Gulf Coast Anglers Gear Up for Summer!
Upcoming fishing seasons and tournaments
The Florida Gulf Coast is widely-recognized for its amazing sport fishing opportunities and tasty catches—many sought out by even the most discriminating foodies. It’s why the city of Destin has long been coined the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and why ardent anglers travel from all over the world to get in on the action.
The good news is that our region offer endless options for wetting a hook year-round, whether trolling or bottom-fishing on the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico or fishing in the Emerald Coast’s plentiful bays and lakes. But, not all months offer the same opportunities, and fishing aficionados will want to be aware of the seasons for various species of fish. Notably, the summer months offer some of the region’s most sought-after fishing opportunities that visitors and residents alike will not want to miss.
17th Annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic
One of Destin’s premier offshore fishing events, the Blue Marlin Classic is recognized as the “Richest Fishing Tournament” for its sizeable prize purse. In fact, the tournament set a Gulf Coast record in 2016 when the purse reached a whopping $1.95 million. Scheduled for June 29-23, 2019 at the Baytowne Marina, the event features cash categories for billfish, dolphin, tuna and wahoo as well as individual angler prizes. Nightly entertainment is offered and open to the public, including a live cooking demonstration, fireworks and live music.
Redfish Tournament Series
For those who prefer the quieter, more laid back atmosphere of inshore fishing, the Emerald Coast Redfish Circuit tournament schedule runs year-round. Next dates up include May 18 in Gulf Breeze and August 17 in Navarre. The organization promotes itself as a family-oriented club for all levels of anglers.
Seasonal Salt-Water Fishing
Anglers will find that summer is popular for many saltwater species including wahoo, dolphin, tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, king mackerel, chicken dolphins, snapper and grouper.
For many Gulf Coast anglers, catching the coveted red snapper is the holy grail of summer fishing. This sought-after, flavorful fish has not only put Emerald Coast dining on the map, but it’s great fun to catch for people of all sizes and experience levels. Caught in deep water (60-440 feet), red snapper typically top out in size around 25 pounds, although Destin holds the record for Florida’s largest weighing in at 46 pounds. The Emerald Coast is home to many species of snapper including blackfin, cubera, dog snapper, gray snapper, queen snapper, lane snappers and the schoolmaster, but the popularity of the red snapper has resulted in restrictions that many of the other categories don’t share. Overfished due to its value, red snapper season is typically limited and varies by year. The 2019 red snapper recreational season will be open from June 11-July 12. For federally-permitted for-hire vessels, the season runs from June 1-August 1, 2019.
Grouper is another popular catch along Florida’s Gulf Coast that is celebrated for its mild, sweet flavor. Also caught in deep waters, many categories of grouper exist including black, gag, red, scamp, snowy and warsaw. Grouper size varies widely depending on the type. For example, a black grouper can reach nearly 100 pounds while a gag grouper typically ranges in size between 15 and 30 pounds. While restrictions also exist for catching and keeping gag grouper, June 1st marks the beginning of the 2019 season, which runs through December.