Sebastian Florida: Fish Where The Locals Fish - The Fisherman

Sebastian Florida: Fish Where The Locals Fish

Within the Sebastian Inlet there are countless different places to successfully fish and have great results.

Head south this winter to one of the hottest spots in the sunshine state.

During the 2022 through 2023 bidding wars on Long Island homes, my longtime buddy Ned Bowen couldn’t resist and put his house on the market. When all was said and done, he was offered $40,000 over the asking price. He and his wife Claudia owned a home and snowbirded at their Florida residence during the winter months. It didn’t take the couple too much coaxing to sell their Shirley home and make the Sunshine State their new residence. Within a month, the couple packed their essentials, closed on their home, and moved, taking with them their 26-foot Catamaran.

Oddly enough, Ned told me of his winter home several years ago, but what town he told me it was in totally slipped my mind. Once he told me he lived in the town of Sebastian, my jaw dropped to the ground, and my eyes practically popped out of their sockets. “You know you’re in one of Florida’s best-kept secrets in a fishing paradise,” I told Ned. “Hey, anytime you and your wife Liz want to make the trip down here, we have two extra bedrooms, and you are invited to stay as long as you please,” Ned replied. Well, enough said, as the wife and I spent a week with Ned and Claudia. To be quite frank, Ned and I spent very little time with the wives as most of the week was spent on Ned’s Cat, grouper, and snapper fishing and shorebound at the Sebastian Inlet and the surrounding waters for giant snook and redfish. Sebastian is a true fishing paradise without crowds of tourists, making this piece of water a destination for locals and the angler who takes his or her fishing seriously.

Shorebound snook opportunities at Sebastian are very likely and connecting with a jumbo isn’t out of the question either.

Welcome To Sebastian

Sebastian is a city in Indian River County, Florida, at the confluence of the St. Sebastian River and the Indian River. It is two miles away from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also the largest city in Indian River County and the biggest population center between Palm Bay and Fort Pierce. The City of Sebastian is a small fishing village on US Highway 1 on the mainland side of east coast Florida. It has a population of 26,952. It is just about halfway between Jacksonville and Miami and is also about halfway between Vero Beach and Melbourne, although it is a tad closer to Vero.

Sebastian grew into a small fishing village in the 1870s, and it was incorporated as a city in 1923. The Sebastian area has been a popular destination since. Sebastian is directly across the Indian River Lagoon from Sebastian Inlet. The Sebastian Inlet State Park flows water to and from the sea to the Atlantic Ocean and is loved and revered by fishermen and surfers from all over the world. Sebastian Inlet and the entire barrier island off Sebastian are known collectively as the Treasure Coast due to the fact that pirate ships carrying over $500,000,000 worth of gold during the 1800s were never recovered and remain up for grabs to the lucky divers that located the wealth.

Heading out of Sebastian you might come across blackfin tuna. Jigging them up is one surefire way to hook up.

Fishing In Sebastian

Fishing charters in Sebastian, Florida, are ready to take you on an adventure around the area’s many exciting waterways. With the chance to explore lagoons, rivers, reefs, wrecks, and the awe-inspiring Atlantic, chances are you’ll find a real gem biting at the end of your line. There’s a reason this area is called the Treasure Coast, after all. The Indian River and Sebastian Inlet State Park lie just east of the city, and they’re an inshore angler’s dream.

The river’s waters are home to huge “gator” trout, bull redfish, tarpon, and snook. You’ll find these fish inhabiting the inlet, too, as well as tasty flounder. A half-day trip is a perfect introduction to Florida fishing for the novice fisherman, while a full-day trip will suit experienced anglers looking to head offshore for giant grouper, red and lane snappers or spend a day fishing for blackfin tuna, sharks, and albacore to name just a few of a myriad of species possible in the deep blue Atlantic. Further ashore, the blue waters of the Atlantic await. The Gulf Stream lies 40 miles from Sebastian’s shoreline, and this big game playground is full of mahi sailfish, wahoo, and tuna. If you want tasty table fare, a nearshore trip will see you casting a line around reefs and wrecks for snapper, grouper, triggerfish, cobia, and king mackerel. A full-day trip will allow you to make the most of these waters, with some captains offering extended day trips for seasoned anglers.

The author’s line of choice is P-Line Fluorocarbon while doing his closer to shore, light tackle fishing.

Tackle To Fit The Bill

As for tackle, it will vary greatly depending on the species. If you plan to fish the Indian or Sebastian River for speckle trout, redfish, snook, and flounder, pinning gear in the 15- to 19-pound class will suit the rivers just fine. If your reels are loaded with mono or braid, it is paramount to apply fluorocarbon leaders of 12- to 15-pound test. Honestly, I’m a big fan of P-Line fluorocarbon line and I fill the entire spools with the product in 12- to 17-pound test depending on the size of the reel I choose to employ.

An assortment of unpainted and painted jig heads ranging between 1/8 of an ounce to 1 ounce pretty much covers me for most soft body plastics I may choose to bounce along the bottom. The week I was with Ned, I found purple color paddletails did a swell job of keeping the rod bent with trout and redfish. Once the sun rose, the snook took cover inside the mangroves. Instead of trying to coax the snook out of the vegetation, we waited until dark and worked the beaches along Sebastian Inlet, where Albino Shad Bass Assassins and purple Culprits on 1- 1-ounce jigheads did the trick.

If this is your first time fishing Sebastian, I strongly suggest chartering a boat or hiring a guide. If you decide to go with one or the other or both, you can leave your tackle home as both the charter captains and guides supply you the tackle needed to take on the species of the day. A Florida fishing license is required for both residents and non-residents. However a license is not required as long as you are fishing a hired boat. Should you want to fish inside the Sebastian Inlet State Park, a license is required and can be purchased for 3 or 7 days or one year at any tackle shop or online on the Florida FWC website ( Most guides and charter boat captains discourage anyone from bringing their own tackle on board to not clutter the rod holders and the cabin.

During the week’s adventure, we were able to take Ned’s 26-foot Catamaran offshore on a piece of coral reef that had some gag groupers to 15 pounds and a couple of red and lane snappers to 10 pounds. We used beefy sticks and 5/0 Penn Senators filled with 80-pound braid. We also used standard Florida Rigs consisting of a 5-ounce egg sliding sinker slipped on the main line and a barrel swivel at the end of the line to keep the sinker on the main line. Using an Improved Clinch Knot, I tie an 8-foot length of 60-pound fluorocarbon leader to the other end of the barrel swivel. Lastly, at the other end of the leader, I tie on a 5/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook via a Polymer Knot. Finally, the bait of choice was live pinfish, which are superabundant on the reef we fished. All it takes to catch a quick dozen for the livewell is number 8 baitsaver hooks on a hi/lo rig baited with small bits of clam or squid. Send it down on a light baitcaster or spinning outfit, and it is generally lock and load.

There you have it. The truth is if you bleed fishing, a winter trip to Sebastian, Florida, should be on your bucket list to at least mix it these next couple of months before we resume our normal Northeast saltwater fishing activities here again come April.



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