What’s biting in Fort Walton Beach?

Year-round fishing charters in Fort Walton Beach.

We often get inquires as to what type of fish can be caught during certain times of the year.  We hope this page will help you discover what type of action to expect on your fishing charter.

In January and February, the fish are hungry and will keep you busy, but it’s just a lot cooler and there are less fishing friendly days due to weather patterns.  There are also a number of seasonal closures that will limit what we take home.  Red Snapper, Amberjack, Triggerfish and Gag Grouper will be closed during this period.  Scamp Grouper and Red Grouper will also close in waters deeper than 120 feet from Feb-1 to March 31st.  Our primary fishing targets for fishing charters during this period are Mingo Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Almaco Jack and Banded Rudderfish.

During March, April and May we will have much nicer weather and we’ll see the pelagic fish start to move back in with the rising water temps.  Triggerfish normally opens up in March and then Amberjack in May.  May brings some of the prettiest days of the year with our distinct emerald water, bright sunshine and calm breezes.  During our fishing charters, we’ll be after Mingo Snapper, Triggerfish, Amberjack, Almaco Jack, Banded Rudderfish, Mangrove Snapper, Scamp Grouper and Red Grouper.  Once the water warms above 68 degrees, King Mackerel, Mahi and Cobia may present themselves.

June and July bring great fishing and great weather along with the opening of Red Snapper and Gag Grouper making this the most popular time of year to fish in the Destin and Fort Walton Beach area.  When booking a fishing charter during this period, we recommend at least a 6 hour trip or longer for those that want to take full advantage of the fishery.  The primary fishing targets will be Red Snapper, Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Mingo Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Almaco Jacks, Banded Rudderfish and King Mackerel.  Chance encounters include Cobia, Mahi, and sailfish.   Amberjack and Triggerfish are closed, but can be caught for catch and release and photographs.

During August, September and October, the weather will remain good and the fishing will be as good as always.  We will see the closing of Red Snapper, but normally Amberjack will open up and maybe even Triggerfish if there is remaining quota from the spring season.  We recommend booking at least a 6 hour trip, but if you want to get after Amberjack and Grouper, let’s go fishing for 8 or more hours.  It takes time to get out to the good spots, but it’s worth it.  The fishing effort during this time of year will be geared toward Amberjack, Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Mingo Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Almaco Jacks, Banded Rudderfish, Triggerfish and King Mackerel.  We will still see the occasional Cobia, school of Mahi or maybe even a Sailfish, but we will also start running into Blackfin Tuna.

October is a special time of year.  The weather is still warm, but many of our visitors have gone for the year; leaving open beaches and available fishing charters.  But that it is not the only thing that makes it special.  October brings the Destin Fishing Rodeo.  The Rodeo is a month long fishing tournament where anglers come from all over the country to showcase their skill.  Typically, hundreds of boats will fish in this tournament with daily weigh-ins running from 10am to 7pm.  There are categories for almost every species of fish and multiple classes of anglers.  It’s great fun to take a junior angler to weigh a fish in front of the crowds and see them smile at the cameras.  At times, it’s serious business and your hearts are pounding waiting to hear the weigh master, Bruce, call out “The time is… fish weighs….”  indicating you have at least caught the biggest fish of the day.   In 2020, there were 1,150 official weigh-ins.   I estimate the number of fish to have been weighed to be many times that since those not being the largest of the day or biggest in tournament at that time would not have been recorded.  That’s a lot of fish on display!  We love fishing in the Rodeo and are proud of our anglers that have got their names into the Destin Fishing Rodeo history books.   In 2018, Bob McAndrew from Morristown, New Jersey caught the largest Almaco Jack of the tournament at 24.2lbs.   In 2019, Shaun Abbott of Mary Esther, Florida caught the largest Mingo Snapper of the tournament at 5.2lbs.   In 2020, Caleb Gossett of St. Charles, Missouri caught the 2nd largest Gag Grouper in the charter boat division at 36.4lbs.

November and December is a great time to go fishing with the cooler temps.  The fishing is still hot, but there are less people on the water since most families book vacations around their kids school schedules.  It’s possible to fish all day during this period and not see another boat until you come back to shore.  Amberjack, Red Snapper and Triggerfish will be closed, but we can sure get after the Almaco Jack, Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Mingo Snapper, Mangrove Snapper and Banded Rudderfish.   Mahi and Cobia encounters will be less likely with the cooler water but we may still find a Blackfin Tuna.

For more information on our fishing charters please click here.

While visiting the Gulf Coast, enjoy some time on the water in a pontoon rental.  Check out our friends at RMR Watersports for your rentals.


I hadn't been fishing in a very long time, so I was sort of ignorant to the whole process. Both captain Charles and his son (deckhand) were very patient and explained everything to us. They were very knowledgable and experienced. If you want to go salt water fishing, I highly recommend Blue Water Escape Charters. They provide comfortable seating, great music, and a wonderful atmosphere. Probably the best fishing experience I have ever had, hands down!

Holden Harris
Olivia Williams