Families flock to Destin in summer for the beaches; couples visit for a romantic break, but most visitors come for the fishing! Destin is, after all, nicknamed “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and it continually lives up to that high reputation with its record breaking catches. Destin was actually named after a fishing enthusiast, Captain Leonard Destin, who helped establish the commercial fishing industry in the area in 1850.
As well as fishing charters and surf fishing, Destin hosts many Fishing Rodeos and Tournaments throughout the year, so there is always something exciting to watch or take part in. One of the biggest events is the Destin Rodeo which takes place each October. It attracts over 30,000 competitors and the prize money totals over $100,000.
Some charters go out for a half day, a day or even overnight as well as longer excursions lasting several days for sport fishing. If you walk down to Destin Harbor at the end of the day, many of the charter boats will be displaying their catch. Fish commonly caught in these warm Gulf waters include red snapper, flounder, grouper, cobia, amberjack, pompano and blue marlin.
If you want to stay firmly onshore, the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier stretches out for 1,262 feet and is a great fishing spot. Alternatively, try casting a line beneath the Mid-Bay Bridge or from the East Pass Channel Jetties. You are likely to hook sheep head, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, cobia, redfish, speckled sea trout, whiting and mangrove snapper. Pompano can also be caught between April and October.
Deep sea fishing chases a different type of fish. Flounder, king mackerel, mahi mahi, sea trout, shark, tarpon and trigger fish can be caught. Swordfish, sailfish and marlin are considered to be “Trophy” fish. Sport fishing is best in the bay between April and October.
Inshore and offshore trolling is very exciting and targets the very largest species. Once a fish is on the line, it can take hours before it tires of being dragged and will invariably put up a good fight. Some fish are tagged, weighed and released while other charters bring their catch ashore. Inshore trolling is good for ling while offshore trolling takes place about 30 miles southwest of Destin and catches bill fish such as blue marlin, white marlin, dolphin, wahoo and sailfish. The best months are August through October.
Florida Fishing Licenses
All anglers between the ages of 16 and 65 are required by law to have a license to fish. However those on charter boats with a Vessel Saltwater Fishing License do not need an individual license. Prices are from $17 for a 3-day license to $47 for a one-year license for non-residents and $17 for a one-year license for residents.
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