Florida, specifically Destin, is visited by thousands each year with the intention of fishing. With that, knowing the rules and regulations aligned to it, as well as knowing where to fish, is crucial in making your trip a successful one! The most common types of fishing in Destin are Surf fishing, bay fishing, deep-sea fishing, pier fishing & kayak fishing. Here we have put together a few of the important rules as well as some of the best spots in Destin to fish at!
Do I need a Fishing License to Fish in Destin?
Unless you are fishing on a charter in which the captain has a license, you are required to have a license to participate in freshwater and saltwater fishing. Children under 16 years of age aren’t required one. You can purchase your fishing license online here, or at the local Walmart, Bass Pro Shop or many of the local tackle shops.
Surf Fishing is very popular in Destin! This really common for a few reasons, one being, you do not need a boat. The most common times of the year for surf fishing is March-November. You can surf fish in the winter is well, but will most likely have your best luck when the water is warmer. Common species are Pompano, Redfish, Whiting, Black Drum, Spanish, Blue Runners, Sharks, Sheepshead, Bonita & Lady Fish. Fish will bite throughout the entire day, but it is common to have the most success during tide changes, and early mornings or nights. Any fishing rod can be used, but most surf fishermen use surf rods between 8-12ft.
Deep Sea Fishing
Deep Sea fishing is an extremely popular tourist and local attraction in Destin. They do not call Destin, the "Worlds Luckiest Fishing Village" for no reason! Fishing charters can be found in abundance around Destin. You can book a trip with a captain and head out with your family and friends for a morning or day trip. Some charters have boats that hold up to 45 people, obviously some are much smaller as well if you would like a more private trip. Most charters will include all the tackle, licenses and bait needed for the trip.
Bay Fishing is some of the most popular and often said to be "most fun" fishing in Destin. There are not many better spots to fish in the world than the Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, Florida. You can rent a bay charter and head out with a captain, but many people also just rent boats themselves and head to the bay to fish. The bay is much calmer than the ocean and not as big of a boat is needed to fish.
Pier fishing is a great way to spend time with friends and family but also can be a very intense fishing trip. Piers provide structure in the water and can often hold and attract all types of sea life. There are seven piers within 50 miles of Destin, the closest being the Okaloosa Island Pier. The Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier is 1262 feet long and also has a bait shop located on-site. The pier is open 5 am to 9 pm. in Mid October through mid March. Mid March through October it is open 24 hours. If you are going to fish it is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for 65+ and $4.00 for children 6-12. Kids 5 and under are free.
Kayak fishing is a popular activity in Destin. For the most part, kayak fishing is relatively affordable. You actually book kayak fishing trips, on which you will have a guide and a rental kayak. If you own your own kayak, you can also take it out on the beach or popular fishing spots in the bay. The new artificial reefs the SWRA have built are also great spots to anchor your kayak and have a great afternoon of fishing. Be sure to check the weather when you are planning to take out your kayak. Bad weather can move in fast and make it difficult to get your kayak back to shore through the waves.
How long is a Fishing License in Florida Good for?
Recreational fishing licenses expire one year from the date it was issued. There are other shorter term options for travelers as well. Check out the fishing license options and costs below as of 2019.
Resident Annual: $17.00
Resident Five-Year: $79.00
Non-Resident Annual: $47.00
Non-Resident 3-Day: $17.00
Non-Resident 7-Day: $30.00
Places to Fish
Destin is home to countless places to fish. Find yourself a piece of public beach, or head to one of these many spots. The Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier dishes out nearly 1300 feet into the Gulf of Mexico! The further you go out, the better the fish. Also, you’re not required a fishing license to fish here. Another place to fish is the Coast Guard Station. With the grass beds and rock wall, the coast guard station creates an environment for a large variety of fish. Trout, Redfish, Flounder, and Mullet are a few species you may find yourself catching here. Norriego Point is a great place to find baitfish along with redfish, trout and jacks. The East and West Pass Jetties are an extremely popular fishing spot as they are walkable out into the water.