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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Florida Fishing: Fort Clinch Pier

Fort Clinch State Park is located on Amelia Island, and it’s a great place to do some saltwater fishing! The main pier is concrete, and it’s about a half-mile long. There are restrooms at the land-end of the pier, and I suggest you take advantage of them before you head out to do some angling. You’ll find plenty of parking in the paved lot. You’ll have to pay to get in the park, but the fee is nominal. There are benches and fish-cleaning stations on the pier for your comfort and convenience, but there’s no shade.

Running past the length of the pier are rocks and a cement jetty that separate the Atlantic from the Cumberland Sound. The rocks and pier pilings attract bait, so predatory fish species show up to dine. Where you want to fish depends largely on what you want to catch. From my numerous experiences fishing on this pier, I’ve found that the best place to catch trout is between the pier and the rocks. For sheepshead and puppy drum, angle around the pier pilings or cast as near the rocks as possible. For tarpon, sharks, and big reds, we’ve had the best luck with casting into deep water off the end of the pier or off the side, into the Sound.

Unless you’re targeting just one specific fish species, take an assortment of baits with you: live finger mullet, fiddler crabs, cut bait, sand fleas, mud minnows, dead shrimp, live shrimp, and/or shrimp mammies. Go prepared! Take plenty of extra line, hooks, and rigs, as you’re very likely to lose several. There are some really big fish prowling these waters! To take everything you’ll need, a pull cart works best. If you’re fishing near the end of the pier, or even from the center section, you won’t want to be running back to your vehicle for fishing supplies.

Check List:

Rods and reels
Extra fishing supplies
Bait
Pier drop net
Sunscreen
Hat, cap, or visor
Cooler and lots of ice
Bottled water or soft drinks
Sunglasses
Fish cleaning supplies
Handi-wipes
Camera

Don’t forget your camera!

You’ll have a stunning panoramic view of the water from the pier, and there’s no telling what you might see. Sometimes huge submarines and ships can be seen from the pier, along with dolphins, sea turtles, and the occasional manatee. You can also see Cumberland Island from the pier, and with a good pair of binoculars, you might even be able to view wild horses on the beaches of Cumberland.

Get a night pass

The pier and park close at sundown, but night fishing is allowed. Just ask for a fishing pass, and you’ll get the code for the gate. The pier has lights for night fishing, but they’re turned off from May through October because of the sea turtles.

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