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Top Fishing Charters in Stuart

Fishing in Stuart

You’ll see anglers in Stuart, Florida fishing for anything that swims, from the beaches and dock lights to the Gulf Stream offshore. Known by many as the “Sailfish capital of the world,” Stuart is home to just about every game fish you can think of, including Tarpon, Bonefish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna—and yes, Sailfish.

Known For

The local House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is famous for its role in history as a haven for shipwrecked sailors during the 1900s. Stuart continues to welcome sailors and anglers from all walks of life with open arms, whether you’re here to win the next tournament or just testing your skills for the first time.

Come aboard one of many fishing charters here in Stuart, FL and see if you can’t make the Treasure Coast live up to its name.

Stuart Fishing Spots

There are few places in the world where you can enjoy equally superb fishing just seconds from the dock as well as 100 miles offshore, and this is one of them. Stay inshore and fish a vast system of rivers and waterways, or explore a series of beaches and nearshore reefs. With the Gulf Stream just 10 miles from shore, you can even slip past the St. Lucie Inlet and dabble in some world class big game fishing before lunch.

St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon

You’ll find plenty of Stuart charter boats tucked away in the protected waters of the St. Lucie River, many of them in the area known as Manatee Pocket. From here, it’s easy to explore the inshore waterways which flow into the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon. 

Within minutes, you’ll have lines in the water, fishing nearby hot pots like Hells Gate or the docks on either side of Sewall Point (directly across from Manatee Pocket). If heading for the eastern side of Sewall Point, you might follow the coast as far north as Jensen Beach or Fort Pierce while chasing after the best bite.

The inshore waters of Stuart are rich with a variety of game fish, including Snook, Redfish, Speckled Trout, Permit, Flounder, Sheepshead, Black Drum, Bonefish, seasonal Tarpon, and more. Fishing between November and March allows you to target Speckled Trout and Redfish during their peak seasons, whereas summer provides the best fishing for Snook and Tarpon.

Nearshore Reefs

When you’re ready to dip your toes in the Atlantic, just head toward the St. Lucie Inlet for a seamless transition into the ocean’s nearshore waters and reefs. Fishing the reefs just 2-8 miles from shore brings you face-to-face with the likes of Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, Cobia, and King Mackerel.

It’s common to hit Bathtub Reef and other hot spots on your way back from an offshore fishing trip, or to drift past a few while fishing inshore. If you’re intent on making a beeline for the reefs, you can even make a go of it in as little as 3 hours.

With a wide variety of bottom fish to choose from, you can count on a successful day at the reefs year round (weather permitting). Local Snapper species include Lane, Mutton, Mangrove, Vermillion, and Red Snapper, ranging from 1-20 lbs in size. You will also reel in a variety of Grouper species, including Gag, Snowy, Black, Red, and Scamp.

Grouper fishing in Stuart picks up momentum in spring, when the season opens, and reaches its peak in the fall. Snapper fishing stays good year-round, with a peak season for Muttons between late spring and early summer.

While these bottom fish and many others near the reefs make for excellent table fare, keep in mind that some species are closed to harvest at certain times and you may not be able to keep them.

Sailfish Alley and The Gulf Stream

If you came to Stuart for a taste of Florida’s famous deep sea fishing, you’re in luck, cause it’s right around the corner. Here, the Gulf Stream comes within 10 miles of shore, meaning you can catch a Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, or Sailfish in just four to five hours. Once you pass through the inlet, almost every big game fish imaginable will be within reach.

Offshore fishing charters in Stuart are all about trolling, anywhere from 10-100 miles offshore. Half day trips typically stay within 15 miles of the coast, while a full day trip might take you up to 30 miles out.

You can enjoy excellent big game fishing throughout the seasons, with Wahoo and Sailfish peaking in winter months while Mahi Mahi, Marlin, and Yellowfin Tuna are biting most in summer. Bear in mind that deep sea fishing is weather dependent, which often makes summer an ideal time to book your trip.

