Recreational and sport fishing describe fishing for pleasure or competition. Recreational fishing has conventions, rules, licensing restrictions and laws that limit the way in which fish may be caught; typically, these prohibit the use of nets and the catching of fish with hooks not in the mouth. The most common form of recreational fishing is done with a rod, reel, line, hooks and any one of a wide range of baits or artificial lures such as spinners or 'dry flies'. The practice of catching or attempting to catch fish with a hook is generally known as angling. In angling, it is sometimes expected or required that fish be returned to the water (catch and release). Recreational or sport fishermen may log their catches or participate in fishing competitions.
Big-game fishing describes fishing from boats to catch large open-water species such as tuna, sharks and marlin. Sport fishing (sometimes game fishing) describes recreational fishing where the primary reward is the challenge of finding and catching the fish rather than the culinary or financial value of the fish’s flesh. Fish sought after include marlin, tuna, tarpon, sailfish, shark and mackerel although the list is endless.
Saltwater fishing is, of course, the main type of fishing available on and around Amelia Island. Charter boat captains are happy to spend a half-day or all day assisting with backwater fishing around the island or deepwater fishing out into the Atlantic Ocean. Charter fishing captains are available in many locations on Amelia Island. Most of them can be found or contacted at the marina in downtown Fernandina Beach, at the foot of Centre Street.
Once you know the rules and regulations, and choose not to take a charter fishing trip, it's time to set the line in the water and find some fish. Amelia Island and surrounding areas are a treasure trove of fishing spots, both freshwater and saltwater. Surf fishing also is popular along the beaches. On the south end of the island, Amelia Island State Park and the bridges extending from it, expand fishing fun to a completely new level. Record-setting fish have been caught here, and the fishing well seems to never runs dry.
At Amelia Island Plantation, catch-and-release lakes of freshwater offer a myriad of opportunities to spend quality time with family and friends. The naturalists at the resort will help children or other beginners learn to fish on hour-long fishing trips to a small lake on the property. These trips, and the naturalists, are available to the public and not just to the resort’s guests. Other small lakes and ponds on the island provide freshwater fishing as well. At Fort Clinch, fishing is available from the pier that extends ½ mile into the Atlantic Ocean, and Amelia Island State Park at the south end of the island includes George Crady Bridge.
At Cumberland Island, anyone 16 or older must possess a Georgia Fishing License to fish. Visit www.gofishgeorgia.com for more information. Anglers enjoy numerous fishing opportunities including stream fishing for trout, bobbing for Blue Gill and Bass in freshwater lakes, shore and deep sea fishing, and gathering shrimp and crabs from the marshes. With literally miles of beach, Little Talbot is a surf fishing paradise. The list of species caught in the surround surf and tidal streams beach is long and include excellent fishing for bluefish, striped bass, redfish, flounder, mullet and sheepshead. Check with the ranger at the gate or strike up a conversation with one of the regulars; either should know what is biting and where.
The coastal salt marsh on the "back" side of the island offers superb light tackle angling. From tailing redfish to bottom hugging flounder, ambushing trout to hard pulling black drum, you are sure to find something to "stretch your string." For fishing and boating enthusiasts, Big Talbot's boat ramp is the gateway to bountiful fishing grounds. The deep-water ramp has a floating dock that provides easy access to the Intercoastal Waterway, Nassau Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean. The ramp is located on the north end of Big Talbot, and carries a $4.00 launch fee per boat. Remember to file a float plan and ALWAYS carry proper communication and safety equipment!
With the large tracts of saltwater marsh that surrounds Big Talbot Island, it is unquestionably a prime area for fishing. With a little luck and skill whiting, redfish and speckled sea trout are just a cast away all year long. During the spring and fall, fishers can catch baitfish and shrimp in many of the creeks and along the shoreline. A morning canoe trip through the marsh can easily result in an evening fish fry. Fly-fishing has become very popular throughout the islands as "tailing" reds venture onto the flats during the fall and spring flood tides. Launch a boat from the north end of Big Talbot island (just off the south end of Amelia Island) to fish and tour the salt marsh. The north end boat ramp and parking lot also provide access to the south end of the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier. Amelia Island State Park also offers access to the bridge. The state charges $2.00 per person for pedestrians to fish off the bridge.