At its heart, Panama City Beach is a fishing town. An enormous fleet of charter boats runs pretty much year-round, giving access to everything from great inshore fishing on St. Andrew Bay to marlin and sailfish out on the Loop Current. Sure, there are all sorts of other tourism activities to get into, but for anglers, Panama City provides outstanding access to productive waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Those who’d rather keep their feet on shore will find pier fishing that’s arguably the best on the Gulf Coast. There are four fishing piers in the area, three that reach far out into the emerald waters of the Gulf. And the piers aren’t just places to pass the time with a line in the water. Pier fishermen regularly catch big king and Spanish mackerel, flounder, pompano, redfish and trout. Every now and then, tuna and even sailfish show up. As with any pier, the catch is dependent on what’s within casting range. That’s not the case for anglers on a boat. Out of Panama City Beach, a short ride will put you on fish no matter the time of year.
This time of year, anglers will find the crowds are gone from the inshore reefs, where various species of grouper and snapper are easy targets. Big speckled trout and redfish around the canals and river mouths are a great fall-back if the winds are high, and these fisheries will remain good all winter long.
In the spring, warming water temperatures bring on the ladyfish, bluefish, bonito and Spanish mackerel. Trout move onto the grass flats and start chasing topwater. Cobia show up in late spring, and summer brings on the some of the best trolling action for kingfish anywhere.
By summer, snapper and grouper fishing has migrated offshore. Boats out of Panama City Beach will be fishing reefs in more than 100 feet of water for some big red snapper and lots of them. Summer is also the height of the big-game fishing, and big redfish will likely be in the pass.
The weather may be cooling some when fall rolls in, but the fishing remains hot. Flounder fishing picks up, along with the rest of the inshore action. The bottom fishing will again move closer in, and it’s a great time to try light tackle for snapper and grouper.
From anglers looking for a fishing vacation to vacationers looking for a little fishing, there’s always something for them in Panama City Beach. Unequaled access to the northern Gulf opens up some incredible options for anglers.