fishing in Jacksonville, FL

A charter boat heads out of St. John's River during sunrise.

One of the things that makes Jacksonville offshore fishing such a popular and enduring activity is the sheer number of reefs and wrecks where you can find good fish. We’ll go over some of the most popular ones and leave it with you to discover the rest:

  • Casablanca: Named after an LST-1 class landing ship that was sunk in 1972, this deep water wreck is a great place for both trolling and fishing the bottom. With depths of around 100 feet, it’s one of the deepest spots on this list.
  • Peanut Boy’s Amberjack Hole: The name should give you a hint of what this spot is all about, but there’s also some Mahi Mahi, Kingfish, and Snapper to keep things interesting.
  • Blackmar’s Reef: With the bottom featuring five wrecked ships, two planes, and a lot of fish, this is one of those spots that are active all year long.
  • Tournament Reef: Named after the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, which financed the sinking of a 225′ freighter to create this artificial reef, there’s something here for everyone. From Amberjack and Kingfish to Grouper and many others.
  • Southeast 16 & 17: Finally we have what’s probably the largest single area on this list. This collection of reefs and ledges spans about three miles, with deeper parts going as low as 110 feet.

Anything else I need to know?

Fishing with a charter means you don’t need to worry about all those licenses, permits, and such. But it’s still a good idea to be aware of some basic Florida fishing regulations. That way you can avoid any nasty surprises and even plan your trip around a specific event like the federal Red Snapper season that usually lasts for only a few days in these waters.

Jacksonville also has a strong tournament fishing scene throughout the year, perfect for the competitive anglers out there. If you’re interested in putting your skills to the test, take a look at what the Jacksonville Offshore Sport Fishing Club has in store this year.

Jacksonville Deep Sea Fishing – Where Florida Begins, Fishing Never Ends

An aerial photo showing part of the Jacksonville Beach area.

Jaxons are a lucky bunch when you see just how good they have it in terms of fishing. Deep sea fishing in Jacksonville, FL is just one part of this equation, but an important one. No matter your age or skill level, there’s an adventure here with your name on it. We hope this article helped you discover what that is and where to find it!

Have you ever fished the deep blue waters out of Jacksonville? Any stories or bragworthy moments to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Leave a reply
NameRequired *
Your comment Required *