Destin / Choctawhatchee Bay Forecast – October 2019

Capt. Lionel James getting kids hooked on fishing.
Capt. Lionel James getting kids hooked on fishing.

It’s time to get ready for the Destin Fishing Rodeo!!! The fishing here on the gulf coast has been absolutely terrific! October is by far to me the best month to fish throughout the panhandle of Florida. You name it, it’s usually biting. The cooler temperature makes it so much more enjoyable too, whether you’re trolling, bottom fishing, or poling your skiff across a grass flat. Fishing right now is too good to miss out on, so go wet a line, and be sure to enter one of the best tournaments in the world, the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Perhaps the best bite of all right now, are the redfish both in Destin Pass and along the beaches. During October we have quite a few bigger fish that hold up in the passes and bridges and school up down the beaches. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to cruise up and down the beach on a north wind. It’s usually slick calm and you can see for miles. Right now there are more Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and kings than you could ever ask for, but mainly I’m looking for the big bull redfish. There are a few ways to fish for them, none are easier than trolling big Stretch Rapalas up and down the beach. My favorite is cruising along looking for them, then easing up to the school with my trolling motor and pitching either live baits, lures, or even flies at them. Generally, they are pretty hungry so get ready. If you are going to use lures, try fishing hard plastic baits or something top water, baits like that tend to get pretty cool bites.

The offshore bottom fishing bite has been good, and should be even better this month. Gag grouper, scamp, red grouper, etc will all be open this month, so be sure to capitalize on it while they’re open. Be sure to check all regulations on these fish because they all too often change at a moment’s notice. The gag grouper bite has been better offshore in 250- to 300-foot of water fishing edges, rocks and similar structures. You’ll have to work a little bit to get a bite, so be ready with the right tackle when you do. Make sure and try and catch as many big live baits as you can and have a tray of Boston mackerel as backup. If you’re going to make a long run to catch grouper, be prepared with bait.

The offshore/blue water bite has also picked up quite a bit. I’ve heard numerous reports of people fishing between the Squiggles and the Spur finding plenty of pretty blue water. Reports indicate that almost everything they’ve seen floating has had fish on it. Make sure you go check any kind of floating debris. There have been quite a few wahoo found on and around the debris. If you do find something big enough that’s holding a bunch of bait, try pitching out a couple live baits and trolling around if for a while. If there are a bunch of big hardtails around the debris, catch a few of those and troll them…you’ll get those bigger bites you’re looking for. Out around the Edge and south to the Nipple the blackfin tuna bite has continued to be good. Look for them busting on top and troll ballyhoo or small lures, or livebait them like you would for kingfish. You can also troll up and down the edge looking for good shows of bait. Once you find them, try drifting or just hold up in the current and deploy a chum bag or start chunking. You’ll be surprised with what will come up behind the boat; it’s also gives you a chance to catch those nicer 30-35lb blackfins on real light tackle. White marlin and sailfish are starting to push in closer and closer. It should be a good fall to go and try to catch a billfish.

For any more info on what’s biting, feel free to stop by the shop or give us a call. Also, if you’re looking for a guide to go with we can set you up with one of those too. Make sure you check us out on the web as well, at, and remember, take a kid fishing.

The Ships Chandler
646 E. Hwy 98
Destin, FL 32541