Locals fishing from the shoreline rocks
Locals are using the shoreline groins as the perfect fishing spot in 1972.


What comes to mind when you think about fishing? Patience, relaxation, challenge, and memories are a few words often associated with fishing. Fort Matanzas National Monument is surrounded by an abundance of water, creating excellent fishing opportunities! These include the Atlantic Ocean, Matanzas Inlet, Matanzas River, Summer Haven River and the Intracoastal Waterway.

Red drum (redfish), sheepshead, black drum, spotted seatrout, bluefish, and flounder are plentiful.


  • The laws and regulations of the State of Florida apply when fishing at Fort Matanzas National Monument. 36 CFR 2.3
  • A Florida saltwater fishing license is required to fish in saltwater or to possess saltwater species. All waterways surrounding Fort Matanzas National Monument are saltwater.

Fishing Regulations

  • Bait: Bait, except for mullet and shrimp, is not included in bag limits. Saltwater bait: shrimp, mud minnows, menhaden, pinfish, fiddler crab, or mullet. Bait may be taken with hook and line, dip net (not wider than 3 feet / 0.9 m) and cast net.
  • Digging: Collecting plants and animals within the boundaries of Fort Matanzas National Monument is prohibited. This includes such things as fiddler crabs, mole crabs (sand fleas) and driftwood.
  • Closed to Fishing: Fishing is prohibited from all park boardwalks, docks, and from the shoreline above mean high tide within 50 feet of the fort docks.
  • Marine Mammal Etiquette: Manatee and dolphin frequent the area, please keep an eye out. Slow to an idle if observed, but do not approach or molest.
  • Shrimp: Shrimp may be taken by landing or dip net with an opening no larger than 96 inches around the perimeter or cast net with a stretched length no greater than 14 feet.
  • Local Management: Fort Matanzas is located in the NE Red Drum Management Zone in St. Johns County, FL.

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.

Fort Matanzas National Monument Fish Consumption Advisories

Shellfish Closures: Located in the Southern region of St. Johns County on Florida’s Atlantic coast, the waters surrounding the park do periodically receive storm runoff that could negatively affect the shellfishing in the area. Check with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission for updates.

To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.
Southern Puffer Fish washed ashore on the beach
The salty waters surrounding the national monument bring us a wide variety of creatures.  Pictured here is a Southern Puffer Fish that had recently washed ashore.



Aquatic Invasive Species

Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remembered is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch.

Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.

For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the Fish & Fishing website.


Fishing Throughout the National Park Service

We invite you to visit the Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the national park system. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.
Junior Ranger angler Activity Booklet
Junior Ranger Angler Activity Booklet

NPS Photo

Junior Ranger - Let's Go Fishing

Are you ready to earn your Junior Ranger Angler badge?

Follow these easy steps:

  1. Download the booklet and complete as many activities in the book as you can.
  2. Have a parent/guardian review your work and help you celebrate your success.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of this page to print and make your own badge. Web based Junior Ranger books are self-badging only.
  4. You may also contact your favorite park that offers fishing to see if booklets and badges are available. You can find a park on the National Park Service Fish & Fishing website.

Last updated: June 28, 2024

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