Interested in enjoying the great outdoors after visiting the lighthouse and museum? Give fishing a try. It’s a great way to take in the natural beauty of Ponce Inlet and catch dinner at the same time.
The roots of fishing run deep in Ponce Inlet. The Timucuan Indians established villages along the banks of what is now the Halifax River to take advantage of its abundance of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. 16th and 17thcentury Spanish explorers reported on the region’s excellent fishing opportunities and early Florida settlers relied heavily on the river’s bounty for their survival.
Ponce Inlet’s popularity as a sport fishing destination dates back to the birth of Florida tourism in the late 1800s when wealthy northerners began flocking to the Sunshine State to escape the harsh winters back home. Well-healed travelers staying at the Ormond Hotel and other luxury resorts along the Halifax River soon learned of the excellent fishing to the south and the fame of Mosquito Inlet (later to be renamed Ponce Inlet) grew.
By 1900, the tiny settlement of Ponce Park had become one of the most famous fishing destinations in Northeast Florida. Local residents who knew the waters like the back of their hand made their living as fishing guides, while family-owned establishments like the Pacetti Hotel catered to the needs of affluent anglers who ventured down to the inlet in search of a trophy catch.
Ponce Inlet’s popularity as a fishing destination continued to grow through the mid to late 1900s. Home to numerous fishing camps and resorts, Ponce Inlet became synonymous with fresh seafood which could be purchased right off of the boat at any one of the area's many docks. Many of the fish camps located along the banks of the Halifax River became local landmarks including Meyer’s Fish Camp which was established in 1945 by former lighthouse keeper Edward Meyers.
Ponce Inlet’s fishing tradition continues to this day. Visitors can choose from a variety of angling opportunities right here in town including booking a charter boat that offers full and half-day excursions, casting a line from a 1,000-foot fishing jetty at the mouth of the inlet, surf fishing on the beach, or getting a line wet from the bank of the river or one the Town’s man many public fishing docks. In Ponce Inlet, the opportunities to yell “Fish On” are almost endless!
Bait and tackle can be purchased at any of Ponce Inlet’s marinas, the local 7-11, and other locations. Those wishing to avoid the muss and fuss of cleaning and cooking their own “fresh catch of the day” can even ask one of the local restaurants to do it for them.
If you plan to fish, be sure you are aware of the State’s current saltwater fishing regulations and licensing requirements by visiting the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife website at www.myfwc.com.