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Top Fishing Charters in Ponce Inlet

Fishing in Ponce Inlet

For those wishing to escape the busy crowds of Daytona Beach without sacrificing any of the Space Coast’s notorious sportfishing madness, Ponce Inlet is the place to be.

Known for

Sharing the main waterways with two of the exemplary Central Florida fisheries - Daytona and New Smyrna Beach - the Inlet is, pretty much by design, anything but short of honey holes for backcountry and bluewater enthusiasts alike.

Ponce Inlet fishing charters have an easy access to some of the most versatile and rich fishing in this part of the world - bountiful inshores, bountiful offshores. You can hardly do it wrong here - it’s just a matter of how many days you have to explore the vast fishing opportunities.

As brown pelicans flock around the harbor, so do anglers and fishing enthusiasts line up by the marina to board a vessel and head out for a day to remember. This is where you will see serious fishermen shoulder to shoulder with first time anglers - all hyped about fishing local jetties, inlets, mangrove shorelines, and open waters of the Atlantic.

Ponce Inlet fishing spots

Inshore

The ample oyster bars, ledges, and creek mouths of the Halifax River are ripe with the likes of Redfish, Sea Trout, Snook, Flounder, Pompano, and Black Drum, making this one of the favorite sections of the Intracoastal Waterway for many.

If you want to get Snook in transitory months, then check out the nearby flats come September. This time of the year is when the lagoon produces great Reds, Trout, Tarpon, and Ladyfish.

Jack Crevalle can grow really big around here. Scout the rocky areas and you might be landing a sizeable one. Skinnier waters can also be lucrative. You’re in for some nice reeling action and it’s not uncommon for every single cast to get you a Jack.

The waters around Ponce Inlet bridges are worth checking out. Cast the shrimp into the current and - fingers crossed - you may soon end up with some big Red Drums. November can be especially rewarding. You could be chatting with your buddies and dragging some shrimps across the bottom - and bam!, there comes a savage Redfish.

Trophy fishermen should direct their attention just a bit further down south, where the lush grass flats of the North Indian River Lagoon already serve as home to state records for both Redfish and Speckled Sea Trout.

The Ponce De Leon Inlet is where the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean meet, this transitory spot accounting for some of the most productive summer Tarpon bites around.

The inshore fisheries of Inlet are filled with fish. Don’t be surprised if you get some impressive Red or Black Drums just out of Ponce Inlet on your very first cast. It’s a great starting point for newbie anglers and families with kids. You can stay away from choppier waters and still get the action as if catching some big offshore game.

What can I expect from an inshore trip?

Inshore fishing trips around Ponce Inlet are action-packed and suitable even for less experienced anglers. This makes them a great option for families on vacation  who want to see how fishing works but who need the help of a seasoned captain.

Depending on how long you want to be fishing, you can go for a half day, ¾ day or a full day trip. If you don’t have enough time to be spending the whole day on the water, then a ¾ day trip is a good choice. It’s simply a matter of being there when the fish are.

You will be searching around jetties, mangrove shorelines, flats, and beachfronts, enjoying the scenic waters off this coast of the Sunny State.

As for the price, half day trips cost around USD 450 for groups of four. These rates cover the fishing license, some drinks, and in most cases all the rods, reels, and tackle. Of course, it’s always good to check that with the captain before the trip. Six hour trips are somewhat more expensive and average USD 650.

Full day trips cost about USD 750 for groups of four anglers. Most charters are private - this means you will have the boat to you and your party. Plus you get to decide what you want to be fishing. And don’t worry - if in doubt, your captain will help set the course.

What should you bring? Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, food and drinks, and plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you want to be fishing with your kids, check with captains if they will be supplying all the life vests - most of the time, they do.

Ponce Inlet offshore fishing charters

Nearshore reefs

If you get tired of Redfish action - and trust us, they can be brutes - you should definitely head out and explore other possibilities of Ponce Inlet.

