Welcome back Gulf Coast Sportsmen to another fishing report for July 2022 in Destin, FL. Red Snapper season has been in full swing in the Destin area and will continue to be the primary fish targeted while the season is still open. As we get closer to August, Snapper will move to specific weekends rather than being fully open. Be sure to check the FWC page for updates on when Snapper is open to keep. Weather conditions have continued to vary but there is still a lot of opportunity to get a bite.
Redfish and Trout have continued to be productive in the flats and around structure. Use top water and other artificial lures on the grass flats surrounding the bay in the early morning and evening for a good opportunity. Live shrimp or bull minnows around the bridges, specifically the Destin and Okaloosa Island bridges will produce fish. Around the bridges have also had a lot of sheepshead and black drum around the structure. For sheepshead, live fiddler crabs on specialist smaller hooks are an excellent presentation for these fish that some local bait shops frequently get. Be sure to book an inshore charter to increase your access to these areas.
Nearshore and Offshore
As mentioned in our introduction, Destin is the tail end of the open season of Red Snapper. Recent increases in temperature have pushed a lot of the keeper size red snapper to deeper water of 125ft or more. Additionally, some of the weather changes and grass in the water column have made catching live bait slightly more difficult. That shouldn’t deter anglers from trying, but you can produce fish using a wide variety of frozen bait from a lot of the local marinas like Harborwalk, or any local bait and tackle shop that carries frozen bait. Squid and cut up cigar minnows are always a good choice. Trolling has still produced wahoo in deeper waters. Spread out your lures using deep divers or planers to get more lures in the water as you troll. Mahi is also being caught with the still large amount of grass in the water. Unfortunately, the powers that be decided to keep amberjack closed until September, greatly reducing the season to target these fish.
Beaches and Piers
In Destin, the remaining June grass has continued to make surf fishing more difficult. However, when anglers can find clean sections of beach, pompano rigs with fish bites will help catch a wide variety including some remaining pompano, redfish, and whiting. An occasional big black drum is possible as well. As for the pier on Okaloosa Island, tarpon have still been reported along with king mackerel and plenty of Spanish mackerel. For the tarpon and kings, live baits will be your best bet, and Spanish mackerel will hit Gotcha lures or straw mackerel rigs.