Santa Rosa Sound


Navarre, FL
United States United States
30.3906, -86.9595

Santa Rosa Sound is a sound connecting Pensacola Bay and Choctawhatchee Bay in Florida. The northern shore consists of the Fairpoint Peninsula and portions of the mainland in Santa Rosa County and Okaloosa County. It is bounded to the south by Santa Rosa Island (also known as Okaloosa Island in the easternmost region of the sound), separating it from the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway between Pensacola Beach and Fort Walton Beach is routed through the sound.

Three bridges carry pedestrian and automobile traffic to the barrier islands on the south side of the sound. The first two bridges have the lowest clearance of any span over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. For this reason, many sailboats with masts taller than 50 feet must "go outside" and bypass the protected sound using the unprotected waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The bridges crossing Santa Rosa Sound, including the names of communities on both sides of the bridge (mainland side, followed by island side) and center span clearances above mean sea level, are:

Brooks Bridge: Fort Walton Beach (55 feet clearance)

Navarre Beach Bridge: Navarre to Navarre Beach (55 feet clearance)

Bob Sikes Bridge (commonly the "Pensacola Beach Bridge"): Gulf Breeze to Pensacola Beach (65 feet clearance)

Santa Rosa Sound is a pristine body of water found in the panhandle running parallel between Highway 98 and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sound is a 35-mile stretch of the intercoastal waterway. On each end you'll find a bay. To the east you'll enter Choctawhatchee Bay and to the west you'll find Pensacola Bay, which is surrounded by fascinating historical places including; Fort McRae, Fort Pickens, and Pensacola's Naval Air Station.

The greatest thing about fishing Santa Rosa Sound is the fact that catching a three-fish Santa Rosa Slam can easily be done. This requires catching a speckled trout, redfish, and flounder all in one fishing trip. Another appealing aspect is it can all be done using the same rod and reel. Ideally, you'll want to use a six-and-a-half or seven-foot rod with a reel that can hold at least two hundred yards of eight- to twelve-pound test line. If you want to give the trout and redfish a try on the fly rod, a six- to eight-weight outfit will work fine.

There are several good boat launches down on the sound, but you may be limited, depending on the size of your boat. Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze has an excellent launch that can accommodate any size boat. If you're in Navarre, you may want to try the launch located next to Sailor's Grill on Navarre Beach.

For those who don't have boats, inshore charters are readily available.

It's also a good idea to check out the local tackle shops. Gulf Breeze Bait & Tackle located in Gulf Breeze carries a full line of live and dead bait as well as any tackle or equipment you could need. They're only minutes from the water and have a parking lot to accommodate boat trailers.

Roaming the Grass for Speckled Trout

Fishing for speckled trout is what Santa Rosa Sound is best known for. At anytime of the year the sound can produce a good stringer of fish. Summertime produces more fish, but the average size is much smaller. Much of the sound is made up of brown, sea-grass bottom. This grass is home to loads of small baitfish, which of course, the larger fish feed on. Equally important though, the grass keeps the oxygen level up and filters the water, which in return, is the reason why the water is crystal clear much of the year. Depending on where you are in the sound, you may find grass flats in only inches of water, yet in other places it may be so deep it's not even visible.

Aquatic vegetation:

Much of the sound is made up of brown, sea-grass bottom.


Docks, rock structure,grass beds.


Once you reach the flats the fun begins. As with all types of fishing, there are countless different tactics to try. For myself, I like to drift or slowly move around using the trolling motor. You'll likely have better luck fishing shallow water early in the morning and then moving deeper once it begins to warm up.

When trout fishing, I like to use a combination of live and artificial baits. Speckled trout are one of those fish where ‘the larger the bait, the larger the fish' definitely applies. If you're searching for big fish, try four- to eight-inch baits like pinfish, pigfish, mullet, or my personal favorite, croakers. For those anglers looking for quantity over quality, your best bet will be live shrimp. Expect however, to be harassed by every pinfish that comes along.

As I said above, I like a combination. This means I put a couple of live baits out behind the boat and then proceed to throw artificials off the bow. The only way to go in the mornings and late afternoons is with top water lures—the top water explosions you'll witness from trout are amazing. Most top water lures are similar and work much the same, although, I feel Rapala's Skitterwalk has something special about it and is my top pick. Once the top water action slows down you'll need to move to sinking lures, whether you're using soft plastics, hard lures, spinner baits, or flies, there should be no problem continuing to catch trout.

While redfish may be caught throughout the sound, the residential docks offer you the best chance of getting into them in good numbers. The ideal way to fish the docks is to use a trolling motor while moving from one dock to the next as you cast around and beneath them. The water depth around these docks will range anywhere from two to fifteen feet, depending on where you are in the sound and the length of the dock.