Leave the docks with the first light and savour the sunrise. Some 9 to 12 miles from the dock, around nearshore reefs, incredible muscle-popping action takes place. These reefs are home to Red Snapper, Grouper, Amberjacks, Cobias, and Barracudas. It’s common to get a 20+ pounder from the bottoms.

Just one tip though - you better start hitting the gym before your trip if you want to pull the fish out of the water. They are no joke. Once you reach these fisheries, just watch the boat electronics lit up and you could soon be landing a fish to remember.

The further you go, the more structure you’ll encounter. Venturing offshore, the countless wrecks, ledges, and natural and artificial reefs lie scattered up to 50 miles offshore, providing ample structure for a variety of bottom huggers such as Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, Cobia, and several shark species.

Heading further out

Trolling the area, on the other hand, ensures a run at many of the most sought-after seasonal pelagics, including Dorado, Wahoo, Tuna, Swordfish, Marlin, and many others!

A truly great aspect of Ponce Inlet and other nearby fishing spots is the proximity of the gulf stream. With some variations in the distance, you can expect the warm currents of the stream to be flowing some 20+ miles from the coastline. And this means productive fishing pretty much year-round.

The Party Grounds offer some excellent reef and bottom fishing. These sweet spots lie some 17 miles from the coastline. If you happen to be fishing here in fall, make sure to get your downriggers and jigs ready. Here you can get Snapper as well as some nice reef Sharks.

If you’re hoping to get Wahoo, head north off Ponce Inlet and towards the 120 ft waters. ‘Rolldown’ - the ledge that lies some 45 - 55 miles offshore is amazing and inspires awe around online forums. The depth starts at some 200ft and rolls down to 2000 ft. This means fish!

Sailfish are rock stars of local fisheries. When they show up, the rods go screaming like music. They are caught throughout the year around offshore reefs, some scattered already around the 15 mile mark.

What can I do on an offshore trip?

You can be catching some impressive game fish, that’s for sure. These offshore reefs are crammed with fish. Already past the 10 mile point, you could be fighting an impressive biter. Make sure to have your camera rolling if you want to get memories on tape.

For families with kids, trips to nearshore reefs are a promise of a day well spent. You will get a nice sample of Ponce Inlet fishing without having to tread miles offshore. Make sure to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, sunscreen, a hat, and clothes in layers. If you’re prone to seasickness, best take some meds beforehand.

Now, if you’re a seasoned angler, you should head further out, for some prime time big game fishing. Consider going on a full or an extended full day trip to get the most out of your outing. Looking to expand your collection of trophy catches? Yep, you should definitely head far out.

Full day offshore trips cost between USD 1000 and 1300. An extended trip that runs for 12 hours starts at USD 1600. On these extended trips you will start trolling around 25 miles offshore and move out towards the gulf stream, meaning 40 miles and more. These trips are a feat in themselves, but if you get that fish, they’ll be even more heavenly.

Rules and regulations

No license for fishing is necessary if you’re fishing aboard a guided charter, party boat or other for-hire vessel which possesses a valid captain or charter boat license.

Types of fishing

When you’re fishing hot spots of Ponce Inlet, you want to be fit and well-equipped. These fish are fighters - from Jacks around the inshore flats to Swordfish feeding miles offshore at depths of 200 ft and beyond. This also means you can try out numerous techniques. Ponce Inlet is a poster child of saltwater fishing - fast, diverse, tasty, and surprising. Here’s a look at how you could be fishing.

Inshore

A proven way to get Redfish is to get the boat near a bridge and then present your bait into the current. Shrimps work really well for Reds. Drag the bait around the bottoms. Light tackle will suffice, though sometimes these bulls will give you such a fight that you’d be wishing for heavy tackle.

Where the Reds roam, you can easily find their cousins - Black Drums. They can grow to impressive sizes and will also make their move on shrimp. Artificials work like magic for the Drum family too. Once you feel the line tighten, you’ve got to move fast and reel them in.

If you’re looking for Snook, choose feather jigs. Snook like to play hide and seek, and are an interesting species to fish for, especially if you have kids with you on the boat.

