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Destin Fishing: The Complete Guide for All Anglers

Located on the Florida Panhandle, ‘The Luckiest Fishing Village in the World’ doesn’t really need any introduction.  Fishing in Destin Florida is one place you need to add to your bucket list.

This fishing village boasts of access to shallow bays, productive reefs, and the deep and glorious waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, should you take an adventure here, there is definitely something for everyone. 

Destin Fishing All You Need to Know

Seek out a whole range of species that you never thought you could almost anywhere around Destin. It will truly be a true angler’s dream come reality!  

There is just so much to see here, so much to experience, you can hardly imagine just how fantastic it can be. But, we are going to try and fit it all in, right here.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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You need to know exactly what is on offer for you before you head out there. What is a great fishing adventure if you haven’t got a plan in place, right? 

It’s time to make sure that you know what to expect when you get out on the water, so, without further ado. Let’s get to it! 

What Kind Of Fish Can You Expect To Catch In Destin?

Sure, we could list every fish that you could catch in Destin, but we sincerely doubt that you have hours on end to spare reading that. The catches you can make here are countless, you’d need a full book to cover them all!

So, instead of providing you with a 200-page list of all the catches you can make here, we have chosen the best picks for you to see what you can snag on the line. 

Redfish

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Let’s begin our list with a journey through the shallow waters inshore. This is where you will find that the Gulf Coast’s most sought after fish is in incredible abundance. Known as the Red Drum, or Redfish, as it is more commonly known, it is an all-round prized fish.

It is tough-fighting and delicious, however you like it. This fish is an absolute joy from the moment it bites the line, to your last mouthful at the dinner table. 

You will find these fish all year round in the shallow waters around the Choctawhatchee Bay. So, during the summer, or during the fall, you can snag yourself some oversized ‘bulls’. We do not doubt for a moment that if you hit the waters for these fish, you could easily fill the boat. 

However, if you like variety, you will also find a backup cast of flounder, sheepshead, and spotted trout around here too. 

Tarpon

 

 
 
 
 
 
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We cannot deny it, Tarpon will usually always be in the list of top catches, wherever you are, if you can catch it, it’s on the top-catch list. Otherwise known as ‘The Silver King’, it is one of the world’s most prized inshore game fish, and we know why.

These fish are well known for leaping out of the water as they try anything in their power to get off the end of your line. They are sure to give you the fight of your life. 

Fishing for Tarpon in Destin will not leave you disappointed. The Silver King frenzy will kick off in the summer months, and you can most certainly expect to get at least one of these lurking in the shallows.

To get the best results try fishing at night, however, if you fancy going during the day, you can also go for Jack Crevalle and Pompano if you really want to test your strength. 

Snapper

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Anglers from all over flock to the Emerald Coast in the summer months to seek out some of the best Red Snapper fishing in the world.

This fish is elusive, exciting, and downright delicious, however it is subject to some strict harvesting regulations, and so, the chance to snag one is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Don’t be fooled though, the fishing season in Destin is for more than just Red Snapper. You can catch a whole bunch of other Snappers’ year round.

If you seek out the nearshore reefs, the deep waters of the Gulf, or just the shallower inshore waters, you could easily hook a Vermilion, Mangrove, Lane, or Mutton Snapper too! 

Grouper

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Wherever you might find Snappers in the Gulf, you will also typically find Groupers. While they are not as attractive a catch as the Snappers are visually, they are sought after just as much, thanks to their meat and game qualities.

They are strong and tasty, and a staple of the Destin fishing scene. You will actually find that there are more than five different species of groupers that can regularly be caught here. 

If you should catch yourself a Monster Goliath Grouper then you must release it when you catch it, however it is truly a once in a lifetime experience should you manage to catch one.

There are also the smaller Scamp and Red Groupers, these make for excellent table fare. And do not forget the huge Black Groupers, and the exceedingly popular Gag Grouper. 

In fact, the state record Gag Grouper was caught in Destin, it weighed 8lbs and 6oz. So, challenge yourself to match that! Think you can?

Mahi Mahi

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Florida is known for it’s abundance of quality mahi mahi fishing.  These fish as also called dolphins and dorado, depending on who you ask.  Nothing is more exciting than hooking up with a mahi and having them turn on the acrobatics, jumping multiple times out of the water, dancing on the surface as you fight to reel them in.

