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Top Fishing Charters in Pensacola Beach

Fishing in Pensacola Beach

The barrier island of Pensacola Beach is uniquely placed for fishing. With the Santa Rosa Sound and the Pensacola Bay on the one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, both inshore and offshore fishing are within easy reach. Add that to the white sandy beaches and numerous shoreside attractions of this small town on Santa Rosa Island, and you’ll see why Pensacola Beach fishing charters are some of our customers’ top picks in Florida. 

Known For

Pensacola Beach draws tourists from the United States and beyond thanks to the vibrant Casino Beach, numerous secluded spots on the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and the pre-revolutionary site of Fort Pickens. Which is a good thing for anglers, as it means they won’t have a problem enticing their families and friends to join them in the waterways bordering these sandy shorelines. With a favorable climate that is reliably a couple of degrees cooler than the mainland in the summertime and a couple of degrees warmer in the winter, this is the perfect place to combine a relaxing beach holiday with an exploration of the world-famous fishing in Florida's Panhandle. 
 

Pensacola Beach Charter Fishing Options:

Inshore fishing

The inshore fishing Pensacola Beach has on its doorstep gives local guides plenty of options to choose from. Whether it’s fishing ‘sound side’ in the protected waters behind the barrier island, heading into Pensacola Bay, or exploring the surf, they don’t often have a problem finding something that’s biting. 
 
Pensacola Bay has one of Florida’s most stable populations of Bull Redfish in the fall, while the grass flats and sandy potholes in Santa Rosa Sound make the ideal habitat for all the species of a Florida Inshore Slam: Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder. Ocean side fishing is no less interesting. This could get you battling Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel, Little Tunny, and Pompano, all of which are excellent opponents on light tackle. The clear waters and white sand in these waterways make for excellent sight fishing, making charters fun and challenging for pros and beginners alike. 
 
Don’t forget to look out for the rich marine life that could be joining you alongside your boat! Sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and porpoises are all regular companions on local inshore charters. As they take place on protected waters, these are the most child-friendly charter trips.
 
Put aside $350 - $550 for a half day private charter. Full day inshore trips are relatively uncommon here, where most longer trips will take you fishing the nearshore waters, too. 
 

Nearshore fishing

The majority of guides fishing out of Pensacola Beach will take you out to explore the productive waters within 9 miles of the coastline. These charters are a little more adventurous than inshore charters, as you’ll be fishing in deeper water for larger fish. At the same time, you’re never too far from land, making this a popular choice for families and first time fishermen.
 
Fishing these waters can get you hooking up with a range of exciting pelagic fish such as King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, and Cobia. You can also try your hand at bottom fishing for tasty Snapper and Grouper, or even the ‘donkey of the sea’ — the notoriously stubborn Amberjack. 
 
Nearshore fishing trips start at about $550 for a half day private charter, stretching up to $800-$1000 for a full day at sea.
 

Offshore fishing

Once you get 25 miles offshore from Pensacola Beach, you will have access to some of the richer fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico. These trips will take 6-8 hours and take place in choppier waters in the open ocean. Make sure to bring medication if you get sea sick! 
 
Most of the time, these charters will focus on bottom fishing, targeting tasty species such as Red Snapper, Vermillion Snapper, and Triggerfish. As you travel in and out of the fishing grounds, you will usually troll for fish such as King and Spanish Mackerel. 
 
These trips are by far the most popular option, especially when Red Snapper season is open in the summer and early fall. A full day trip is recommended to get the most out of your time on the water and will usually cost around $1150 for a private charter. 
 

Further out

Most Pensacola Beach fishing charters go no further than about 30 miles from the shore. It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that once you go beyond this distance, you will find less fishing pressure and—usually—a better quality bite. Deep sea fishing 30-50 miles from the coast will get you targeting Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Sailfish when trolling, and bottom fishing could hook you up with Scamp, Gag, and Yellowedge Grouper, as well as Barrelfish, Tilefish, and Red Snapper. 
 
You will need to take a trip that is at least 10 hours long to experience this quality fishery. This will cost upwards of $1500 for a private charter.
 
If you want to access sportfishing that will rival that of anywhere in the world, you’ll want to look 60+ miles out. These waters are still accessible in a day trip, although you’ll be looking at a trip lasting a good 12 hours, if not more. Local charters run trips lasting up to 36 hours, which will get you journeying out to the offshore oil rigs in 1000+ ft of water, where anything from Yellowfin Tuna to Blue Marlin could take your bait.
 
Factoring in the cost of fuel, these trips will cost at least $2000, ranging up to $4500 or more for a full 24 hours. 
 

Fishing Techniques

Most fishing in Pensacola Beach comes under one of two categories: trolling or bottom fishing. Longer trips will generally give you the chance to try a bit of both, while shorter nearshore trips tend to focus on trolling. Whichever you go for, you’ll be up against the species that make this part of the Panhandle famous amongst fishermen world wide. Here are some top techniques to try:
 

Bottom fishing for Red Snapper. Whole menhaden, locally known as ‘pogie,’ is a popular bait in these parts. You can get away with using dead Cigar Minnows, Pilchards or cut fish and squid in less fished areas. If you’re fishing offshore in deeper water, you’ll need to tackle up, using 50-80 lb test gear to get the biggest fish into the boat. You can catch these tasy fish by anchoring or drift fishing over a reef. 

