Stuart Inshore-Nearshore: June 2022

James Sparkman with a beautiful beach tarpon caught fishing along the outskirts of a large baitfish school just north of the St. Lucie Inlet in 22 feet of water. Caught on a live threadfin herring. Photo credit: Capt. Jonathan Earhart.

Summer fishing patterns are starting to kick into full effect this month. Snook season is now closed but catch and release action will be red hot! Big breeder snook will start to school up around our St. Lucie Inlet. I recommend using heavy tackle with larger leaders, this will enable quick catches and safe releases so that these fish can continue to breed. Large live bait fish such as threadfins, pinfish, croakers, grunts, and pilchards will get the bites.

Tarpon fishing is also picking up along deep-water channel edges in the river. Anchor up and soak live or dead large mullet for extra-large tarpon. I suggest using 60-to-100 pound leaders with 6/0-9/0 2x circle hooks. This will increase your odds of landing these larger fish boat side. Expect a few sharks, large jacks, and the occasional 40-inch snook as by-catch when targeting tarpon this way with a large mullet as bait.

Running the beach nearshore this month can be very productive for sight fishing. Expect to find large schools of bait inside 40 feet of water near any local beach. Fishing the outskirts of these bait schools can produce a variety of predators. Tarpon, snook, cobia, jacks, kingfish, bonito, snapper, African pompano, and the occasional sailfish will be lingering along the outskirts of these baitfish schools. Slow trolling live baits around these schools will produce bites. Lip hooking your baits will provide a natural presentation at slow trolling speeds.

I also suggest having a cobia jig tied on a large spinner ready to cast at any incoming cobia and/or large jack crevalles while slow trolling baits along the beaches around these bait schools. Nearshore reefs and wrecks will hold plenty of goliath grouper if you’re looking to play tug of war with a sea monster. Very heavy tackle recommended, whole bonitos as your bait will get goliath grouper bites every drop. Remember the goliath grouper is still a protected species. This type of fishing is catch and release only, it is prohibited to remove these fish from the water. If obtaining a picture, you will need to get creative with these gigantic groupers while keeping them in the water.

The reefs and wrecks will also hold plenty of snapper, snook, cobia, barracuda, kingfish, sailfish, and even the occasional mahi. Fishing flatlines on the surface will get occasional pelagic opportunities while on anchor bottom fishing for snapper and or goliath groupers. Chicken rigs or long leader rigs will be effective for targeting snapper on local nearshore reefs. Using 40-to-50 pound long leaders (15-to-30-feet in length) with appropriate weight (based on current conditions) attached to a swivel and then the leader with a 4/0-6/0 circle hook with a live or dead sardine as bait will get plenty of snapper action this time of year.

FORECAST BY: Capt. Jonathan Earhart
Chaos Fishing Charters
(772) 341 – 2274

Westley Martin caught a large goliath grouper while fishing nearshore using a Penn International with 400-pound leader, 16/0 circle hook, and whole bonito as bait. Photo credit: Capt. Jonathan Earhart.