the premier 30A, Panama City Beach & Destin Fishing Charter

30A FISHING: LEARNING CENTER

30A Fish Species

Redfish:

Year-Round

Redfish are one of the “staple” species pursued by all Gulf Coast guides. A hard fighting and often willing participant, the redfish is our go-to species! “keeper” redfish in the “slot” are between 17-27 inches in length, anglers can keep 1 redfish per day per person.

The smaller juvenile Redfish can be found in back bays and flats along the 30A zone and Choctawhatchee Bay system, and the larger size, breeding population of “BULLS” can be found in the deeper pass, Destin Bridge and certain areas of the Choctawhatchee Bay.  Panama City Bay system hold juvinile redfish along the flats edges and are pursued by our 30A guests on our flats boats.

Many of our 30A Charters target redfish in the Choctawhatchee Bay and Panama City pass, this is one of the primary species that our guides catch, these “Pass” redfish are the “BULLS”, they range from 10-30lbs or more… Out of all the species we guide or 30A client to, Redfish are probably the most common fish we catch.

Tarpon:

May-August

Our Panhandle Tarpon population along the30A Beaches is seasonal and migratory. Tarpon come inshore as spring water temps climb. As the fish group up they begin their pre-spawn habits and patterns. Our Bay Boats fish tarpon by sight fishing the migrating schools that swim along our Panhandle beaches. Our 30A guests that fish for tarpon w our guides reserve their fishing dates year after year. Our 30A guides target these fish with Light Tackle and fly. The panhandle offers some exciting summer tarpon fishing and our guides bay boats are perfectly suited for this type of  fishing. With “towers” over the center console your guide can spot these Migrating fish coming from long distances and prepare the angler to make the “shot”. All of our 30A guests that target tarpon will make the short trip to eiter Destin or Panama City to then exit the pass as the tarpon are migrating along the 30A beaches.

Cobia:

April-May

Also called “LING” or “Lemonfish” by locals this shark looking fish makes it’s migratory trip along the 30A Beaches in early spring.  Destin, 30A and Panama City Beach is one of the BEST places in the World to sight-fish for large Cobia! The typical approach to Cobia fishing is to cruise the sandbars and visually search for the west swimming fish. Cobia swim on the surface and are typically moving to the west. Once spotted anglers throw an array of different lures baits and flies to elicit a bite, everyone has their secret technique and style. Locals and captains along the Panhandle become Cobia-crazy in the spring awaiting the first fish to make it’s showing. Cobia is one of the best eating fish to bless our waters. Visiter to the 30A area in the spring often ask what all the boats driving up and down the beaches are doing…. Well, they are “hunting for Cobia!

Jack Crevelle:

March-Sept

Jack Crevelle make a showing along the shallow beaches of 30A in the early spring. The jacks move inshore from their wintering wreck locations and prowl the sandbars hunting the returning mullet. Typical spring schools of jacks hold hundreds of fish averaging from 15-20 lbs. A Jack Crevelle is pound-for-pound one of the hardest fighting fish you can catch. We target the Jacks using surface plugs and Flies, a surface presentation is the BEST technique to entice a jack to attack, and one of the most FUN! The typical method of finding these fish in the spring is for our Bayboat guides to “run” the shallow sandbars from their center console towers and spot the large schools. In the Fall of the year our 30A fishing guests meet or guides and target these Jacks in the Bays just north of Watercolor and Seaside, our guides “run and gun” and look for these predators slashing baitfish on the surface. This style of fishing can be some of the most exciting fishing of the year.

Amberjack:

March-Nov

Also Known as “AJ’s”, Amberjack call near-shore wrecks and bottom structure their home.  Our 30A guides have developed an exciting way to fish to these hard pulling fish. Once positioned over the structure the “AJ’s” can be brought to the surface (via undisclosed/secretive techniques) Each Captain has their own special recipe to do so… Once on the surface to Amberjacks are easily hooked with bait, lure or Fly, but be ready to PULL and put the brakes on before they head back down to the structure! The Amberjack is one of the 30A guides bread and butter game fish in the gulf and a definite crowd pleaser! Many of the 30A area restaurants serve Amberjack as is very good table fare.

Red Snapper:

May-August (June 1-July 15, may vary depending on year… )

Considered the King of “table fare” the red Snapper is one of the gulf’s standard reef/wreck species. In the last few years the Red Snapper has received a lot of attention from the Florida Fisheries department, regulation wars and overharvest have been associated with the species and it’s place among charter boat ice coolers has been unstable. Proper management has since stabilized the snapper population and our 30A guests are able to keep more of these delicious fish for the table. the population and Our guides have been the first to develop techniques to “bring-up” and even sight-fish these bottom dwellers. While typically the area fishing fleet only targets these fish during the “kill” season (June1-July15) Our Guides have been successfully practicing catch and release with these fish for years.

King Mackerel:

May-October

A long time favorite among North Florida charter captains, the King Mackerel is one of the largest and fastest of the Mackerel family and commonly reaches 30-40 lbs.

Nicknamed “Smokers” they are both hot on the reel and good in a wood smoker.