Looking to explore the Tarpon option? Go with shrimps and live mullet. They are best caught in summer months.

Offshore

If you’re fishing the nearshore reefs, jigging for Amberjack and Snapper is an adventure in its own. It’s not easy to lift them from the ocean floor. Here the water is about 60 ft deep and then plummets further with each coming mile. These spots can produce baby Amberjacks that will go for jigging spoons or live mullet. But, Barracuda can also take you by surprise and go for the same bait.

Kingfish will go for sardines, so if you’re thinking about trolling, that’s your weapon of choice.

The shipwrecks at 200 ft deep waters are home to exquisite Amberjacks. Do vertical jigging or do live lining with mullet, and you should be seeing impressive results. These AJs weigh between 40 and 50 pounds.

Some 20 miles off the coast and beyond, trolling produces stunning results. You can get Mahi, Tuna, and Sailfish. Sails will go after ballyhoos and so will Marlin. Fast trolling for them is a nice way to spend your day.

Ponce Inlet
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Ponce Inlet Fishing Seasons

The turn of the year is a great time to get some Flounder, Reds, Trout, Black Drum, and Sheepshead. The inshore waters are crammed with fish. And it’s not that cold.

Still hot action inshore. Reds and Trout are biting well, followed by Black Drums and Flounder. If the weather’s nice, offshore you can fish for Snapper and Grouper.

The first signs of Snook around inshore waterways, with Reds steady on the bite. Trout are putting up a nice fight and you can also snatch some Mangrove Snapper.

You can’t miss Spotted Seatrout. The inshore fisheries are lit and packed with fish. You can also get Sharks and a steady number of Reds.

Lane Snapper offer some fantastic bottom fishing offshore. Closer to the coast, impressive Sea Trout are regularly caught.

Snook action is everywhere, and Reds are close behind. This is also the perfect time for some nice wrecks workout. Bent rods and sore arms with Snapper, Sharks and inbetweeners biting.

Where there’s heat, there’s Spotted Seatrout bite. You can have a great inshore trip and fight these little rascals. Bottom fishing offshore is solid, with Snapper on the chew.

This is the time for some world-class Tarpon fishing. Redfish are crushing mullet inshore. A bit further out, Vermillion and Red Snapper won’t disappoint.

Offshore, trolling for Kings and Cobia is productive this time of the year. You can also get some Bonita, as well as a nice selection of Snapper. Snook is on fire.

Bull Redfish bite is on and fishing is scorching hot. If you want a nice biceps workout, the inshore waterways are the place to be.

Redfish and Black Drum are chewing like crazy. The inshore fisheries are on fire, and even better, Reds are not scared of chilly weather. Flounder are coming in hot.

What a great wrap-up of the year, with Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo on the run offshore. Closer in, you can get King Mackerel, Mangrove Snapper, Triggerfish, and some Snook.

Ponce Inlet Fishing Calendar

What People Are Saying About Ponce Inlet

"Great value - attentive and knowledgeable crew. "

Jon Terry fished with Sea Spirit Deep Sea Fishing on April 6, 2018

Make sure to get a sea sickness patch ahead of time.

"Half Day Trip with Capt Mike"

Skip Barth fished with Sea Spirit Deep Sea Fishing on March 19, 2018

Watch the weather. It is Florida and the rain can come out of nowhere even on a nice sunny day.

"Full Day with Captain Mike"

Kelley Jones fished with Sea Spirit Deep Sea Fishing on March 17, 2018

Get there early to pick your spot on the boat. Call ahead to find out what fish are in season. We caught a ton of beautiful red snapper and a huge grouper but they were both out of season. Take plenty of sunscreen.

"Half day trip"

Greg Colley fished with Strippin Lips Charters - Andros on August 24, 2017

Get on board strippin lips fishing charter.

Top Fishing Techniques in Ponce Inlet

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Ponce Inlet

Cobia

Amberjack

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Nearby Fishing Destinations