A Destin inshore fishing experience is nothing short of spectacular. With Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico just moments away, you’ll have some of Florida’s best sportfishing at your fingertips. Come drift through the shallow waters of the bay, or head to open seas just a few miles off the Emerald Coast. There will be an endless supply of game fish no matter where you cast lines. Of course, why choose just one when you can easily indulge in both?

What to Expect While Fishing Inshore

Choctawhatchee Bay

Here in Destin, fishing inshore can lead to a wide variety of possibilities. The more conservative definition of “inshore fishing” includes the inland waters of Choctawhatchee Bay and its many grass beds, oyster bars, and flats. Just a quick boat ride from the dock, it’s easy to explore these prime fishing grounds even if you can only spare a few hours. 

Swimming in water 3 feet deep (or less) are the likes of Redfish, Speckled Trout, Sheepshead, Flounder, Black Drum, and seasonal visitors such as Spanish Mackerel, Pompano, and Jack Crevalle. Come summertime, many anglers are busy sight fishing for Tarpon around here. Night fishing trips are a popular way to beat the heat while targeting Redfish and Speckled Trout.

These waters are especially productive from autumn through spring, when you can catch Bull Redfish and a hefty supply of Flounder and Speckled Trout. Go for all three of these fish in a day and catch yourself an Inshore Grand Slam!

The Gulf of Mexico

With a little more time on your hands, you can fill your cooler with a wider variety of fish. A six to eight-hour fishing trip might take you to various hot spots around Choctawhatchee Bay, or you might slip through the East Pass into the nearshore waters of the Gulf. You can even find combo trips in the area that offer the best of both worlds.

While these open waters technically don’t fit into the traditional category of “inshore fishing,” a fair number of captains in Destin like to stretch the definition a little. And who can blame them? With superb fishing just around the corner, it’s hard to resist the temptation.

An “inshore” trip in the Gulf will always keep you in sight of land, usually about 2 miles offshore and just a 20 minute boat ride away from the Pass. You’re likely to continue fishing with light tackle out here, too. But don’t let that fool you—you’re mixing with a completely different crew of game fish now.

Bottom fishing the nearshore wrecks and reefs produces Snapper, Grouper, Cobia, Amberjack, and other tasty morsels. Meanwhile, a little trolling goes a long way, leading to catches of King Mackerel, Bonito, Blackfin Tuna, and even Sailfish on occasion. Trips to the Gulf are best in summer and early fall, when many of these species are in their peak season.

Destin Inshore Fishing Styles

When it comes to fishing inshore around Destin, you can almost always count on using light tackle. Anglers rarely need anything heavier than 12 lb test line and a light action spinning rod. This gear is versatile enough to handle many inshore species, yet easy for anglers of any skill level to use.

Fly fishers and more experienced anglers looking for a challenge can also enjoy fly fishing for many species inshore.

As for bait selection, nothing is more tried and true than live bait. This is the weapon of choice for every species from Redfish to Snapper and Blackfin Tuna. Depending on the season and other conditions, however, your guide may recommend cut bait or lures instead. Frozen squid tends to be a popular choice when bottom fishing near the reefs.

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Top Targeted Inshore Fishing Species in Destin

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Redfish

Cobia

Spanish Mackerel

What People Are Saying About Inshore Fishing in Destin

"Half day inshore with Jonathan"

Alan Gravel fished with East Pass Inshore Charters on October 19, 2017

We wanted an inshore afternoon trip to catch some redfish. We got everything but the redfish. Had we gone out in the morning or if the tides had been more favorable we likely would have caught redfish. As it is we brought home two nice flounder and had a very pleasant afternoon.

"Morning 4 Hour Trip"

Troy Cade fished with Destin Backcountry Fishing on July 10, 2017

We wanted to do some inshore fishing but due to all the rain Capt Mike took us out in the Gulf , we had a good time caught some good fish and a sunburn. I will be booking with him again.

"Great Trip"

Rachel Rodriguez fished with Destin Backcountry Fishing on July 25, 2016

We had a great inshore fishing trip. Capt Lance showed us exactly what to do. We brought home 4 speckled trout and 1 red fish! We will definitely be fishing with Destin Backcountry our next trip to Destin.

Top Inshore Fishing Charters in Destin

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