Hooked on Adventure: What's Fishing Like in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach?

Bathed by the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Panhandle boasts extensive bays, beautiful sandy beaches, and diverse deep-sea waters. No wonder the region is considered one of the top fishing spots not just in the US, but in the whole world.

Much of the fishing fun happens along the so-called Florida's "Forgotten Coast," in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach, all of which are beach towns with a profound connection to fishing traditions.

In this region, the Gulf of Mexico offers exciting deep-water fishing, while St. Joseph Bay's shallower, sheltered waters teem with inshore fish species.

With so many fishing opportunities, it can be hard to know where to start and figure out the local regulations. Worry not. This blog will act as your basic guide for inshore and offshore fishing in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, and around.

Snag your license, pack your cooler, bait your hook, and let's dive into an epic fishing escapade!

How do geography and climate impact Fishing in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, FL?

With the Gulf of Mexico providing access to deep-sea waters and St. Joseph Bay offering more sheltered and calm waters, Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach, FL are in a geographically ideal spot for fishing, both inshore and offshore.

Gulf fishing is ideal for offshore sport adventures, whereas the bay provides accessible angling opportunities for all skill levels in a tranquil setting.

Let's explore the specifics of each city:

Cape San Blas: With a relatively undeveloped coastal landscape and pristine beaches, Cape San Blas sits on a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico. To its west lies the open sea of the Gulf of Mexico, with direct access to deep-water fishing grounds. To the east is St. Joseph Bay with calmer waters but also excellent fishing opportunities.

Port St. Joe: The charming coastal town of Port St. Joe is located on the shores of St. Joseph Bay, providing a natural harbor with calm waters. This bay offers protection from the open sea and serves as a hub for both recreational and commercial fishing activities.

Mexico Beach: Located to the east of Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach is another popular coastal destination for fishing. Like Cape San Blas, Mexico Beach faces the open sea of the Gulf of Mexico, offering excellent opportunities for fishing.

Mexico Beach is home to several artificial reefs, such as the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef, which attract a diverse array of marine life and provide excellent fishing opportunities for both recreational and sport fishermen.

These coastal towns are suitable spots for anglers of all ages and skill levels. You can opt for deep-sea offshore adventures or more tranquil inshore and nearshore fishing--or both!


Besides geography, the Floridian climate affects fishing through its impact on fish behavior and habitat conditions. The good news is that fishing in Florida is excellent year-round, with summer being the prime season.

This is the Sunshine State after all, and you can enjoy sunshine almost every day, making fishing in the state, especially in the panhandle, very productive throughout the seasons.

Florida's Awesome Artificial Reefs

Florida has one of the most active artificial reef programs among the 15 Gulf and Atlantic coastal states involved in artificial reef development. The Forgotten Coast alone lays claim to 50 artificial reefs, located offshore from the coastline.

These fruitful "fish hotels" provide a helpful habitat for hundreds of fish species that migrate through our region. These active reefs are fabulous fishing spots for offshore anglers.

Inshore and Bay Fishing in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, FL

Inshore fishing is very prominent in the communities of Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach. This category of fishing involves fishing in waters roughly 30 meters deep or less, typically near the shore, in shallow bays, estuaries, and marshes, including St. Joseph Bay.

St. Joseph Bay

St. Joseph Bay is a large, shallow bay known for its calm waters and diverse marine life. There are 73,000 acres of some of the richest fishing habitats in the Florida Panhandle. This diverse ecosystem provides ample habitat for a wide variety of fish species, including redfish, speckled trout, flounder, sheepshead, black drum, and more. Around the bay, you'll find many fishing spots including piers, docks, and shoreline areas. If you prefer to jump on a kayak or boat, there are also options available.

Species in the bay include spotted seatrout, redfish or red drum, flounder, and many others

Fishing in Cape San Blas

The flats and shorelines around the Cape San Blas peninsula are prime spots for sight-fishing and targeting "tailing" redfish, and the barrier peninsula helps create great conditions in St. Joseph Bay for inshore species.

  • Cape San Blas Point: This area offers access to both the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay, providing opportunities for surf fishing, as well as bay and offshore fishing.

  • Piers: You can head to one of the few piers around the Cape San Blas lighthouse or the ones just out of downtown to get your fill of fishing. They provide artificial habitats that the fish love, attracting plenty of inshore species. Plus, the stunning view you'll get is certainly a bonus.

Fishing in St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

Surf fishing: Surf fishing for coastal species is popular on the Gulf side of the park. You can set your lounging chair under a beach umbrella and cast your line; you can catch pompano, shark, whiting, and redfish, to name a few.

Kayak fishing: You can explore the calm shallow waters of St. Joseph Bay by kayak, which is perfect for beginners and families. You can rent a kayak or join a guided tour to experience fishing in a new way.

