What the boat supplies:

Your fishing license. No need to obtain a Florida fishing
license, your ticket includes your license.

Fishing rod and reel rigged with a 2 hook bottom
fishing rig
(called a "chicken rig", a "porgy rig" or "dropper" rig).

Bait. The mates will supply you with a bucket or other device
that has both cut squid and cut small fish.

A laundry basket to put your fish in. They will periodically
come around and collect your fish and place them on ice. They
have different ways of marking your fish, but most use an
aluminum spike stringer with a number on it. Just remember
your number.

5. They will r
emove the fish from your hook for you and
determine if it is of legal size or in season. If not, it goes back

6. At the end of the trip, they will clean your fish (fillet) and give
them to you in a plastic bag. Some boats charge extra for this.
You do have the option of taking them home and cleaning them

210 Highway 98 E
Destin, FL  32541
(850) 837-5088
(888) 837-5088

65' Catamaran that is US Coast Guard
approved for up to 45 Passengers.  Has
an upper deck and air conditioned cabin.

Destin Princess web site

210 Highway 98 E
Destin, FL  32541
(850) 837-5088
(888) 837-5088

72' Single-V Hull that is US Coast Guard
approved for up to 65 Passengers. Has an
upper deck and air conditioned cabin.
The party boats almost exclusively target fish that live on or near the bottom of the ocean.  These fish will be fish from
the Grouper family (mostly Gag, Scamps, and Red Grouper), fish from the Snapper family (mostly Red and Vermillion
(Mingo) Snapper), Amberjacks (Greater Amberjack and the Almaco Jack),  Triggerfish, and the Porgies (also called
White Snapper).  All are fun to catch and good eating. You will catch other fish, to include sharks, bonito, some bait fish,
and King Mackerel, but not as often.

                      MINGO SNAPPER                                                                                RED PORGY
         (AKA Vermillion Snapper, Beeliner)                                                              (aka White Snapper)  

                              SCAMP                                                                              RED SNAPPER &
                                                                                                                          ALMACO JACK

                            AMBERJACK                                                                       BONITO (LITTLE TUNNY)

                        GAG GROUPER                                                                           RED GROUPER

                       TRIGGERFISH                                                                TOMTATE (RUBY RED LIPS)
                                                                                                                                (Use for bait)

The mate will assist you with your catch and take it off the hook for you. Most fish in the ocean have a nice set of teeth,
you really don't want to go sticking your fingers in their mouths.

There are many rules that fishermen have to follow in the Gulf of Mexico. Most fish are restricted by size and when you
can keep them. Your mate knows these rules, so don't get mad at him when he comes by and throws your 34"
amberjack or your 20 pound Red Snapper back when they are out of season.
1. Most party boats supply you with a bait container of both cut squid and cut Boston Mackerel. The Mingo Snapper,
Trigger Fish, and Porgys like the squid for bait. The Red Snapper, while they will bite squid, usually prefer cut bait or
live bait. Some people bring a box of frozen cigar minnows and use a whole minnow for bait. You will usually catch
bigger fish with them.

Some points to remember on saltwater fishing and hook size:

The larger the bait, the larger the fish you will catch

Match the size of the hook to the size of the bait.

So, depending on what you are fishing for, mingos/white snapper, or bigger fish such as red snapper, grouper, you want
to adjust your bait, hook size, and presentation.  For this reason, I recommend you bring your own tackle.

- Penn 113h reel with boat rod, rigged with 40# monofilament to a 100# swivel. (Most party boats will not allow you to
use braided line as it will cut monofilament line when you get tangled. The boats supply tackle with monofilament line)

- Prerigged leaders

- Use a 2 hook bottom rig with # 1 or #2 circle hooks if you want to catch Mingos, Porgies, or Triggerfish. Use cut squid
for bait.

- Use a 2 hook bottom rig or 1 hook fish finder rig with # 4 or 5 circle hooks if you want to catch larger Red Snapper,
Grouper,  Amberjack.   Also, if  you have to use frozen bait,  the Red Snapper and Grouper seem to prefer the cigar
minnows you can buy at any of the bait stores in the area.

3. You will normally catch bigger and more fish if you use "live" bait.  Most boats will have a live well you can use. Be
sure to call first and ask about their policy. Some fishermen get to the docks early and use a squid tipped Sabiki rig to
catch live pin fish from around the dock prior to the boat leaving. Also, I have been on boats where they will supply live
bait at times. Use a 1 hook fish finder rig if you have live bait. Amberjack love small mingos.

4. Use a cooler that has wheels, much easier to use.

4. Most return fishermen prefer the rear of the boat.

5. You want to keep your lines tight the whole time by reeling in any slack on the line. Slack lines drift and you will get
tangled with other fishermen.

6. Use a larger weight than you would normally use to get your bait to the bottom quick and to keep your line tight. The
boats normally supply tackle with 16 ounce weights.

