You may dip your toes into the emerald waters along our shores by surf fishing, or enjoy the camaraderie of fishing from Okaloosa Island Pier. However, if you want a bigger adventure out into the Gulf of Mexico, charter boat fishing is the way to go.

Why a Fishing Charter

One advantage of choosing a fishing charter is that you will have a seasoned captain at the helm along with a crew of expert fishermen. They will know the top fishing spots and have the bait, poles, lures, and other supplies as well as fishing licenses, so you don’t have to worry about those details.

Charter captains drive the boat, which leaves you the freedom to kick back and enjoy the ride with your kids, sharing in the gentle Gulf breeze and relaxing simplicity of casting a line and pulling in a fresh catch.

Also notable is that Destin-Fort Walton Beach is situated near deeper waters that aren't too far away from shore. If a longer fishing charter excursion is on the agenda—all day or overnight—you may be able to try your skills at different fishing styles.

Trolling + Bottom Fishing

The experts on board will explain and demonstrate the key points of fishing out on the open waters. They can help you with trolling, where you cast from the back of the charter boat or outriggers on the sides and let the boat’s speed and movement pull the bait and lure through the water as if swimming. This attracts predator fish of different types depending on where you place your poles, the depth and movement of your lures and bait, and the speed of your boat.

With the addition of many artificial reefs and wrecks in recent years, there are plenty of great spots both near and far from shore where fish are plentiful and perfect for bottom fishing. Bottom fishing is just what it sounds like—casting your line at one spot out in the water with a lead weight allowing the hooked bait to drop to the seafloor or among the debris, wrecks, and reefs that attract ocean life. The captain will angle the charter boat to work with the current to move your bait and lure and attract those large, tasty bottom dwellers.

Half Day, Full Day + Overnight Fishing Trips

So which charter boat fishing trip is right for your family? It all depends on your family’s interests, skills, and what kind of experience they’re ready for in a fishing excursion. The fishing boat captains will work with you and help you choose the right outing that suits your family's spirit of adventure.

If your group is new to boating and fishing excursions, a full day out on the water may be too much for younger children or even for the novice adult who hasn’t spent much time on a boat. 

You can choose half-day charters to test the waters, get your sea legs, and try your luck at trolling or bottom fishing over a four-hour period. Since time is limited, you may have to choose one of these two methods. Little adventurers may find the four-hour trip more doable and you can even choose to stay in Choctawhatchee Bay rather than going out to the Gulf, so the shore is never too far away.

For families big on fishing and with some older kids and teens, a full-day fishing charter gives you more flexibility to navigate to different fishing spots and try both trolling and bottom fishing. If you’re with older teens or a group of grown-ups, an overnight charter fishing trip may be an option too, so you can really appreciate the bounty of the Gulf with more opportunities for deep sea fishing and boating around the clock.

What to Expect When Booking

The first thing to know is that the charter captain will work with you to create the fishing charter experience you want. When you talk to the charter captains, it’s important to come ready with questions. Here's a starting point for some of the top questions and common answers for you to confirm with your fishing charter company and captain.

Destin-Fort Walton Beach has many charter fishing boats to choose from. We’ve narrowed it down to a few to explore first:

  • For an array of Gulf fishing boats with amenities such as air conditioning, galley kitchens, and comfortable accommodations as well as bay boats for shorter trips, choose HarborWalk Charters which you can find right near all the action in Destin’s HarborWalk Village.
  • One charter boat that’s part of the HarborWalk Charters group is 5th Day. Captain Brandy MIles is the fleet’s only female captain and her 40-foot vessel specializes in half-day trips perfect for families with younger children.
  • For a truly special full-service fishing charter experience, Game Changer Charters' Navigator is equipped with top-tier fishing gear as well as luxurious staterooms, a full kitchen, and entertainment options.

A vacation to Destin-Fort Walton Beach is the right time to set off on a charter boat fishing trip your family will not soon forget!