Best Destin Fishing Tips That Should Know

Destin Fishing Tips

Destin is called the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”, because of its world-class deep sea fishing, offshore sport fishing and great inshore and bay fishing. Destin is located in the Florida Panhandle, Destin has access to shallow bays, productive reefs and the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A Destin fishing adventure, therefore, has something for everyone! Go after a variety of species unimaginable almost anywhere else as you embark on the fishing experience of a lifetime.

What fish can I catch in Destin?

If you want to compile a list of all the fish in Destin, you will need a complete book. There is no end to what you can catch here! Here are some of the best picks for a Destin fishing trip.


Groupers, a popular menu item around the world, are found in three varieties including: gray, red, and black. The black grouper is the largest of the three and can weigh up to 124 pounds. Gray groupers typically reach a maximum of 50 pounds, but an 80-pound gray grouper was once caught in Destin, a world record. Finally, red groupers are a very popular catch and delicious food to enjoy during your visit.

Red Snapper

The Florida red snapper season is a huge draw for anglers. These bright red fish are prized for their flavor and fetch some of the highest prices for commercial anglers. Large snappers can weigh up to 50 pounds. They travel in large schools and are aggressive if the correct bait is in play, making them a quick and easy catch.

Greater Amberjack

Amberjack is popular with spearfishing boats because these big fish love being close to wrecks and artificial reefs in Destin, making them easy to find. The dark stripe on the fish’s side changes color from dark amber to a brighter yellow when feeding or feeling threatened.


Destin Cobia’s annual fishing competition draws anglers from around the world each spring as cobia fish migrate through the waters of the Gulf. These fish can weigh up to 170 pounds and are strong fighters, making them a fun challenge for recreational anglers. The meat is delicious and the cobia is a premium fish for sashimi-grade.

Bluefin Tuna

You can find large bluefin tuna swimming near the port of Destin. In fact, an 826-pound bluefin tuna was caught in Destin in 2017, setting a state record. While a freshly caught 642-pound bluefin tuna didn’t break that record, it was cause for celebration on the dock. Bluefin tuna is prized for its rich flavor and has been known to sell for up to $ 200 a pound.


Is there anything more impressive than a sailfish? Sailfish, which vary from blue to gray in color, have a dorsal fin (the sail) that runs the length of their entire back. Fun fact: when swimming, the sail folds up but rises when the sailfish is chasing its prey. These are the fastest fish in the Gulf and can swim up to 68 mph.


Wahoo is a popular fish with recreational and game anglers. These shiny striped fish are quick and difficult to catch, but well worth the effort. Wahoo meat is praised by chefs for its versatility.


Tarpon is considered a game fish by fishermen. These shiny silver fish resisted when caught. They are also huge! Tarpon can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh up to 300 pounds. It takes a strong and patient fisherman to catch one of these fish. Unfortunately, tarpon are not valued for their flavor. Fish is bony, difficult to clean, and the meat tastes unpleasant for most.

Gray Triggerfish

The gray triggerfish is a great fish to catch. It has a large, rounded body that is easy to fillet, and the meat has a mild, sweet flavor comparable to crab. The fish have small mouths, which can make them more difficult to bait, and sharp teeth that they use to grind up small mussels and sea urchins. Be careful when removing the hook.

Mahi Mahi

Often referred to as “Mahi Mahi”, this large sport fish is fished frequently during the summer months. Destin’s dolphins are a beautiful sight to behold. They have blue and green fins and a yellow belly, but their exotic color quickly dissipates upon death. Dolphins have a lifespan of about 5 years and weigh about 30 pounds. Due to their short shelf life, they mature quickly. They also proliferate at great speed. Small females can produce up to 240,000 eggs and large females can produce millions of eggs.

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) fishing in Destin varies moderately throughout the year. High season is from June to September. Low season is from January to April. There is no closed season.

Destin Fishing Tips

Destin Fishing: How?

So now that you know what you want to catch, the next thing is to figure out how to do it. The entire economy of the city practically revolves around fishing, so there are many ways to fish. Whether in Destin or Fort Walton Beach, there is something for you.

Pier Fishing

With seven piers easily accessible from the city center, it’s no wonder fishing off the Destin Pier is one of anglers’ favorite ways to fill their buckets. These structures extend into the water and take you directly to the fish.

