NE Florida April Surf Report

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NE Florida April Surf Report


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    • loop-single-reply.php

      April 3, 2023 at 4:31 pm

      Surf fishing has really been picking up along the NE coast of Florida, with more species showing up in the surf as our water temperatures warm up consistently. With the warmer-than-normal winter, we never had a big drop in water temps, and some very hot days gave us a bit of a yo-yo effect in the surf, bringing back the pompano earlier than expected (not that anyone was complaining), and skipping any cold-water tactics we were used to pulling out.

      Now that the festivals are over, I am looking forward to getting out more and fishing. Around the time this posts online, I’ll be fishing my first tournament for the year, and I’m excited to meet more people in our wonderful fishing community!

      This report features great info and tips from an up-and-coming fisherman who is out on the water a lot. He lives in Southeast GA, but spends some good time fishing in the Jacksonville area and southward. Justin Phillips with Leprechauns Coastalfishin (look up leprechauns_coastalfishin on most platforms; on Facebook you can look up his name).

      So without further ado, let’s dive into April’s surf fishing tips and info for NE Florida!


      I’ve been hearing of people catching sand fleas, but they have still eluded me. I have started bringing my sandflea rake with me just in case I spot a colony of them, or even just a few. The pompano and whiting have been biting on them, according to the reports I’ve seen, so if you find them, be sure to put them on the hook. Hook them through the tail to keep those precious eggs in place, and don’t use the larger fleas; pompano can’t really fit them in their mouths too well.

      Justin Phillips reports that ghost shrimp, fresh-dead shrimp, or salted shrimp tipped with Fishbites is doing the most damage on whiting, while sand fleas seem to be the go-to for putting pompano in the cooler. He also mentions that if you are targeting trout, use bait-fish-sized top-water lures or a popping cork with shrimp to get a limit of those keeper-sized trout.

      If you can find good structure, like pier pilings, rocks, or even that lip at the edge of a high-impact beach, you might be able to hook onto flounder in the surf. I’ve started throwing a paddletail or curly-tail Fishbites lure on a jig head when set rigs are dead to try to target those flatties. Justin suggests that you need to bounce that jig slowly on the bottom to get their attention. He also said that once the bait shops start carrying mud minnows, he will switch to those for flounder.

      The larger bluefish have also moved in, and I have been catching them on anything from a double-drop pompano rig to a fish-finder rig with cut bait on it. I’ve been finding them running just in front of the sandbar or in the first trough on a high-impact beach. They sure give a fun fight!

      Weather and Water Temps

      As I mentioned before, our water temps have been like a yo-yo over the last month. As I am writing this, it’s 68 degrees at Jax beach and 69 in Flagler. Less than a week ago it was 65 in Flagler. But the water is gradually warming, which will bring a lot more activity to the surf. I’ve been starting to see smaller baitfish and mullet showing up, but not enough to call it a run yet.
      Our air temps have also been on the rise, and we have had an unusually warm winter and spring so far. Make sure you have a long-sleeved hoodie to shield your skin from burning and be sure to keep hydrated when you’re out there all day. I have to remind myself to take a break here and there to drink fluids and eat a small snack. You never know when you’ll need your energy for a strong fight!

      April Strategy

      Along with pompano, I’ve started to see more reports of redfish being caught in the surf. For Justin, redfish fishing in spring (especially in NE FL and GA) is a totally different creature than any other time of the year. He notes that to target them in spring he will only go after reds in the trough and that 90% of the over-slot or bull reds he has caught were within 30 feet of the sand. To target them, he uses fresh-dead shrimp on a fish finder rig, or a pompano rig made from 40# fluorocarbon.

      As always, make sure you are looking for clean water and good beach structure. Even if you have to drive to find it; get to the cleaner waters. Look for the darker colored water to find holes and cuts and look for whitewash that comes all the way to the shoreline to locate the runouts. Throw on either side of the runout for the best chance of finding those ambush predator fish.

      On a low impact beach where there is a very gradual change in water depth, walking out to the sandbar and casting from there could mean the difference of a full or empty cooler, so don’t be afraid to get your feet and legs wet. Just leave your phone and keys at your cart so you don’t damage them (I’m preaching to myself, lol!).

      And the biggest tip—just get out there and fish! Don’t miss out on this wonderful season of the year with spring fishing. I hope this has been helpful and thanks for reading! Tight lines!

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