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Fishing in Jacksonville: Fish On by Gracie Carter

There’s many reasons why residents of the First Coast and Beaches area choose to drop anchor in our beautiful city. For some they are natives, born and raised in the Greater Jacksonville area. For others, they are escaping the cold and trading in their snow shovels for beach chairs. Whatever the reason, residents of our sunny city have grown to love and thrive on our coast filled with surfing, shark tooth hunting, the beach, golf, boating and fishing.

Center Academy graduating senior, Gracie Carter is one such lover of fishing. Gracie was born and raised right here in Jacksonville Beach and will be attending Flagler College in St. Augustine this fall studying in their Criminology Program. Gracie’s love and passion for fishing the shores in which she’s grown up at rings apparent in her essay submitted to the Ponte Vedra Blog Writing Scholarship but if you’ve come to read essay for tips on where the good fishing holes are, you’ve come to the wrong place; Gracie keeps those under lock and key. You’ll just have to find your own fishing holes! Let’s meet Gracie!

Growing up in Jacksonville Florida, I have been surrounded by fishermen all my life. I wanted to write to you about some of the amazing fishing trips I’ve been on, the types of fish I’ve caught, and the experiences I’ve had with my dad, granddad, and my aunt. My mom doesn’t like to fish, but eats what I catch!!! Fishing for me is like an adrenaline rush when you feel them biting. It’s exciting and a lot of fun.

I’ve been in The Jacksonville Junior Angler Kingfish Fishing and Kingbuster for tournaments for years. I’ve caught a 35lb kingfish, 22lb red snapper, and many other species of fish. I’ve been in other fishing tournaments such as Snapper Slapper, King of the Beach, Old School Kingfish Shootout, Wahoo Shootout, and many more from inshore to offshore tournaments.  I love to fish in my free time and tournaments just make it more fun. I’ve received awards and prizes that include fishing poles, plaques, and even free entries into other tournaments. Fishing with friends is fun, but sometimes it’s better to fish alone in the quiet so the fish don’t get scared off. To fish, you need a lot of patience and a lot of people say you don’t need skill to fish, but you do. You have to know where a certain type of fish could be found based on the coordinates of the ocean and how to cast, tie hooks or put on baits. And if you can’t tie a good knot… not come on the boat.

I’d tell you where the good spots are but then I can’t fish there anymore. Some places that may help are areas that have reefs or rocks like Atlantic Beach‘s, little jetties, in Mayport.  Underwater structures and caves are good places as well. Most fish like somewhere to hide anywhere that may have trees in the water or hanging low over the water. If you’re going in the ocean there are spots that most people know and if you ask some locals they may tell you where you can find the spots. My grandpa’s boat name was the Deep Secret because if you asked him where he caught the fish he would tell you it’s a deep secret and he can’t tell you. 

If you are going to try fishing I would start with inshore so you can get a feel of smaller fish. I would go for redfish; for that, you will need a good pole like an ugly stick. You will then need some blue crabs and they also love those mud minnows or shrimp. Make sure you have live crabs, they work better than dead crabs. Anything that rattles would work best but shrimp or crabs are predatory fish. You can always ask or look up what’s best to use, but those are just a few of my suggestions. When you catch something you should take it to the Mayport boat ramp at the clubhouse. If your fish is the biggest in the category they will put your name on the wall and at the end of the year you get a prize. 

I hope that reading this will make you want to try fishing. It’s a lot of fun and I highly recommend it. Thank you for your time and fish on!

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