Not far from the Alabama border sits Florida's westernmost city, Pensacola. With a population of around 50,000 people, Pensacola is a port city with a rich history and a lot of reasons to visit. Fishing is a big part of the local culture, with the annual Seafood Festival and Crawfish Festivals running for several decades and several great fishing spots both inshore and offshore. Next read: Things to Do in Pensacola CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


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Anglers of all ages and experience levels only have great things to say about Pensacola, with some even rating it as Florida's very best fishing location. Whether you're looking to catch inshore fish like spotted sea trout, flounder, or sheepshead, or larger offshore game like amberjack, red snapper, king mackerel, and others, you'll find Pensacola to be a great spot too, and there are plenty of top fishing charters and guides operating in the area.

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2.Fish to Catch at Pensacola

Fish to Catch at Pensacola
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With over 340 days of sunshine per year and so many different species of fish to catch, Pensacola is a genuine paradise for anglers. Here are some details on a few of the most highly prized species of fish to catch in this region.

Red Snapper - One of the most commonly-caught fish in all of Florida, Red Snapper tend to be even more numerous and easy to catch at Pensacola than in other fishing locations around the state. The average catch can weigh around 20 pounds, but the state record is over 46. These fish are most commonly caught offshore but can sometimes be found at inshore locations with deep waters too, and the best time to nab some red snapper is through summer and fall.

King mackerel - These can be caught from Pensacola's fishing piers and other inshore and near-shore locations. They weigh around two dozen pounds on average but can grow much larger, with the state record being around 90 pounds. These fish migrate from the warmer southern waters of Florida up to the Pensacola area in spring and are commonly caught in May, June, and July.

Spotted Sea Trout - Frequently caught around Pensacola, these fish are one of the top targets for inshore fishing sessions as they tend to like swimming around grassy, sandy areas near the shore, especially during the spring. They tend to head out to deeper waters during the summer and can measure up at 20+ inches.

Red Drum - Also known as red fish, thousands of these fish can be found swimming in schools around the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola. They spend much of their time near the coast and spawn in the fall. Relatively easy to catch, red drum are a popular target for Pensacola fishing charters, and bull red drum can sometimes measure 30+ inches.

Cobia- Caught both inshore and offshore, Cobia can weigh 30+ pounds, with the state record being over 100 pounds. They spawn in spring and are most commonly caught around May and June.

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3.Fishing Charters/Guides at Pensacola

Fishing Charters/Guides at Pensacola
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Various fishing charters and guides can be hired around Pensacola, with a wide array of tours available for anglers of all ages and ability levels. Here are a few of the top rated fishing charters at Pensacola.

1. Redfish University - 270 Munro Rd, Pensacola, FL 32503 (850 748-4368)

Offering some of the best value fishing tours in the Pensacola area, Redfish University targets red drum, but also trout, pompano, flounder and others. As the 'University' part of the name suggests, this company aims to teach anglers how to improve their technique and you'll definitely finish your tour feeling like a better fisherman. The crew provide all equipment, as well as teaching you countless secrets of inshore angling that will stay with you forever.

2. Angler Up - 2101 Scenic Hwy, Pensacola, FL 32503 (850 450-3878)

With countless 5-star reviews from many happy customers, Angler Up Charters is one of the top names to trust in the Pensacola area. Run by Captain Brant, who grew up in Pensacola and is one of the friendliest, most talented fishing guides in the area, these tours offer great value and plenty of chances to land some big fish including speckled trout, red fish, king mackerel, gag grouper, and others.

3. Can't Quit Fishin' - 4600 Christy Dr, Pensacola, FL 32504 (850 380-9600)

For fishing addicts of all ages and experience levels, Can't Quit Fishin' is another excellent Pensacola fishing charter. These family-friend tours provide both inshore and deep sea fishing options around Pensacola Beach and the surrounding area, guaranteeing a great time for all and plenty of happy memories. For speckled trout, flounder, red fish, and other species, this is a great charter to choose.

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Best Pensacola (FL) Fishing Ideas

Attraction Spotlight: Pensacola Lighthouse

Visitors to the Pensacola Lighthouse can climb up the historic tower's one hundred and seventy-seven steps for stunning views of Florida's Gulf Coast. Situated on NAS Pensacola, the lighthouse was constructed in the year 1859. Guests can climb the Pensacola Lighthouse and explore on their own, or they can choose to join one of the climbing tours offered at the landmark lighthouse. The historic lighthouse is designated on the National Register of Historic Places.