Whichever pier you choose to fish from, you are sure to have your hands on redfish, speckled trout and many more. However, schedule your visit and hit one of the piers that stretch out into the Gulf. You can fish for mackerel, snapper, and even sailfish, as one lucky fisherman achieved in October 2016!

Surf fishing

There is a reason the Panhandle Coast is known as the Emerald Coast. The crystal clear green waters offer incredible opportunities to fish within sight from the beach. There are 24 miles of sand that stretch along the shoreline from Destin, giving you plenty of room to prepare for the day.

Bring the family for a day of sunbathing, swimming, and sandcastles, while you focus on discarding. Popular surf fishing catches in Destin are Pompano, Redfish, Whitefish, Bluefish, Ladyfish, and Rays.

Kayak fishing

If the species weren’t enough for you to cast your line, how about a chance to fish from a kayak? This growing craze has taken the world of fishing by storm in recent years, and Destin is never far behind.

The calm coastal waters are a great starting point for beginners, while some more adventurous anglers may even head to the Gulf side. Charter your own boat or head with an experienced guide, and you’ll be able to catch just about any of Destin’s long list of fish, with scallop and spearfishing trips available as well. Whatever you choose, you are sure to see fishing through a different lens!

Charter fishing

Whether it’s fly fishing offshore or deep sea kite fishing, charter fishing is the best way to go. The entire Costa Smeralda is dotted with boats of all sizes ready to take you on the fishing adventure of your dreams.

From small boats on the plains to large sports boats on the high seas offering nightly adventures on the high seas, and even party boats, anything is possible. Your experienced captain will make sure you get on the fish and provide all the equipment he needs.

Yes, charter fishing is a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it. There is no other way to guarantee success here than with a Destin fishing boat.

Destin fishing spots

It doesn’t matter if you’re fishing alone or out with a boat, you always need to know where to go. Destin is full of incredible fishing spots wherever you look. But here is our pick of some of the best coastal and marine hunting grounds:

Okaloosa Island Pier – Destin’s Fishing Pier stretches over 1,200 feet into the gulf, giving you a chance to catch some prized fish. Don’t forget, a sailfish was even caught here.

Navarre Beach Pier – This is the Fort Walton Beach Fishing Pier and was renovated in 2010 to provide more space for more anglers to stock up on Gulf fish.

East Pass Piers – The ideal place to fish from shore. Watch out for drops between the rocks as you search for some coastal and near-shore beauties.

100 Fathom Bend- Just 10 to 12 miles offshore, you’ll find waters up to 600 feet deep, giving you a chance to land on Grouper, Snapper, Mahi Mahi, Cobia monsters and more.

Destin Bridge – is home to Sheepshead, Gray Snapper, Grouper, Redfish, and Spadefish. Take a boat ride or go for a walk to try to find different places that may be less crowded.

The Coast Guard station – has grasslands and a rock wall that has created the ideal environment for many different fish. Trout, redfish, flounder, mullet, ladybug, and pinfish are popular in this area.

Deep Sea Fishing Tips in Destin

If you are a fishing enthusiast, then you know there is no better feeling than going out to sea and waiting for that great catch. Deep sea fishing is one of the most exciting fishing experiences you can have. From mahi mahi to marlin and red snapper, there is no shortage of amazing fish to catch in the Gulf of Mexico.

Planning your first deep sea fishing trip? There are a few things you need to know to make your fishing trip a great success. Read on to learn everything you need to know about planning unforgettable deep sea fishing trips in Destin, Florida.

Boat options

Unless you are lucky enough to reside in Destin and own your own boat, when you visit, you will need to charter a boat for your deep sea fishing trip.

There are a few things to keep in mind when renting a boat, and one of the most important is whether the rental company goes far enough away for deep-sea fishing.

The first thing to consider is your budget. How much you can spend will determine a large part of the trip. From the size of the boat to the number of people it can hold to the length of the trip, and don’t forget to budget for the equipment and cost of the trip.

The next thing to consider is the size of the group that will accompany you. If you have a larger group, you can split the cost and get a private letter. Smaller, solo fishing trips are better suited for carpooling, that is if you don’t mind fishing with strangers.

If you want optimal privacy and have a small group, you can always go for a private rental, only it will cost you a little more money.

