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Hello all!  Have a bit of a favor to ask.  It turns out my new home will be somewhere near Fort Walton Beach / Niceville / Destin Florida come November, currently in North Carolina.  I am really looking forward to exploring and fishing the area with my Hewe's Redfisher 18, as I haven't been able to fish since I tore up the ligaments in my knee and had surgery.  Should be recovered enough to launch and recover by then.

The favor I'm asking is just a little direction to speed up getting to know the area, but more importantly to understand what and where dangers might be so I'm not putting my boat or myself at risk unnecessarily.  I have never fished the area and the only time I've even been remotely close was in swamp phase of Ranger school, so no vacation by any means.  Would really appreciate some help from locals on good tackle stores, bait shops, public boat ramps, good boat and marine mechanics shops, fish species to target in the area, any specific regulations besides state fishing license, and of course danger zones or places to avoid.  I'd be eternally grateful if someone were to be willing to join me and kind of show me around, but I understand that's kind of a big ask.  Any info will help, so thanks in advance.

Can I ask what types of fish species are around?  I am thinking, speckled trout, red drum, flounder, maybe some tarpon, snook, sheepshead, black drum, permit?  Am I close?  Am I missing something?  Thanks again all, I look forward to getting out on the water there.

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I’m sure the area you are moving to will be good inshore Fish’n. I am 60 miles east of Panama City so I’m not much help to answer your questions. I do know there are no snook in that area , waters too cold in winter season. A handful of snook have been caught from St Marks area and easterly , but during warmer weather months.

good luck

Don

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I live over on Mack Bayou which is the south side of Choctawhatchee Bay.   You'll find the fishing good once you figure out the area you're in.   The 18' redfisher will be nice to have as the bay can get pretty choppy when the wind is blowing - it's relatively easy to run the waters as you don't have to worry about oyster bars, rocks and such.   Out of the list you provided, you'll find reds, trout, flounder, black drum and sheepshead in the bay.  Tarpon run the beach during June and July.

Half Hitch is good local tackle shop and posts regular fishing reports on their site:  https://halfhitch.com/blog

If you want to know what is going on in the panhandle bay systems, check out a podcast called "the ripple report."  Each week, the guy does an outstanding job of interviewing guides from pensacola, destin, panama city and port st. joe.  You can listen to the archives too and pick up a wealth of information about the area.

The local MHP dealer is the Ship's Chandler, and they have a small but great tackle shop.  The dealership is used by a lot of owners.   I bought my boat used and do most work myself - so, can't comment on their service other than the tackle side.  They seem like fine folks.

 

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1 hour ago, scottsflyshop said:

I live over on Mack Bayou which is the south side of Choctawhatchee Bay.   You'll find the fishing good once you figure out the area you're in.   The 18' redfisher will be nice to have as the bay can get pretty choppy when the wind is blowing - it's relatively easy to run the waters as you don't have to worry about oyster bars, rocks and such.   Out of the list you provided, you'll find reds, trout, flounder, black drum and sheepshead in the bay.  Tarpon run the beach during June and July.

Half Hitch is good local tackle shop and posts regular fishing reports on their site:  https://halfhitch.com/blog

If you want to know what is going on in the panhandle bay systems, check out a podcast called "the ripple report."  Each week, the guy does an outstanding job of interviewing guides from pensacola, destin, panama city and port st. joe.  You can listen to the archives too and pick up a wealth of information about the area.

The local MHP dealer is the Ship's Chandler, and they have a small but great tackle shop.  The dealership is used by a lot of owners.   I bought my boat used and do most work myself - so, can't comment on their service other than the tackle side.  They seem like fine folks.

 

Thanks so much.   I would much rather patronize places that has been recommended than just use whatever names google provides.  I'll definitely pay them a visit when I get there.   I'll check out that podcast too.  Thanks again.

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OP, I don't live in that area, so I can't give you any local intel. However, I would recommend checking out the Florida Marine Tracks chip. There are a lot of discussions about it here and on other Florida forum sites. It basically lays down run lines in shallow inshore areas throughout the state, which are overlaid on high res. photos. I have it and it is great for new areas. Good luck!

https://floridamarinetracks.com/

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Welcome! We live in Hewett bayou (It's right next to Mack Bayou where the previous owner replied) which is in Santa Rosa Beach. Choctawhatchee is a great area to fish with so many bayou's and streams flowing into it. Santa Rosa sound (FT Walton area on the bay0 is a GREAT place to catch redfish on the fly, especially winter months when the jet skis aren't around. You can find plenty of great places here and if you feel like making a run you can go through "the ditch", intercoastal, that runs all the way to Panama City. Getting back to our area, you'll easily be able to shoot out into the gulf when the Destin pass will allow.....it can be dangerous and you'll learn that quickly enough. Tarpon are here now and they can be caught from early May until August. Ships Chandler in Destin is a third generation family run business and they offer the absolute best service for Yamahas. Lots of BS'ing and shooting the bull there by pretty much all the local guys...you'll like them, really great family. I'd be happy to show you around when you get here. Jungle phase was the worst. 😉

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21 hours ago, Kingfisher67 said:

Welcome! We live in Hewett bayou (It's right next to Mack Bayou where the previous owner replied) which is in Santa Rosa Beach. Choctawhatchee is a great area to fish with so many bayou's and streams flowing into it. Santa Rosa sound (FT Walton area on the bay0 is a GREAT place to catch redfish on the fly, especially winter months when the jet skis aren't around. You can find plenty of great places here and if you feel like making a run you can go through "the ditch", intercoastal, that runs all the way to Panama City. Getting back to our area, you'll easily be able to shoot out into the gulf when the Destin pass will allow.....it can be dangerous and you'll learn that quickly enough. Tarpon are here now and they can be caught from early May until August. Ships Chandler in Destin is a third generation family run business and they offer the absolute best service for Yamahas. Lots of BS'ing and shooting the bull there by pretty much all the local guys...you'll like them, really great family. I'd be happy to show you around when you get here. Jungle phase was the worst. 😉

Thanks for the reply and good information. I'd love to take you up on your offer to show me around especially when it comes to passing through the trouble areas. It looks like my move is going to be postponed a bit due to my recent knee surgery but hopefully by only a few months but that remains uncertain at this time.

As for swamp phase being the worst, I'd have to go with mountain phase personally.  Of course I got to do it twice in a row🥵

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