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    Where to Cast Away

    What Draws People to 30A?

    Obviously, Gulf Coast communities delight residents and visitors with wonderful restaurants, plentiful attractions, a gorgeous landscape, stunning architecture, and warm weather, but water is the greatest treasure and the wellspring of excitement in South Walton County, particularly for anglers. The nickname “Emerald Coast” is perfect, as it notes 30A is a jewel. While “Emerald Coast” honors the green-blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, South Walton County also presents many fantastic options for catching fresh and saltwater fish.

    Where Can You Fish?

    DUNE LAKES
    The area is home to 15 coastal dune lakes, which are formed by storm surges that swap Gulf and lake water. Only a few places in the entire world (among them Madagascar, New Zealand, Australia) have this water chemistry that provides a healthy habitat for fresh and saltwater fish. Dune lakes are calm, so fishing from paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes is a relaxing experience. Some lakes have no public access, so do research before you go.

    CHOCTAWHATCHEE BAY
    At its widest, the bay is 6 miles across, but the water stretches over 30 miles long and offers the best of fresh and saltwater marine life. Anglers find edible sea life of all sizes, from shrimp and oysters to blue crab, speckled trout and mullet. Dolphins are frequent flyers in these abundant waters, which also boast the endangered giant Gulf sturgeon. Fish from docks, shore, canoes/kayaks – or wow the family by renting a pontoon boat with a waterslide.

    BEACH
    Pack tackle the night before and wake early to fi sh at sunrise on the soft sands of South Walton County. Beach fishing, also known as surf fishing, is as much fun to watch as it is to attempt. Live bait is preferred. Fishermen may rake the beach to gather sand fleas for bait. Besides using rods and reels, many anglers seine the shallows and throw nets into the surf to gather shrimp, crabs, mullet and more.

    GIGGING
    While this might not be the first idea that comes to mind when planning a fishing adventure, night gigging is an amusing way for people of all ages to catch flounder. Using five-prong spears and underwater lights, you float atop the water and watch the bottom of the bay or Gulf for easy targets. Guided tours are available.

    DEEP SEA
    What better way is there to explore the Gulf than to venture into its deep water? By definition, fishing is “deep sea” when the water is at least 30 meters in depth. Of course, that allows room for much bigger catches like snapper, marlin, tuna, mackerel, amberjack and wahoo. Charter boat excursions range in amenities, time commitments, pricing and pickup spots, and many provide all necessary bait and tackle. South Walton is home to many lifelong fishermen and professional boat captains who are prepared to show you a great time.

    Catch and release is one way to dispense of bounty, but there are other options. Anglers can take their catches to several local South Walton restaurants, where chefs will prepare them as meals. Visitors can also have their fi sh packed and shipped anywhere in the U.S. Taxidermy allows you to share your impressive catch for years to come, as does having a local artist depict it on canvas.

    No matter which waterway you explore and what kind of fish you find, South Walton County has an answer to every question and every need for fishermen of all skill levels.

     

     

     

    To review a list of state park dune lakes with information on public access, visit: WaltonOutdoors.com/all-the-parks-in-walton-county-fl orida/coastal-dune-lakes-of-south-walton

    For licensing information, visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: MyFWC. com/license/recreational/do-i-need-one

     

    Sallie Paris uses broad market knowledge and a high level of service to assist clients in all aspects of real estate purchases — from investment properties to beach homes to assimilating into local culture. Sallie says, “Although I’ve lived here for years, I still feel like I’m on vacation every day. My goal is to help other families find perfect properties so that they can grow to love the Emerald Coast just as I do.” Contact Sallie at 850.213.3478 or sallie@coastalluxury.com. Search available properties at CoastalLuxury.com.

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