When it comes to planning a fishing vacation with your buds, the key is picking the right spot – and there’s no better place than the “Sailfish Capital of the World.”
They don’t call this region of Florida – the city of Stuart and the neighboring barrier island of Hutchinson Island – the sailfish capital of the world for nothing. The waters here, particularly during the fall and winter months, become flush with the coveted sport fish that is said to be the fastest in the ocean (it’s been clocked at 70 miles per hour). But the fishing doesn’t end with this one prized species or during that one main season. Year-round, there’s always something biting, including snook, tarpon, redfish, snapper, mackerel, and more. That means if you’re a group of experienced anglers, Hutchinson Island is your place to indulge in a fishing vacation frenzy at any time, from deep-sea charters to inlet fishing with plenty of great places that will cook up your catch.
Where to Stay
Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa isn’t just the newest addition to the Opal Collection family, it is also the first new hotel to be built on the island in almost two decades. So in addition to a wide range of fishing opportunities in the area, you’ve got the resort’s waterside restaurant, two pools, and Jacuzzi at your fingertips. Each of the 178 oceanfront rooms feature marble countertops, walk-in showers, and coastal décor that blend seamlessly into the view of the Atlantic right outside the balcony doors. The best way to accommodate everyone in your fishing vacation crew is by blocking off a wing, booking as many rooms as needed, and making it into a private little home away from home.
Start from Shore
Located at the south end of Hutchinson Island, just a few miles from the resort, Sailfish Point offers some of the best fishing from the beach and the inlet thanks to lush seagrass beds that harbor hundreds of fish species, including snook, tarpon, and mangrove snapper (between the months of April and October). Just make sure you arrive prepared (there are several tackle shops in Jensen Beach alone, including Snook Nook, North Fork Bait & Tackle, and West Marine).
If you haven’t caught anything yet, but are still looking to get hands-on with fresh fish, head to the Multicultural Asian Market Oriental Food Grocery Store in nearby Stuart. Sure, they carry noodles and tea and all kinds of unfamiliar candies, but in the back room, there’s a lot more going on. Chef Ben Wongprom – the owner and head chef at Stuart’s celebrated Krua Thai restaurant – conducts a range of cooking classes that focus on traditional styles of Asian cooking, with a whole section devoted to the art of sushi. Your group will master everything from California rolls to tempura shrimp to nigiri.
Deep-Sea Fishing with the Best
Highly rated as one of the best deep-sea fishing charters on the Treasure Coast, Lady Chris is owned by two local brothers – Cole and Zach Hazellief – who grew up fishing these waters. Their boat, launching from nearby Fort Pierce, comfortably seats up to 47 anglers for both full- and half-day trips any day of the week. Snapper, kingfish, triggerfish, grouper, and mahi-mahi are common catches brought home.
If curious about the other marine species that call this area home, the Florida Oceangraphic Society, a 57-acre marine life center in Stuart, offers special programs that allow you to get up close and feed stingrays in their tank (don’t worry – their barbs are clipped) and fish in their on-site lagoon. The surrounding one-mile nature loop that takes you out to the Indian River lagoon and back is the place to learn about a common marine wetland habitat: the mangrove swamp.
Ideal Inlet Fishing
With its placid waters, the shallow estuary of the Indian River is more like a saltwater lake than a river. The area is home to trout, reds, snook, and a multitude of smaller fish and is known to locals as one of the best trophy fishing areas around. Borrow fly or light tackle gear from Hutchinson Shores Resort and rent a skiff from Treasure Coast to spend the day on the water to see who in your group can make the biggest catch.
Cook Your Catch
Sit back and enjoy one of eight specialty mojitos at Cobb’s Landing while they cook up your catch. With outdoor seating and live music most nights, it’s a local favorite, so call ahead to make arrangements for after your fishing excursion or, better yet, have the social event concierge from Hutchinson Shores call for you so you can taste your victory any way you like it – blackened, fried, pan seared, or grilled.