I've written before about Destin FL and its awesome beaches, it's upscale dining and shopping and how it's one of our favorite Roadtreking destinations. But I've always been curious about the Welcome to Destin sign we see on Highway 98 that brags about this panhandle town's moniker as “the World's Luckiest Fishing Village.”
How did that come about, I wondered? Turns out, it's another story about another very interesting place.
To find the answser, I first stopped at the Destin History and Fishing Museum, located a block off 98. Inside, I met museum director Kathy Marler Blue,
The nickname itself goes back to 1956 when then Florida Governor Leroy Collins stopped by the local fishing docks on a campaign swing. A local fisherman, Captain Salty tried to get the Governor abound his boat for a short tour of the harbor but the governor had a full schedule. Capt. Salty said it would only take 20 minutes and he guaranteed a catch so, reluctantly,with the press watching and waiting, Collins climbed aboard. In 20 minutes he was back, proudly holding a 29 pound King Mackerel.
The press corps was pretty dumbfounded and one of the accounts of that day and that catch noted that Destin was “the world's luckiest fishing village.”
Kathy took me over to a display, showing an old newspaper photograph of the governor and Capt Salty. “The town fathers liked that notoriety,” she said. “So a few years later, they made it the town's official nickname.”
Bt there's a reason why Destin really is the world's luckiest fishing village. And that has to do with the crystal clear, emerald-colored waters of the Gulf Of Mexico. First, there is a great diversity of limestone structures off shore as well as artificial reefs which have been positioned over the years to further encourage breeding of reef fish such as grouper, snapper, amberjack, and trigger fish. Seasonal fish such as cobia also make the area popular for in-shore fishing.
Another huge factor is Destin’s proximity to the Desoto Canyon further off shore, where the gulf floor drops below 3,000 feet in spots, making it attractive for billfish like Blue Marlin, Sailfish and Wahoo. But there are lots of other drop offs.
Destin is unique among Gulf Coast communities in that deep water is within a relatively short distance of shore. Within a half-hour of leaving Destin Harbor, anglers are in waters as deep as 60 feet and 100-foot depths are easily within 10 miles of shore.
Destin is such a great fishing spot that it has the largest charter boat fleet in the entire state of Florida.
I walked down to the check out the fleet, using the quarter mile Destin Harbor Boardwalk. There are private charters and group charters available and al you ave to do is be there when they come back to the docks to see that, indeed, Destin is one awesome fishing place.
The busiest fishing month is October when the city hosts a huge fishing rodeo that draws anglers from all over the world.
There's plenty of parking for RVs in the parking lots around the Boardwalk and lts of places to camp in the area; See my stories on state parks near Destin or beach camping near Destin. And for what other attractions are in the area, see this story on the Emerald Coast.
Hope you enjoy the photos.