Panama City Beach Deep Sea Fishing
Apr 20, 2021 | 8 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

The city of the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches” has a lot to offer to any visiting tourist, thanks to its stunning, sugar-white sandy beaches and amazing weather. A Panama City Beach deep sea fishing adventure has to top the list though! While there’s great fishing to be had all over the city, the vast blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico are unparalleled.

Aerial view of Panama City Beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico

The Florida Panhandle is famous for its offshore fishing, and Panama City Beach offers incredible access to the deep sea honey holes in the area. Reefs, wrecks, oil rigs, or the open ocean – it’s all in the cards!

We’ll break down everything you need to know about the PCB deep sea fishing scene. So by the time you’re done reading, you’ll be more than ready for this challenge.

What to Catch

An infographic showing the top fish species in Panama City Beach, including Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, Tuna, Wahoo, Cobia, Red Snapper, and Gag Grouper

As you can see, there’s a lot roaming around the deep waters off the coast of this Florida city. No matter where you go, you’ll have your hands full, so let’s see what species top the list for the most targeted fish in this part of the world.

Snapper/Grouper

Both Snappers and Groupers are beloved by local anglers, mostly thanks to their delicious meat. But, that’s not the only reason people go after them! They’re exciting to catch as well, putting up a great fight at the end of a line.

An angler holding a Red Snapper on a boat in Panama City Beach

The most famous out of the bunch has to be the iconic Red Snapper. It’s become a synonym for reef fishing in the area and, when the season is open, it’s Red Snapper frenzy! These hard-fighting species love roaming around the deep waters off the coast, and around reefs and wrecks. So a Panama City Beach deep sea fishing trip is the best way to make sure you’re in on the fun!

When it comes to Groupers, they might not be the prettiest fish to look at, but they more than make up for it with their game and food qualities. Gag, Red, and Black Grouper are the ones you’re most likely to encounter on your trip, as they tend to feed around structure in the waters off the coast of Panama City Beach.

Amberjack

Amberjack is another staple of Panama City Beach deep sea fishing. With uncountable natural and artificial reefs in close proximity to shore, it’s no surprise these feisty creatures found a home here. You’ll find them around any structure in the area, so just find your spot and sink your line.

A group of anglers holding an Amberjack on a boat in Panama City Beach

The best time to head out for some Amberjack fishing is spring and fall. Most reach sizes of 20–40 pounds, but larger specimens have been caught here as well. They enjoy warmer temperatures, which is why the waters of the Sunshine State are their perfect habitat.

You won’t have to worry about the perfect bait, either, as Amberjack will devour almost anything you throw at them. The real challenge here is the fight they put up, and trust us, they do put up a mean fight!

Mahi Mahi

One of the most distinguished fish species that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico, these yellow-green critters have more than just a pretty face. Mahi Mahi are known for their looks, but their fighting spirit might be even more revered. If you’re looking for an all-rounder – a good challenge, an amazing photo, and a delicious dinner, look no further!

An angler holding a Mahi Mahi on a boat in Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach has a healthy population of Mahi Mahi, and you can find smaller ones swimming fairly close to shore. But the record-breaking specimens are roaming in the really deep waters. Head further out and you’ll surely get the fight of your life. Mahi Mahi don’t give up easily!

Tuna

Any variety of Tuna is a prized catch in itself. These highly-revered species have a special place in Florida, with Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna taking the top spot. Tuna is the name of the game in fall, when the biggest ones tend to hang around the drop-offs. You can also target Little Tunny and Atlantic Tuna in these waters.

Happy anglers fishing for Tuna out of Panama City Beach

Heading out in search of this magnificent fish is a real feat, as it often becomes a battle of wills. If you’re looking for the really big specimens, the waters off the coast of Panama City Beach offer incredible opportunities. Sail away around 20 miles from shore where the biggest creatures tend to congregate, and you’re in for a real show!

Billfish

This interesting group of feisty creatures is every fisherman’s dream. Encompassing Marlin, Sailfish, and the ever-elusive Swordfish, it’s not hard to see why these fish are at the top of the list for any hardcore angler. You can catch all of these just miles away from shore, as Panama City Beach has access to some very prolific waters.

An angler holding a Sailfish in the waters of Panama City Beach

Hop on a boat and do some trolling for Marlin, maximizing your chances of reeling in this hard-fighting creature. If you want to try something new and exciting, kite fishing for Sailfish is a special adventure.

And if you’re looking to take home that delicious Swordfish steak, head over to the really deep waters and do some deep dropping. Whatever you choose, you won’t get bored with any member of the Billfish family!

And More!

There’s so much much where all that came from. While the above might be on the top of the list for anglers visiting the offshore waters of Panama City Beach, there’s a lot more lurking underwater. Cobia, Wahoo, and King Mackerel are all worthy of your attention, so just head on out and test your luck.

What techniques should I use?

