What Types of Fish can I catch in Destin, Florida?

Fish to catch in Destin Florida

Are you planning a fishing trip in Destin, Florida and wondering what you might catch? There is a large variety of possible fish you might catch on a deep sea fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. Destin is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” for good reason!

Always remember that Mother Nature ultimately decides what is caught on your fishing trip, so you shouldn’t go in with any set expectations.

Pictures of people deep sea fishing in Destin Florida

What type of fish you catch and how many depends on a variety of things such as weather, water conditions, time of year, and luck. The only way to guarantee what fish you will catch is to go to the fish market–but that’s not nearly as fun!

This post will give you an overview of the most common and popular varieties of fish in you might catch on your deep sea fishing trip in Destin.

Red Snapper

Red Snapper are one of the most popular fish to catch in Destin and the Gulf of Mexico on a deep sea fishing trip. Red Snapper are known for their tasty meat and they thrive in the warm waters of the Gulf.

Red Snapper are caught in deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The largest Red Snapper ever caught in Florida (46 pounds!) was caught in Destin, so it’s a great place to try for these!

A lady with red snapper caught in Destin Florida
Red Snapper caught at Pelican Adventures in Destin Florida

Red Snapper season is short and it’s during the summer–which is the busiest time of year in Destin–so make sure to book your fishing trip in advance if you want to try and catch some.

Due to their popularity, red snapper are one of the most regulated fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The 2023 Red Snapper season will open on June 1st. The closing date is not yet determined, but usually runs for about 60 days or so. Sometimes Red Snapper season opens up again for a few weeks or a few weekends in the fall too.

Red Snapper is the most popular fish to try and catch in Destin, but there are a bunch more varieties of fish to catch that are just as tasty!


The Gray Triggerfish is another variety you might catch while deep sea fishing in Destin, Florida as they are abundant in the Gulf of Mexico. They are olive gray in color with laterally compressed bodies covered in tough, sandpaper-like skin.

Triggerfish caught with Pelican Adventures aboard the Vera Marie boat in Destin

This is another very tasty variety of fish that you will see served in seafood restaurants around town. This light white meat is popular among people who don’t like an overly fishy tasting fish.

The 2023 season for catching Gray Triggerfish in Destin will be open from March 1st-May 31st and from August 1-December 31st (early closure is possible).


There are also a few varieties of grouper you might catch while fishing in Destin. Red, Black and Gag grouper are the most common types caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Grouper is another tasty fish you will see served in restaurants in Destin–often as the upcharge option.

Red Grouper caught with Pelican Adventures in Destin

Red and Black Grouper are in season all year while Gag grouper season is open from June to December. So you never know when you will catch one of these tasty beauties!


Mahi-Mahi are also known as “dolphinfish” but they are not at all related to the mammal dolphin that you see swimming and playing around Destin Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico.

An angler holding two Mahi-Mahi caught fishing in Destin Florida
Mahi-Mahi caught in Destin with Pelican Adventures

Mahi-Mahi are another tasty fish you will find on the menu in Destin, but it’s even more fun to try and catch them yourself. They are a colorful and unusual looking fish with a humped head. Mahi-Mahi is open all year but the most likely time to catch them is in the warmer summer months.

King Mackerel

King Mackerel is another fish you might catch in Destin on your fishing trip. They are easy to recognize with their long slender body and iridescent silver color.

King Mackerel caught with Pelican Adventures in Destin

King Mackeral can be caught any time of the year in Destin but it’s more likely to find them in spring and summer when the water warms up. The season for them is open all year, but keep in mind that regulations on all fish can change at any time.

Vermillion Snapper

Vermillion Snapper, also known as Mingo snapper, is a deep red color similar to the popular red snapper although smaller in size.

Mingo snapper catch in Destin
Vermillion Snapper caught in Destin at Pelican Adventures

Vermillion snapper are abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and one of the most likely fish you will catch on your Destin deep sea fishing trip. Vermillion Snapper season is open all year and this is a tasty mild fish with a nice flavor.


Cobia are not the most commonly caught fish on our fishing charters but it’s exciting when it happens! These fish are dark brown in color with a single dorsal fin, giving them a shark-like appearance. Cobia can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds!

Cobia caught on the Vera Marie boat in Destin

It is most common to catch Cobia in April and May when the Gulf of Mexico waters are starting to warm up and they can be spotted swimming near the surface. This is also when you will see all the Cobia fishing tournaments taking place around Destin. Cobia are a favorite fish to feature on the menu at Gulf to Table seafood restaurants because of the wonderful taste and texture.


Swordfish are one of the most sought-after fish to catch in Destin. They range from 100-400 pounds on average so it’s not always an easy task to get them but highly rewarding if you do. This is the trophy fish of the Gulf of Mexico!

Swordfish caught aboard the Deep Obsession boat

Swordfish are found in much deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico, so you won’t catch these on our regular fishing charters.

We have a specialty trip (when available) on our faster “Deep Obsession” boat that is a fishing trip specifically aimed at targeting swordfish. Catching a swordfish is an experience you will never forget if you get the chance! More information about that trip is here: Swordfishing with Pelican Adventures

We hope this post helps you with knowing what kind of fish you might catch on a deep sea fishing trip in Destin, Florida with Pelican Adventures! We have fishing options for every size group and budget including party boat trips, shared charters, and private. Book online on our website or give us a call at 850-650-3825. We hope to see you soon on the water!