The great thing about mahi, is the swim in schools and you have chances to catch a bunch at the same time if you find them.

Cobia

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Cobia is one of the top catches of Destin, and it is another nearshore specialty in the Gulf. Much like their neighbors, the Snappers, and the Groupers, they are just as fun to catch as they are tasty. They make for a super fun fishing experience.

Not to our surprise, there was another state record that was set in Destin, where a monster 130lb Cobia was caught. You will find the action starts in the spring, and a range of tournaments target the Cobia, and this fun lasts all summer long.

They will typically eat almost anything, so you should prepare yourself to enter battle, armor clad, and get your fix of Cobia fishing right here. 

Mackerel

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Known in these waters as “kings” or king mackerel.  These toothy fish grow to large sizes and fight like fire when you hook into one.  You can find them inshore around reefs and wrecks.  The best way to fish for them is using live bait and wire leaders.  They are know for cutting through regular fishing line with their razor sharp teeth.

Also in the mackerel family are wahoo, which are a bit different.  They are usually in deeper blue water and you need to high speed troll for these pelagic species.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Tuna

 

 
 
 
 
 
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When you think about deep sea fishing, one species catches the attention of most anglers, the tuna.  In the Destin Florida waters, it is common to catch some Blackfin Tuna while trolling around in the blue waters offshore.

Not quite as big as their relatives the bluefin and yellowfin tunas, but these fish put up a big fight and taste great for dinner after a long day of fishing.

Billfish

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If we consider the Tarpon to be the king of inshore fish, then the Billfish is the king of offshore catches. Much like their shallow-water competitors, Marlins also love leaping out of the water to fight their way off their line, get your buddy to record this epic battle and forever keep the memory of this spectacular show.

The way their body arches and their bill stays straight is a picture that will stay in your mind forever. 

The sibling of this fish is the Sailfish, and it is equally as amazing, it has an eye-catching sail that leaves anyone who sees it lost for words. These fish will also not give in without a good fight either, and in Destin they come very close to the shore. 

This is not a fish for the faint of heart, you should expect a battle, as the Blue Marlin can actually reach up to 1,000 lbs while even though the White Marlin is typically only 70lbs, these are some of the strongest and most entertaining fighters.

 

Jack Fish

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Fishing the inshore reefs and offshore wrecks can produce many varieties of fish species in the Destin area.  Of those, Jacks of all inds are abundant in the waters.  Most impressive is the Amber Jack, also known as the “reef donkey”.  These hard fishing fish can weight up to 100lb and put any experienced angler to the test.

Other species of jack fish include Jack Crevalle, Blue runner, and Almaco Jack.

How Can I Go Fishing In Destin? 

So, now you know what you are likely to catch. Have you picked your ideal catch? 

Regardless, now you need to know how to go about doing it. The whole economy of the town is pretty keyed down around fishing, so there are plenty of ways for you to get your fishing on. 

Let’s look at some ideas for you. 

You Could Go Pier Fishing

Destin is not short on piers, with seven in total, easy to reach from the downtown area. It is no surprise that pier fishing is at the top of the list for most anglers. These piers stretch far out into the waters to get you right where the fish are. 

And, whichever pier you choose to fish from, you will surely capture some Redfish, Speckled Trout, and many, many more. If you time it just right on one of the piers that stretches out onto the Gulf, you may land yourself some Mackerel, Snappers, and perhaps even a Sailfish. 

There Is Always Surf Fishing

What if you do not fancy pier fishing? Surf fishing is also an option. The Panhandle’s coastline is known as the Emerald Coast for a reason. The crystal green water offers perfect opportunities for sight fishing directly from the beach.

There are 24 miles of sand that stretch along the coastline from Destin, this gives you oodles of space to set up for your day. 

You can bring the whole family along, so they can sunbathe, swim, and build sand castles while you focus on hooking that fish. The most popular catches for surf fishing here are Pompano, Redfish, Whitefish, Bluish, Ladyfish, and also Rays. 

Why Not Try Kayak Fishing?

If you really fancy testing your luck, why not try fishing from a kayak? It has become a trend in recent years, and people are loving this new way of fishing. Destin was never going to be left behind in fishing trends. 

The calm waters found inshore are a great point for beginners to start, where some more adventurous   will head more to the gulf side. Rent yourself a kayak, or head out with an experienced guide.

