Deep-sea fishing means bigger water and bigger trophy fish. Anglers head out from inshore waters into the wild blue lured by the combination of big adventure and big fish. The Emerald Coast’s waters team with marine biodiversity, making deep sea fishing a popular sport in our area. Moreover, access to deep water is close in; cutting the time it takes to go deep enough for trophy fish in half compared to the rest of the Gulf. The continental shelf of the Emerald Coast’s part of the Gulf of Mexico (referred to locally as “The Edge”) goes from over 100’ deep less than 10 miles out from shore and reaches 400’ deep around 24 miles out. This is where sportsmen find the “big ones”: tuna, billfish, wahoo, and trophy-size grouper. Here is where more than ten 10 salt-water world fishing records have been set. This is the reason why “The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic”, hosted each June, is ranked one of the top 10 billfish tournaments in the world.
A short trip to deep water with an abundance of a variety of fish makes our waters a preferred destination for deep sea sportsmen. Destin is home to over 140 charter fishing boats – a sure fire indication as to just how productive and “lucky” our Emerald Coast waters are. Certainly, the first ingredient to having success in deep sea fishing is to have an available catch. The second would be an advantageous combination of optimal water temperature, good weather, and the right bait or fish lures. Third would be water current over underwater structures such as natural reefs, artificial reefs, wrecks or rock piles. With these, an angler is bound to find a fun day fishing emerald waters.
Deep sea fishing is a trending sport. Television shows like Deadliest Catch or Shark Men have brought attention to going after the “big ones.” Although deep sea fishing is fun to do, it is very different from the regular fishing that most people have experienced. Avid anglers may have been fishing for years, but find themselves out of water, so to speak, when switching to the specialized equipment for deep sea excursions. For the greatest success in deep sea fishing, an expert with knowledge of your fishing area should be on board to supply tips on where to fish and how to make best use of the equipment.
That is his contribution to a favorable outcome. For your part, below are some pointers to make your deep sea and offshore fishing trips enjoyable and successful.
Look to the sky. Yes, part of the enjoyment of fishing on the Emerald Coast is beautiful skies. But here, we mean watch the sea birds. Look for gulls that feast on small bait-type fish. If they are there feeding on small bait, odds are there are probably larger game-type fish below the water surface just as interested in the smaller fish.
Pay attention to floating wood or debris. When you chance upon a large piece of floating wood, you can find large game fish in the area and even enjoy some dolphin encounters.
Look for Snook. Snooks are described as “inshore fish with an attitude”. They like to be around ledges, posts and rock piles around inlets and passes. These great catch-and-release giants can be found in the Florida Panhandle when our waters heat up during the summer. They are considered a challenge to catch as they tend to be finicky about how and when they will consider a presented bait. And, they can be a fun catch because of their fighting tactics.
Full moon, crab delight. During full moons, crabs shed their shells and stripers come looking for them. Benefit by using soft crab imitations for bait.
Find the dolphin, find the tuna. Yellowfin tuna are usually found schooling with dolphins. So if you see a group of dolphins, chances are there are some tuna in the area.
Watch out for other species. The presence of dolphin can be a sign of tuna, but make sure when fishing for species like tuna that you do guard against snagging dolphin and ocean animals that you wouldn’t want to catch or aren’t allowed to catch. Study the difference between fair game species and those off limits and learn ways to avoid catching the latter.
Know the Bait. Learn what the larger fish are feeding on during each season of the year, and especially when you are fishing for them. True, this is something you need to pay attention to in regards to any type of fishing. However, when it comes to deep sea fishing, you will most likely need to buy a specific type of bait for best success. Talk to some experienced anglers who specialize in catching the type of fish you’re going after. Talented anglers are willing to share their knowledge on a number of sport fishing forums online. One covering our area can be found here.
Unwanted transfer. Be sure to rinse your hands after applying sunscreen while out on the boat. The smell and taste can transfer to the bait you’re handling, causing the fish to stop biting.
Cut and Burn. Deep sea fishermen use spiderwire because its like a spider web. It’s easy to feel the fish’s strike on the bait. But, spiderwire is also more difficult to cut. If you have trouble cutting through a spiderwire braid, try burning it through with a lighter or a match flame.
Head for the Reef. The best place to fish is near reefs as they are hot beds of activity for smaller fish, which means larger fish wanting to feed will swim to a reef or along its outskirts. Here are GPS numbers for Destin’s fishing reefs.
Get hooked on the Circle Hook. Using a circle hook assures more catch and are better for the fish since their engineering hooks just in the lip, not in the fish’s gut. These hooks are much less likely to harm the fish, especially fins and gills. A variety of fish will latch onto live bait on this hook. If your object is catch-and-release, then this is the best option for doing minimal damage.
Avoid Sea Legs. To minimize seasickness, watch the horizon and stay on deck. Also, stay away from the boat’s fumes. Breathing them can aggravate the problem.
Anchors Away. Eventually, the nature of deep sea fishing will result in an anchor stuck at the ocean floor or on debris. It the anchor gets stuck at the bottom, try attaching a float to it. Return after the tide has changed in direction. This should be enough to loosen the anchor.
All these tips should help your next deep sea fishing excursion the Gulf of Mexico. If you pay attention to these tips you should have a great time with successful results. You will be able to catch some big ones, especially if you pick the right location and put all that the area’s waters offer to your advantage. But, perhaps the most important tip to having a blast is keeping the right attitude. Not every time is going to be lucky. Certainly, not every time will catch the fish of a lifetime. The important thing is to enjoy your time on our emerald waters.
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I'd like to give a big THANK YOU to Capt. Reed, Mike and all the deckhands for an awesome day on the water. Thanks for puttin' us on em, Cap'n. Thank you to the ladies at the Destin Charter Service...Jami and Jonelle for making things happen!!! We had a great day on the Destin Princess! Sincerely, Mike & Ken
Last Thursday we took a six hour charter on the Al-Lin. It was awesome! Although we didn't reel in any big ones we had a great time and I cannot say enough about Caleb, our first mate. Whatever you're paying him isn't enough. He did an exceptional job. We will book again soon but want to be on whatever boat he's on! Thanks Caleb!
I went on a charter with my girlfriend and her parents pharmacy reviews and it was amazing. We were so exicted to catch nine cobia fish in under two hours. The Capt also taught us how to fly fish. This was a great trip for my brother in laws, both of whom had never fished before but they had such a good time. We've already set up our next date for this summer and can't wait to go again!
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