The Pensacola Bay Area is an angler’s paradise with the Gulf of Mexico, three bays and a river that’s home to Florida’s most diverse freshwater fish population. With 343 days of sunshine and mild annual temperatures there’s rarely a bad day to cast a line.
The Pensacola Bay Area is most popularly known for offshore game fish including red snapper, grouper, wahoo, amberjack, cobia, tuna and marlin. Local charters take visitors to a multitude of offshore artificial reefs, which attract thousands of fish. The Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier is one of the longest piers in the Gulf of Mexico at 1,471 feet, where fishermen can buy a one-day license. Pensacola Bay, Escambia Bay and East Bay provide ample quantities of flounder, speckled trout, redfish and mullet. Powerful lights make night fishing along the new 1.5-mile Pensacola Bay Fishing Bridge enjoyable and convenient, plus no saltwater license is required there. Or, visitors can simply a cast a line for pompano right from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Escambia River sports 85 recorded species of fish, the richest variety of freshwater fish of any Florida river, including channel catfish and largemouth bass. For a more rustic fishing experience, fishermen head for the lakes of the Blackwater River State Forest. A favorite is Bear Lake, a 107-acre impoundment quite popular with local fishermen.
With an active scuba diving population since the ‘60s, several sites in the Pensacola Bay Area present opportunity for spear fishing dives. The USS Oriskany, a scuttled aircraft sunk in 2006, is now the world’s largest artificial reef. Divers can also explore the USS Massachusetts, one of the oldest existing American battleships and the Antares, a 400-foot freighter that attracts moray eels, red snapper, grouper, cobia and amberjack.
Each year several tournaments attract thousands of fishermen to the Pensacola Bay Area to test their skills and in hopes of breaking a record. In the Shallow Water Slam, redfish, flounder and speckled trout are the game. In the Bud Light King Mackerel/Cobia Tournament, more than 1,000 fishermen come to the area to catch some of the largest king mackerel and cobia in the Gulf. This is one of the largest two-day boat events in the Gulf of Mexico. The annual Bill Hargreaves Fishing Rodeo is another popular event in Perdido Key. The Pensacola International Billfish Tournament has been around for 40 years and is one of the country’s largest billfish tournaments, which attracts 600 anglers from all over the Southeast. Pensacola’s own female fishing club, Fishin’ Chix, hosts several tournaments throughout the year.
Gulf Islands National Seashore provides endless opportunity for solitude and relaxation and miles of unobstructed views and access to the Gulf.
The rare wonder of watching dozens of baby sea turtles emerge from their nest and make their way to the shore is truly one of the most magical things you’ll ever see, and it’s all about timing.
Shrimp, snapper, mullet and even sushi - the freshest seafood in town can be found at the iconic Joe Patti's Seafood in Downtown Pensacola. The next best thing to catching it yourself!
Vacation ideas, news, offers - sign up for our e-mail newsletter and we'll keep you connected to what's happening in our area.Sign Up
Receive our free vacation planner in your mailbox in about two weeks.Send It
All the great information at your findertips – only a click away.See It