So, you know you want to get a taste of Panama City Beach deep sea fishing, but you’re wondering what that’s going to look like. We’ve got you covered! There’s a variety of fishing techniques you’ll likely try out, so let’s dive into what makes each of them special.

Bottom Fishing

If you’re looking for the perfect Sunday meal, heading out to the reefs and wrecks off the coast of Florida, then you should definitely try bottom fishing. There are numerous spots just miles away from shore that hold some of the most delicious bottom-dwelling fish.

An aerial view of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico

Snappers, Groupers, and Amberjack tend to be the most popular here. Red Snapper is particularly sought-after by local anglers, and they can get over 20 pounds big, making them a very fun target.

As you move away from shore, these creatures get bigger and bigger. So if breaking some records is what you’re after, head out further offshore and hit the floating oil rigs in the deep waters of the Gulf. Big Amberjack and a myriad of Groupers and Snappers are more than ready to take your bait!

Deep Dropping

Here’s one reserved for the truly adventurous among you! If you’re looking to reel in a true king of the deep – Swordfish – this is one bottom fishing technique you should get familiar with. Panama City Beach is the perfect place to head out of on a swordfishing adventure, as you can hop on a charter and easily visit waters 2,000 feet deep.

A Swordfish under water

If you’re heading out on an overnight charter, you won’t have to drop your bait that deep. However, if you want to see a Swordfish leap out of the water against a blue backdrop, you’ll need to sink your line all the way down.

With the right equipment and electronics, as well as an experienced captain, you won’t have any issues finding a productive spot. All you have to do is muster all your energy when the time to fight this ferocious fish comes!

Trolling

Hands-down the best way to reel in the Gulf’s pelagics, trolling is a fun way of spending a day in the sun. The biggest advantage of trolling these waters is that you can have multiple lines in the water at the same time. The bait will follow your boat mimicking the prey of big offshore species like Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, King Mackerel, and Marlin. Once they bite, the game is on!

Trolling with two lines in the offshore waters

What makes trolling an especially fun way of fishing the deep blue waters is that you can cover a lot of ground in search for fish. You can easily move around and make sure your trip is productive by following the Gulf’s predators. There’s a variety of charters ready to take you out, and your captain will be able to fill you in on everything you need to know.

Kite Fishing

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, kite fishing might be just the thing for you. It’s one of the most exciting ways of targeting fish in Panama City Beach, and Sailfish is the most popular species anglers tend to go after using this technique.

A Sailfish jumping out of the water

What makes kite fishing so special is that even if the fish don’t take your bait, the show they’ll put on is worth the hassle. You’ll see smaller fish jumping out of the water with Sailfish trailing right behind. This means live bait is your go-to choice when kite fishing. When the wind conditions are right, it’s the most fun you can have in these waters!

When should I go on a Panama City Beach deep sea fishing trip?

Panama City Beach boasts amazing weather throughout the year and some of the best views in the state of Florida. This makes any time a great time to visit and sink a line here.

An aerial view of Panama City Beach

That being said, you should plan your trip according to what you want to catch. For a prolific deep sea adventure, the high season is during the summer months when the deep waters are inviting and you can catch the most fish.

If Red Snapper is your thing, you should visit in June/July when the season opens. If you’re big on Billfish, July is when the action happens. Mahi Mahi and Amberjack are great all summer long, while the Tuna season starts in summer but peaks in September.

Anything else I need to know?

While you can technically fish in these waters all year round, there are certain regulations you’ll need to abide by. Anyone over the age of 16 should have a Florida fishing license. Take a look at the video below or read our guide to learn more about Florida fishing licenses and how to get one.

However, you’ll probably head out on a fishing charter, which means the license will be covered for you by the captain. Your captain will also be to help you keep track of important information, and they’ll make sure you’re always fishing within the law.

Get Ready, Go Deep!

And you’re all set. By now, you have all the information you need in order to plan your Panama City Beach deep sea fishing trip. Reefs, wrecks, oil rigs, the open waters of the Gulf… Whatever experience you gravitate towards, one thing’s for sure – you’ll have the time of your life! With so much fish all around you, how can you not?

A view of the gulf of Mexico from a beach in Panama City Beach

Have you ever visited Panama City Beach and its deep offshore waters? Tell us all about it in the comments, or ask anything you’d like to know. We love to hear from you!

Comments (2)
  • Randall Grant

    Mar 26, 2021

    I go 3 times a year. Love it. That’s how I get my adrenalin rush for this old man. I live in Knoxville Tennessee. I can be in Panama City Beach in less than 9 hours. Great place for people that love to fish & much more. I’m planning a trip now.

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      Vule

      Mar 26, 2021

      Hey Randall,

      Thanks for reaching out, that’s great to hear! I agree completely, PCB is a great place to have some fun fishing. If you’re looking to hire an offshore fishing charter for your trip, you can take a look at our offer here.

      Have fun, and feel free to come back and tell us about your adventure!

      Tight Lines,

      Vule

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