Mexico Beach

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Fishing in Mexico Beach

There are few places in the world where you can find the kind of fishing Mexico Beach, FL has to offer. This piece of the Panhandle brings you an epic experience on the water, with access to St. Joseph Bay, myriad artificial reefs, and deep sea fishing prospects that give Panama City a run for its money.

Known For

Part of Florida’s Forgotten Coast, Mexico Beach is known for its small-town atmosphere, pristine nature, and a general serenity which draws many city dwellers here for a great escape.

Though miles from any place else, Mexico Beach is just minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico. Perched on the edge of this world-renowned fishery, you could catch anything from Scallops and Redfish to Wahoo in a matter of hours. Add to that more than 100 artificial reefs and protected inshore waters, and there’s no end to the possibilities here.

Mexico Beach Fishing Spots

If you’re heading to open water, chances are your journey will begin at the Mexico Beach Marina—and if not there, somewhere nearby along the Mexico Beach Canal. Most fishing charters in the area are easy to find, right off of US Highway 98. From there, it’s smooth sailing out into the Gulf, where you might set off in any number of directions.

Local Inshore Waters

Fishing inshore will often take you through the shallow waters of St. Joseph Bay, a quick boat ride to the southeast. On the other hand, heading west takes you toward Crooked Island, Tyndall Air Force Base, and a series of bays surrounding Panama City.
Anglers delight in the area’s clear, inshore waters and extensive grass flats, as these conditions are ideal for Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, and Scallops. Depending on the season, these waters also grow prolific with Sheepshead, Spanish Mackerel, Jack Crevalle, Black Drum, and more.

The Cobia migration passes through in spring, when anglers like to go after a “Panhandle Slam” by targeting Cobia, Redfish, and Speckled Trout in one day. In summer, you can grapple with the hard-fighting Tarpon and Tripletail.

The MBARA Reefs

Mexico Beach is well known for scores of artificial reefs scattered throughout this part of the Gulf, some of them just 5 miles offshore.

Fishermen have the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA) to thank for that. Since 1997, MBARA has placed over 150 reefs throughout the area, resulting in stellar bottom fishing opportunities and some of the biggest Red Snapper you can find on this side of the Mississippi.
The reefs closest to shore allow you to cast lines in water less than 30 feet deep, with plenty of time to bring your catch home for lunch. Farther out, you’ll find several clusters of reefs known as Bell Shoal, Car Body, and Crooked Island Site. These locations provide the perfect opportunity to dabble in the Gulf’s renowned bottom fishing—all in water less than 100 feet deep.

Offshore you’ll find even more of these reefs, where the water keeps getting deeper and the fish keep getting bigger.

It’s important to note that the MBARA reefs are highly regulated, with open seasons for Snapper and Grouper species changing every year. You can typically expect to fish for Red Snapper between June and mid-July. For more information, stay up to date online.

The Gulf of Mexico

In this corner of the Gulf, the seafloor drops much sooner than it does in other locations, bringing massive bottom dwellers and a series of pelagic game fish closer to shore. For anglers, this means deep sea fishing doesn’t have to take all day. In fact, you might land yourself a big game trophy in as little as 4 hours.

Offshore reefs attract Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, Mackerel, Cobia, Barracuda, and much more. Some captains in Mexico Beach offer special 12-hour trips designed with hardcore bottom fishing in mind so you can make the most of this deep sea fishery.

On the other hand, trolling 45+ miles offshore will bring you big game fish like Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Sharks, King Mackerel, Sailfish, and even Blue Marlin. Chasing these bad boys usually requires 6-8 hours minimum. If you’re in the market for a half day trip, you can also troll for Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Kings just 25 miles from shore.

The best time to fish for these species is between March and November, when they’re biting the most.

If none of the above sounds intense enough for you, consider an overnight trip that will take you somewhere between 60-100 miles offshore, where the seafloor lies thousands of feet below. Out here, you can target Swordfish and Yellowfin Tuna, a couple of hard-won prizes that will turn you into the talk of the town.

Mexico Beach City Pier and Beaches

If a trek to the deep sea doesn’t float your boat, fear not: it’s easy to enjoy fishing in Mexico Beach without even setting foot offshore. Try casting a few lines from the white, sandy beaches, or make your way to the city pier and Canal Park.

While casting lines from shore you might catch Whiting, Flounder, Pompano, and even Sharks. In fall, you can target Redfish and Speckled Trout in the Mexico Beach Canal.

Anglers are welcome to fish from the Mexico Beach Public Pier for free. Please note that a fishing license is required while fishing from the beach and may also be required when pier fishing.

How much will it cost?

