٠LICENSING & REGULATIONS٠

 

        

      Out-of-State Residents:

         Saltwater:

          License required to fish from land (shoreline) or boat

          Three-day license cost: $17

          Seven-day license cost: $30

          * children under the age of 16 are not required to have a saltwater fishing license

          Freshwater:

          License required to fish from land or boat

          Three-day license cost: $17

          Seven-day license cost: $30

            * children under the age of 16 are not required to have a freshwater fishing license

        Florida Residents:

          Saltwater:

          License required to fish from a boat or when wading in water over four feet

          deep. 

          Annual license cost: $17

          Freshwater:

          License required except when fishing from land, with a cane pole, in fisherman's

          county of residence.

          Annual license cost: $17

          Saltwater/Freshwater Combo License

          Annual License cost: $32.50         

         NOTE: When fishing in brackish water (a mixture of both fresh and saltwater),     anglers must have a freshwater license to keep freshwater species, a saltwater license to keep saltwater species, or combo license if you wish to keep species of both types.

Licenses may be obtained at most local bait & tackle shops, through the Walton County Tax Collector's Office or online at https://www4.wildlifelicense.com/fl/start.php A list of regulations concerning size limits, bag limits, and closed seasons on all species can be found wherever fishing licenses are sold.         


For more information about fishing the Beaches of South Walton

PLEASE CALL 1-800-822-6877

With 14 fresh and saltwater lakes, the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico included in its recreational waterfront, the Beaches of South Walton offers exciting fishing opportunities for anglers with all levels of expertise.


      Five Ways to Fish South Walton Beaches

FRESHWATER FISHING: Species in South Walton: bass, bream, bluegill, mullet, catfish, and shellcracker. Fall is peak freshwater fishing that finds all species active and hungry. Try plastic worms or spinner baits for bass and crickets, earthworms or small spinner baits for bream, bluegill, mullet, catfish and shellcracker. Bluegill, shellcracker and bass can all be caught in the winter months, but all will be holding in deeper water. Springtime sees the action pick up when the fish are found in shallow water again. Best bets are topwater plugs to catch bass and popping flies for bream and bluegill. Summer is slower for bass fishing, but the other species mentioned are still biting and mullet are plentiful. Try doughballs and pieces of earthworm as bait to catch mullet.

SALTWATER FISHING: Fishing in Choctawhatchee Bay: Species in South Walton: speckled trout, red fish, spanish mackerel, flounder, bluefish and cobia. Speckled trout and redfish may be caught year-round, but springtime brings a rise in their numbers as well as an increase in feeding activity. Spring also marks the beginning of great fishing for mackerel and cobia as they have migrated north then west, following the coast. Summer brings flounder and bluefish into the bays in large numbers. Add these species to the trout, redfish and mackerel that are plentiful this time of year, and there are endless possibilities. Fortunately, these fish are not very particular about baits; live shrimp, small bait fish, jigs, spoons and plugs will all take their share of fish. Fall and winter fishing is devoted to trout and redfish when they are headed into the creeks and rivers. The fish will be found in deeper holes, so jigs and live bait fished on the bottom will work best.

BOTTOM FISHING: Species in South Walton: Several varieties of grouper, snapper, sea bass and trigger fish. Bottom fishing refers to fishing in the Gulf, over wrecks, reefs, or any other bottom structure in water from 40-180 feet deep. This type of fishing is excellent in the spring, with copper-bellied grouper and red snapper most abundant. Premium baits are live cigar minnows, pinfish and other bait fish; however, cut bait and large jigs will work as well. Summer and fall see little decline in the action. The main seasonal difference is that the seas are calmer, allowing for a more comfortable ride out to the fishing grounds. The bottom fish move closer to shore as the water warms. This makes bottom fishing much more accessible during September, October, November and December. There are fewer boats on the water at this time of the year, making competition less fierce and often yielding highly productive trips.

OFFSHORE FISHING: Species in South Walton: dolphin, tuna, king mackerel, wahoo, sailfish, blue marlin, and white marlin. Offshore fishing is done from 25 miles or more offshore, and usually includes trolling live or artificial baits. Fall is the prime season for offshore action, when the largest blue and white marlin are caught. Spring and summer also offer great offshore fishing, especially for dolphin, king mackerel and wahoo.

