Palm Beach Summer Fishing

When someone mentions Palm Beach, you probably think about Rolls Royces and million-dollar mansions fronting palm-lined streets. What many anglers don’t realize is that during the dead of summer, the waters off its beaches come alive with swarms of false albacore, locally referred to as “bonito,” just offshore. While the fish are mostly on the small side, usually around 6 to 8 pounds, they make up for it in numbers. An average day means as many as 50 fish. Plus you never know what else you’ll find — dolphin, kingfish and even sailfish are all possibilities.

One reason for this prolific fishery is Palm Beach’s proximity to the Gulf Stream. This nutrient-rich oceanic highway lies just a few miles off the beach and anglers rarely have to venture far to find pelagic species. Weed lines form along rips on the current’s edge, providing shelter for everything from wahoo to tripletail.

Standard procedure during this time of year is to motor around looking for fish or troll a lure until it gets hit. Then start casting because where there’s one, there will be more. When you run across a weed line or a piece of flotsam (and you will), it’s advisable to work the area as thoroughly as possible, including down deep.

Fishing here in summer means you need to prepare for anything. For the false albacore, bring a 9-weight rigged with an intermediate line. When fishing around weeds or other debris, use a 9 with an intermediate or a Type III or IV sinking line. It’s also a good idea to keep a 10- or even a 12-weight handy with an intermediate line, too. You may well encounter dolphin in the 30- to 40-pound range, but most will be 20 pounds or less. Sailfish tend to run less than 50 pounds, so there’s no need for heavier gear. As for flies, stick with tried-and-true false albacore patterns like Clousers, small Deceivers, Mushmouths, Surf Candies, Bonito Bunnies and the like. If it works on albies elsewhere, it will work on them here. An assortment of baitfish imitations tied on 2/0 or 3/0 hooks should also be in your box. Poppers and small shrimp patterns or bonefish flies tied on stout hooks will prove useful if you run into tripletail, but you need to cast them right in front of the fish.