On the other hand, exiting St Lucie Inlet and heading south along the coast will have you casting lines in the infamous “Sailfish Alley,” a stretch of shallow water where you can land 10-15 Sailfish in a day without losing sight of shore. This endeavor is best pursued in winter, with an experienced and savvy captain at the helm.

...And Beyond

Some local guides also offer extended day trips to “The East Side.” These 10-12 hour deep sea excursions aim for the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream (60-100 miles out), where you can catch Yellowfin Tuna, Blue Marlin, Wahoo, and Sailfish. The best time to target Yellowfin Tuna on one of these trips is between April and August.

But offshore fishing is about much more than these fast-swimming pelagic trophies. Don’t forget, the deep sea is home to some massive bottom fish and one of the most sought-after Billfish in these waters. Deep dropping in 400-2,000 feet of water will bring you an array of juicy, colorful bottom fish. Some captains in Stuart offer special charters for Swordfishing, too, which often involves fishing extreme depths at night.

How Much Does it Cost?

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy this magnificent fishery to the fullest, consider booking one of many private fishing charters Stuart, FL has to offer. This will give you a chance to learn the tricks of the trade from a local, experienced captain while fishing at your own pace. 

Inshore trips last between 4 and 8 hours, with half day trips running from $300-$450 while ¾ and full day trips typically cost $500-$850. Trips on the more expensive end of the spectrum often include some nearshore fishing, as well. Remember that full day trips also give you the chance to explore different honey holes so you can bring home more fish at the end of the day.

Some captains in Stuart offer inshore night fishing charters which focus exclusively on targeting Snook and Speckled Trout by the dock lights. Trips of this sort might last 3-6 hours, ranging from $350-$500. Night trips are usually limited to 1 or 2 passengers.

Many Stuart fishing charters include a stop by the reefs, whether you’re spending a full day inshore or making a quick run out to the Gulf Stream. On occasion you can find trips dedicated specifically to reef fishing, often 3-4 hours long. These charters cost around $400.

Offshore fishing trips start at $500 and make their way up to well over $3,000, depending on where you plan to fish. Half day trips typically don’t cost more than $950. A ¾ day trip might cost between $700-$1,050 depending on how far your captain plans to take you.

Full day offshore charters last 8-9 hours, and these typically go for $850-1,500 to account for fuel cost. You can find some full day trips for $700, but these are likely to keep you closer to shore.

Swordfishing trips cost about $1,500, while extended day trips to the East Side cost around $3,500.

Types of Fishing

Light Tackle and Fly Fishing

If you plan to spend your time in Stuart fishing inshore, you’re in for a whole lot of light tackle action. This technique caters to anglers of any skill level, meaning you can make the trip as relaxing or as challenging as you please. Baits may include live bait, crabs, or lures such as jigs rigged with soft plastic baits (or tipped with live crab if you’re targeting Permit).

Avid fly fishermen will enjoy targeting nearly all of Stuart’s inshore species on fly, from Bonefish and Tarpon to Redfish.

Fishing the dock lights for Snook during the night requires sufficient casting skill. If you don’t plan to fly fish, you’ll need light tackle and a double hull cast.

Reef Fishing

Fishing the reefs calls for anchoring or drift fishing. You can entice various species of Snapper and Grouper by bottom fishing, jigging, or even chumming. These methods and some trolling will also help you land Kingfish and Cobia. Depending on the fish, bucktail jigs, cut bait, or live bait might prove most effective.

If you’re fishing bottom structure offshore, deep dropping in 400-2,000 feet of water will help you land Escolar, Yelloweye Snapper, Queen Snapper, Snowy Grouper, Yellow Edge Grouper, and many other varieties. This method uses an electric reel with a multiple hook rig known as a “chicken rig.” Squid or chunk bait are recommended.

Big Game Fishing

While deep sea fishing in Stuart, you’re likely to spend most of your time trolling for Wahoo, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Sailfish, among others. Your captain will have insights about which baits to use and what speed is best for different target species.

When targeting Sailfish, you are also likely to kite fish with live bait.

