Do You Need a Fishing License in Destin, FL? 2023 Rules & Regulations
Giant Redfish caught on a Bay Charter in Destin
With that being said, it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s not as easy as hopping on a boat and heading out to sea. The best way to maximize and make the most of your Destin fishing experience is to be prepared, and that usually starts with a fishing license. Discover everything you need to know about Fishing Licenses in Destin, including the 2023 Rules and Regulations.
Table of Contents
- Which Types of Fishing Require a License?
- Fishing from the Jetties and the Shore
- Fishing from the Pier
- Crab, Shrimp, and Shellfish
- Fishing From Privately-Owned Vessels
- Fishing From Pontoon Rentals
- When is a Fishing License Not Required?
- Charter Fishing
- Where Do I Get a Fishing License?
- How Much Does a Florida Fishing License Cost?
- How Do I Renew my License?
- State vs. Federal Fishing Permits
- What’s the Difference?
- How Does this Affect Me?
- How do I Know Which License a Charter Boat Has?
Which Types of Fishing Require a License?
In most situations, obtaining a fishing license is necessary. There are different types of fishing licenses and packages available, depending on a variety of factors such as where you’ll be fishing, and what types of fish you are wanting to target. Check out these popular Destin fishing styles, and discover which license you’ll need to make your next fishing adventure in Destin absolutely delicious!
In general, if you cast a line or a cast net, you need a fishing license. In Destin, there are two main types of fishing licenses to consider, freshwater and saltwater, and the difference between the two is pretty straightforward.
- A Saltwater Fishing License covers the harvest of saltwater species that live in places like the Gulf of Mexico
- A Freshwater Fishing License is for species that live in freshwater areas like ponds, lakes, rivers etc.
Please be aware when fishing in brackish water, which is a mixture of salt and freshwater, you are just as likely to reel in a saltwater species as you are a freshwater one. If you plan on fishing in bays, bayous, or other brackish waters, it is recommended to purchase both a Saltwater Fishing License and a Freshwater Fishing License. This way you’re covered for almost anything you reel in!
Young girl with two speckled trout caught on a kid-friendly charter
Another thing to be aware of is that some species of saltwater and freshwater creatures require special permits to harvest, and fishing them has additional rules and regulations. If you’re unsure if this applies to you, it is recommended to visit MyFWC.com for all applicable information.
Fishing from the Jetties and the Shore
The Destin Jetties are a magnificent, man-made, rock structure located in Destin’s East Pass. The Destin Jetties and the beautiful Emerald Coast Shoreline are two of the most popular places to fish in Destin.
Florida residents can purchase a Resident Recreational Saltwater Shoreline Fishing License at no cost. If you already have a Recreational Saltwater Fishing License, you do not need a separate Shoreline Fishing License.
Fishing from the shoreline is one of the most popular kid activities in Destin, FL
If you are visiting from out of state you are, unfortunately, ineligible for this license. Non-residents can purchase one of the following licenses when saltwater fishing in Destin:
- 3-Day Non-Resident Saltwater Fishing License
- 7-Day Non-Resident Saltwater Fishing License
- Annual Non-Resident Saltwater Fishing License
Fishing from the Pier
One of the Best Places to Fish on Okaloosa Island and Destin is the Pier! It is a great option because you can still catch the same amazing saltwater fish species that you can from the shore, but in deeper waters, hopefully meaning a bigger catch! It is also a great way to fish in the, “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” without having to own or rent a boat.
View from the Okaloosa Island Pier looking over the Boardwalk
In most situations, all you have to do is show up to the pier, pay their entrance fee, and you’ll be fishing in no time! This is because piers will generally have their own Saltwater Fishing Pier License, that covers everyone saltwater fishing from that pier. Many will also have bait and equipment rentals available, so all you have to do is bring your favorite people, your favorite snacks and beverages, and reel in some dinner!
Crab, Shrimp, and Shellfish
Crab, Shrimp, and Shellfish, oh my! With so many species of scrumptious crustaceans to catch, it is recommended to have a Recreational Saltwater Fishing License and a Recreational Freshwater Fishing License. With bays and bayous full of brackish water, there is always the chance you may catch a freshwater species, even when in saltwater.
Image from Max Pixel
There are also rules and regulations that must be followed in regard to how many crabs, shrimp, and shellfish you’re allowed to catch and keep, and what gear you’re allowed to use. It is recommended to visit MyFWC.com for additional information on bag limits, size limits, etc. when fishing for one of the following:
- Bay Scallops
- Blue Crab
- Blue Land Crabs
- Certain Sea Shells
- Stone Crab
Fishing From Privately-Owned Vessels
A vessel used commonly in charter fishing
A common misconception is that if you own your own boat and boater’s license, that covers fishing on your personal, privately-owned vessel. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In order to fish from a privately-owned vessel, you will still need the appropriate fishing license depending on where and what you intend to fish.
Fishing From Pontoon Rentals
A father helps his son fish from a Pontoon in the Destin Bay
It doesn’t get more, “Destin,” than a trip to the famous Crab Island on your very own Destin boat rental! On any given day you will be able to spot someone on their pontoon searching for dolphins, enjoying Crab Island, and fishing the Choctawhatchee Bay.
