Stuart was dubbed the "Sailfish Capital of the World" in 1938 by Miami Herald columnist, Enrnie Lyons, who visited the city and saw its vicinity to world-class sport fishing. Lyons was on a charter fleet offshore of the St. Lucie Inlet, where that week approximately 1,000 sailfish were caught and released by skilled anglers. Lyons returned to Miami to tell the world about the exceptional game fishing Stuart has to offer.
Since then, the sailfish has become part of the history of Stuart, as you can see from statues, fountains (pictured above) and business names in the area. Sailfish are still always a big catch just a few miles offshore in 80-160 feet of water and are caught with trolled dead baits.
What's lesser known about this area of the Treasure Coast is that it has also been called "Snook City" and "Kingfish Country" for the same reasons the sailfish is glorified in the community. Snook fishing in Stuart has always been extraordinary and the St. Lucie River is home to five subspecies of snook- an assertion that cannot be made anywhere else in the world. Snook are the type of game fish anglers love to catch- they have an aggressive strike, put up an acrobatic fight, and they try to use their underwater surroundings to break free of the line.
Snook can grow up to 4 feet and weigh 60 pounds. Most in Martin County average 40-45 pounds. The fish can be caught with dead or live bait like mullet and shrimp and hooked inshore, offshore, wading, and the beach- pretty much anywhere. The reason the snook thrive in the area is due to a number of things: the subtropical climate, the brackish St. Lucie Estuary (Florida’s largest river south of the St. Johns in Jacksonville), the shallow waters of the Indian River Lagoon where seagrass and mangroves offer shelter for babies, and a diverse, abundant food supply.
The kingfish are found all over Martin County less than a mile off the beaches. They grow up to 60 pounds and are a favorite fish in tournaments around town. The Southern Kingfish Association, the nation’s largest saltwater tournament trail, has held its past two National Championship tournaments in Stuart waters because of the ample supply of 30-40 pound fish. The kingfish go for large live bait like blue runners and blue fish.