Info on what species will be common when I visit Florida, near Destin.

PanPan Posts: 15 Greenhorn
Hey Y'all,

Now that I've chosen my fishing reel (appreciated y'all's input, by the way), I need to know what type of fish I'll be seeing so as to target them.

Then, I'd love info on HOW to target them.

First, I surf fish nearly exclusively.

I'll be just east of Destin (place called Four Mile Village in the Coffeen Nature Preserve if you know the area) from June 2-9. What kind of fish should I expect and how best to catch them? I'm not interested in fish that are great to eat as I am 100% catch and release, I just want to catch ANY fish - excepting sharks and rays. I use two spinning rods that I generally throw out with bottom rigs, another lighter spinner to cast and retrieve and have just ordered Penn's Fierce II Live Liner (FRCII6000LL = 40/390 braid and 20# max drag) . It's one of those spinning reels made for live bait, with a dual drag system.

How can I best improve my odds? Everything from how far out to cast my bottom rigs to hook size & type to bait to lures. Times of day, ANYTHING! VERY sick of being disappointed. I'm doing something very wrong. Casting too far or too close seems likeliest. I'll be using braid, but what's a good pound test? I'd love that info, as well as time of day.

Also, if you know the area do you know of any places that sell live bait? Especially shrimp and sand fleas - unless of course this bait is all wrong. But where might I find live bait in that area?

Thank You All, Sincerely,

I know I ask a lot, but I'd appreciate it if you gave me even some of the info I need so badly. I get one week A YEAR to surf fish your coast, and most years that's the only saltwater I'll fish in. I have caught exactly one Snapper, many fish I couldn't name and some Ladyfish and Whitefish; mostly I only catch a sunburn, though. I've been fish a week at this exact same spot for 6 or 7 YEARS. It's our family reunion there, only I fish, and we've been going there for over 40 years. Need help. Badly.


  • PanPan Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    The only bait I can reliably collect are those little fish in the breakers, 3" - 4" long. Sandfleas, once literally everywhere, now literally nowhere. Don't know how to catch baitfish except by chumming the water a bit and putting a hook in the frenzy. I suppose I could also use one of those nameless fish I catch, but so far as I know (admittedly I know very little) sharks are the only things out there likely to take one of the nameless fish. As I said, I'm the only one who saltwater fishes, one of maybe a half dozen who fish at all - I'm trying to teach myself and get nothing but frustrated. You'd be, too - after all, you likely had someone teach you to fish and your friends likely fish. No to both for me!
  • BasstarBasstar Posts: 513 Officer
    Pan, I can't help you with that particular area but I can help you with some information given to me when I first began fishing some salt as I had always been a freshwater fisherman.

    Use much of the same technique and strategy you would use with freshwater. Look for structure, a hump, cut, or trough off the beach or better yet, walk or drive to a point or the mouth of a bay and fish the incoming or outgoing tide. In short find something that will congregate the fish.

    Secondly, downsize your hooks. Opinions vary but I like Kahle or Circle hooks in the #1 size or so.

    Live shrimp are great I guess but I don't like the hassle so I use the frozen bait that Publix sells.

    I'm also a serious jig and plastics fisherman for for catching "any" fish, I think if you find a good location and use bait on small hooks you will catch fish.

    The jig and plastics is a more complicated lesson. Ha Ha
  • PanPan Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Thanks for the info.

    I've used frozen shrimp, frozen squid and even found some frozen sand fleas. Bupkiss. I went so far as to go buy high quality shrimp meant for human consumption, also with poor results.

    Trying smaller hooks is a good bit of advice as, often, I see my line getting little tugs where it's presumably small fish eating my bait right off. It's why I got the live liner - I'm going to catch those fish and use them as bait. And I'm guessing you meant a 1/0 sized hook?

    As for structures & etc, there are none where I'll be. I do try to put my bottom rigs in the troughs that form in the sand as these seem like natural choke points where bigger fish will need to go through to get in to the deeper pools closer to shore where their prey is.

    What jigs and plastics do you use? I've had some success with spoons and that's generally what I use with my cast & retrieve R&R. Also, 'surface poppers' - I'm not sure of the proper term; a float, weighted a bit, with beads to clack together that, as you reel them in, pop and splash looking like fish feeding at the surface, these floats are followed by the lure of your choice about 6-8" behind. My best luck with this kind of get-up is a transparent 'Easter egg' of about 3.5-4" that you half fill with water followed 8" behind with a treble hook decorated with, no kidding, a McDonalds straw. About 4" of a straw that is on the line and so slides down to the hook. It's pretty reliable at catching those fish I can't name. Fish around 6-10".

    Hopefully I'll be getting more responses. I'm really in need of help, y'all.
  • PanPan Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Is there any way to keep the little fish from devouring your bait bit by bit?
  • PanPan Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Again, any advice on how to catch fish in your beautiful to swim in, frustrating to fish in crystal clear water is much appreciated!
  • SizuperSizuper Posts: 293 Deckhand
    Good advice above - fish around structure: drop offs, jetties, bridge pilings, sea walls, docks, rocks, etc.

    Forget live shrimp. Big hassle and all you're ever doing is feeding pinfish and catfish. Use frozen and concentrate on location and presentation. If you put a hunk of dead shrimp on a jig and bounce it on the bottom or retrieve it quickly high in the water column, you're almost as likely to hook up with a game fish as you are using a lure or live baitfish. I know you gave us the info on your gear, but unless you're targeting Trophy fish, your gear doesn't matter a bit (as long as it is properly functional). All you need to worry about is bait, location and presentation.

    If you want to try lures, I would suggest banana lures tipped with a little shrimp for pompano and other fish (I catch a lot of species on them), fast-jigged gotcha plugs or steady-retrieved silver krokodile spoons (or similar), or bouncing gulp shrimp on the bottom on a jighead. I've had great luck with all those in the Destin area. The pier is a great place to start if you can't find structure to fish. There are some good holes around that pier and many species frequent those waters. I think there is a catcwalk under the bridge inside the inlet where you can catch several species, but sheepshead rule there. Good luck.
  • SizuperSizuper Posts: 293 Deckhand
    By the way, here's a decent monthly fishing outlook for Destin. It'll give you an idea of what are some of the most prominent fish each month inshore.

    Also take time to Google Destin fusing reports - they sometimes drop names of a location or two into the report.
  • SizuperSizuper Posts: 293 Deckhand
    Pan wrote: »
    Is there any way to keep the little fish from devouring your bait bit by bit?

    Absolutely: Keep it moving!

    That won't stop all the bait stealers, but it will keep your bait ahead of many of them, and induce big game fish to bite a lot more than will dead-sticking a bait or other still-fishing. Can't tell you how many times I've been soaking a dead or live bait, and catching nothing, and then I get the bite to take off by jigging it in or going with a steady cast & drag-it-in method. You'd never know what fish are there until you start moving the bait.

    Another way to reduce the bait stealers is to go big with your bait or go artificial.
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