Mexico Beach fishing charters vary widely in price, depending on how far from shore you plan to fish and what species you’ll be targeting.

Inshore Fishing

Inshore fishing charters range from $400-$500 for a half day trip to about $600 for a full day.

Bottom Fishing

Nearshore reef fishing can cost $600-$1,200 for trips between 5 and 25 miles offshore. Half day and ¾ day trips typically go for $600-$900, while you can expect to pay around $1,000 for a full day.

The hardcore angler looking to fish the deepest reefs can book a trip for 12 hours, ranging from $1,700 to well over $2,000 in price.

Big Game Fishing

If you’re more interested in catching big game fish like Wahoo, Marlin, and Tuna, look for an offshore trolling trip. These sometimes cost more than bottom fishing trips to account for the fact that boats burn more fuel while trolling.

Prices start at around $700 for a half day and typically cost about $1,200 for a full day. Remember that a full day trip can be worth the higher price tag, since you’ll be fishing farther from shore and targeting a wider variety of species.

You'll also find extended day trips and overnight trips designed for catching Yellowfin Tuna and Swordfish. These cost anywhere from $2,500-$3,500.

Types of Fishing

While fishing inshore, you’re likely to target Redfish, Speckled Trout, Black Drum, and other species using light tackle. In cooler months, live bait proves most effective, but you can generally have great success using live bait, cut bait, and artificial lures throughout the year. Fly fishermen can target almost every inshore species on fly.

Trolling inshore will bring you Bluefish, King Mackerel, and Spanish Mackerel. Offshore, this same technique is used when targeting larger fish like Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and more.

Bottom fishing near the reefs is the ultimate method for catching Snapper, Grouper, Triggerfish, Amberjack, and other fish. In extreme depths, you may also deep drop for some of these species, as well as Swordfish.

Need to Know

All licensed fishing charters in Mexico Beach, FL provide a fishing license for their customers.

If you don’t plan on fishing with a local captain, you can buy a Florida fishing license online. Anglers age 16 and older must have a fishing license if fishing from shore.

While many local species are open to harvest year-round, bear in mind that Snapper and Grouper are not. Fishing seasons for bottom fish and Scallops change annually and can sometimes close before the season is over to preserve local populations.

You can stay up to date on regulations for these species and more through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
Mexico Beach
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Mexico Beach Fishing Seasons

Inshore fishing can be great at the start of the year. Look for Redfish and Speckled Trout in the Mexico Beach Canal or head to the backwaters of St. Joseph Bay.

Winter fishing continues, with Sheepshead, Redfish, and Speckled Trout biting more than any other species inshore. At this time of year, you can expect an average temperature of 56°F.

By March, you may catch some early Spanish Mackerel or Cobia if you drop a line in the right place. Redfish and Speckled Trout will be moving out of the canals and backwater as the water grows warmer.

Mexico Beach is known for its Cobia run at the start of the month. They’re followed by scores of King and Spanish Mackerel, Pompano, Ladyfish, and more. Offshore, big game fish are already reaching their peak!

The flats of St. Joe Bay are teeming with Redfish and Speckled Trout, not to mention all the other species who have arrived for summer. Offshore, you'll catch big game fish like Sailfish and Mahi Mahi.

At this time of year, there's rod-bending action everywhere you look. Tripletail and Sharks will keep you busy as Tarpon start to arrive. There may be a chance to fish the nearshore reefs for Snapper and Grouper, too.

Feeling ambitious? Sign up for the Mexico Beach Marina's Offshore Classic and land yourself some Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, King Mackerel, and a cash price. Then again, the Tarpon fishing in St. Joe Bay is irresistable.

You’ll be spoiled for choice in August. Nearly every fish you can think of is biting inshore, while the reefs are teeming with bottom fish. The deep sea promises Tuna, Sailfish, Wahoo, and more.

Autumn is on its way, but the weather in Mexico Beach—and the fishing—are still hot! Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Wahoo will keep you busy in the Gulf. On the flats, you can catch Flounder, Scallops, and more.

The average temperature is 71°F and there’s still plenty of time to land a big game trophy before the end of the year. Tuna, Sailfish, King Mackerel, and Wahoo are biting offshore.

As the peak season for big game fishing comes to a close, turn your attention to the shallow waters of St. Joe Bay and the surrounding area. Redfish, Black Drum, Sheepshead, and much more will be waiting. 

The holidays are an excellent time to head out on the water, with plenty of bottom fish biting on the nearshore reefs and a host of game fish swarming the flats inshore. 

Mexico Beach Fishing Calendar

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Top Targeted Species in Mexico Beach

Jack Crevalle

Jack Crevalle

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)



Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel