Your Guide to Stuart FL Fishing

Your Guide to Stuart FL Fishing
Published: Tuesday, February 9th, 2021
Updated on: Monday, March 1st, 2021

Stuart in Florida became a chartered city and the seat of Martin County in 1925. It is located on Florida’s Treasure Coast which was named after the silver and gold found in the area when Spanish galleons were shipwrecked in Martin County around the 1800s. Treasure Coast then became Stuart which was first inhabited in 1870 by non-Native Americans.

Stuart City is named after Homer Hine Stuart, Jr., one of the landowners of Potsdam which was the former name of Stuart. Interestingly, former President Grover Cleveland was said to have put Stuart on the map when he found it by mistake. He and four other presidents -- namely Warren Harding, Theodore Roosevelt, Chester Arthur, and Howard Taft -- loved to fish in Stuart. It was said that Cleveland even managed to capture in Stuart one of the biggest tarpons ever recorded.

Source: StuartLife - The City of Stuart, Florida Official Facebook
Credit: Jonathan J. Schwark

Stuart City is close to the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River, making it one of the most popular small towns to visit in the U.S. It is sandwiched between two cities with bustling crowds. Unlike them, Stuart is a rather quaint and peaceful town with many historical buildings, promenades (the one along the St. Lucie River is very popular), and fishing areas with a smorgasbord of premium species. 

It is famous for its community events highlighting arts and crafts (pottery, in particular), and jazz music. Stuart also houses many parks including Shepard Park, Savannas Preserve State Park, Jensen Beach Causeway Park, Halpatiokee Regional Park, and Flagler Park. Despite these awesome attractions, most people who live in or visit Stuart claim that the best part about this city is its world-class fishing. It is known for fishing not only in offshore saltwater, but also inshore saltwater, and freshwater.

Ranking 126th in terms of population in Florida, Stuart has around 16, 237 inhabitants based on the US Census Board report in 2019.

Stuart City is dubbed as the Sailfish Capital of the World, making it very popular especially for recreational anglers who look for an adventure-filled fishing experience. Moreover, it has numerous fishing charters that can guide anglers -- commercial and recreational alike -- to catch not only Sailfish but also Yellowfin Tuna, Blue Marlin, Swordfish, Mahi Mahi Dolphin, and Wahoo, among others. 


Stuart, Florida Fishing

Stuart’s land area amounts to 8.5 square miles; one-fourth of which is water (2.2 square miles), and the rest land (6.3 square miles). 

Stuart is found south of Vero Beach and north of Palm Beach. This city is known for fishing game fish like Sailfish (See Indo-Pacific Sailfish and Atlantic Sailfish), Yellowfin Tuna, Blue Marlin, Swordfish, Mahi Mahi Dolphin, and Wahoo. Groupers, Snappers, Cobia, and Amberjack also abound the waters of Stuart.

Stuart, Florida - The Sailfish Capital

Sailfish are an interesting species to catch because they are great fighters. They are a popular game fish for anglers due to how they resist being captured. On the other hand, Yellowfin Tunas are abundant all-year-round so they make a good offshore game fish.

Anglers also have fun fishing for Blue Marlin because they are aggressive fighters with powerful attacks and impressive acrobatic-like movements. Swordfish, on the other hand, can be captured either during the day or night. They are challenging to catch because of their incredible speed as well as their weight. Most Swordfish set the scale at 400 pounds or more.

Lastly, Mahi Mahi dolphins or Common Dolphinfish live up to their name (meaning, strong). They are a valuable game fish as well as a commercial source of fish meat. They look beautiful and their flesh is a must-try, making them one of the most sought-after species by anglers. What makes them exciting to catch is how difficult it is to reel them in even with a strong tackle because of their strength and speed.

Many anglers from all over the world come to Stuart, Florida for fishing tournaments. One of the biggest is the Pirate’s Cove Sailfish Classic, a 25-year old tournament hosted by Marina and Pirate’s Cove Resort. This contest is the first out of the three tournaments under the Treasure Coast Sailfish Championship series. Last December 2020, Stuart held its 67th Annual Stuart Sailfish Light Tackle Tournament. In October the same year, Floridan city hosted its 35th Annual Saltwater Sisters Lady Angler Fishing Tournament.


Stuart, Florida Fishing Tips

Stuart is known for offshore and inshore fishing. For the former, many charter boats are available to help you find game fish like Mackerel, Sailfish, and Mahi Mahi. For the latter, it would be best to have a boat and access mangroves, rocky inlets, sandy flats, and grass beds. The Treasure Coast is one of the most popular inshore fishing spots in the world so make sure to savor every fishing moment there!

Nearshore fishing is also making a name in Stuart. The reef along the Bathtub Beach in Stuart is home to several Spinner Sharks, Pompano, and Tarpon, among others. The same fishes as well as Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel can also be fished from the inlets and beaches in Stuart.

When fishing for Sailfish, set your gear in waters as deep as 30 to 65 feet, letting your boat move slowly to allow the leader to swim freely. Use sliced tuna, mackerel, and squid as live bait. The most effective colors of lures for Sailfish are white and bright pink and white and blue color combinations.

Source: StuartLife - The City of Stuart, Florida Official Facebook
Credit: Jonathan J. Schwark

Yellowfin Tuna can be caught by drifting, jigging, casting, or trolling. Casting surface plugs to lure and capture them also works. Fly fishing is not recommended for Yellowfin Tuna, however. For baits, you may use anchovies, blue runners, menhaden, and herring. For Blue Marlin, trolling can be used with a variety of lures. As for live bait, tuna and mackerel can be used.

