Fishing in Destin, Florida.

Destin, FL Fishing Guide

Written by Lenny Rudow
May 26, 2022

Last Updated on May 27, 2022 by Boatsetter Team

Fishing Destin, FL is known not just nationally, but even internationally, for the phenomenal opportunities and action one can experience. Destin is located along the Gulf of Mexico where it meets with Choctawhatchee Bay, providing both inshore and offshore fishing grounds that are teeming with gamefish.

There are plenty of Destin fishing charters you can opt for if you’re not familiar with how to fish in these waters, or you can rent a boat here and head out on your own.

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Where to Fish: Best Destin Fishing Spots

Choosing where to fish in Destin boils down to deciding whether to go fishing in the bay, or head out into the Gulf. Either way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put a bend in your rods.

Choctawhatchee Bay

Choctawhatchee Bay, Destin, Florida.

Choctawhatchee Bay has well over 100 square miles of water and is fed by the Choctawhatchee River.

  • Most of the bay is brackish water which grows saltier the closer you get to the East Pass inlet, so there’s a tremendous variety of fish-attracting habitats ranging from flats to oyster bars to marshes.
  • There are two bridges with lots of pilings crossing the Bay plus the inlet jetties, all of which are known as fishing hotspots.
  • Also be sure to check out the grassy flats in areas like Hogtown Bayou, which often offer particularly good morning and evening bites.

Note that even the best fishing charters in Destin will hit these spots—along with many others of course—and even though they may be well known they definitely belong on your list of places to try.

Gulf of Mexico

Head out of the pass to enter the Gulf of Mexico, and you’ll be in for a treat.

  • Unlike many areas along the Gulf Coast, Destin is relatively close to deep water and you don’t have to go farther than a dozen or so miles to get to numerous hotspots.
  • In fact, at times you can catch pelagic species while still within sight of the condos on the beach.

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What to Fish for in Destin in Choctawhatchee Bay: Top Species List

There are countless species you could encounter in Choctawhatchee Bay, but which you’ll likely catch depends to a large degree on the season.

That said, the most commonly sought-after gamefish here include:

  • Black Drum
  • Flounder
  • Jack Crevalle
  • Grouper (multiple species)
  • Snapper (multiple species)
  • Pompano
  • Red Drum
  • Sharks (multiple species)
  • Speckled Sea Trout
  • Tarpon

Grouper fishing.

In the Gulf of Mexico near Destin, anglers will generally be fishing for:

  • Amberjack
  • Blackfin tuna
  • Cobia
  • Grouper (multiple species)
  • Jack Crevalle
  • King Mackerel
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Snapper (multiple species)
  • Sharks (multiple species)
  • Spanish Mackerel
  • Triggerfish
  • Tripletail

When is the best time to go fishing in Destin, FL?

This part of the nation offers year-round fishing opportunities, and you can get a Destin FL fishing guide, rent a boat on your own, or otherwise try wetting a line during all four seasons.

That said, the time of year will have a big impact on the species you’re likely to catch.


During the winter months, redfish and speckled trout are prime targets and often will be found in areas of the bay where there’s relatively deep water, but on sunny afternoons the fish may move shallow to warm up. Out in the Gulf, snapper, triggerfish, and possibly blackfin tuna could be around.


In the spring the action gets hot both inside and bay and off the coast. Reds and specks pick up their pace, snappers bite better, and pompano show up with more frequency. Along the beach, big jack crevalle often make a showing in the spring, as do the cobia. Trollers begin to pick up large numbers of Spanish mackerel, those headed farther offshore may find mahi-mahi or tuna, and anglers dropping baits to the bottom in the Gulf see a big uptick in the snappers.


Once summer sets in the spring’s bay fisheries settle into more of a routine. The speckled trout bite can fall off a bit in the heat but flounder often fill in any gaps. Outside the inlet the transition is similar; while the action from a few of the migratory species like cobia may fade a bit, some others like king mackerel move in to take their place.


Fall is an excellent time to fish and this season also offers some special opportunities, though the weather can become a bit less predictable. Speckled trout in the bay start fattening up for winter, larger redfish usually show up, and flounder often provide solid action as they begin migrating back out into the Gulf. Speaking of the Gulf, big bull redfish become more common along the beaches too, and both king mackerel and blackfin action often peak as the air grows a bit chillier.

Charter fishing boats in Destin, Florida.

Ready to go fishing in Destin?

The best fishing methods to use in Destin depend on which species you’ve decided to target.

  • Fish like snappers and groupers are usually best targeted by bottom fishing with bait. You can also use bait to target bay species like the speckled trout and redfish, but many anglers prefer to go after these fish by casting lures on light tackle.
  • In the open waters of the Gulf chumming and trolling are both popular methods for king mackerel and blackfin tunas. In fact, there are several methods that can be used for each species swimming in these waters and if we had the space here, we could write a book about each.

So, the best way to try fishing in Destin FL is to pick a target, study up on how anglers go after that particular species of fish, and choose the method that best suits your fishing style. Or, of course, you could simply check out the many Destin fishing charters available and let the pros choose which tactics to apply.

However you may decide to chase after those fish in Destin, one thing is for sure: you’ll be in for a great time. With the Choctawhatchee Bay in one direction and the Gulf in the other, your options are virtually endless — get ready for those rods to bend.

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