King Mackerel can be teased up with live chum, trolled or live baited with Spinning tackle. Our Destin, Panama City  and 30A guides favorite technique is to “freeline” a live Cigar minnow on a spinning rod…

Spanish Mackerel:

Feb-Sept

Huge masses of Spanish Mackerel invade or beaches and bays in early Spring. They can be seen “flipping” on the surface by the thousands. A popular way of fishing is trolling rigs with multiple lures or jigs.  Spanish Mack’s are one of the favorite springtime species for our Bay Boat guides and offer a great target for family trips with Kids. Casting and fly-fishing is also very productive for this Toothy mackerel species. Charters along the 30A area usually find these Spanish in the area bays and sometimes along the beaches. Some clients even catch them right from the Seaside and Rosemary Beach shores. You can find tackle to fish from the beaches in our outfitter shop Old Florida Outfitters.  Located in Watercolor Resort.

Blacktip Shark:

April-Oct

A rarely pursued species, the Blacktip is an incredible game fish that deserves more credit among anglers. Sometimes swimmers along the 30A beaches spot these docile sharks in the surf. Our preferred method is to “stake-out” or cruise the clear water beaches and spot the cruising sharks, then anglers cast a bait lure of fly in the path of these hunting predators. Once hooked the Blacktip puts on an incredible show of jumps and reel melting runs. The 30A, Destin and Panama City Beach area have a great population of these high-powered gamefish, these sharks move in around the same time the large schools of Ladyfish arrive in the spring.

Trippletail:

April-Oct

These strange fish are among the “Locals Favorite” list for table fair, a delicate flakey white fish that is hard to beat! Trippletail are found sporadically and are usually an accidental find. When specifically targeting these fish guides run likely waters inspecting crab-trap buoys and other flotsam. Some of our guides that are fishing in the gulf find these fish along Sargassum weedlines. Trippletail have an unusual habit of laying on their side floating on the surface. They use this technique to attract small baitfish and shrimp to use their body as shelter. As the prey approaches to seek safety in the shadow of the tripletail, Bam, quickly snapped up by the floating predator. The presence of tripletail varies from year-to-year and seem to be a hit or miss target.

Bonito:

Year-Round

Also know as “False Albacore” or “Albies”. These fish are a type of small Tuna and are very fast swimmers. The waters just off our 30A beaches drop off quickly and allow this somewhat pelagic species to come very close to the shallow beaches. Destin, Panama City and 30A is notably the best location in the Northern Gulf to Target these fast swimmers!

Our typical way of targeting these Torpedo like fish is to spot the schools as they feed on the surface. A quick approach and cast into the “frenzy” assures a hook up.

Once considered a trash fish the Bonito is, pound for pound, one of the fastest swimming, hardest fighting fish you can find in the Destin area. Not much for table fare as these fish are very bloody and have a fishy taste.

Bluefish:

March-October

Large schools of Bluefish follow the Spring groups of Spanish Mackerel into the near shore system. Typically mixed in with the Spanish Mackerel these hyper aggressive fish can do some damage to tackle, baits and Flies. While no much for food fare these “chompers” offer lots of fun for all anglers. Our 30A fishing clients often find our guides looking for these fish on springtime charters.

Pompano:

March-Sept

Any 30A springtime beachgoer has certainly seen the droves of local fishermen w their rods in sandspikes lined up along Panhandle beaches. Yhese fishermen are targeting the spring migration of Pompano. Considered my many as one of the gulf’s tastiest table fish, the Pompano shows up in the early spring, the first catches of Pompano are a harbinger of warming Spring water temps and the many other species are usually right on their heels. Pompano are frequently caught steps away from the dry beach sand, their favorite food is a Moe Crab or “SandFlea” as they are locally known. Another popular way to target these Permit like fish is to Stake out or wait in likely places along the beach and sight-fish the schools of approaching “pomps” as they swim down the beach, Flies and jigs are the best weapons for catching Pompano.

Sheepshead:

Feb-April

One of the first Species we see along the Gulf coast in early Spring. Sheepshead group-up along the area jetties and bridges to gather for spawning and feeding. When they first show-up in these locations they offer fast and furious fishing action. While nearly impossible to target in these deeper areas with lures, they are extremely vulnerable to a well-hooked shrimp. Sheepshead offer great Family action for our clients visiting the 30A area in the spring and are a favorite for our young angles! While hard to clean, they are a VERY good table fare! This is a “Spring Break” favorite target for our guides fishing 30A clients

Flounder:

Sept-Nov, prime

One if the best eating fish in the gulf and a species that takes a delicate approach to catch. Flounder gather in large numbers in the fall to begin their spawning ritual, passes and near shore wrecks become their location of choice. Angler using light jigs and or live bait can entice a subtle bite. While Flounder area in our waters year round, the fall gatherings present the best opportunities to target the species specifically.

Speckled Trout:

Year-Round

“Specks” offer themselves for anglers year round, Live bait, lures and flies are all very productive techniques for our local Sea trout. Anglers visiting in the coldest winter months can also target these fish. Seatrout is an old standby species along the Gulf coast and are a favorite species to throw in a batter and fry. Our 30A charters can enjoy some great Speckled trout fishing right here in South Walton in Choctawhatchee Bay.