Doing this will provide you with the opportunity to catch almost any of Destin’s long list of highly sought after fish. Scalloping and spearfishing trips are all available too. No matter what fish you choose, this newer way of fishing will open up a whole new world of fishing for you. 

What About Charter Fishing?

We cannot leave out charter fishing. Perfect for fly fishing inshore, or kite fishing in the deep. The whole of the Emerald Coast is littered with boats of all shapes and sizes that are ready to take you off on the epic fishing adventure of your dreams. 

From the small boats found on the flats to giant offshore sporting vessels that offer overnight deep sea adventures, and don’t forget the good old party boats too! You will have an experienced captain who will ensure that you get right to the fish, and they will also provide everything you need to do so. 

Okay, we admit, charter fishing is probably the most expensive option on this list, but it sure is worth it, and it is worth trying at least once, so why not try it in the world center of fishing. There is pretty much no other way that you can absolutely guarantee success, a Destin fishing charter has you made. 

Where Can I Go Fishing In Destin?

Where Can I Go Fishing In Destin

So, we know the fish, we know your options on how to catch them. All that is left now is to consider where you will go to go about your fishing.

Destin is jam packed full of incredible fishing spots, no matter where you look, they are everywhere. However, everyone has their favorites. So, here are our picks of the best inshore and offshore places to seek your catch. 

Okaloosa Island Pier

This is Destin’s primary fishing pier, and boy, it is quite something to behold, stretching over 1,200 feet in the Gulf ocean. This gives you the prime opportunity to land some epic catches. Remember! Here is a spot where a Sailfish was once caught, maybe you will catch one here too! 

East Pass Jetties

The East Pass Jetties is an ideal place to be for offshore fishing. Beware, though, there are drops between the rocks as you cast away for beauties you can hook nearshore and inshore.

100-Fathom Curve

A meager 10-12 miles offshore, you will find extremely deep waters, as deep as 600 feet. What does this give you? This provides the opportunity to land huge monster Snappers, Groupers, Mahi Mahi, Cobia, and other big beasts. 

“The Edge”

The Edge gives you the chance to leave America behind, and discover the deepest reaches of deep waters far beyond the continental shelf. Delve deep into the place where big game fishing takes place, find the opportunity to catch Tuna, Marlin, and Wahoo at the Edge. 

Navarre Beach Pier

Navarre Beach Pier is Fort Walton Beach’s fishing pier. This pier was renovated in 2010 to help to provide more space for anglers to get the most out of the Gulf fishing opportunities here.

When Is It Best To Go To Destin? 

By now you are probably loving the idea of Destin, what angler wouldn’t? Now all that is left is to choose the right time of year to visit.

Thankfully, the warm weather in Destin means that fishing is a possibility all year-round, you will surely see how the locals take advantage of it. When it comes to January through December, you will find the harbor full of boats, ready to whisk you away into your dreams. 

The peak season is summer, when tourists take advantage of the blistering sunshine and epic fishing opportunities. The biggest fish are available at this time of year, so always book earlier. 

However, if you’re the type of person who simply loathes crowds, spring is more ideal. In the early spring Cobia is all the rage, and while an Indian summer might seem like a good idea, beware hurricane season which occurs June through to November. You won’t catch many fish during a hurricane, that’s for sure. 

Don’t Forget About The Destin Fishing Tournaments

Of course, Destin makes the most of the fishing opportunities. Their tournaments are legendary, and anyone with a competitive streak and test your skills here.

If you like this, then the world-famous Destin Fishing Rodeo lights up the town in October, as over 30,000 anglers and fans descend on the town. Fishing competitions and plenty of seafood become the bread and butter of the town.

March, April, and May also see the Harbor Walk, Marina Cobia Tournament too. November and December see the ‘Flounder Pounder’. 

One Final Thought

Before you go booking your trip, we want to note that in Destin you can take full advantage of the incredible fishing here without needing a license for the most part. 

Your license will be covered on a fishing charter, or on the piers, once you have paid the fee to enter. If you fish from shore or your own boat and are between the age of 16 and 65, you will need a license, though. 

Reeling It In

We could say so much more about Destin, but we know you are raring to get your place booked there. Explore all they have to offer, and hook yourself a big one. Get to Destin and see the town that is labelled ‘The Luckiest Fishing Village in the World!’ 

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