SoWal Fishing Guide
In addition to the Gulf of Mexico, South Walton is home to 17 fresh and saltwater lakes as well as the Choctawhatchee Bay.
There is great fishing on the Emerald Coast. You can easily outfit yourself, get a guide or charter a boat, or show up at the dock and go with a group. If you’re on a boat with a pro - they’ll have all the gear and licenses for you.
For more information about fishing activities and regulations, check out MarineFisheries.org & FloridaConservation.org. Call 1-888-347-4356 and within minutes you'll have a temporary license number enabling you to fish right away.
Common Saltwater Fish of the Emerald Coast
Favorite of locals - read the history of the Florida Pompano.
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.
Red Drum (Redfish)
Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout)