Destin is known as the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village and boast 1.5 miles of charter boats. The fishing in the Choctawhatchee Bay and offshore waters of Destin is some of the best in the world. How you design your trip is very important and will ensure that the trip meets your expectations and budget.
The first thing is to understand your options.
1) Head Boat – This is named because they charge by the “head” or “per person”. These boats are usually very large and can accommodate up to 100 passengers. They supply bait, equipment and deck hands and will clean your fish after the trip. This is the most economic way to go offshore and typically cost around $65 to $90 per person. You will mostly catch snapper and triggerfish but you are offshore so anything is possible.
2) Private Charter – These are a great way to enjoy offshore fishing in a private setting. Most of the boats are six packs (maximum 6 passengers) but there are a few that will accommodate larger private parties. Charters can be designed by the hour with a 4-hour minimum. You can expect an action packed day moving from spot to spot or trolling the deep. When bottom fishing you can expect to catch snapper, grouper, trigger and amberjack and when trolling you will usually catch king mackerel and bonita. You are offshore so anything is possible. These trips come with an experienced captain and deck hand. All bait and equipment is supplied. These trips start at $640 for a 4-hour and 8 hours will range around $1300
3) Inshore Bay Fishing – This is a great way to go fishing and has many advantages that you will want to consider. Because it is inshore, you will avoid any chance of getting seasick and our waters are usually very calm. These are always private trips and range from action packed to family fun. You will spend more time fishing because most of the boat rides are short. The boats are smaller around 20’, which allows you to access productive shallow waters. All bait and tackle is provided and your captain will always clean your fish. Expect to catch trout, redfish, ladyfish and a random grouper. These trips range by the hour with a 4-hour minimum and prices start at $550.
4) Pier Fishing – Okaloosa Island has a fishing pier that has 24-hour access and will provide a good time fishing on a small time budget. Access to the pier is only $8 per day and they sell bait. You can bring your own tackle or rent theirs. Don’t forget a Florida fishing license, as you are likely to get a visit from a fish and wildlife warden.
It is always customary to tip your captain and mate 15 to 20% based on your experience so keep that in mind when budgeting your trip.
Also keep in mind that summer in Destin is very busy and making advanced arrangements is highly recommended. If you show up and decide to fish, go down to the harbor and check out the boats coming in. You can get an idea of their catches and talk with the captain and mate to make sure your personalities mesh. Don’t forget your sunscreen, Dramamine, polarized sunglasses and beverages of choice. I hope this helps make your Destin fishing trip a success.