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Surf Fishing Seasons


While surf fishing along the Space Coast is a year around activity, the seasons do play a role in species diversity and activity and by knowing what to expect and how to react at any given time of the year your chances of success are greatly increased. Here in Central Florida, the average summer high temperature is about 90°F while the average nighttime low is about 70°F. However we do have times where the daytime temperature can rise into the high 90s with a low in the 80s at night. In winter the averages are 72°F high during the day and 52°F low at night. When a cold front moves through however nighttime lows can drop below freezing with a daytime high in the 50s. Knowing what, when and where to fish during these times can make all the difference.


Surf Fishing along the Space Coast in the "dead of winter" can mean enduring numbing cold one day and warm shirt sleeve weather the next. After a few cold spells have cooled the water a bit the pompano will begin moving out through the inlets and running along the surf. The bluefish and spanish mackerel have been here since the fall. Whiting, margates, black drum and sheepshead are also being caught with the majority of the sheepshead coming from rocky beaches. Winter storms can put the fishing off for a few days, as most of these species prefer clean water. But after the front passes and the water clears a bit they will return.


Spring can be a tough time to fish the surf here due to windy conditions. Unlike the lagoon or various freshwater locations here, finding a leeward shore on the beach is not an option if you prefer to stay on the same continent. By getting out early in the mornings you can usually avoid the windiest conditions. As we move farther into spring the winds will usually subside as the weather warms. When the weather does permit fishing you will find a variety of species in the surf to target. Flounder are returning from their offshore spawning runs and can be found particularly around structure such as the Jetties of Sebastain Inlet, Jetty Park at Port Canaveral, the coquina ridges of the Satellite Beach area, and the Cocoa Beach Pier. Bluefish are beginning their northward migration and the fishing for them should contiunue a while longer. Pompano should still be in the area until the water warms too much for their liking as should the black drum. Whiting and croaker are spread out throughout the surf.


Throughout the Space Coast, whiting and croakers will fill the troughs and cruise along the coquina ridges where they can be easily caught with shrimp cut clams and sand fleas on small # 2 hooks. These fish are a great way to introduce kids (or yourself) to the joys of surf fishing and the normal heavy surf tackle is rarely a requirement unles a tropical storm has roiled things up a bit. While snook can occasionally be taken along all Spoace Coast Beaches, Towards Sebastain Inlet, they can be specifically targeted by fishing a live croaker on a sliding sinker rig. However this is a catch and release fishery at this time as the season is closed. Later around July, tarpon and jack crevalle will make an appearance along with the mullet. Areas of structure such as pilings, jetties and coquina ridges will be holding flounder. As the summer heats up into August and early September most of the fish activity will be before the heat of the day. Probably a good thing because this is also our afternoon thunderstorm season, not the time to be on the beach.


When the mullet are running south on their fall southward migration, the surf fishing can be great. Snook, tarpon, jack crevalle, bluefish, spanish mackerel and redfish will all be in hot pursuit. Expect to see sharks in the mix as well. Meanwhile, the whiting, margate, sheepshead, and croakers are holding their own. Towards November the mullet runs will subside and the snook, tarpon jack crevalle, and redfish fishing will subside. The blues, spanish, whiting, and croakers will remain in the area

Good Luck!

Dean Pettit