In the angling world, a Grand Slam means you have caught a collection of different game fish in a single day. Although the IGFA has a list of official Slams, anglers have come up with their own versions over the years.
In inshore waters, especially in the coastal Gulf of Mexico states, a Grand Slam means you caught redfish, speckled trout, and flounder on the same day.
Landing a Grand Slam is a feat in itself, and more so if you do it in the one of the top fishing spots in the world. If there’s one place where you can hope of achieving this, it’s Destin alright. So, here’s what you should know before your next fishing trip.
Destin lies between the Gulf of Mexico on the one side and a network of coves, bayous, bays, and rivers that make the Choctawhatchee Bay, on the other. This maze of brackish waters, lagoons, and marshes is buzzing with fish that move from the inshore Gulf waters through the Destin Pass into the Bay waters. Redfish, speckled trout, and flounder are in the water throughout the year.
You will have the best chances of a catch by seeking artificial reefs scattered throughout the bay – or by looking for potholes (sandy patches) around the flats.
Here are the places you should check out:
The Bay is a mashup of bayous, creeks, and estuaries which hold bait fish. Shrimp and mullet are especially active in summer months, and that’s when game fish feed aggressively too. You should seek out grass beds, oyster bars, and bridge pylons for reds, specks, and flounder.
Make sure to check out the flats in the top north stretch of the Bay. You can get both reds and specks in no time – but be warned. They can be fussy sometimes, and if cut or live bait isn’t working, switch to spoons.
The Bayou is home to flats and grass beds where you can sneak up on mullet and then stalk redfish. You will find schools of fish here at almost all times. It’s a popular spot for kayak fishing too. You can easily spend an hour chasing the reds along the bayou. Look at the birds flying over the water – that’s where the fish are likely to be tailing. And the rule of the thumb is – if you can find mullet, you’re most likely going to find redfish nearby.
But reds aren’t the only fish in the pond. Schools of trout also move around the grassy waters looking for prey. There is a 40 ft deep spot in the bayou where you could easily be reeling in 30 trout in under an hour.
Once you’ve landed your redfish, head north of Destin, to Niceville. The Rocky Bayou waters are excellent for trout fishing, especially the south side. You can do jigging with dead shrimp and it should produce good results.
When the tide is heading out of the Choctawhatchee Bay into the Gulf, it carries a lot of bait fish towards the East Jetty, which you can reach on foot. It’s a busy spot as it can produce superb fishing on almost any day. Come the tide, and it’s a feeding frenzy. You will be reeling in one redfish after the other, with a good chance to land trout as well.
The bridge on Hwy 98 stands right at the intersection of the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s where you can benefit most from the tide as it carries baitfish and crabs all across the water. You can get redfish, speckled trout, and flounder on the same trip.
Come late summer, the waters around Destin will start glowing like a pumpkin. That’s when redfish are all over the place, foraging from inshore Gulf waters, to bays, creeks, and rivers as well. Redfish are spooky so you will need long casts to avoid losing your catch. They often move in schools so if you lose one, you should easily get another.
Redfish eat off the bottom, so you should add just a light sinker to keep your bait near the seafloor. Mullet, shrimp, and pinfish work really well. As for the time of day, almost any hour is a good hour to be looking for redfish around these waters.
Probably the tastiest of the “Slam fellas”, speckled trout are on any angler’s bucket list. They live across a variety of waters, from marshes, to brackish waters, backcountry waters, and the Gulf of Mexico inshore fisheries. You can get them in Destin throughout the year, with warmer months being more productive.
For the best chances, you should bring natural bait, including shrimp, muller, or pinfish. Once they strike, trout will make a run towards shelter, grass, or any other nearby structure. They have a soft mouth, so make sure not to pull too strongly and give the line some slack.
While flounder may seem like an easy catch, they are no piece of cake. They like to hide near the bottom and often camouflage so it’s difficult to discern them from the sandy or muddy bottom. Most anglers prefer to catch them at night time, using LED lights and often from the surf or piers. You don’t have to wait until dusk to have a go at them.
When they are hungry, they will strike at any time. Pinfish, minnows, croakers, and mullet will do the trick. They may not be the smartest of fish, but they won’t give up just that easily. Make sure to be patient and let them swim away from you before you start reeling in. The best time to catch flounder is throughout spring and summer.
We hope that you have found these tips useful. Have you landed an Inshore Grand Slam in Destin before? What bait did you use and where did you fish? Let us know in the comments below!
Overnight fishing trips are such a thrilling experience, wouldn’t you agree? They are more challenging than the day fishing adventures and more fun, in my opinion. The only thing that may scare some of you away is the fact that you have to stay awake all night long.
No worries, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid falling asleep when going fishing overnight. I'm a big fan of night fishing, and I used several of these tricks to stay alert. Try at least some of them the next time you plan an overnight fishing escapade.
Get a good long rest the night before going fishing. Go to bed later than usual and make everything possible for a truly relaxing sleep. These actions will help your body run through a sleepless night.
Respect the rule of having three healthy and balanced meals during the day that precedes the sleepless night. If you skip eating, your body will feel undernourished; if you overeat, it'll be too tired trying to digest.
I suggest you have a big breakfast, with healthy carbs and proteins, plus fruits and veggies. Lunch should be generous, but not too fat, and dinner should be light – no greasy, fatty foods, no heavily caffeinated or sugary stuff.
Staying up all night will make you hungry, at some point, so it’s best to have a stock of healthy foods prepared. Carrot sticks, fruits (like apples or bananas), nuts, almonds or cashews are all great options.
Also, they don’t weigh much in your backpack. During the night, you could chew gum or a mint. I usually go for the nuts, but mints are also a good choice.
A few hours before you start your sleepless night, take a 30 minutes short nap. It will give you an extra boost of rest and energy. But don’t overdo it, because a longer nap will make you feel tired and the plan will be ruined.
Cold weather will make your body temperature drop, and you will feel tired; you'll slowly nod off to sleep, and the fish will get away. The best solution is to have thermal clothing to keep your body temperature up so you won’t fall asleep.
Comfy bedding is essential for pulling an all-nighter. If it's freezing outside, a thermal sleeping bag is a solution; if it's warm, then a foam mat or an inflatable sleeping pad is the best choice.
Check a try mattress site to find the right product for you – they are light, waterproof and extremely efficient on an overnight fishing trip. Some guys like also having a bed-chair to sit back and chill, but I don’t particularly feel the need to carry it with me.
Keep parts of your body active, and you'll be less likely to fall asleep. Try some of these tricks: stretching, rolling your shoulders, circling your head or even give yourself a hand massage.
Get up and move around, to improve your blood flow. Jumping jacks will work, too. Relax your eyes every hour by closing and opening them several times. If you still feel like falling asleep, pinch yourself or bite your tongue!
Proper hydration will help you stay awake. Just make sure you drink cold water, not alcohol or coffee. A glass of ice water is enough to induce a small shock to your body; drinking at least one from time to time will continue to refresh the body.
If music doesn’t put you to sleep, you may consider listening to it while fishing, with the help of earbuds or headphones. Dynamic songs playing softly in your ear will stimulate you to pay attention to your surroundings and thus stay awake.
Stimulating your mind is just as important as encouraging your body when you want to pull an all-nighter. Play a game in your head or concentrate on learning the lyrics of the songs you’re listening. And keep your spine straight, it will help the mind stay alert.