Indian River and Sebastian Inlet |
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HomeDestinationsIndian River and Sebastian Inlet

Indian River and Sebastian Inlet

Country: United States
District: Sebastian, Florida
Type: Coast

Location size
Coast: 8 km

Distance from
Orlando: 148 km
Miami: 280 km

Florida States Park Website

This is tidal fishing, which affects what species the angler will fish for and when. A few kilometers north and south of the Indian River offers "inshore" fishing. Going out from the Sebastian Inlet allows the chance of catching pelagic fish in the sea.

The area talked about in this destination is approximately 4 km north and 4 km south of the Indian River near Sebastian Inlet. The angler can also (weather and waves permitting), go out of the inlet into open ocean to fish.

A huge diversity of fish in this estuarine and open ocean area, ideal for fly-fishing.

How To Get There

The US Highway A1A South from Melbourne, Florida will take you to Sebastian Inlet State Park. There is parking and access to the inlet and river on both sides. Even though fish can be caught by wading, tidal water can have strong currents. Your safest and best bet for catching fish is to hire a guide with a boat.

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Location Details

Used as a life line for carrying goods and supplies, migrating people, supplying fish, crabs and oysters, in years past, the Indian River - and specifically the area around Sebastian Inlet near Melbourne, Florida - in modern times is both a vital navigational section of the Intracoastal Waterway Canal that goes 4,800 km from south Florida to New Jersey; and a recreational source for boaters and fishermen.

The area discussed in this destination will include a few kilometers north and south of Sebastian Inlet, both in the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. This area is 1800 km south of New York City and 280 km north of Miami, Florida.


Sea turtles, manatees (sea cows, the animal from which the “mermaid myth” is supposed to have derived), bottle-nosed dolphin, bonnet-head sharks, and rays of numerous species all are available for viewing at different seasons and tides in this prolific section of the Indian River where salt water from the Atlantic Ocean meets and mixes with fresh water flowing east out of the Kissimmee chain of lakes 88 km (55 miles) to the west.

For the salt-water fly fisherman who likes a mixed bag of possible fish species to pursue, this section of the Indian River is the place to go. In the River itself, the following game fish are available to the fly fisher: snook, tarpon, jack crevalle, redfish, grouper and snapper species, and ladyfish.

Motor a mile east under the Sebastian Inlet Bridge and ocean fishing is available. Here the speedy (capable of swimming 60 kph) “Bonito” or false albacore can be found chasing schools of glass minnows and menhaden. Spanish mackerel, cobia, kingfish, dolphin (also known as dorado and mahi-mahi) sailfish, and the rare white marlin cruise. Jumping sharks like the black-tip (also known as spinner-shark because of it’s peculiar but spectacular habit of rocketing straight up out of the water, whirling like a skater, then smashing back on the water’s surface to devour stunned fish) and the king of the shark performers—the mako, prowl the mouth of the inlet waiting for fish washed through on an outgoing tide.

How To Fish

Fishing the Indian River and its environs can be as simple as wading the shallows, and there are miles of them, and using a 5 wt. rod to cast a 1/0 hook Clouser minnow fly to small schools of 2-4 pound ladyfish; or there is the more complicated and expensive option of going for the big fish in the ocean where chum and live bait is used to bring the kingfish or black-tip shark within range of the flyfisher’s casting ability where he uses up to a 12 wt. rod, a wire or heavy monofilament leader (Note: the word “tippet” doesn’t apply when using such heavy terminal tackle) tied directly to a foot-long streamer.

Typical Flies: Clousers, Lefty’s Deceiver, permit/bonefish crab and shrimp patterns, streamers. Silver, white, chartreuse, bright pink, and red/white colors can all work at certain times.

Fishing the area when the calico crabs are swimming is a special time, since all the game fish species in and around Sebastian inlet eat them. During this crab mating ritual, the normally secretive crabs swim with the current, looking for mates. Crab-imitation flies 8 cms (3 inches) across are tossed to sighted fish and drifted by them. The strikes can be savage as a 5 kgs (10 lbs) snook or 25 kgs (60 lbs) tarpon grabs a crab before one of its competitors takes the delectable morsel.

Practical Info

There is no 'closed-season' - fishing is open 'year-round'. However, if you wish to keep a trophy fish, you should log on to to ensure that local policies allow retention of certain species.

In Florida, anglers must purchase a Nonresident Saltwater Fishing License. Any of the angling guides will make the necessary arrangements.

Catch-and-release is normal but some fish can be retained. For full up-to-date details log-on to

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