Not only can you fish from boats and piers on the waters along Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida, you can also fish from the shore, wading in the waves with your toes in the sand.

The Gulf of Mexico’s water is loaded with fish, you don’t need to cast out as far as possible to get a bite. You only need to get your line into knee-deep water. The people strolling the beach will walk around your pole stands and lines, as fishing is a common sight. You’ll also make a heron friend or two. Watch your bait supply and catches, which can range from pompano and redfish to kingfish and snapper.

Here are the top spots for surf fishing in Destin/Fort Walton Beach:

 

Okaloosa Island

Over in Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island has seven parks with five beach access. Each has dune walkovers, restrooms and parking. You can move down the beach from one access to the next, and buy bait at the nearby Okaloosa Island Pier.

  • Blue Dolphin Beachwalk, 372 Santa Rosa Blvd., between Gulf Dune and Azure condos
  • Emerald View Beachwalk, 399 Santa Rosa Blvd., between Holiday House and The Breakers
  • Seashore Beachwalk, 530 Santa Rosa Blvd., between SurfDweller and Island Princess
  • Jerry Melvin Beachwalk, 600 Santa Rosa Blvd., between Waters Edge and The Nautilus
  • Doris Jordan Freeway Beachwalk, 700 Santa Rosa Blvd., between Emerald Isle and Island Echos
  • Mike Mitchell Beachwalk, 820 Santa Rosa Blvd., between Islander Condos and Coquina Isle
  • Emerald Promenade Beachwalk, 900 Santa Rosa Blvd., between Somerset Apartments and SeaCrest Condos

 

John Beasley Park

John Beasley Park in Fort Walton Beach has a view of the fishing pier on Okaloosa Island in the distance, but is in a wide-open area of beach, secluded from the crowds and buildings. It has dune walkovers, restrooms and plentiful parking.

Pro tip: The best time to shore fish in Fort Walton Beach or Okaloosa Island is early morning. We recommend getting there as the sun rises. 

 

The Jetties and East Pass

The Jetties are man-made rocks along the opening of the East Pass that are a magnet for a variety of fish species and other marine life. While waiting for the fish to bite—which won’t be long—you can watch the parade of boats going through the East Pass onto their next fishing voyage. 

 

Gulf Islands National Seashore 

If you are looking to fish for freshwater species, then shore fishing bayside at the Gulf Islands National Seashore if for you! There are fees involved: $15 for pedestrians and $25 for a vehicle, but that gets you in for seven days.

Speaking of fees, if you are not a Florida resident, you must buy a saltwater fishing license. It’s $17 for three days, $30 for seven consecutive days, and $47 for a year. They are available online here or you can call 888-FISH-FLORIDA.

Want to bring the kids? Find out more with a guide to surf fishing little adventures now.