From grown men channeling Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” to wide-eyed children reeling in their first fish, the Emerald Coast is considered an ideal location to exchange favorite fish tales.
Located on the upper Gulf Coast of Florida and known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” the Emerald Coast-which encompasses the towns of Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island-offers a fish-filled experience complete with deep-sea and inshore fishing excursions, lessons from old salts who know the Gulf waters and cooking tips from seasoned chefs at authentic seafood joints. Whether a father and son or a group of lifelong friends, male bonding amidst the open ocean encourages the creation of long-lasting tales.
Home to the country’s largest fishing fleet, the Emerald Coast makes it easy to hone the inner angler, with access to the secret nooks and crannies of the Gulf by skilled captains who have salt water running through their veins.
On deep-sea fishing excursions, fishermen-both the avid and the novice-search the fruitful waters in search of mighty King Mackerel, coral Mingo Snapper, strong-jawed Trigger Fish and Black Fin Tuna, while back-bay trips produce abundant catches of Speckled Trout and Redfish. Excursions last anywhere from four to 12 hours and include a fishing license, bait, tackle, ice and deck hands to clean and cut the boatload.
Destin boasts a natural wonder-the underwater 100 Fathom Curve, which creates the speediest deep-water access on the Gulf. This phenomenon not only makes the area the “Billfish Capital of the World” with a world record catch of 1,061 lbs., but is also responsible for yielding the freshest and largest variety of seafood in Florida (with the exception of the Keys).
Fishermen bring the day’s catch to Lucky Snapper to taste firsthand the “you catch ’em, we cook ’em” philosophy. The entire boatload is cooked to the individual taste, and served with Lucky Snapper’s special fixings. At AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, fellows flying solo without wives turn to the seasoned chefs to prepare their edible trophies, from blackened and broiled to butter-drenched.
The Emerald Coast features 24 miles of alluring sugar-white sands and sparkling, emerald-green waters.