Don’t forget to do your due diligence and do a little research on the captain. Receive feedback from friends who have already gone deep sea fishing trips and check out online reviews. You don’t want to end up several miles in the ocean with a captain you don’t trust.

How long do you want to fish?

How long you want to fish is important in determining two things: the time you spend in the water and the type of boat you will need. After all, the longer you’re on the water, the bigger the boat you’ll need.

At the very least, you should prepare to spend half a day in the water, about four to six hours. These shorter trips are ideal for beginners, people who don’t have a lot of time, and trips with young children. These are great because you can choose between morning and afternoon departure times.

For people who want more time on the water, there are also 3/4 day trips ranging from eight to ten hours in length. These work well for people who have a long time to spend on the water and want to improve their deep sea fishing skills.

There are also all-day excursions in which the fishermen leave early in the morning and return late at night. Expect to spend 12-16 hours in the water. All day trips are best for experienced deep sea anglers who want to try their hand at bottom fishing and trolling on the high seas.

What kind of fish are you looking for?

The type of fish you want to catch will determine where you will go in the water. More importantly, it will also determine when you can take your trip.

You can’t go out looking for red snapper in January when the season is only open during June and July. If you are open to fishing for different types of fish and not looking for a specific type of fish then you will have more flexibility in planning your trip schedule.

Do you need amenities on the boat?

Like hotels, different charter boats have different levels of amenities. If you are planning a very short trip then it may not matter if you are going in a boat that does not have a bathroom, but you will definitely want one if you are going to be on the water. all day.

Different ships have different types of amenities. The cheapest boats have full kitchens, while the less expensive boats will minimize the amenities. Determine the things you absolutely need, like a fighting chair, a kitchen, or a bathroom, and select your charter boat from there.

Follow laws and regulations

You can be in the open sea, but, just like on land, you will need to comply with strict laws and regulations.

Luckily for you, on a charter boat, you won’t need a fishing license as long as the charter boat has a charter license. You will still have to adhere to bag limits and only keep fish that you are legally allowed to keep at the time. Your captain and crew must provide a wealth of knowledge about which fish you can raise and which ones will need to be released to fish another day.

Come prepared

No deep sea fishing trip will be successful without bringing the right deep sea fishing gear.

First things first: your clothes. You probably don’t need a warm windbreaker if you go out during the summer, but you will definitely need one during the colder months. And no matter when you go out, don’t forget to bring sunscreen!

The next thing you will need are the right tools and equipment. Your standard rod and reel won’t be enough to attract the big boys. You’ll want saltwater rods and reels, proper tackles, and a combat belt, at the very least. Again, your charter boat should provide all the necessary fishing equipment and bait.

And don’t forget a cooler full of drinks and food, and some snacks too!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Destin so popular?

Nestled against the Gulf of Mexico in northwest Florida, Destin is rightfully famous for its sugar-white sands and emerald waters. And due to its abundant and always hungry underwater population, Destin is widely known as “the luckiest Fishing Village in the world.”

Does Destin have good fishing?

Don’t worry: Destin also offers many opportunities for inshore and near-shore fishing! Choctawhatchee Bay has miles of shoreline and abundant marine life for fishing on the flats and shoals. You can rent or charter a boat for a day and find more fishing spots than you could ever catch.

Are there sharks in Destin Florida?

Yes, of course there are sharks in Destin! We are located along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the natural habitat of sharks, and there are a wide variety of sharks that live in the Gulf, including nurse sharks, hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, and bull sharks.

Can I fish in Destin Harbor?

As the salinity of the water here changes with the tides, you will have excellent chances of catching really big fish. Redfish and sheep’s head are the most common catches, but fishermen have also caught the occasional Spanish mackerel, along with trout, flounder and sharks.

Can I fish off the beaches of Destin?

Although beach fishing in Destin generally takes place off the beach pier and jetty, it is allowed anywhere along the coast. Some choose to rent fishing boats for inshore or offshore fishing. Residents can buy a fishing license for one or five years.

Is Destin Good for Fishing?

Don’t worry: Destin also offers many opportunities for inshore and near-shore fishing! Choctawhatchee Bay has miles of shoreline and abundant marine life for fishing on the flats and shoals. You can rent or charter a boat for a day and find more fishing spots than you could ever catch.

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