7. If your mate works hard for you, which they normally do, it is customary to tip them around 15%.

8. Normally, the boat needs a minimum of 15 paying customers to operate a trip. If they don't have the minimum, they will
probably cancel your trip. During the off season, you might want to check the day before to see if they have enough to

9. Most of the party boats offer a discount for military. Ask.
Fishing Destin Guide©

Party (Head) Boats

A local's guide to fishing around Destin and the Florida Panhandle   

This web site is updated as I have time from other things going on. As there are a 1000 + different ways to do things, this is only my way of fishing, nothing else,  
and it is not the last word in fishing the area. I am by no means an expert but if you would like my opinion on something related to fishing the area, please email me at
FishingDestinGuide@cox.net.  It may take a few days before I get to it, so be patient. Thanks.....

© Copyright  2018 Fishing Destin Guide
All rights reserved     
Party (aka Head) Boats

Probably the cheapest way to get on the
water and get some fish at a reasonable
price in Destin.  What is a Party Boat? No,
its not a boat where you can "party" down.
The term Party refers to the group (party)
of people that have the same goal, to fish.
They are also called "Head" boats.
Whereas regular charter boats take only a
few fishermen, normally 6-10 people, a
Party boat can take many more, up to 60
here in Destin. This makes it less
expensive but you have less freedom in
how and where you fish (actually, you
have no freedom - party boat fishing is
strictly "bottom fishing". A party boat is an
"open boat" in that anyone can sign up.
You are paying for a place at the rail
where you will be provided a rod and reel,
bait, and a tub to hold your fish you catch.

There are approximately 8 party boats
calling the Destin Harbor their home that
run anywhere from a 4 hour trip to over 16
hour trips, with prices starting around
$60.00 each. Prices are usually lower in
the winter and some give military and
Senior discounts.

1. Cooler with ice. The ones with  wheels are the most convenient.

2. Food, snacks, and beverages. You can bring beer, but you need to
bring plenty of water too as it is easy to become dehydrated in the summer

3. Two small towels. Use one to hold the fish you catch while you are
removing the hook and the other, keep it wet and put it around your neck,
it will keep you a little cooler.

4. Whatever personal tackle: rod, reel, etc you would like to use. Keep it

5. Pair of needle nose wire pliars to help remove the fish hook from the
mouth of the fish. The mate will remove them, but sometimes they are
busy. If you do it, you can get your line back down quicker.

6. Small knife.

7. Hat

8. Sun screen

9. Camera
116 Highway 98 E
Destin, FL  32541
(850) 837-1293

The American Spirit is the largest party
boat in Destin. It is rated for 92
passengers, but they only carry 80. Has
an upper deck, air conditioned lower
lounge.  Call for trip times and the current
Click below for more information:

American Spirit web site
210 Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 650 2500
(850) 654 0088

57' boat with an upper deck.

Click below for more information:

Sweet Jody party boat web site
76 Highway 98 E
Destin, FL  32541
SWOOP I and II are identical 65-ft. long
party fishing boats powered by twin 660
hp Caterpillar engines, and a 19-ft. wide
beam. These custom built boats cruise
comfortably at 20 knots and are Coast
Guard approved for up to 49 passengers
but normally carry only 40 fishermen. Both
have upper decks and an air-conditioned

Swoop Party Boat web site
102 B Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 837-7095
(850) 654-7113

60' boat.  Has an upper deck and air
conditioned cabin.

Click below for more information:

Olin Marler charter boats web site
102 B Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 837-7095
(850) 654-7113

60' boat.  Has an upper deck and air
conditioned cabin.

Click below for more information:

Olin Marler charter boats web site
102 B Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 837-7095
(850) 654-7113

60' boat.  Has an upper deck and air
conditioned cabin.

Click below for more information:

Olin Marler charter boats web site
102 B Highway 98 East
Destin, Florida 32541
(850) 837-7095
(850) 654-7113

Has an upper deck and air conditioned

Click below for more information:

Olin Marler charter boats web site

Click here for a trip on the
Gulf Breeze
What kind of fish can I catch on a Destin party boat?
Some party boat tips and nice to know stuff......

Most, if not all,  party boats use a model of the Penn 113 4/0 Senator       conventional reel, spooled with 60 lb  
monofilament.  The black model (113) is most prevalent, with a few using the red model (113H).      If you have a choice,
choose the red reel. It has a higher retrieve cranking with the red reel.

The reels used on party boats have seen a lot of fish and some are not in very good condition, depending on the boat.
You are allowed to bring your own rod/reel on all of the party boat, which I would suggest if you can. If you do bring your
own, absolutely NO BRAIDED LINE!!!!. It has a tendency to cut the other lines when it gets tangled and can also
damage the boat's equipment.

If you have never used a conventional bottom fishing reel, you will need to learn the basics on it or you willend up with a
reel full of tangled line (called a "bird's nest).  The mates will normally have a mass meeting during your trip out which
they explain how to use the reel. Just pay attention and keep your thumb on the line as you let it out. For more
information on how to use a conventional saltwater bottom fishing rig, click here: