Many of our Ocean Reef Resorts guests bring their families down to the Emerald Coast to stay in their own “beach home away from home”. Besides our luxurious beachfront condominiums we offer distinctive private rental homes that sit right on the sparkling crystalline beach overlooking the jeweled waters of the glistening gulf. Listening to the soothing sound of the surf, swimming near the distant dolphin and taking long romantic walks down the beach is heavenly. However many are starting to try their hand at “surf fishing”. This is not surprising since there is a bounty of fish to be caught right out the back door of these beautiful beachfront residences. Even during the peak summer season, would be anglers can try their hand at this sport early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the beaches are not crowded. If you’re not right on the beach there are other places to go as well including the Topsail State Beach Park, Grayton Beach State Park, Deer Lake and the National Seashore near Destin offering miles of relatively isolated shoreline.
The bountiful fish are found in troughs in between three sets of sand bars known as the inner, middle and outer bars. If you are in need of fishing equipment there are a number of places in Destin where you may be accommodated. You should start by having a seven to twelve foot medium to heavy action rod with a heavy duty spinning reel that is corrosion resistant due to the salt air. Your test line should run between seventeen to twenty pounds with a leader line that can go up to thirty to forty pounds. You will also need sinkers from three to eight ounces and floats using circle hooks usually sized 1/0 or 2/0 but can go up from there. A Rod Holder or Sand Spike is suggested if fishing from shore. Live bait or lures may be used and Sand Fleas are prized for prime fish. Sand Fleas are what Destin locals call these small crabs that are plentiful along the beach and ideal as bait. These tiny crustaceans are known elsewhere as Fiddler Crabs, Sand Crabs or Mole Crabs. They have no claws but five sets of legs underneath known as diggers, which allow them to burrow into the soft sand.
Pompano are reputed to be the most prized fish you can catch in the Destin surf. These fish usually weigh two or three pounds and are eleven to twenty inches long. These tasty fish have a flat deep form with a blunt snout and six short spines in front of an elongated dorsal fin. The anal fin below is slightly shorter and the fish coloring is mostly silver with a subtle greenish-yellow mottling. They put up a great fight and feed on the bottom in between sand bars. Special rods known as Pompano Rigs are usually used to catch them. Sand fleas or fresh peeled shrimp are the bait to use. Pompano are available year round but especially during their annual migration in early April when the water temperature reaches seventy degrees and remain very active thru mid May.
Redfish, also known as Red Drum, are prized by Destin locals just as much as Pompano. They are deep red in color that fades to white near their belly and are characterized by an eye spot near their tail. This is a big fish and in the state of Florida they must be at least eighteen inches long to be kept. Otherwise they must be thrown back. Usually Redfish weigh about four to six pounds and are up to twenty-seven inches in length. Large “Bull Reds” over this size may take your rod so hold on tight! If fishing from the beach, be sure that your drag is set correctly and that your sand spike is secure or you might find your rod pulled out to sea. Redfish are available year round but particularly prevalent in October when they move out into deep water to mate. They return to the Choctawhatchee Bay in the spring so a fishing proximity near East Pass in Destin is a good place to catch them. However, they may be found in the sand bar troughs most of the rest of the year. Redfish like sand fleas and a piece of peeled fresh shrimp as bait but use a large sized hook and whole shrimp to catch the big ones. Pompano Rigs may be used to catch these surf fish as well.
Whitings are a good tasting surf fish which locals also love and these are found in two varieties along the Emerald Coast which include the brown striped Southern Kingfish and the silvery Gulf Kingfish species. They range twelve to sixteen inches in length and weigh an average of two pounds. These are bottom feeders who love to nibble so be ready to set your hook. Like the others, they love peeled shrimp or sand fleas. Whitings may be caught year round but are especially active during the winter months from November thru early March. They love to run in schools feeding in troughs near shore so if you catch one, there’s more to come! You may also use a Pompano Rig for these fish but only with small hooks.
Here at Ocean Reef Resorts we have the perfect Destin vacation rental for use during your angling adventures while surf fishing in Destin, Miramar Beach or down along Scenic 30A in South Walton. Enjoy checking out these fine beachfront rental properties on our website which will provide you with multiple photos of each property along with seasonal rates and availability. Whether you are a seasoned fisherman or are just learning how to surf fishing, we hope you enjoy your angling adventures!