Swordfishing in Stuart is typically done at night, when this fish heads toward the surface to feed. You’re likely to set 4 or 5 baits (Ladyfish, Squid, Bonito) somewhere between 75-300 feet below, along with strobe lights to draw your target’s attention. Whether you find yourself looking for Swordfish under the moonlight or by day, this experience requires lots of patience.

Need to Know

Booking a fishing charter in Stuart has many advantages, including the fact that your captain will provide pretty much everything you need—from local knowledge to a Florida fishing license.

In the event that your guide does not provide a fishing license, you can buy one for yourself online or at a registered retailer.

While you’re likely to hook into a wide variety of local species, bear in mind that not all of them are legal to keep. Size and bag limits apply to certain fish, while some are strictly catch and release (such as Tarpon and Bonefish). Others, like Snook and various Groupers, are closed to harvest during specific months.

If you plan on fishing more than 3 miles from shore, it’s important to keep federal fishing regulations in mind. Your captain will help you follow these regulations.

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Stuart Fishing Seasons

Start the year off right with some light tackle action! Winter offers some of the best fishing for Speckled Trout and Redfish inshore. If the weather allows, you might reel in a Wahoo or Sailfish just 10 miles from shore.

Many Grouper species are off limits at this time of year, but you can still enjoy catching Cobia, Kingfish, and Amberjack near the reefs. If you head offshore, this is a great time to catch Sailfish and Blackfin Tuna.

The fishing inshore continues to look promising, while the action offshore is just heating up. Weather permitting, this could be a great time to go after Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin Tuna, and Billfish.

This time of year is usually when the season for Grouper re-opens, turning nearshore reefs into a real hot spot for charter boats. Mahi Mahi and Kingfish are both at their peak. 

May is a great time to be on the water in Stuart, whether you’re tackling Tarpon inshore or trolling the Gulf Stream for Tuna, Wahoo, Marlin, and Mahi Mahi. Keep an eye out for upcoming fishing tournaments.

Everywhere you look, there’s bound to be good fishing. This is the perfect time to head offshore for Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Marlin, Tuna, Swordfish, and more. The reefs and inshore waterways are just as promising.

July is a great time for some hard fighting action inshore, with Tarpon, Snook, and other species at their peak. Or sign up for the Stuart Sailfish Club’s Fishing Classic and bring home some bragging rights!

If you didn’t make it to the Gulf Stream yet, now is the time. Yellowfin Tuna and Kingfish are still at their peak, while your chances of landing a Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, or Swordfish are still strong.

If you’re fishing inshore, this is an ideal time to target Redfish, who will be emerging in greater numbers. Offshore you’re still likely to catch Marlin, Swordfish, Tuna, Barracuda, and Mahi Mahi.

With the peak season for Sailfish and Wahoo picking up, there are plenty more tournaments to come, including the Lady Angler Tournament. Meanwhile, inshore fishing is as good as ever. 

Sailfish season is in full swing, and it’s not a bad time to fish for Wahoo or Swordfish, either. The reefs are still swarming with Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, and more. 

Weather permitting, this is a great time to head offshore. Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna, Wahoo, Kingfish, and Barracuda are all enjoying their peak season. Keep an eye out for the light tackle Sailfish Tournament.

Stuart Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Stuart

"Half day trip with Captain Steve"

John Pellegrino fished with Native Fishing Charters on July 31, 2018

You do not have to be a professional to catch fish.

"3/4 Day Trip"

Patrick Hale fished with Valentine Sportfishing Charters on June 26, 2018

Absolutely great experience for first timers.

"Threer Quarter Day with Captain Fernando Stalker"

Paul Pearah fished with Sea Stalker Charters - Stuart on December 28, 2017

Relax and enjoy the beauty of the area and the experience.

"May fishing trip"

Laurel Cressman fished with Wet-n-Wild Sportfishing on May 10, 2017

Check the time of year, the sea conditions and weather it is a full moon or not.

Top Targeted Species in Stuart

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Cobia

Sailfish

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Nearby Fishing Destinations