Trolling for pelagics. Small Ballyhoo is an effective bait for a whole range of pelagics and is a firm favorite around here. It may be fished ‘naked’ (in its natural state) or attached to an artificial lure, referred to as a ‘skirt’. King Mackerel go mad for this technique, and it’s also effective when targeting Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Wahoo.

Rules and Regulations

All licensed Pensacola Beach fishing charters cover all the paperwork you need to go fishing, so there is no need to purchase additional licensing. But, if you want to dip a line from a private boat or from the shore, you will need to buy a recreational fishing license. Pensacola Beach fishing pier is a popular spot for post-charter fishing. Here, you can fish without a license, although you must pay a fee of $7.50 for an adult and $4.50 for a child to fish.
 
In order to keep the local fish populations healthy, there are a number of state and federal laws that regulate the fish you can keep. The Gulf’s favorite bottom fish, the Red Snapper, is one of the fish that is most heavily impacted by fishing regulations. State and federal Red Snapper fishing regulations change on a yearly basis, but you can usually expect the season to be open from June to early fall. 

How to Get There

Take the Pensacola Bay Bridge south from Pensacola. From Gulf Breeze, look for the giant Swordfish sign pointing the way to Pensacola Beach. Cross the bridge and pay the small $1 toll, and you will be right there in the amongst the action.
 
Most charters leave from docks and marinas accessible from Pensacola Beach Boulevard, just after the toll gate. Smaller boats may leave from the Quietwater Beach Wayside Boat Ramp, while larger ones will have their own dock in Little Sabine Bay. Pensacola Beach Marina and the docks behind Shaggy’s Bar and Grill are common departure points. Both are easily accessible by car.
Pensacola Beach
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Based on 8611 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Pensacola Beach Fishing Seasons

With winter temperatures slightly higher on Pensacola Beach than on the mainland, January can be a great time to fish in these parts. Look for False Albacore very close to the beaches and test yourself with light tackle or fly.
Make the most of the peaceful beaches before the tourist season kicks in on the Panhandle. Inshore fishing can be great fun—practice sight fishing as you peruse the beaches, looking for Bull Redfish and False Albacore.
Springtime sees the fishing get more exciting than ever. Late March marks the beginning of the Cobia migration—an even not to be missed. Pompano, Mackerel, and Sheepshead will also start to show up as the waters warm. 
The fishing gets better and better. Cobia fishing off Pensacola Beach peaks in April, while Speckled Trout and Slot Redfish are being caught in the Bay and Sound. Look for large schools of Pompano and Jacks off the beaches.
King and Spanish Mackerel start to move into Pensacola Bay. These are welcome arrivals amongst charter fishermen, who can also explore the waters off the beaches for Speckled Trout and Bull Redfish. This is a great time to fish!
Charter boats begin to book up more solidly at this time of year, which is the beginning of peak fishing season in Pensacola Beach. Red Snapper opens, Kingfish is biting nearshore, and all sorts are caught off the beaches. 
 
As the water temperatures rise, inshore fishing slows down. But the action offshore is better than ever, with Red Snapper, King Mackerel, Amberjacks, and small Mahi Mahi being regular catches. 
The hot weather continues—get out on the water to cool down. You can expect to find Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish inshore with Kingfish loitering in the passes. Bottom fishing for Snapper and Grouper is excellent. 
The weather remains hot. People are catching the 'garbage can slam' inshore, with Spanish Mackerel and Pompano filling ice boxes. Blue Water fishing is excellent—both While and Blue Marlin are possible on longer trips. 
 
The offshore bite remains excellent, especially from White Marlin. Meanwhile, inshore fishing is getting exciting again, as Bull Redfish begin their migration into the bay. Speckled Trout fishing is also good. 
Warm water species move on as the first cold fronts arrive. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing, as the talk in town is all about Flounder, which is migrating in large numbers out to the Gulf. You won't be hungry!
December fishing in Pensacola Beach can be quite phenomenal, especially if you're a fan of Bull Redfish. The fish are hungry and are gladly taking bait inshore. Offshore fishing can be rough and wavy.

Pensacola Beach Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Pensacola Beach

"September fishing trip"

Bobby Haraway fished with Total Package Charters on September 21, 2018

Make sure your Captain and Deck Hand have an excellent, reputable, high rating such as Captain Sean and Deck Hand Jeremy has and you can't go wrong.

"Offshore trip with Captain Joseph"

Rodney Colson fished with Fish Frenzy Charters on September 7, 2018

Go out with Captain Joseph on Fish Frenzy and all you have to do is walk on the boat.

"August fishing trip"

Tom Kirwan fished with Paradise Fishing Charters on August 15, 2018

Sunblock, floppy hat, patience, courtesy

"Half day trip with Captain Joseph"

Bill Toms fished with Fish Frenzy Charters on August 8, 2018

For inexperienced anglers fishing in the Pensacola area, I'd highly recommend booking a trip with Captain Joseph with Fish Frenzy Charters. He has been fishing since he was three years old and is very experienced. He patiently showed us how to fish and we were quickly reeling them in as fast as we could bait our hooks! It was an awesome experience and we will definitely go again!

Top Types of Fishing in Pensacola Beach

  1. Inshore Fishing

Top Fishing Techniques in Pensacola Beach

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Pensacola Beach

Snapper (Red)

Amberjack

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Cobia

Nearby Fishing Destinations