SURF FISHING: Species in South Walton: pompano, spanish mackerel, trout, red fish and bluefish. Surf fishing can be done anywhere along the 26-miles of beaches in South Walton and is most productive from April through November. Preferred tackle includes a long rod (7-feet or longer) and a large spinning reel with 12-15 pound line. Shrimp, cut bait, jigs and spoons work well, but to catch pompano, sand fleas or small white jigs are most effective.

If you go fishing, consider these options…

Grayton Beach State Recreation Area: Grayton Beach State Recreation Area offers diverse and exciting fishing opportunities. Located in the park is Western Lake, a fairly large lake containing brackish water that is home to both fresh and saltwater species of fish, including redfish, trout, largemouth bass, bream and bluegill. The lake has a boat ramp, but can be fished from the shore as well. The beach offers excellent surf fishing and is just a short walk from the lake. Entrance fee is $3.25 per car (eight person maximum).

Elrod's Fish Camp: Located on the Choctawhatchee Bay. Elrod's Fish Camp has an extensive bait and tackle shop, as well as a ramp to launch boats. Elrod's also offers professional fishing guide excursions in lakes and the Choctawhatchee Bay and smaller boat rentals.

Fishing at South Walton Resorts: The numerous ponds on and around the golf courses at Sandestin Resort have been stocked with largemouth bass and bream, and provide excellent fishing for guests of the resort. Sandestin's Baytown Marina also offers deck boat rentals for recreational use in the bay. Guests of Seascape Resort & Conference Center, Cassine Garden, Emerald Coast RV Resort and Holiday Travel Park are welcome to fish in their stocked lakes and ponds.

Charter Boat & Party Boat Fishing: Visitors to South Walton can choose from many charter boat and party boat saltwater trips by driving just a few miles west of South Walton to Destin East Pass. Names of specific charter and party boat services can be found in the local yellow pages, at any local bait & tackle shop or in the South Walton Information Center.

Charter Trips: Charter vary in size up to 60' in length, accommodating parties of six passengers or more depending on what each boat is licensed to carry, including a captain and mate. The passenger load can vary from six to thirty depending on the boat. Advantages of a charter trip include personalized service, first class comfort and excellent fishing especially of the offshore variety. Charters are offered for half or full day trips and prices will vary from $250 - $700 depending on the type of trip and the number in the party. A $20 - $40 tip to each mate is customary. All equipment is provided, however, you must bring what you plan to eat and drink unless advance arrangements are made.

Party Boats: Party boats are large vessels (50'-75' in length), accommodating 20-90 fishermen, a captain and several mates. The boat provides rods, reels, all bait and tackle. Party boats offer half or full day trips; they are less luxurious than charter boat trips, but the cost is just $25-$45 per person (a $5 gratuity to your mate is customary). 


  The keys to catching pompano and other fish in the surf are water conditions, temperature, tide, and location. Fish might bite in muddy water, but the best conditions are clear to fairly clear water, and flat to moderate surf. A moderate chop on the gulf is okay, but as soon as the water becomes rough and dirty the pompano split.

Look for a sandbar that can be reached with a moderate to long cast. Ideally, there will be a break in the bar, or an opening at one end. Success with pompano comes on beaches where you can cast to, or sometimes past, the bar. You can catch fish on both sides of the bar. Concentrate on the deep edge that can be found along the beach side.

Not to be forgotten is where waves break on the beach. Not only pompano, but many species of fish will follow these edges, looking for food dislodged by the breaking waves.

Most folks using the pre-rigged two-hook bottom rigs, with hooks sized from #3 up to #1. They usually have pre-snelled hooks with fluorescent beads. On days when the water is clear, keen eyed pompano shy away from too much hardware in the water. Put together a homemade bottom rig, tied from a 30-inch piece of 25-test clear monofilament. Hook sizes remain the same, and maybe add a plastic fluorescent bead just in front of the hook eye.

While pompano may be caught on small jigs in the surf, most of the time they are caught on pieces of fresh bait. Shrimp and sand fleas head the lineup. Sand fleas (mole crabs) are small crustaceans that live in the sand between the high and low tide marks on the beach. They can be dug by hand or with a wire scoop. The scoops are available at many tackle shops. The fleas will die if put in a bucket of water, but will last for a day or two in a few inches of damp sand.

Most tackle shops sell fresh shrimp during the summer, and shrimp may be available either with the heads on or off. Either will work fine. If no fresh bait is available, you can get frozen baits at most shops. Check your baits frequently, since small crabs and little fish also love the taste of shrimp.