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The Fishing History in Destin, Florida

Updated on April 7, 2016

Destin History

The roots of Destin, Florida can be traced all the way back to the 7th century when American Indians used the area because of bountiful resources provided by the gulf. Spanish explorers originally surveyed the area in 1538, and Spanish surveyor Don Francisco Tapia charted the coast, drawing the first map of the Destin Eat Pass in 1693. The city of Destin gets its roots from fisherman Captain Leonard Destin, one of the first residents, in 1845. He instituted the local fishing industry, which continues to this day, with Destin being home to the largest and the most elaborate charter fleet in Florida. Due to Destin’s unique location, being the closest to the 100 fathom curve out of any point in Florida, providing the city with the fastest access to deep water fishing. The highlight of the fishing year in Destin is the Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, which runs every October, where anyone, armature or professional, can compete in over 30 different categories, for more than over $100,000 in prize money.

Crab Island and the Destin Bridge
Crab Island and the Destin Bridge

The East Pass

Destin’s East Pass is the only waterway that connects the Choctawhatchee bay to the Gulf for almost 60 miles in either direction. Built in 1926, four men cut a drainage ditch 2 feet wide across Okaloosa island using only shovels. Within 2 hours, the ditch was over 100 yards wide, which opened a torrent of water that created the east pass. Now maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, it is dredged occasionally to help keep boats moving freely around. North of the Destin bridge is Crab Island. Crab island was originally 2 large islands made from the sand that was dredged up from the East Pass. In its early days, the island was large enough to have sea grass, small shrubs, and nesting seabirds, but due to weather and time, is what we see today. Crab island is a great heaven for boaters, as its water is only about waist deep, and a great place to anchor and enjoy the weather.


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