11 Things you need to know about Fishing on the Emerald Coast!

boats on the emerald coast

Fishing is fun no matter what! Whether you are a fishing pro or just a beginner who wants to freshen up your skills by taking a couple of lessons, fishing is fun. However, it’s more fun when you’re catching fish – the bigger the better, right?

Fact #1 Did you Know?
There are 5 main conditions for catching a fish: 1. The right bait or lure 2.The right presentation 3. The right location 4. The right time 5. And of course…. The fish have to actually be there as well!

Fact #2 Fishing in the Choctawhatchee Bay.
Stretching 30 miles from end-to-end and spanning 4 to 6 miles across at any given point, Choctawhatchee Bay is home to a teeming abundance of redfish, speckled trout, Sheepshead, Spanish Mackerel, Flounder, Ladyfish, Bluefish, Black Snapper and Pompano. Choctawhatchee Bay’s also home to endangered species, including the giant gulf sturgeon (think huge alligator-looking fish), which seasonally migrate through the bay up into the Choctawhatchee River system to spawn.

Fact #3 Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
For deep-sea excursions, the Gulf can easily be accessed through the pass in Destin. Destin has a lively harbor lined with fun restaurants and bars for boaters to enjoy. Near Shore Gulf Fishing (State Waters) where you can still see the condos in 50 to 100 ft. of water depth is very popular.  Lite tackle can make fishing for Red, White, & Black Snapper, King Mackerel, Grouper, Triggerfish, Shark, Bonito, and many more species fun for the whole group. Off Shore Gulf Fishing (Federal Waters), starting at 9 miles off shore, and reaching depths of 100 to 300 ft., you will be fishing for Amberjacks, Grouper,  Snapper, Scamp, King Mackerel, Triggerfish, Bonito, Shark and possibly Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi, Sailfish, Marlin, and Tuna.

Fact #4 Definitions matter!
Did you know that advertisers use their own terms to promote their services. The following definitions may help you better understand what they have to offer.
Bay Fishing- Choctawhatchee Bay, Destin Harbor, East Pass, inlets and bayous.
Inshore fishing- Gulf of Mexico state waters less than 9 miles offshore
Private Charters- One party booking entire vessel
Group Charters- Fishing on a private fishing vessel with other individuals or small groups (six to ten people depending on the size of boat).
Party/Head Boats – Fishing with larger groups of anglers.

Fact # 5 A Fisherman’s Paradise!
Because of the twice daily exchange of salt and freshwater through the pass and the Santa Rosa Sound, a wide variety of marine life lives in the bay. Choctawhatchee Bay connects with several rivers and creeks, and finally joins the Gulf of Mexico at the Pensacola and East passes. The complex and thriving ecosystem created by such waterways supports a bountiful selection like oysters, alligator gar, and the endangered Okaloosa darter. The bay also hosts a unique combination of both salt and freshwater fish, as sea water is pumped in twice a day by the Santa Rosa Sound. All of this adds up to some epic fishing! You’ll come across species like striped bass, speckled trout, and bluefish, along with dolphins, sharks, flounder, grouper and Spanish mackerel. Use herring to nab yourself a hefty flounder; they have a taste for good herring. And get ready for the bay’s healthy redfish; they’ll bite onto just about anything.

Fact #6 Moon phases matter!
If you’re planning a fishing trip to Florida, one of the most important considerations is the lunar calendar. Moon phases matter – big time! Full moon phases generally cause the biggest tide swings, with the strongest currents. That’s a good thing if you’re fishing under dock and bridge lights for species including snook, tarpon, jacks and trout. If you’re a night-fishing owl, plan your trip around the biggest tides. The warmer months are best. Avoid the full moons if you’re after pelagic species such as mahi, king mackerel and sailfish. The fish tend to feed more at night, and in random spurts during the day. Flats fishing can be excellent for tailing redfish and bonefish when the tides are most extreme. You will find the fish in places they can’t usually reach.

