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.
Where Can You Land A Grand Slam?
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.
How To Get Your Grand Slam?
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!