Admittedly, I am not a fisherman, but it is exciting for me to see those who are enjoying a beautiful 75 degree March 9th. Sunday afternoon, shore fishing on South Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  Bait buckets, tackle boxes, wheeled cart carriers with not one, not two, but three to five fishing poles of various thickness, and weight comprise the minimum basics for this seashore sport.  Webbed beach chairs, umbrellas, food, water and beer are optional (well maybe not the beer), or so it seems.  

The fishing poles are purposefully planted in the beach in a row or zigzag pattern about five feet from the high tide water mark.  This afternoon, the poles appear to frame the shoreline.  As I walked along the beach my curiosity got the better of me.  I walked past a single fisherman who had three poles lined up and while attentive to the lines he was intently watching the water over the breaking surf. The poles are stationed in PVC pipe for stability, I assume, and while the fishing line easily towers over my head by two or more feet, I dared not to walk under the line. Beach etiquette I think, or fear of being hooked, choked or otherwise tied in knots. I wanted to ask him if anything was biting but hesitated from a rare case of shyness. 



 

Up ahead were two young thirty-something gentleman. My dog Bailey gravitated (pulled me) in their direction and successfully solicited obligatory pats on the head.  They were sporting two poles and were kind enough to let me know about their success in catching two large Whiting.  They said these would be perfect for fabulous fish tacos for dinner.  Waiting for the telltale, albeit, subtle tug by an unsuspecting hungry fish, I asked what was the bait they found most effective. Exuberantly they claimed they were using "Sand Fleas"as bait. Being ignorant of this species and thinking it was a bait that had to be too small (like dog flea size) to be effective, I asked for an explanation and they were happy to show me their catch and bait box. I thought that shrimp were the best bait (or so I heard).  "The benefit of sand fleas is "this bait is plentiful and FREE!" The fishermen explained they purchased a sand flea rake that looks like a modified french fry basket years ago. They felt it was one of their best investments for fishing as they haven't bought bait in years. The rake can be used to collect shells, shark's teeth, and other fossils from the sand or loose dirt. In this case, it is used just at the breaking surf level, best done at low tide and easily captures hundreds of sand fleas (aka mole crabs).

My third encounter with a shore fisherman, now that I was more confident about fishing, was to ask the same questions. The previous gents had told me they thought from their observation from a distance that this fisherman was reeling in a ton of fish. That said, I just had to ask. "What bait are you using?" His reply, was "Shrimp".  He was proud of his catch of three fish and he explained other fish he said he typically caught off shore include pompano, "reds", tarpon, shark, sometimes flounder but the "Whiting are biting today".   I thanked him, walked on a little way further north and turned back.  By the time I reached the two fishermen, I shared that the third fisherman had caught three fish but was using shrimp and therefore their return on investment for just two fish made better sense.  They laughed.  

As I continued my walk back south on the beach, the first fisherman, who was previously intensely gazing over the sea when I first went by, was walking away from the surf. This was my opportunity, out of pure curiosity, I asked him how many fish he caught and what bait he was using.  His answer, three fish all Whiting and shrimp as bait.  He had three poles!  Wondering what the odds are the fish were all caught with one pole or all three?  I did not ask. 

A cost effective pastime, you too can take up this onshore sport, catching dinner for your family and if you didn't use all the bait,  perhaps eat the bait shrimp leftovers as an appetizer before your fish tacos. Plus you can enjoy this right outside your backdoor if you own an oceanfront home.  

Along South Ponte Vedra Beach Boulevard past the Guana State Park are oceanfront homes of various sizes and styles. Prices for direct oceanfront along Scenic Highway A1A are currently starting at $595,000 for a  three bedroom 1044 sq ft bungalow/cottage style house elevated on pilings built in 1975 with 75 ft of oceanfront x 160 ft lot  to a $3,200,000 house concrete  4706 sq ft six bedroom home with 100 feet of oceanfront x 300 ft deep lot buit in 1993. By clicking here you can Find your dream oceanfront home for sale on South Ponte Vedra Beach, 

Kathleen Floryan, Broker Associate, Ponte Vedra Club Realty