Located within the 1869 quarters of the lighthouse keeper at the Pensacola Lighthouse is the Richard C. Callaway Museum. The museum displays exhibits focused on the local history of the area, this includes the history of the first Pensacola Lighthouse, local archaeological history, maritime history, the history of the United States Coast Guard, and the history of the Civil War. There is also a museum store, as well as special events, after-hours tours, and programs of children available.

The Ghost Hunt is one of the tours offered at the landmark Pensacola Lighthouse. Visitors can join the tour to find out for themselves whether or not the lighthouse is actually haunted. According to the Ghost Hunters of SciFi and the Travel Channel, it is, and many clairvoyants and psychics agree with them. The Pensacola Lighthouse is known as one of the country's most haunted lighthouses.

The lighthouse's Ghost Hunt takes guests on an exploration of the historical 1869 Keeper's Quarters to see if the resident ghosts will come out and meet the tour. Tour participants will be following in the footsteps of TAPS as the tour will feature the use of real equipment for hunting ghosts. Guests can choose to bring their own ghost hunting equipment, or share equipment provided during the tour. The gift shop provides some ghost hunting items for guests to purchase before the start of the tour. The Ghost Hunt tour last around an hour and thirty minutes.

The Pensacola Lighthouse also offers visitors with the experience of the Blue Angels Practice. Guests have the opportunity to experience the amazing power and outstanding precision of the incredible Blue Angels. Visitors will come eye level to the Blue Angels from the Pensacola Lighthouse's catwalk. This catwalk is located one hundred and fifty feet high from the ground. Reservations are needed for the Blue Angels Practice tour due to limited space. Tour participants must be at least forty-four inches tall and arrive at the lighthouse by 11:15 in the morning in order to see the Blue Angels from the Pensacola Lighthouse catwalk.

The light of the original Pensacola Lighthouse was first lit in 1824. Ten lamps were used in two groups at opposite ends of the frame to create a flashing light. By the year 1850, complaints about the lighthouse began to come in. The light was thought to be too dim, and trees supposedly blocked the light on Santa Rosa Island. A new seacoast lighthouse of first-class quality was recommended to be built in 1852 at Pensacola, with tower of no fewer than one hundred and fifty feet.

2081 Radford Boulevard, Pensacola, Florida, Phone: 850-393-1561

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Attraction Spotlight: Fort Pickens

Fort Pickens is located within the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Pensacola Bay, Florida. The historic pentagonal fort is located on the western point of Santa Rosa Island, a 40-mile long barrier island just east of the Alabama border. The stone fort is comprised of over 21 million bricks, most of which were laid in place by slave labor. The sally port, the fort’s main entrance, is secured with heavy wooden doors.

Three small officer’s quarters served as a hospital in 1861, and later housed prisoners of war, including the Apache leader, Geronimo. Cisterns located on the roof collected and stored rainwater for drinking, a system which was necessary should the fort ever come under attack. Tower bastions point across the channel to protect the entrance to the inner harbor. When the fort was first built, the island extended 500 feet from these bastions, and is now almost 1 mile away due to dredging for large ships and other natural forces, which have since changed the shoreline. Casemates, or arched rooms, provided shelter for artillery and strong architectural support for the cannons located above. Visitors can also see the mine battery room, mine chambers, and powder magazine. A small museum located at the fort recently reopened after having been severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The museum offers 3D maps, interactive displays, and a short video on the history of the fort.

History: The United States fortified all its major ports after the War of 1812. Fort Pickens, built in 1829 and completed in 1834, is the largest among four that were built to defend Pensacola Bay and the navy yard. The fort takes the name of Major General Andrew Pickens, who fought for the Union with distinction in several Revolutionary War battles. Fort Pickens was one of the only forts in the South to have never been occupied by Confederate soldiers during the US Civil War, thanks to the heroic efforts of Lieutenant Adam Slemmer and the US Navy ship the Wyandotte, who successfully defended the fort the day after Florida announced its succession from the Union, thus preventing the Confederate forces from controlling Pensacola Bay and its associated naval yard. The fort was one of only three in the South to have remained under Union control throughout the war. Following the Civil War, the fort underwent renovations and updates to its artillery. New weapons technology that included ironclad warships and rifled cannons made brick and stone forts obsolete. From the 1890s through the 1940s, ten concrete gun batteries were installed. The army abandoned forts after World War II when, once more, new weapons such as atomic bombs and guided missiles made them unnecessary. 1947 was the last year in which Fort Pickens was in use. In 1971, the fort became property of the Florida State Park, later the Gulf Islands National Seashore. In 1976, after extensive repairs by the National Parks Service, the fort was reopened to the public.

