BOATS ABOUND: Destin harbor boasts largest fleet in North America

Tina Harbuck
Destin holds the largest fleet in North America in one port.

There’s a lot of heritage in the harbor.

“The blood runs deep when it comes to fishing in Destin,” said Destin Charter Boat Association President Capt. Gary Jarvis of the Backdown 2.

“And from the looks of things it looks like it is going to run for a while.”

Destin harbor holds about 125 charter boats, state and federally permitted, the largest fleet in one port in North America.

“We have a very small body of water, close pass, small community and the largest fleet,” said a proud Jarvis.

In Destin, one can literally walk about a mile along the harbor and constantly be passing charter boats.

“This town was founded on fishing, long before people came here to lay on the beach.”

Jarvis said the charter for-hire industry goes back more than 80 years. For example, the Destin Fishing Rodeo will be celebrating its 69th year this October and Destin was charter fishing long before the Rodeo began.

And the fishing doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

The next 100 days of summer are looking up with reports of advanced bookings better than they have been in three to four years.

Not only is fishing good, but the fleet that brings in those catches is seeing growth.

In the last three years, the Destin fleet has grown by seven to nine boats.

Nevertheless, “There is plenty of room for every body. We’re not getting over capitalized,” Jarvis said.

In addition to new boats, some captains have changed boats or locations, while others are docked right where they have always been.

If you can recall the name of your boat or captain, here's a list to help find them.

Starting at the Marler Bridge and moving eastward:

HarborWalk Marina

Al-Le, Capt. Paul Cox

Anastasia, Capt. Tony Davis

Back Country Outfitters, Capt. Charleston Bonner, Criss Caldwell

Barracuda, Capt. Jason Steele

Bow’d Up, Capt. Brady Bowman

Cutting Edge, Capt. Steve Regan

Destination, Capt. Stan Phillips

Destin Bay Charters, Capt. Brandon Wright

Destin Inshore Fishing Co., Captains Andy Hollister, Tim Cooper, Jordan Nelson, Christian Duplantis and Kris Dew.

Finest Kind, Capt. Jason Mikel

Fish N Teem, Capt. Billy Teems

100 Proof, Capt. Allen Staples, Capt. Ben O’Connor

Just B Cause, Capt. Ken Bolden

Maikira, Capt. B.J. Teems

Mary Lou, Capt. Rusty Gilbert

Miss Brandi, Capt. Brandy Miles-Kitchens

Miss Nautica, Capt. Jimmy Miles

Phoenix, Capt. Scott Robson

Rookie, Capt. Chip Godwin

Screamin Drag, Capt. Brian Kelley

Special K, Capt. Kyle Low

Star Fire, Capt. John Giesbrecht

Stress Relief II, Capt. Scott Robinson

Sure Thing, Capt. Rocky Griffith

Swoop, Capt. Mark Tilden

Swoop II, Capt. Matt Wheeler

Wahoo, Capt. Steve Regan

Olin Marler Charter Boats

Gulf Breeze, Capt. John Gibson

Tropical Winds, Capt. Mike Pittman

Behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar

Huntress, Capt. Mike Graef

New Florida Girl, Capt. Jim Westbrook

New Florida Girl’s American Spirit, Capt. Jim Green

Passing Time, Capt. J.P. Cole

Silver Lining, Capt. Ed Shields

Suzie Q, Capt. Jason Hindman

Docked east of Galati’s

Shock’n Yall, Capt. Neill Finkel

Fishing Fleet Marina

Al-Lin, Capt. Harold Staples

Backdown 2, Capt. Gary Jarvis

Backlash, Capt. Chris Kirby

Big Deal, Capt. Steve Pixley

Blue Runner II, Capt. Tommy Carter

First Light, Capt. Steve Haeusler

Fish N Fool, Capt. Casey Weldon

Full Draw, Capt. Justin Destin

Game On, Capt. Eric Thrasher

Great Escape, Capt. Jason Rogers

High Cotton, Capt. TJ George

Indemand, Capt. David Gates

Katrina Ann, Capt. Steve Land

Lucky Lina, Capt. Steve Lathi

Mighty Fine, Capt. Steve Webster

No Alibi, Capt. Chris Schofield

Only Way, Capt. Curt Gwin

Outta Line, Capt. Trey Windes

Realin’ Script, Capt. Nino Bright

Sea Fix, Capt. Phillip Blackburn

Sea Winder, Capt. Chris Couvillion

Silver Hook, Capt. Rodney Sousa

SS Enterprise, Capt. Kirk Reynolds

Stelluna, Capt. Judah Barbee

Striker, Capt. Bill Williams

Sunrise, Capt. Kelly Windes

Sure Lure, Capt. Don Dineen

Sweet William II, Capt. Bill Watson

Tradewinds, Capt. Larry Meyer

Twilight, Capt. Robert Hill

Un Reel, Capt. Paul Dale Wagner

Vengeance, Capt. Nathan Putney

Windwalker II, Capt. Bernie LeFebvre

East Pass Marina

Cinnsational, Capt. Chris Mitchell

Dawn Patrol, Capt. John(JT) Tenore

Dawn Patrol Too, Capt. Jordan Smith

Double Time, Capt. Tim Adams

First Shot, Capt. Mike Dates

Hiliner, Capt. Brantley Galloway

King of Kings, Capt. Jayson Self

Malia Ann, Capt. Zachary Wolfe

Maximus, Capt. Justin Hall

Reel Deal, Capt. Josh Glidden

Shamrock 2, Capt. Eddie Dykes

Silver King, Capt. Mike Parker and Capt. Alex Hare

Soggy Bottom, Capt. JJ Botelho

Heron Harbor

Anticipation, Capt. Anthony Dewberry

Big John, Capt. Todd Allen

Blessed Adventure, Capt. David Dewberry

Good Times, Capt. Marak Mueller

Indian Outlaw, Capt. Buddy Godwin

Miss Aegina, Capt. Sean Dylan

One of a Kind, Capt. Casey Godwin

Pescador III, Capt. Mike Whitley

Reel Lucky I and Reel Lucky II, Capt. Josh Calhoon, Capt. Robby Van Sittert and Capt. Justin Hughes

Relentless, Capt. Brant Kelly

Seahorse, Capt. Dean Cox

Vera Maria, Capt. Steve Allen

Behind Harbor Docks

Lady Em, Capt. Mike Eller