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Surf Fishing Panama City Beach: Beginner’s Guide

surf fishing panama beach
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Planning to go surf fishing in Panama City Beach has been on the bucket list for many travelers! However, if you are opting to go do some surf fishing on the isles of the blessed Panama City Beach (PCB), you could surely use some help. I can’t promise you a fishing partner, but I’ll do my best to provide some tips to make your trip as fun as possible!

You need to know proper surfcasting and how to read the weather, tides, and beach. Also, take the appropriate gear and adequate bait for the best experience! Redfish, King and Spanish Mackerel, and Amberjacks are some of the popular species of fish you can catch.

The latter section of the article might provide you with the essential abstract of what this guide will focus on. I hope you stick around to the end of this article to take in all the information I’ve provided after 6 hours of researching.

What Species Of Fish Can You Catch In Panama City Beach?

The best part of going surf fishing in Panama City is the diverse species of fish that are available for you to catch and boast about to your friends. There are countless fish floating around the white beaches, waiting patiently to be lured by you! Some of the best fish to catch in PCB include redfish, amberjacks, and mackerels.

Some fish are demanding if you wish to showcase them as your trophy or keep them as a souvenir.

1. Redfish

Redfish are arguably the most popular inshore fish in the Gulf of Mexico. In the shallow waters of the bays, this tough-fighting, delectable fish appears in various shapes and sizes, promising a tasty treat both during and after your exhausting excursion.

You can always get your hands on one of these critters since they dwell here all year. However, if you visit in the fall, you can get your hands on a genuine monster. This bigger breeding population of “bulls” can weigh around 10-30 pounds! If you are looking for smaller variants, the young small redfish may suit your taste!

2. Amberjacks (AJ’s)

Amberjacks, also known as “AJ’s,” are most commonly found near wrecks around the shore and deeper parts of the ocean. They are most prevalent during the March-November period. When you hear the term “AJ’s” amidst a conversation between fishers around piers in PCB, just know that it’s not the Nike shoes they are talking about.

Charter captains and other fishing enthusiasts have devised their own methods of catching these bad boys! Catching these fish can be challenging as they pack quite a punch once they feel the bait. They may be easily lured, but pulling them up and holding them in your hands will be more than meets the eye.

3. Mackerels

These fish are not quite as loved as the other names on the list, but their availability is the best thing! These fish are delicious and can be caught without a hassle! There are two types of this fish that I would like to highlight.

The King Mackerel is more actively found from May to October. King Mackerels have long been a favorite of many charter captains. They are one of the largest and quickest of the mackerel family, weighing in at 30–40 pounds. 

From February to September, Spanish mackerel swarm along the beaches and bays of PCB in the early springs. They flip through the water bodies in swarms and catching them by casting, or fly-fishing is a thrilling and unique experience.

How To Surf Fish In Panama City Beach?

To surf fish in PCB, make sure you know how to cast properly and how to read the beaches, weather, and tidesOpens in a new tab.. You also need to take proper fishing equipment and choose different bait to lure specific fish. Your overall fishing experience will also greatly assist you in surf fishing.

Let’s discuss the basics of surf fishing if any of you are not quite aware of the intricacies. Surf fishing in PCB will almost entirely resemble surf fishing in other locations; however, the most common complexities will remain! Let’s start with the most basic considerations you will have to make to go surf fishing in Panama City Beach!

1. Learning How To Do Proper Surf Casting

If you’re new to surf fishingOpens in a new tab., the very first thing you have to learn is how to surf. Surfcasting is similar to regular casting, but it emphasizes distance and precision when trying to land your bait in the waves. Before committing to this experience, you should first learn how to Surf Cast.

A basic overhand toss straight out would suffice in most circumstances. Holding the rod in your hand, bend your arm to a 90-degree angle, then flick the pole out quickly. You have to straighten your arm to cast the bait into the water for an overhand cast.

The key to learning to surf is to figure out your exact speed and strength while tossing out the line. Once you’ve perfected the throw. You can start learning other techniques to help you target specific fish species, such as using different bait or fishing at different times of the year.

Follow these fundamental principles of surfcasting, and you are good to go!

2. Reading The Beach, Weather, And the Tides

The second biggest factor to consider is the conditions of your chosen hotspot and the variables that come with them. As mentioned above, not all fish species will show up at a certain time in PCB.

Reading and forecasting the perfect conditions to go surf fishingOpens in a new tab. is something that grows with time and experience! For example, no matter how small, thunderstorms, tornados, and hailstorms are a no-go for surf fishing! Each species has its own time during the year when they are more readily available and up for grabs.

Depending on the type of tide on the beach, the fish will show up. Some people prefer the feel of low tideOpens in a new tab., while others thrive at high tide! You should also have a basic knowledge of identifying various parts of the beach. These are areas where fish congregate to feed and any holes that may contain clusters of fish.

3. Proper Gears

If you want to go for a fishing excursion in PCB, do not forget to bring these tools to make the most of your time! I will keep this section short, as many of you may already know about the mandatory gear you will require to go surf fishing. Here are some of our essential picks!

  • Fishing License
  • Cast Net
  • Tackle and Bait
  • Surf Fishing RigsOpens in a new tab.
  • A Marine Hook
  • A Bucket to Contain Baits
  • A Set of Knives
  • A line spool (spare) 
  • Measurement Tape
  • Pliers
  • A Rig Holder
  • Sunscreen
  • Polaroid sunglasses
  • First Aid Kit
  • A Saltwater Fishing RodOpens in a new tab.
  • A Lighter

4. Choosing The Proper Bait

Make sure to pay proper attention before choosing your bait. Targeting certain fish species by using different bait or fishing at different times of the year can maximize your experience.

While shrimp will attract most types of fishOpens in a new tab., live bait such as mullet or herring will attract both king and Spanish mackerel. It’s also useful to know how your target fish species behaves in different seasons, tides, and weather conditionsOpens in a new tab., as mentioned earlier!


That covers all I had to say about surf fishing in Panama City Beach. I wish you a great fishing adventure, and I hope you catch quite a trophy on your journeys ahead! 

All the best and happy surf fishing! Thanks for stopping by. 

Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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