My favorite tactic for redfish is live bait fishing. Ordinarily you can fish the docks without a weight unless you encounter heavy winds or a strong moving tide. Taking that into consideration, splicing a 24- to 36-inch, twenty to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader to your line seems to work best. A wide variety of hooks can be used and should be determined by the type of bait you're fishing with. My preferred hook is an Eagle Claw #1 straight hook when using live shrimp. As with trout fishing, when using larger baits such as pinfish or mullet, you will need to increase the size of your hook to accommodate the bait.

Finding flounder can sometimes be the toughest part of completing a slam in the sound. They are mostly found around structure, which could include the docks where you were just searching for redfish.

Some of my favorite places to look for flounder are around bridges such as Bob Sikes Bridge, which connects Gulf Breeze to Pensacola Beach. You'll also find a handful of rock structures in the sound.

Spot Access:
Boat Ramp, Parking (car/truck), Parking (boat/trailer), Picnic Area, Power Boats Allowed, Swimming Area, Pier, Shore fishing access
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Map for 30.3906, -86.9595
New Fishing Report

Fishing Reports

Santa Rosa Sound Fishing Report 08.30.16

Fishing during the first few hours of daylight has been on fire!  We have been catching plenty of Trout, Redfish, and a few Flounder.  The bait continues to be thick in the Navarre Sound and Escambia Bay area, Spanish Mackeral and Redfish can be found working these balls of bait-fish. Like always  however, we've caught everything on artificial baits! (my two favorites, DOA Shrimp and Big Top Water baits). The Sheepshead and Black Snapper have been a solid bite for anyone...
about 5 years ago (02/24/2012)

Santa Rosa Sound Fishing Report 02.24.12

sight fishing at its best, no light makes it hard, we pervailed!!!!   even with all the clouds, we were still able to find and catch this nice Bull Red Fish, water is crystal clear....
Mega-Bite Inshore Charters
over 5 years ago (11/08/2011)

Santa Rosa Sound Fishing Report 11.08.11

Can you believe November is already here?     This has to be one of my favorite times to fish because it’s cool outside and the big reds are here. Over the past two to three weeks, I’ve been running a lot of trips in the afternoon, since the bite has just been great on the flats and along the bridges in the late afternoon. I’ve been targeting specks and reds on the flats and white trout and redfish on the bridges. It has been some great light tackle fishing. When I’m on t...

Santa Rosa Sound Fishing Report 08.31.11

Light Tackle Night Fishing in Pensacola     Back to school often means going to bed early and rising with the sun, but around here, nighttime is the right time for fishing. Since it has been so hot with heat indexes into the 100’s, we have been waiting for the sun to go down to go fishing. Night fishing in Pensacola means lots of big white trout and hard pulling ladyfish; we’ve even hooked up on some big bull reds. Just two days ago we jumped a tarpon on a small jig on a trou...
Mega-Bite Inshore Charters
over 6 years ago (10/15/2010)

Santa Rosa Sound Fishing Report 10.15.10

  Calm seas and great clients made for some great fishing today. We started off fishing for kings around 3-mile, but the kings were not interested in our offerings this morning, so I changed gears and decided to hit the pass near Ft. Pickens for some redfish action. I saw a few of my fellow captains out and they were having fun with these bronze drag screamers.   We had some good bites, but only landed 2 big reds for the day. Christine and her husband Tom had a blast battlin...
Mega-Bite Inshore Charters
over 6 years ago (08/27/2010)

Santa Rosa Sound Fishing Report 08.27.10

Constant rain and thunderstorms certainly make for some exciting fishing, that is, as long as the lightning stays away.     I had my first few trips after the oily aftermath of the summer of 2010 this past weekend, although I almost thought the weekend was going to be a bust, too. I had booked a couple of trips last week, but Mother Nature and her wicked sense of timing was not going to let that happen as a tropical storm was hanging around longer then expected. I finally saw t...
Mega-Bite Inshore Charters
almost 7 years ago (06/30/2010)

Santa Rosa Sound Fishing Report 06.30.10

The report in Santa Rosa Sound is good for both trout and redfish. Most of the fish are hitting artificial on popping corks. In Pensacola Bay, the bite for bluefish and Spanish mackerel is outstanding. The bite in Big Lagoon has also been very good for trout and redfish. Inshore Fishing in Pensacola Bay and along the ICW is open, so when you're ready to take your vacation, come visit Pensacola.     Tight Lines.   Capt. John Mega-Bite Inshore Charters 850-341-9816...



Drum, Red (Saltwater) (Sciaenops ocellatus)


Flounder, Gulf (Paralichthys albigutta)


Snook (Centropomus undecimalis)


Trout, Speckled (Cynoscion nebulosus)




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