Whether you’re visiting or in your backyard, these 10 U.S. metropolitan areas are the best around for fishing action (in alphabetical order).
From late spring through the fall, New England becomes striped bass and bluefish central, and once the fish work their way north, the action out of Boston and surrounding areas can be nothing short of spectacular. Some of the best fishing extends from Boston Harbor on out to the nearby islands and on to Stellwagen Bank. For multi-day excursions, bear in mind that the waters off Cape Cod have a reputation for producing trophy stripers so reliably that guides routinely advertise they guarantee big fish.
There’s ample opportunity for light-tackle and fly anglers to sight-fish in clear, shallow waters. Monomoy Island is renowned for the flats fishing, but bass are also available in the shallows out of Chatham as well. Whether it’s run-and-gun, targeting fish blasting bait schools along the beaches, or sigh-fishing clear, skinny waters in the Cape Cod area, there are settings and plenty of stripers for every fishing style.
Many of the same bays that harbor stripers and blues also yield bluefin tuna during summer and fall. Schoolies are often thick enough to offer small boat anglers ample opportunity to target fish in the 100-pound class with topwater lures and subsurface plugs.
Charleston, South Carolina
The Charleston charm not only exists on its market streets, but in its waterways, too. The serene backcountry puts anglers in year-round fishing action with a gang of species, inshore and off. The inshore find reds, flounder, tarpon and sheepshead. Fly addicts will dig the vast areas of marsh, flats, creeks, rivers and beaches that make this landscape ideal for fly-fishing. When heading offshore, expect vermilion snapper, grouper, sea bass, amberjack and the occasional dolphin.
Honey holes run through Charleston’s coastline, especially between Bull Island and Capers Island. Visiting anglers find a concentrated area of fishing charters at Ripley Light Marina with quick access to Ashley River. Guides all stay within the circle of Highway 526, get close to the water and find yourself on Google with plenty of search results. For boat ramps, Remleys Point Public Boat Landing has great routes into Cooper River and out to Charleston Harbor.
Only an hour from Houston, this island town has much to offer visiting anglers. Redfish, spotted seatrout (called speckled trout in Texas), black drum, and flounder are plentiful throughout Galveston and Trinity bays, where jetties, docks, and numerous oyster bars and oil rigs provide cover and forage. Tarpon also make a decent showing. In addition, neighboring Gulf waters afford visiting anglers a plethora of options, like cobia, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and marlin. Plus the area is known to produce extra large kingfish and red snapper. Many charter boats, for bay and offshore outings, depart from Galveston Yacht Basin, Pelican Rest Marina, Pirate’s Beach Marina, and from Kemah and Seabrook, a few miles northwest. Most, however, require reservations.
Look beyond Miami’s busy downtown and SoBe’s party atmosphere, and you’ll find a city surrounded by fishy waters. For starters, the channels and mangrove shorelines of Biscayne Bay harbor snook, mangrove snapper and jacks, while many flats are loaded with spotted seatrout, barracuda, sharks, and the more glamorous tarpon, bonefish and permit. There’s no shortage of fly and light tackle guides here, and those who prefer offshore fishing need only a short drive to Crandon Marina on Key Biscayne to hop on one of the many big-game charter boats that target dolphin, sailfish, kingfish, bonito, amberjack, tuna, snapper, grouper, and more. Several boat ramps offer quick access to productive inshore and offshore fishing grounds.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Whether you come on business, for Mardi Gras or for Jazz fest, a visit to this soulful city isn’t complete without wetting a line. The Louisiana marsh and its incomparable redfishing is practically a stone’s throw away. Many inshore guides live around town, and they’ll pick up clients outside their hotels en route to the water. If you’ve got wheels, you can head down to nearby Delacroix or Hopedale, where fish camps and fertile waters abound. If you’d rather sample the offshore fishing, your best bet is Venice, just over an hour away. Yellowfin tuna, dolphin, smoker kings, amberjack, cobia, and even some huge snapper are potential targets. But book ahead: charter captains rarely hang around the docks in Venice.
New York City, New York
It’s just not hot dogs and pizza in the Big Apple — fish live here, too. Remember, New York City’s island makeup produces some amazing fishing spots along its coastline. There is an overwhelming amount of fishing access and marinas throughout all five boroughs, enough to fill a guidebook (in fact, there is one). The waters off NYC, appropriately enough, contain a melting pot of species: flounder, fluke, striped bass, bluefish, porgy, blackfish and weakfish. Don’t overlook the one-of-a-kind experience of night fishing with the Manhattan skyline off the bow.
Ocean City, Maryland
Two words: white marlin. This fishing destination is the hub for all things white marlin. The famous White Marlin Open tournament, with more than $2 million in prizes, is in its 41st year. With the Gulf Stream nearby, bigeye and yellowfin tuna are just offshore, along with bluefish and wahoo. Anglers may also find dolphin, blue marlin and the random sailfish. Inshore fishing around the inlet gives anglers the chance to catch striped bass, tautog, flounder and trout. Fishing charter boats rest along the Ocean City Inlet with dozens of marinas running up the coastline, focused on Isle of Wight Bay.
San Diego, California
This city is known as tuna central, for some of the best yellowfin and bluefin tuna fishing in North America takes place off its coastline. Inshore, La Jolla and Point Loma’s kelp beds are home to yellowtail, calico bass, white seabass, and halibut. San Diego and Mission bays offer good action with spotted bay bass, calico bass, sharks, halibut and bonefish. Yes, the grey ghosts also live in Southern Cal.
Pier and surf fishing yield a mixed bag of surf perch, corbina, halibut, leopard sharks, and the occasional barracuda, mackerel and bonito. Sportfishing fleets operate out of four primary landings. The first three – Point Loma Sportfishing, H&M; Landing and Fisherman’s Landing – are located on San Diego Bay. The fourth – Seaforth Landing – is on Mission Bay. Trips ranging from half-day at the local kelp beds to multi-day excursions into Mexican waters are available.
Pike Place Fish Market exists here for a reason. Fishing for sea-run cutthroats and all five species of salmon – king, silver, sockeye, pink and chum– is excellent, though seasonal, in Puget Sound. Ling cod, cabezon (popular bottomfish of the Pacific Northwest) and flounder are also plentiful, and usually the preferred target species in May and June, when keeping salmon is not allowed. Halibut and tuna are accessible, but require longer runs.
The marinas and fishing charters track through the cut of Salmon Bay running eastwards into Union Bay. You’ll find charter boats docked at Shilshole Bay Marina, 6 miles from downtown, and Port Everett, 25 minutes north of the city. Boatless do-it-yourselfers will find area beaches, many of them city or county parks, offer pretty good chances at salmon and sea-run trout within 30 minutes of downtown.
Tampa Bay, Florida
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is more than a beautiful Tampa Bay landmark. The famous structure also attracts a number of pelagic and bottom species, including Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonito, cobia, and various groupers and snappers. Bay shallows host plenty of redfish, snook, seatrout and tarpon, and fast action with kingfish, permit, amberjack, and big snapper and grouper awaits out in the Gulf, just a few miles from the city’s skyline.
When it comes to public boat ramps, there are many to choose from, inside and outside the bay. Inshore guides will usually meet you at one of them. You’ll find deep-sea charter boats at nearby Clearwater Marina, as well as Merry Pier and Hubbards Marina in adjacent St. Petersburg.