The best fishing vacations in the U.S.

From Florida’s Gulf of Mexico to California’s Big Bear Lake, these fishing destinations are a real catch.
A man with his sun fishing by the sea.
waterfront cabin in Wisconsin with firepit and dock

A day on the water, the relaxing sound of lapping waves, and a fishing pole in hand—there’s nothing quite like it. The love of fishing is as old as humankind itself, both as a means of survival and enjoying the outdoors. The United States is chock-full of fantastic fishing getaways, where you can cast out for big game in the deep sea, or leisure along the banks of lakes and rivers. Stay close to the action with an oceanfront, gulf-front, riverfront, or lakefront vacation home, or browse through homes with a boat dock to find the perfect fit. Freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing, we’ve got you covered.

As a note: before you sail off on your fishing excursion, be sure to check the fish in season, as well as the state’s fishing regulations, necessary permits, and license requirements.

Ready to reel in the relaxation? Here are some of the best fishing vacations in the U.S.

Florida fishing destinations

World-class fishing meets world-class resorts in the Sunshine State, making it a bucket list fishing vacation for many anglers. Florida is the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, giving you double the opportunity to reel in saltwater trophy fish. If freshwater is more your style, Lake Okeechobee, on the state’s Atlantic Coast, is nicknamed “the Bass Fishing Capital of the World.” Find a place to hang your hat with stunning water views and nearby fishing piers and charter boats.

Vacation homes with boat docks by the water in Key West, FL

Key West

Experience the fishing trip of a lifetime in Key West, Florida. On this remote, tropical island, you’ll find the southernmost point of the United States and a trove of some of the most sought-after gamefish, including bonefish, redfish, tarpon, permit, snapper, grouper, and snook. If you want a closer look into the waves, Key West is also an incredible spot for diving and snorkeling off the only living coral barrier reef in the continental U.S., the Florida Reef, with Dry Tortugas National Park close by (though fishing there is prohibited).


Destin is known for its abundant waters and also holds the reputation of “the world’s luckiest fishing village.” Both offshore and inshore fishing options hold treasures for any level of angler, with fishing piers and the largest charter fishing fleet in the country. The Island Fishing Pier stretches 1,200 feet into the Gulf of Mexico and offers equipment available to rent. Red snapper, grouper, amberjack, mahi mahi, tuna, pompano, and king mackerel are commonly caught in the Destin-Fort Walton Beach area. Whether expert or starter fishing experience, Destin is a great destination for family trips and certainly ranks in the top spots for fishing vacations.


The sparkling bayside city of Tampa dazzles with a number of downtown attractions, but for some, the fishing boats bobbing on the marina hold the main event. Tampa features a competitive fishing scene, with many anglers seeking one of Florida’s “Big Three,” including tarpon, redfish, and snook, though ladyfish, flounder, cobia, snapper, and grouper can also be caught. The bay is Florida’s largest open-water estuary, so getting to and from the Gulf of Mexico for a day of saltwater fishing is a breeze. No boat? No problem. Tampa is home to the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier, the longest fishing pier in the world, and Fort Desoto Park’s shallow bar makes for another favorite fishing spot.

Florida waterfront vacation rentals

North Carolina fishing destinations

North Carolina is an angler’s dream, with over 500 publicly accessible places to fish. Experienced anglers know the state stands out for its bass fishing, with panoramic mountain views to beat. From barrier islands to Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountain lakes, you can take your pick of saltwater or freshwater fishing.

Boats docked at the marina at Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Outer Banks

This favorite vacation spot might be just as famous for its fishing as for water sports. Stretching over 175 miles of the Atlantic Ocean coastline, the barrier islands are some of the greatest fishing locations on the east coast, as well as a family-friendly, year-round travel destination. Cast out along fishing piers in Avon, Rodanthe, or Nags Head, and be rewarded with catches like striped bass, flounder, speckled trout, pompano, bluefish, and king mackerel. Crabbing is popular too, particularly in the Ocracoke Harbor and the Colington area of Kill Devil Hills. If you’ve been considering taking a sportfishing or offshore charter tour, the Outer Banks is the place to do it. Treat yourself to a day out at sea, with waters abundant in black sea bass, snapper, wahoo, sailfish, mahi mahi, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, and even blue marlin.

People fishing off the pier in Atlantic Beach.

Atlantic Beach

Resting along North Carolina’s “Crystal Coast,” Atlantic Beach buzzes with fun waterfront opportunities. Take advantage of access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Bogue Sound, where you’ll find wahoo, bluefish, seatrout, blue marlin, largemouth bass, and striped bass biting. Pack your fishing pole and a picnic and head to Fort Macon State Park for an enjoyable day of fishing any time of year. There are charter fishing tours ranging from expert anglers to family-friendly outings available, so everyone can have something to look forward to.

A waterline view of Lake Lure at a vacation rental in NC.


