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Nestled along the stunning Emerald Coast, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, offers unparalleled opportunities for inshore fishing with its bays, marshes, flats, and nearshore waters teeming with a diverse array of marine life. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice eager to experience the best inshore fishing in Fort Walton Beach, this guide will help you identify the top species to target, the best fishing spots, and essential tips for a successful fishing adventure.

Boat Near Fort Walton Beach

Target Species to Catch in Fort Walton Beach

Redfish, renowned for their hard-fighting nature, can be found year-round in Fort Walton Beach, particularly in the grassy flats, marshes, and nearshore waters of Choctawhatchee Bay, with fall being the peak season. Speckled trout, favored for their spirited fights and delectable flavor, are commonly caught in the grassy flats, tidal creeks, and deeper channels of Choctawhatchee Bay during the cooler months of spring and fall. Flounder fishing offers a unique and rewarding experience, with these flatfish typically found on sandy or muddy bottoms and around structures such as docks, piers, and jetties from late spring through early fall. Black drum, abundant and known for their size and challenge, can be targeted near oyster reefs, shell banks, and structures like jetties, especially in the cooler months of winter and early spring. Sheepshead, easily recognizable by their black-and-white vertical stripes and strong teeth, are found around structures such as jetties, pilings, and docks, feeding primarily on crustaceans during winter and early spring. To learn more about seasonal fishing at Fort Walton Beach, read our updated fishing guide about Fort Walton Beach.

Inshore Fishing Spots in Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Choctawhatchee Bay

Choctawhatchee Bay is a renowned fishing spot known for its diverse ecosystem. It offers access to flats, marshes, and deeper channels, providing opportunities to target redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and more.

Santa Rosa Sound

The waters along Santa Rosa Sound are known for their productive fishing grounds. Anglers can target a variety of species, including redfish, speckled trout, and pompano.

Okaloosa Island Pier

Pier Fort Walton Beach FL

The Okaloosa Island Pier is an excellent spot for inshore fishing, offering opportunities to catch species like redfish, black drum, sheepshead, and more. This structure provides a rich habitat for various inshore fish.

Rocky Bayou

The channels and flats near Rocky Bayou attract numerous inshore species. This area is ideal for wade fishing, kayak fishing, and boat fishing, offering diverse fishing experiences.

License Information

Anglers aged 16 and older are required to have a valid Florida fishing license to fish inshore waters in Fort Walton Beach. Licenses can be obtained online through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website or from authorized retailers.

Bag Size and Limit

For redfish, the size limit is typically between 18 and 27 inches, with a bag limit of one per person per day. Anglers should check the latest regulations on the FWC website, as rules can change and may include special tagging programs for certain species.

Equipment and Techniques

Inshore fishing in Fort Walton Beach can be done using various techniques:

Bait Fishing

Live or cut bait such as shrimp, mullet, and crab can be effective for attracting inshore species.

Artificial Lures

Soft plastic baits, topwater plugs, and spoons are popular choices for targeting redfish, speckled trout, and other inshore species.

Kayak and Wade Fishing

Fort Walton Beach's shallow waters make it ideal for kayak and wade fishing. This allows anglers to access hard-to-reach areas and target fish in their natural habitats.

Book Your Next Fort Walton Beach Inshore Fishing Trip

Fort Walton Beach offers outstanding inshore fishing, featuring a variety of fish to target and diverse locations and methods. If you’re looking to get out on the water in Fort Walton Beach, check out our local fishing charters to book a trip with one of our professional guides.

Embark on an unforgettable inshore fishing adventure in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and experience the rich marine life and pristine waters that make this region a top destination for anglers.