Many aren't aware that you donít have to drive into Destin to go charter fishing. Captains launch from the beach right here in Grayton.

Mark Thompson launched his Fishy Booty Charter Fishing in March and has seen a steady stream of business since then.

"Business has been excellent," he said enthusiastically.

Thompson moved to the area 18 years ago to go to scuba diving school. He now boasts 6,000 dives in the Gulf and says he knows those waters pretty well; well enough that he taught at the Scuba Tech school for seven years.

However, Thompson had a hankering to be his own boss and to work for himself. And living in Santa Rosa Beach, he could see a need to provide charter boat fishing services in Walton County.

Over the winter, Thompson went to school and got his captain's license and established his Fishy Booty Charter Fishing business. He joined a fleet of other fishermen who offer fishing charter services from the beach in Grayton. He is one of only 15 that are allowed.

From his 20-foot Cape Horn, five can fish comfortably for a price of $550 for a half day, four-hour excursion. Everything is furnished ó including rod, reels, bait, and tackle ó except sunscreen and drinks. The Cape Horn was designed to sail in the Gulf waters and was built in Milton at a family-owned business.

He usually takes the boat out about nine miles, where fishermen are bringing in snapper, grouper of all colors, mackerel, sharks, triggerfish, and amberjack.

Thompson said since the charters return to shore about noon, he usually sends his fishermen up to the Red Bar for lunch and when they return, he has cleaned their catch.

"I like the uniqueness of doing this here," he said. "This is probably the only place where fishing charters launch directly from the beach. The county is growing and there is a need for this."

Thompson also offers scuba diving, and sightseeing, as well as bottom fishing, spear fishing, trolling, and shark fishing. He launches off the beach behind the Red Bar in Grayton. Six people can be accommodated for scuba and sightseeing trips.

For more information or to book, email or call 586-0807.