Swordfish can be caught using deep-trolling. To successfully get one, drop a 15-pound lead with the bait and let it stay at the bottom. A 60foort fast action rod with a 5-7-feet leader can be placed on your lights. Since Swordfish have big mouths, use 9 to 11-inch hooks and a 32-ounce sinker especially if the current is strong.

Lastly, Mahi Mahi Dolphins can be captured using trolling near currents, floating debris, and weedlines. To do that, 30- to 50-pound class reels and rods must be used. For live bait, you can have squid or ballyhoo. Artificial lures are also acceptable. Make sure that you let the bait skip on the water surface to catch the attention of the Mahi Mahi since they love flying fish.


Top 10 Fish You Can Catch in Stuart, Florida

The top 10 fish species that are targeted in Stuart, Florida are Sailfish, Mahi Mahi (dolphin), King Mackerel, Snook, Tarpon, Cobia, Snapper, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, and the Redfish.


Stuart, Florida Seasonal Fishing

In January, anglers can catch Redfish and Speckled Trout inshore using some light tackle. Ten miles from the shore, Wahoo or Sailfish can also be captured. February is the best time in Stuart for capturing Blackfin Tuna and Sailfish since Groupers are not available around this time of year. Near the reefs, fish species like Amberjack, Kingfish, and Cobia can be caught.

In March, anglers may consider looking for Billfish, Yellowfin Tuna, and Mahi Mahi in Stuart waters. For Grouper enthusiasts, April is a good season especially for charter boats going to nearshore reefs. May is the most fun time for anglers since it is during this month that Tuna, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Tarpon can be harvested. Many fishing tournaments also happen around this time. In June, anglers can prepare their gear for Swordfish, and the same species mentioned in May. 

In July, Snook and Tarpon are in abundance, and fishing for them proves to be really challenging and encouraging for anglers. August brings Kingfish and Yellowfin Tuna to Stuart waters, all aplenty and ready to be fished. In September, Redfish can be caught inshore, while Barracuda, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Swordfish, and Marlin can be captured offshore.

October is the peak season for the prized Sailfish that Stuart City is known for. It is also the time for one of the most famed tournaments there which are called the Lady Angler Tournament. November is a pleasant time for fishing Groupers and Snappers. In December, Barracuda, Wahoo, Blackfin Tuna, and Sailfish are in their peak season. They can be caught offshore at this time. The year concludes with the Sailfish Tournament using light tackle.

Your Guide to Stuart FL Fishing Fish species

Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 25 - 63 Pounds

Length: 48" - 96"

Red Snapper 

Habitat: Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 5 - 20 Pounds

Length: 19" - 39"

King Mackerel

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 10 - 20 Pounds

Length: 19" - 72"

Indo-Pacific Sailfish

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 120 - 220 Pounds

Length: 42" - 137"


Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 10 - 80 Pounds

Length: 24" - 79"

Yellowfin Tuna 

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 40 - 150 Pounds

Length: 27" - 94"


Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 12 - 29 Pounds

Length: 16" - 50"


Habitat: Nearshore, Offshore, Reef

Weight: 15 - 35 Pounds

Length: 8" - 100"

Atlantic Sailfish

Habitat: Offshore, Nearshore

Weight: 50 - 142 Pounds

Length: 90" - 124"


Habitat: Onshore, Flats, Backcountry, Nearshore

Weight: 10 - 45 Pounds

Length: 30" - 61"

Common Dolphinfish

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 15 - 30 Pounds

Length: 40" - 83"

Things to do in Stuart, Florida

Source: Florida Oceanographic Society Official Web Page
  1. Fishing and Hunting Charters - Stuart is known for many opportunities for charter fishing and Sportfishing. Some of the known fishing charters are Lady Stuart I Deep Sea Fishing, Catch of the Day Charters, Reel Busy Charters, Native Fishing Charters, Off the Chain Fishing Charters, Safari 1 - Deep Sea Fishing, and Stuart Sailing Charters LLC, among many others.
  2. Stuart Green Market - People who want some fresh produce can go to the heart of the city and explore the Stuart Green Market which is near the City Hall. It is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday.
  3. Downtown Stuart - Promenading across the streets of Stuart is a common activity to do especially that the roads are considered pedestrian-friendly and historic.
  4. Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center - sitting on an almost 60-acre land, this marine life center is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River. It aims to make people especially in Florida become more responsible stewards of the environment.
  5. Elliott Museum - This museum narrates the history of Stuart, Florida, and accompanies the stories with noteworthy artifacts. The museum boasts a collection of stories regarding shipwrecks, rescues, pirates, and World War II.


Beaches in Stuart, Florida

This city in Florida is known for its beautiful beaches not only for fishing a variety of valuable species but also for simple relaxation and recreation. Some of its most famous beaches are:

  1. The Bathtub Reef Beach - People can go snorkeling here and see various crabs and fishes. This beach is also child-friendly.
  2. Stuart Beach - This is known for its boat charters that take enthusiasts fishing for Sailfish.
  3. Santa Lucea Beach - If you prefer privacy, this beach is the top choice.
Fishing Techniques
Drift Fishing
Deep Sea Fishing