Fishing in Mexico Beach

Mexico Beach has something truly special: lots of the artificial reefs we mentioned beforehand, and they are teeming with fish! A group called the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association, or (MBARA), has put over 100 of these reefs in the area, creating a great environment for amazing fishing trips. If you want to find exactly where these reefs are, check out the MBARA website.

In Mexico Beach, you can catch fish like King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Grouper, Red Snapper, Mahi-Mahi, Cobia, Pompano, Wahoo, Redfish, and more.

Offshore Fishing in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, FL

The Gulf side of the Cape San Blas peninsula provides direct access to offshore fishing, a category of fishing that takes place in deeper waters. Venturing further offshore, the deep waters will offer you larger game fish species, such as red snapper, grouper, amberjack, and other big game species.

Generally, in offshore fishing in the Gulf, you'll travel miles away from the shore on a larger boat in the direction of reefs in the deep sea, including man-made structures like oil rigs and wrecks, all of which provide excellent habitat for fish found 60 to 200 feet deep offshore.

But this region is special. The waters off Cape San Blas drop off quickly, so the deep-sea fishing grounds are accessible within a relatively short boat ride from the shore. This makes the area a popular destination for offshore fishing charters.

Some of the key offshore species targeted in this region include red snapper, gag grouper, king mackerel, cobia, and amberjack.

And since this is Florida, fishing is pretty good year-round, with seasonal variations in the specific species available.

This category also requires heavier equipment and various bait and lure options to attract and catch larger species, so keep that in mind.

The Best Fishing Charters around Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, FL

Fishing charters in the Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach area cater to anglers of all skill levels, from beginners to experienced ones. The charter captains are very knowledgeable about the local waters and will ensure your safety and maximum enjoyment.

From exploring inshore waters to heading deep offshore, charter services will take you directly where you want to go, and their service often comes with extra perks:

  • Most fishing charters provide fishing licenses for everyone onboard, gear, and often bait and lures.

  • When you charter a boat, you can typically bring up to six passengers in your fishing party.

  • Charter services include a captain or guide who navigates the boat in the right direction, where the fish are and provides excellent local knowledge to enhance your experience.

Alternatively, you can also consider party boat fishing, commonly known as headboat fishing. This option involves a larger group of people sharing a boat for a fishing excursion. It's an accessible choice open to the public with similar perks where each individual pays separately. This is particularly convenient if you're traveling solo or with only a friend or two.

The Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach area has a variety of charter and other rental companies. Let's explore some of our favorites below:

Heads up! When looking for charter companies, be sure to check their experience and expertise and inquire about the necessary licenses for fishing in the waters they operate.

Also, it's always a good idea to take the time to read online reviews from other people who used their services in the past.

Licenses & Permits for Fishing in Florida

Whether you prefer inshore or offshore fishing, you have no shortage of options in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, FL.

But just a reminder: before heading out for your fishing adventures in Florida, as anywhere else, you should check the licenses, permits, and regulations for fishing.

Most charter companies will double-check that for you when you hire their services. But it's still worth checking it out yourself to avoid hefty fines. These procedures are in place to guarantee your safety and ensure the conservation of wildlife habitats and fish populations.

Here are some things to have in mind:

  • In Florida, fishing licenses are mandatory for residents aged 16 to 64.

  • Individuals aged 65 and above are required to carry a Senior Citizen Hunting and Fishing Certificate, available at no cost from the county tax collector.

  • Totally and permanently disabled Florida residents are also entitled to a complimentary license.

  • Residents who are active members of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed outside Florida but on leave for 30 days or less are exempt from this requirement, provided they submit their orders.

To learn more about licenses and permits in Florida, check the website of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This link will provide the latest information and ensure a legal hunting and fishing experience for you. As we mentioned above, always ask locals within the fishing business; they will know the requirements better than anyone else.

Extra Tips for Fishing in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, FL

Apart from familiarizing yourself with and following the guidelines, you should also prioritize your personal safety when fishing. This involves packing essentials such as sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, and a hat.

Besides, it's always a good idea to bring along some snacks and refreshments, especially for offshore excursions. Many charter choices typically supply a cooler for your convenience.

Once you have the above covered, all that's left to do is focus on the exciting task at hand — catching that fish!

Looking for more tips on Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach? Check out our local destination blog. We've covered everything from the best places for a night out to where to take your furry friends and where to grab the best cup of coffee in town. There's always more on the way, so keep your eyes peeled for new blogs!

Where to stay when visiting Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, & Mexico Beach?

Stay like a local by booking a vacation rental with Pristine Properties. We are proud to offer a selection of Cape San Blas Vacation Rentals, Port St. Joe Vacation Rentals, and Mexico Beach Florida Vacation Rentals.

Our properties are well-located, just steps away from beautiful beaches, great dining options, and an array of outdoor pursuits. That's the secret to a perfect holiday on the Florida Gulf Coast!

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