Because of all the shallow water and extreme tidal range, kayak and canoe fishing are huge in northeastern Florida. In fact, there’s a great website dedicated to kayak anglers at www.Jaxkayakfishing.com. They also have the largest kayak tournament in the country here May 15-16 and you can find out more about that event at www.JacksonvilleKayakFishingClassic.com.
A lot of anglers in my region fish from kayaks, and probably the most popular area is the Guana River State Park at Ponte Vedra Beach, which is midway between St. Augustine and Jacksonville Beach. The area close to the dam where you launch starts out as saltwater, but it turns brackish and eventually into freshwater the farther up-river you go.
Most of the people who kayak and canoe here are fishing the saltwater stuff, targeting monster spotted seatrout and redfish. A lot of guys will launch at the Guana Dam, which is a really nice place to launch, and you have the lake which is freshwater on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway which is saltwater on the other side.
There’s a huge advantage to using a kayak or canoe in my region, because we have all these canals and creeks that get really shallow and have sandbars that you can get past in a normal boat, but can easily portage in a kayak or canoe. That lets the anglers get to areas that aren’t getting a lot of fishing pressure, so the fish are a lot more aggressive.
Another area that’s used a lot for kayak and canoe fishing is Pelicer Creek on the Mantanzas River, which is near Faver-Dykes State Park. The rent canoes there and have an outstanding area to launch.
Then on the other side of the creek there’s a place called Princess Place Preserve which also rents kayaks and canoes and has a great launch. There’s all these little canals and creeks in those areas that you can get in and out of with a kayak but not with a boat. If you run aground or the tide goes you, you can just get out of the kayak and slosh through the mud until you get to deeper water.
Unlike a lot of areas in southern Florida, there’s not a lot of anglers that launch from the beach that fish out of kayaks or canoes. There are a few guys that launch on the beach out of Marineland and tarpon fish around the pogey schools out of kayaks in the summer months, but for the most part the best and most popular kayak and canoe fishing in my region is inshore. We’ve got some great inshore fishing, and with tides that can be 9 feet or more, there’s a huge advantage to fishing out of a shallow draft boat that you can get out of and pull across a sandbar or shallow area. Once you get to the other side, it’s just you and other kayaks or canoes that have access to those fish.
Captain’s Tip of the Week #8 Kayaks & Canoes - 2015
Chevy Florida Insider Fishing Report