Fact #7 Keeping it Legal!
A fishing license is required to attempt to take fish.  If you cast your line, catch nothing, catch and release, or catch and keep and you are not a member of one the groups listed below; you need a license. Licenses and permits are required to help or assist in the take. Someone who is passively participating (setting decoys or baiting hooks), whether actively fishing or not, must have a license
In general, you need a freshwater license to take freshwater fish and a saltwater license to take saltwater fish, unless one of the exemptions specified here. However, when you get into estuarine type areas where salt and fresh water commingle and fish of both types can be found the issue becomes less clear. The interpretation of the rule is:
You need either a freshwater, saltwater or combination license (or appropriate exemption) to take fish (take is legally defined as taking, attempting to take, capturing, or killing any fish).
If you are using species specific gear, your license should be appropriate (e.g., freshwater or saltwater) to the species you are targeting
Otherwise you must immediately release any species for which you are not licensed. License requirements follow the species of fish, regardless of where they are caught.
Fishing license is required for anglers ages 16 to 64. Those who are exempt from getting a fishing license include those taking charter fishing, permanently disabled residents and members of the military who are home temporarily. Residents can purchase a fishing license for one or five years. Non-residents can purchase a fishing license for three days, seven days or one year and will pay more than residents.

Fact #8 Deep Sea Fishing.
Jump on board and ride out into the Gulf on one of the deep sea Gulf Fishing trips!
Different companies offer a variety of trips ranging in hours, type of fishing, groups and individuals to accommodate both rookies and avid fishermen alike.
The length of the trip varies from Four Hour Fishing Trips to Overnight Fishing Trips depending on your preferences and type of fish you are intending to catch.
Also there are different types of fishing trips: Family Fishing Trips, Corporate Trips, 2-3 day Trips (Private Charters), Bay Fishing.
Fishing is also accessible for all types of budgets. Whether you are looking to rent a few fishing poles to fish from shore, buy a ticket on a party boat, rent your own fishing boat, or have the money set aside for the all-inclusive luxury charter fishing experience of a lifetime, there are many opportunities for all types of budgets.

Fact #9 Fishing Rules and Regulations inside the Resort.
Fishing in the Ponds: Fishing is available for all Resort Guests at any of the 72 ponds located on property. Each pond is stocked and CATCH and RELEASE is required. A fishing license is not required when fishing in the ponds.
Fishing on the Beach: Resort guests can also fish on the beach and keep their catch. A fishing license is not required when fishing from the shore. We ask that guests be very, very courteous to others swimming in the water and sitting on the shore. The most convenient times to fish on the beach would be early morning or late afternoon.
Fishing at The Village of Baytowne Wharf: Fishing is available for Resort guests and visitors to The Village of Baytowne Wharf at the Pier located at the end of Hammerhead’s Bar and Grille. A fishing license is not required for fishing on this dock.

Fact #10 Annual Fishing Tournaments.
Destin Cobia Tournament– March Through April 30th. The Annual Destin Cobia Tournament is a month long event that attracts hundreds of anglers from Northwest Florida. Destin Cobia Tournament Super Saturdays: The heaviest fish will win CASH prizes! Free photos will be taken with your catch! Events and live music in the Village.
Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin® – June 17-21. Taking place every June off the Florida panhandle in one of the most productive fisheries in the United States; timed to coincide with the peak of the Gulf Coast’s blue marlin season; hosted by the South’s number-one ranked resort destination. The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin® has set the precedent for world-class, million dollar, sportfishing tournaments.
Destin Fishing Rodeo – October 1st – 31st. The Destin Fishing Rodeo is FREE to anglers who… fish aboard boats registered in the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Fact #11 Saving Money!
Keep these 3 tips in mind to minimize expenses and still make the necessary purchases for a successful and enjoyable season.
1. Our company offers a variety of discounts for fishing for your vacation. Please click here for more information. You can easily get from 10% up to 50% from fishing supplies to fishing charter trips.
2. Find ways to make your own bait at home by using items like snacks, food, etc.
3. Always shop for used and clearance items first, especially bigger depth finders, downriggers, trolling motors, baits, etc..

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