If you would also like to use your Destin, FL, boat rental to see just how many fish there are in the sea, just be sure to have your Florida Recreational Saltwater Fishing License! And don’t forget, out-of-state fishing licenses are not valid in Florida.
For example, if you are fishing in Florida with your Georgia Saltwater Fishing License, that is equivalent to fishing with no license at all. Don’t let this be the reason you order pizza instead of grilling your fresh catch!
When is a Fishing License Not Required?
Starting to feel like you’re going to need a fishing license no matter what? Well, the short answer is that everyone between the ages of 16 and 65 need a fishing license to fish in Florida. But as with most things in life, there are a few exceptions to the rule including:
- Fishing on a for-hire vessel that has their own valid charter license
- Fishing from a licensed pier
- Fishing during a License-Free Fishing Day
- Disabled persons with a Florida Resident Disabled Person Fishing License
- Persons under 16 years of age, and resident seniors age 65 or older
- Military personnel from Florida who are visiting home for less than a month
- Florida residents with a free Shoreline Fishing License
- Individuals who are observing another person fish, and not helping in any way
A group of fishermen hold up their catch of Red Snapper
It is recommended to anyone that is eligible to fish without a license to bring proof that they are qualified to do so to show the Coast Guard. This is a great way to prevent any possible problems that may occur when proving exemption eligibility.
Whether you’re headed to the Emerald Coast for the Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, or just some good, old-fashioned, family fun in Destin, FL, booking a fishing charter is an experience the whole family won’t soon forget!
Fishing Charters are also a great way to experience the sport, without having to put too much thought into it. Destin, FL, fishing charters come with bait, tackle, the appropriate fishing licenses, and a great captain and crew! Below are the amazing fishing charter options Destin has to offer at the best rates online with TripShock:
- Destin Party Boat Fishing
- Semi-Private Fishing
- Offshore Fishing
- Inshore Fishing
- Shark Fishing
- Kids Fishing
- Kayak Fishing
Where Do I Get a Fishing License?
Since preparedness is the name of the game when it comes to fishing in Destin, there are options to get your fishing license in advance, before you even leave for vacation! This is a great option if you already know what type of fishing you’re wanting to do. Get your Florida Fishing License in advance via one of these three options:
Online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com
If you’re a Florida resident, you can get your Florida Fishing License at your local Tax Collector’s Office.
Already in Destin? That’s okay, too! Get your Florida Fishing License at one of these local businesses:
Head to the Tax Collector or other spots around town to get a Florida Fishing License
How Much Does a Florida Fishing License Cost?
Luckily, with the cost of fishing licenses starting at $17.00, this essential fishing purchase is not one to break the bank! There are options available for residents and non-residents alike, offering a variety of options to accommodate your needs. Below are the rates for Florida Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing Licenses:
Please note that these prices are for the general Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing Licenses, and do not include specialty licenses and permits such as the ones required for harvesting Tarpon, Spiny Lobster, Snook, etc. Please visit MyFWC.com for more information about special permits and licenses.
How Do I Renew my License?
Check with the captain whether or not you need a license for a charter trip
Luckily, Florida makes this part super easy! When you get your fishing license, it will have the expiration date printed on it, so you will know exactly when it’s time to renew. Once it expires, you can renew your license at any one of the official retailers listed above. If your fishing license is lost or stolen, replacements are available for $2.00.
What Happens if I Fish Without a License Anyway?
The Coast Guard actively patrols the waters surrounding Destin - image from nps.gov
Besides being unethical, fishing without a fishing license can have a negative effect on the environment, as well as certain fish populations. All rules and regulations are in place for everyone’s safety, and to ensure that Destin can live on as the, “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village!”
If you are still caught fishing without a fishing license and you are eligible for one, not only will you have to pay the cost of the license and additional fines, but those fines start at $50.00, and only go up from there. This is another reason why it is so important to be prepared before casting your first line.
State vs. Federal Fishing Permits
When you think of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s hard to think of the water as divided into State Waters and Federal Waters when there are no signs, and no obvious markers. Private Charters can operate with either a State Fishing Permit or a Federal Fishing Permit. This is separate from a regular fishing license, and very important when targeting specific species of fish.
What’s the Difference?
An inshore trip to catch Redfish wouldn’t require a Federal License
In Florida, the State Waters are governed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC. In the Gulf of Mexico, Florida State Waters are from the shore to 9 nautical miles out into the Gulf. The Federal Waters are managed by Federal Fishery Councils and NOAA Fisheries with input from FWC. Federal Waters start where State Waters end, and extend to about 200 nautical miles out.
Please use the links below to learn more about State and Federal Fishing Regulations:
How Does this Affect Me?
State and Federal Waters dictate which fish can be caught and kept based on length, weight, location, season, and other factors. If there is a specific species of fish you are wanting to target, knowing the difference between State and Federal Waters is important.
Which permit your potential fishing charter has can mean the difference between catching a coveted Red Snapper, or the still delicious, but not as exciting, Vermillion Snapper.
How do I Know Which License a Charter Boat Has?
Fishing charter vessels like this one run fishing charters for shark, snapper, and more
The best way to be sure is simply to ask! TripShock’s knowledgeable and helpful staff knows the ins and outs when it comes to fishing in Destin, and can help find the charter that’s perfect for you and your group!