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When it comes to enjoying the abundant fishing opportunities in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that govern recreational fishing. These regulations are in place to ensure the sustainability of fish populations, protect the marine ecosystem, and maintain a balance between fishing and conservation. In this blog, we'll guide you through the key fishing rules and regulations in Fort Walton Beach.

Fish Caught In Fort Walton Beach, FL

Licensing Requirements in Fort Walton Beach, FL

Before casting your line in Fort Walton Beach's waters, it's crucial to obtain the necessary fishing license. Florida requires anglers aged 16 and older to possess a valid fishing license, which can be obtained online through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website or at authorized retailers. Various types of licenses are available, including annual and short-term options for both residents and non-residents. Additionally, there are special licenses for seniors, military personnel, and disabled individuals. Keep your fishing license with you at all times while fishing to avoid any legal issues.

Bag and Size Limits in Fort Walton Beach, FL

To protect fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing, bag and size limits are enforced in Fort Walton Beach. Bag limits refer to the number of fish an angler can harvest within a single day, while size limits specify the minimum size at which a fish can be legally kept. Here are some of the specific bag and size limits for common fish species in Fort Walton Beach:

Red Drum (Redfish)

The bag limit is 1 per day per angler, with a slot size of 18-27 inches. Catching fish over 27 inches is prohibited. To learn more about fishing for redfish near Fort Walton Beach, visit our Fort Walton Beach redfish blog.

Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout)

The bag limit is 4 per day, with a size limit of 15-19 inches. One fish over 19 inches may be kept per day, which counts as part of the daily bag limit.


The bag limit is 5 per day, with a minimum size limit of 14 inches. Note that from October 15 to November 30, the bag limit is reduced to 2 per day.

Black Drum

The bag limit is 5 per day, with a slot size of 14-24 inches. One fish over 24 inches may be kept per day and counts as part of the daily bag limit.


The bag limit is 8 per day, with a minimum size limit of 12 inches.

Protected Species and Closures

Boat In Fort Walton Beach

Certain fish species in Fort Walton Beach's waters are protected due to conservation concerns or legal restrictions. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the protected species list to avoid unintentional harm. Protected species and those with specific regulations include:


Special regulations apply, including mandatory reporting of any tarpon caught that are 40 inches or longer.


All sawfish are protected, and any catch must be released immediately.

Goliath Grouper

Harvesting this species is prohibited; any incidental catch must be released immediately.

Gear Restrictions

Fort Walton Beach has regulations governing fishing gear to prevent excessive damage to the environment and maintain a level playing field for anglers. Some common gear restrictions include:

Fishing Lines

Anglers are limited to the use of two fishing lines.


Certain types of bait, such as live baitfish, may have restrictions to prevent the introduction of invasive species.


Some areas may prohibit the use of gill nets, trammel nets, and other specific types of nets to protect fish populations.

Catch-and-Release Best Practices

Engaging in catch-and-release fishing is an excellent way to contribute to conservation efforts in Fort Walton Beach. However, it's essential to follow best practices to minimize stress on the fish and increase their chances of survival. Use proper handling techniques, such as wetting your hands before handling the fish, avoiding excessive contact with their delicate scales, and using barbless hooks. Release fish gently and promptly back into the water, ensuring they have fully recovered before swimming away.

Reporting and Recording

Fish Caught At Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Fort Walton Beach encourages anglers to report their catches and contribute to scientific research and conservation efforts. Some fish species may require anglers to report their catch, either through specific programs or by contacting local authorities. By sharing your fishing data, you can contribute to the understanding of fish populations, habitat health, and the overall management of the area's resources. For more information, check out our updated fishing in Fort Walton Beach blog.