Ongoing Programs and Education: Park rangers offer tours of the fort and surrounding areas, which vary by season. Visitors should call for a schedule of tour times and locations; most begin at the Fort Pickens bookstore.

Past and Future Exhibits: Summer programs for 2017 included School of the Soldier, a history tour on the life and times of soldiers during the Civil War. The tour included firing demonstrations. Life on a Barrier Island is a nature walk beginning at the fort that teaches visitors about the plants and animals unique to the island. Creature Feature offers a more in-depth look at particular animals. Bird Walks meet early on Monday mornings. Fort Pickens: Guardians of the Gulf is a walking program offering stories related to the history of the fort. Dusk on the Gulf is an early evening story time session led by park rangers at sunset. Stargazing at Fort Pickens is a summer evening program in which volunteers from the Escambia Amateur Astronomer’s Association (EAAA) bring telescopes for visitors to use during a guided stargazing session.

What’s Nearby: Additional concrete gun batteries located to the east and west of the fort were constructed in the early 20th century. The ruins of these later facilities may also be seen on Santa Rosa Island. Fort McRee is located on Perdido Key across from Fort Pickens. Fort Barrancas is located across the Pensacola Bay at the Naval Air Station Pensacola.

1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563, Phone: 860-934-2600

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Attraction Spotlight: 5 Flags Speedway

Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola opened in the year 1953, and is a paved racing track measuring about half a mile. The racetrack is named after the city of Pensacola's nickname "City of Five Flags." The speedway provided many different classes to the Pensacola community and visitors from the month of March until the month of October, which is the track's regular season for racing. Among these classes offered by the Five Flags Speedway are the Bombers, Sportsman, Super Stocks, Pro Late Models, and Super Late Models classes. Races are typically held on a bi-weekly basis on Friday nights.

The racetrack has also played host to several regional touring series. During the first year Five Flags Speedway was in operation it hosted a race as part of the Grand National, which today is known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Herb Thomas won the race with his "Fabulous Hudson Hornet." The speedway has also hosted races of other national racing tours. These tours include the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the CARS X-1R Pro Cup Series.

Five Flags Speedway also hosts several events throughout the year in addition to races. The speedway's signature event each year is its Snowball Derby. This even has been held every year in December since the year 1968. ESPN once stated that event is one of the country's leading late-model stock-car races and attracts many of the top racecar drivers. The track is known for being incredibly fast due to its highly banked turns and layout. The current record for the Snowball Derby is 16.120 seconds.

On May 31 of 1953, the Five Flags Speedway opened to racers. Several things had gone wrong, resulting in opening day being a terrifying, hectic, and educational experience. The paving of the track had been delayed due to bad weather, and dirt ended up being spread across the track in preparation of the speedway's first race. A fourteen-car pileup during the first lap was the result of the track's dusty conditions due to the dirt.

Just two weeks after opening day, Five Flags Speedway hosted the only race of the NASCAR Grand National. Fortunately, the paving of the track was finished by this time and there was no more dust. Lee Petty was set to win the race, however, when rain began to fall during the race, he fell behind due to his car not having windshield wipers. In the end, Herb Thomas was victorious when the race was called at lap 140 out of the originally scheduled two hundred laps.

One of the most popular promotions in the history of Five Flags Speedway was the long-distance race held in December known as the Snowball Derby. The track's first Snowball Derby featured a race of only one hundred laps. The race set the event up to be one of the most prestigious and successful events in country. Today, the event features a race consisting of three hundred laps. The Snowball Derby has been held on the first weekend of December for the past thirty-eight years.

7451 Pine Forest Road, Pensacola, Florida, Phone: 850-944-8400

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