Offshore Reef Fishing Near Daytona Beach
In the Daytona Beach area, Volusia County has created one of the the largest offshore artificial reef systems in Florida (and in the world). These man made reefs are found from 2.2 nautical miles to 32.8 nautical miles miles offshore with the majority being between 5 and 20 miles offshore. They are right off the coast of Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Ponce Inlet and other coastal towns in Volusia County.
Together with the numerous natural reefs, largely grown on natural rock outcroppings, these artificial reefs are a boom for private recreational fishing as well as offshore fishing charters. There are also natural ledges and jagged crevices off the Daytona Beach coast providing home to even more fish. Also, Cape Canaveral, just south of Daytona Beach, diverts the north flowing Gulf Stream to the east, just enough to create a huge eddy north of the cape that slows the current making the area easier for many species to stay and make the offshore waters near Daytona Beach their permanent home. Whether you are trolling or bottom fishing, these reefs are the reason offshore fishing is so good around Daytona Beach.
About 25 miles offshore of Daytona Beach are the Oculina Coral Reefs.
Mostly found in 200 and 300 feet of water and growing as high as 100 feet from the ocean floor in some areas, these reefs stretch from Fort Pierce in South Florida and north to Daytona Beach. They are unique to the Central Atlantic Coast of Florida and found nowhere else in the continental United States. They provide fabulous offshore fishing and are a hotspot for fishing charters in the Daytona Beach area including charters coming out of the port towns of New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet. These natural reefs are complete ecosystems containing over 70 species of fish and everything they need to live on from worms to shrimp and crabs.
Artificial reefs are a big project off the shores of Daytona Beach.
Volusia County, home to Daytona Beach and the popular offshore and deep sea fishing ports of New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet, has for years developed its own system of artificial reefs just offshore of Daytona Beach and along the Volusia County shore.
The offshore artificial reef program for Volusia County began in the late 1970s when Daytona Beach area fishermen requested the county to obtain permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct artificial reefs offshore. By that time, pressure had greatly grown on the many natural reefs found in the area. The influx of new residents who quickly found sport fishing to be a great local pasttime and the influx of tourists that grew the fishing charter boat business as well as commercial fishing boats were quickly outgrowing the fish populations the natural reefs could possibly support. In 1979 the first permit was issued to Volusia County by the Army Corps of Engineers for the first four artificial reefs to be constructed offshore near Daytona Beach.
A little history of Daytona Beach’s artificial reefs.
After more than 35 years of creating artificial offshore reefs near Daytona Beach, the artificial reef program has been a huge success! (By the way, in case you're wondering just how well the artificial reef system works elsewhere for offshore fishing, in Louisiana, a state that produces more seafood than any other state except Alaska, the best offshore fishing is around the offshore oil rigs and oil and gas production platforms!)
In 1980, World War II Liberty ship USS Mindanao was sank as an artificial offshore reef off the coast of Daytona Beach.
In 1981 concrete culverts were deposited for the first time off the Daytona Beach coast. With the creative use of old concrete culverts, the offshore artificial reef program was really onto something! Invertebrate encrusted culverts were fast improving offshore fishing where these reefs were created. Offshore fishing charters in the Daytona Beach area were catching on and taking fishing tourists to the new reefs for the first time.
In fact, the concrete culverts have been such a huge success in creating fish filled artificial reefs and improving fishing in the area that over 100 barge loads of culverts and concrete structures have been deposited off the shores of Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet in Volusia County.
The Reef Research Dive Team
The artificial reefs, as well as natural reefs in the Daytona Beach area, are monitored and maintained by the all volunteer Reef Research Dive Team. The volunteer team members use their own boats or charters to survey and monitor conditions and sea life on the artificial and even the natural reefs in the Daytona Beach area. Recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen and private fishing charters in the area owe a lot to these volunteers. They also maintain a website at VolusiaReefs.org where you can learn a lot more about their efforts and the history and locations of these artificial reefs. They even have GPS coordinates for the reef sites. Plus there's some great underwater photos of fish and invertebrates inhabiting the artificial reefs.
Professional fishing charter guides can help!
It still takes experience to know which reefs are producing desirable sport fish and when. If you are new to the area and want to do some awesome offshore fishing, especially bottom fishing, on these reefs, contact a Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach or Ponce Inlet fishing charter boat captain like Captain Corey Simmons. Captain Corey has been fishing these artificial reefs since they were first created and knows them intimately. His local Daytona Beach fishing charter business, On The Hook Charters, regularly fishes these offshore artificial reefs as well as the many natural reefs in the area.
What's Biting on Daytona Beach's Artificial Reefs?
In a word, everything! Recreational fishermen as well as offshore fishing charters in the Daytona Beach area regularly fish for a wide variety of highly desirable species including Cobia, Mahi-Mahi, Amberjacks, Permit, Kingfish, Sharks, Barracuda and more. Pelagic species that regularly swim the open oceans can be found feeding and congregating here including Sailfish and Tuna. Trolling offshore above the reefs for these species are a common fishing method for local fishing charter boats.
The bottom fishing is just plain off the charts! The artificial reefs have produced perfect living conditions of countless cracks and crevices that are home to bottom loving species. You'll find every kind of Snapper and Grouper here from huge Red Snappers to Goliath Groupers.
Grouper species that are popular with Daytona Beach offshore fishing charters include Gag Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Snowy Grouper, Speckled Hind Grouper, Red Grouper, Warsaw Grouper and of course Goliath Grouper.
Snapper species that are popular with offshore fishing charters include Vermilion Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Lane Snapper and of course Red Snapper.
Bait fish, the smaller fish that are food for the larger fish, school in large numbers here.
Life on the Daytona Beach Artificial Reefs
Invertebrates, are growing all over these artificial reefs and are particularly fond of the concrete culverts. Divers can see Telesto, a soft octocoral, Regal Sea Fans, Yellow Sea Whips, Yellow Boring Sponges, Ivory Bush Coral, Cup Coral and many other species of coral and sponges. Other invertebrates crawling around these reefs and supplying food for larger fish include Octopus, Jellyfish, Urchins, Crabs, Shrimp and even Lobsters.
The small reef fish are truly tropical and as beautiful as any collectible fish in saltwater aquariums. Divers can see Damsel Fish, French Angelfish, Blue Angelfish, Spadefish and Squirrelfish. There are also Cardinalfish and Belted Sandfish living on these reefs. The drop dead gorgeous (and venomous) Lionfish are on all the reefs in the Daytona Beach area. There's no limits on Lionfish and they're good to eat so help yourself! Some of the other more interesting species found on the reefs include Sea Turtles, Mantarays and even Frogfish!
OK, well that's it for offshore reef fishing near Daytona Beach, Florida. As you can see, the creation of all those artificial reefs in combination with the natural reefs, ledges and even old shipwrecks, make the Daytona Beach area one of the best places in all of Florida for bottom fishing not to mention trolling over the reefs for that sailfish or mahi-mahi.
When you're ready to go fishing on a Daytona Beach fishing charter with an experienced local fishing captain, reach out to Captain Corey Simmons. He's been fishing these waters since before the first artificial reef was ever laid down off the shores of Daytona Beach.
For prices on Captain Corey’s Offshore Fishing Charters please see his Fishing Charter Rates page.