Friday, July 17, 2015

Exploring the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico


Bryce wanted to do some fishing, so with perfect weather predicted for Friday, we made plans with Tim & Denise to spend the day on their boat.  We went online the night before and bought Bryce a 3-day saltwater fishing license, packed lunches, and got ready for a 7am start.

When we arrived over at Eden Gardens, Denise was just finishing cleaning up the boat, and getting stuff packed into it.

Gonna do some fishin'

We spent about an hour getting everything ready to go, and then we drove the short distance to the boat launch.

Launching the boat

This boat launch is in the Choctawhatchee Bay, which is the large body of water to the north of Destin and all of the other coastal resort towns.

Smooth as glass

The water of the Bay was as smooth as glass, and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day!

Got the boat lauched

We got on the water around 10am, and it was about a 45-minute ride across the Bay to the inlet to the Gulf of Mexico at Destin.          DSC_0100

Ready for a day on the water!


We crossed under the big bridge that brings travellers down to Destin,

Under the bridge

Looooong bridge











and as we got closer to the resort towns, we began seeing some really nice houses overlooking the Bay.

Nice houses on the Bay

More nice houses as we get close to Destin










The area in the Bay, right before the inlet opens into the Gulf, is referred to by the locals as Crab Island.  It’s not really an island, but just a sand bar where boats gather and the locals hang out.  There are several floating restaurants, and some play areas for the kids.

First glimpse of Crab Island

There’s lots of activity around Destin, and lots of sights to see.

Pirate Ship



This pirate ship gives tours of Destin Harbor, and there are other tour boats, as well.  Dolphin tours, glass-bottom boat tours, snorkeling tours, and lots and lots of parasailing.




Sailboat Tour











Parasail Boat

More parasailers


Triple Parasail



We were here for fish, though, so we continued on into the Gulf, where Tim met up with “ the bait guy” to get some bait.

Bait Boat

As we passed by the jetty,

The Jetty

and the beaches along the waterfront,

Popular snorkel area











we were amazed by the crystal-clear bluegreen water!  This is what people flock to Destin for!!

Hotels on the beach

Pretty blue-green water











Captain & Co-Captain



Grouper and Red Snapper are in season right now, so we continued about a mile out into the Gulf, where Tim knows a good spot for catching both.


Bryce did his part as co-captain.






We weren’t alone out there.


Tom and I were just along for the ride, and the sunshine, so we relaxed in the front of the boat, away from the fishing poles, and the hooks, and the bait!












Just along for the ride!

I realized, when I started putting this blog post together, that I didn’t get a single picture of Bryce fishing!  I guess I kept waiting for him to get something on his hook, but that hardly ever happened!

We stayed at this spot for about a half hour, and something was stealing their bait, but they never managed to snag anything.  We were all getting a little hungry, and Denise was feeling seasick, so we headed back towards Crab Island where we could eat our lunches and walk around for a bit.

On the way, Tim drove us through the small harbor on Destin’s waterfront.          Enjoying the view









It’s a busy place – with lots of hotels and restaurants!

Destin is a very busy place!

More restaurants











But there are also a few small stretches of beach.

He's probably wondering what all the commotion is about

We crossed back under the bridge and anchored at the edge of the Crab Island area.

A closer vire of Crab Island

Tim said that the best time to come to Crab Island is just before high tide, when the tide is coming in.  The water is really clear, and it has the most beautiful blue-green color at that time.

We were a little later than that, so although the water was still clear, it was a little more yellow-green in color.

Lots of activity

On Crab Island











We ate our lunches, and took a walk around the area, where the water was never more than thigh deep.  We did have to watch out for anchor ropes, though, and anchors . . . I don’t think I’d want to be there on a day when it was REALLY crowded!

After lunch, they tried a little more fishing, over in front of the Coast Guard Station, on the Bay side of the bridge.

Coast Guard Station

Let's see if this will improve his luck!


No luck there, either!!

Bryce’s “Good Luck” fishing shirt wasn’t even helping!!


They decided to try one one spot out in the Gulf before giving up for the day.  This one was about 2 miles out, and the water had gotten slightly rougher in the afternoon.  Bryce and I rode up front, and we were bouncing around quite a bit, and got sprayed a few times.



Bryce didn’t mind too much – me either, it cooled us off!

A nice day on the boat

Out there, they managed to hook a few fish – pretty big ones, too, but didn’t keep them on the hook long enough to get them into the boat!  I still didn’t get any pictures!

I did manage to get a picture of one of the fighter jets flying over us.  I’m not sure if it was from the Air Show rehearsal going on over in Pensacola Beach, or just from Eglin Air Force Base, which is close by Destin.

Fighter Jet flying around


Captain Tim


At 4pm, captain Tim decided to call it a day, even though they had had any success in the fishing department, and hadn’t even used up all their bait!

We made our way back to the Bay, and picked up the pirate ship again on the way back! lol





Being chased by pirates! :)

The water in the inlet between the Gulf and the Bay gets REALLY rough between the jetty and the bridge – it was really throwing us around!

Rough Water

We made it through the inlet without anybody falling out of the boat, and back to the quieter waters of the Bay for our 45 minute ride back to the boat launch.

Along the way, we passed a barge carrying concrete beams for the US-331 bridge expansion project.

A barge transporting bridge pieces

We made it back to the quiet inlet, past this sunken boat (we think they leave it there as a marker, or maybe a fish habitat),

Sunken Boat

and had the boat out of the water by 5pm.

Done for the day

It may not have been a successful fishing day, but it was still an enjoyable day on the water!

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