Fishing in Destin-Fort Walton Beach

Home to the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin-Fort Walton Beach is the perfect place for anglers of all ages and skill-levels! The whole family can try their luck fishing from paddleboards, charter trips, fishing piers or surf fishing along the sugar white sand. Discover which type of fishing is best for you and your family!

Surf fishing

Fishing from the beach can be one of the best ways to fish with family. Spring is the best time to catch Pompano, which usually range from 2-3 pounds. In the fall, look out for Redfish, which are delicious (though they must be between 18 and 27 inches long to keep). In the winter, try for Whiting, which are usually found close to shore. Anglers can also try for Hardtail, Bluefish, Ladyfish, Black drum, catfish and even rays.

Pier fishing

The Island Pier provides incredible views and awesome fishing opportunities for experts and beginners. Equipment is available for rent, or you can bring your own! As an added benefit for those wishing to try out fishing for the first time: no Florida fishing license is required. The pier stretches over 1,200 feet into the Gulf of Mexico, so walkers and anglers can look for dolphins and sea turtles while they fish. Ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, Mangrove snapper, Whiting, Sailfish, Yellowtails and so much more have been caught from the pier.

Kayak/Paddleboard fishing

Fishing from a kayak or paddleboard is an unforgettable experience and can be done all over Destin-Fort Walton Beach. If it’s a calm day, head out to the Gulf and fish out near the second sandbar. Although, we recommend sticking to the Bay and the Santa Rosa Sound where the water is typically calm and great for a paddle. Locals like to paddle out to Spectre Island to enjoy a day of fishing and relaxing.

Inshore fishing

Inshore fishing is a great charter experience for beginners and seasoned fishermen alike! Unlike trips in the Gulf, which require more time to get to the best fishing holes, fishing in the Bay will have your poles in the water right away. As Captain Jeremiah Mayville of Flat Attack Charters points out, a day on the Bay is all about fun and fishing all while building confidence out on the water. Working with an experienced captains like Lionel James aboard Lions Tale Adventures and Captain Rob with L4K Charters will set you up for success and ensure you have everything you need–from fishing licenses to bait to rods. Simply pack a cooler and head on out.

Nearshore fishing

During a nearshore fishing charter you’ll do just that, stay nearshore–always in sight of land! This means there’s less travel time, more fishing time and no time for boredom. Your trip will be customized based on your family’s experience level and interests. Captain Josh and the team at Destin Inshore Guides like to begin by explaining the different types of fish you’ll reel in and the different ways of catching fish (like trolling or bottom fishing). If you’re a family of animal lovers, lifelong locals like Captain Nick Kirby of Scallywag Charters can help you fish while also teaching you about the wildlife around you and ways to support conservation of the ecosystem. Charters that specialize in beginner trips will use light tackle, ideal for newbies, to reel in Red snapper, grouper, Spanish mackerel and more. Most charters promote catch and release, but you’re welcome to keep fish you do reel in, within regulation.

Offshore fishing

Offshore fishing usually includes a longer day of fishing out on the open water. You’ll head out to deeper waters to catch some species you may not find close to shore! Head offshore with experienced captains like Kevin Moak of Hey Baby who have been fishing our local waters since they were kids themselves. They’ll not only make everyone feel safe and comfortable, your captain will take you out to their “secret” spots to get you on fish quickly. Onboard the Discipleship with Captain Brandy Miles (a mom of 5) you’ll start with catching baitfish and learning about the mahi, snappers, groupers, sailfish and other fish you might catch on this adventure.

No matter your age or skill-level, fishing is for everyone in Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

Anglers 16 and up must obtain a Florida fishing license. To obtain a recreational fishing license, click here.

Some anglers are exempt from needing a fishing license. The FWC website provides details of the exemptions. If you have any questions, call the local Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Regional Office (850-265-3676) or visit one of our local tackle stores.

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