Known as the "world's luckiest fishing village," this bustling Panhandle waterfront town boasts thriving saltwater fisheries, both near- and offshore.
For offshore enthusiasts, Destin's East Pass provides the speediest deepwater access in the region; the coastal shelf drops off to 100 feet within 10 miles. Anglers fish artificial reefs and natural structure for large gag grouper and red snapper. Harvest seasons change from year to year, so check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website at myFWC.com/fishing/ for dates and regulations. To obtain locations for artificial reefs, go to co.okaloosa.fl.us/dept_pw_resources_reefs_loran.html£2011.
Even farther offshore at the DeSoto Canyon, big-boat anglers pursue white and blue marlin, sailfish, dolphin and wahoo, primarily from April through October. First-time visitors are advised to charter a boat for one- or multi-day expeditions, as prime fishing may be found as far as 100 miles offshore.
From March through May each year, world-record-size cobia migrate along Panhandle beaches from Panama City to Pensacola.
Nearshore waters surrounding East Pass provide abundant tarpon and redfishing, and freshwater enthusiasts can fish for bass and catfish in the Blackwater, Shoal and Yellow rivers.
Destin's unofficial fishing headquarters is Harborwalk, with a large fleet of charterboats ranging from bay boats to large-capacity party boats. The complex also has shopping and restaurants.
For information on the Destin area, go to emeraldcoastfl.com or FishDestin.com.