The North controlled Fort Clinch through much of the Civil War, and the soldiers who manned the cannons were a thousand miles from friendly territory. Just like you, they would’ve cast their lines into the surf, using live bait for flounder or shrimp for bottom fish.
The beach in front of the fort is a series of c-shaped tidal pools where fish can get caught up as the tide is coming in. Use live bait to snag flounder that can reach up to 20 pounds.
Just like you, they could stroll along the fort’s red brick outer walls and over to the deep channel that cuts along Amelia Island’s northern edge. Cast in the inlet during high tide, and you just might nab sheepshead on their way to tidal pools. The soldiers weren’t lucky enough to have the half-mile fishing pier that now juts out from the beach, where you can catch all manner of saltwater fish.
Entrance to Fort Clinch State Park will cost you $4 for one person or $6 for a car with up to eight people. For rod rentals, head to Amelia Angler Outfitters, where $20 gets you a surf rod and sand spike for 2 days. Pick up bait easily in the fort’s gift shop.
After the tide heads out and the fish stop biting, get a history lesson from the staff, who reenact 18th-century life. Although it never saw a battle, the fort was staffed through three wars, up through World War II, and the colonial-style buildings inside the walls look like the set of a period Hollywood war film.
Soldiers who failed at fishing ended up with yet another meal of salt pork. Luckily for you, the restaurants in nearby Fernandina Beach nearby have a penchant for Southern cooking.
While Eric Barton grew up in New Hampshire, he found his home in the South. He’s most happy with a plate of barbecue and a bourbon, expensive or otherwise.
MORE SUMMER TRAVEL QUESTS
39) Fish in the Shadow of a Civil War Fort