This charming city makes the perfect home base for an adventure into the Blue Ridge Mountains, with several lakes and rivers nearby. The French Broad River cuts directly through Asheville and is a popular fly fishing spot for catching smallmouth bass, trout, catfish, and walleye. Take a day trip out to Lake Junaluska or Lake Lure and kick back on the shore as you reel in large and smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, white bass, carp, bream, and perch. Lake Julian is also just a few minutes south of the city and is a great spot for catching catfish. Surrounded by mountain vistas and tranquil streams, you’ll feel your stress slip away in the beautiful natural landscape.

North Carolina waterfront vacation rentals

Michigan fishing destinations

As you might have guessed by the state’s nickname, The Great Lakes State, Michigan touches four out of five of the Great Lakes, making it a freshwater fishing mecca for anglers everywhere. On your trip, you’ll find ample public boat launches if you plan on heading out on the water, as well as gorgeous views of the historic lighthouses dotting the state’s shorelines. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is one of the best places in the United States for fly fishing, so be sure to pack your waders.

Lake Michigan

From Traverse City in Northern Michigan to the state’s border with Indiana (a region referred to as Michiana), stake your claim on the soft lakeshore. Cast out a line and reel in catches like northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, trout, chinook salmon, and walleye. If you’d prefer a more secluded spot, Crystal Lake is open to year-round fishing and also makes for a fantastic fishing trip.

Michigan waterfront vacation rentals

Texas fishing destinations

If everything’s bigger in Texas, that should include trophy fish too, right? Anglers will be in good company on a fishing vacation to the Lone Star State, with both freshwater and saltwater fishing enthusiasts galore. Texas offers a chance for travelers to fish without fishing licenses throughout the year in state parks or in waters completely enclosed by state parks (though entrance fees may still apply). Grab your fishing pole and head out to the lake or stretch out with 367 miles of coastline along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Image of a fishing road fishing in the ocean with a guy to the left.


The Galveston area boasts over 100 species of fish, setting itself up to be a fisherman’s paradise. The bayfront, in particular, is known for speckled trout, flounder, and redfish, whereas the Gulf of Mexico opens the door to almost endless deep-sea fishing possibilities. Book a charter tour for a fishing experience to remember as you reel in prize fish like blue marlin, mahi mahi, kingfish, red snapper, and tuna.

View of the pier and blue ocean in South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island

South Padre Island, Texas’ only tropical island, sets the perfect scene for a fishing vacation, with white sand beaches and 277 days of annual sunshine. The area’s geography, including its nearshore reefs, shallows, and access to the deep sea, allows anglers to reel in catches you won’t find anywhere else in the state. Here, you can hook snook, tarpon, sharks, blackfin and yellowfin tuna, sailfish, and blue marlin. Inshore, offshore, or surf-fishing, you’re in for a treat.

Lake Travis

Bass fishing is the name of the game at Lake Travis. Among the catfish and sunfish, Guadalupe bass, largemouth bass, white bass, and striped bass come in spades. Lake Travis’ shoreline is primarily privately owned, but there are still plenty of public (and even free) spots you can cast out from. After you shut your tacklebox, take a dip in the cool and refreshing lake water—it’s the best way to beat the Texas heat.

Texas waterfront vacation rentals

Wisconsin fishing destinations

If you’re seeking some time off-grid or a fishing trip in the heart of the great outdoors, look no further. With over 15,000 lakes, 1,000 miles of Great Lake shoreline, and more than 150 species of fish, Wisconsin’s fishing opportunities are world-class. Reserve a stay at a cozy, quiet fishing cabin on the lake, or book a lodge for a getaway with a group of friends.

Two boats on a dock on Mercer Lake in Wisconsin.

The Northwoods

Not only are the Northwoods known for stunning, unspoiled natural landscapes, but the region is also a premier bass fishing destination. Enjoy the scenery and reel in largemouth bass, northern pike, and panfish in Copper Falls State Park. Eagle River is also a favorite spot, with perch, striped bass, bluegill, white bass, northern pike, and a swath of surrounding lakes, rivers, and streams to mozy through. Rent kayaks, canoes, or flyfish to your heart’s content in the fresh air. (Just remember to pack your bug spray.)

Wisconsin waterfront vacation rentals

California fishing destinations

Though California may be more famous for its surfing and water sports, its fishing scene is one to beat. Its well-stocked waters and access to both freshwater and saltwater fishing make California easily one of the best fishing vacation destinations in the United States. Grab your tacklebox and choose from state parks, national parks, and California’s span of beautiful Pacific Ocean beaches.

Photo of a man Ocean fishing on the coast of San Diego.

San Diego

Embrace the breezy, laid-back San Diego atmosphere with a day out on the water. Dock your boat in the marina or spend a day at any of San Diego’s seven fishing piers. You can also book a charter for a family fishing tour or gear up for a sport fishing adventure. Keep your eye out for prize game like bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, white seabass, yellowtail, shark, swordfish, mahi mahi, and halibut. However, the #2 ranked best fishing city in America doesn’t stop at the ocean. Enjoy the city’s notable freshwater fishing in lakes and reservoirs, including world-class bass fishing at Dixon Lake—featured on Hooked On Bass for “Dottie” the world-record largemouth bass, which weighed in at 19 pounds.

Lakefront vacation homes peeking through a dense forest at Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake

A 3-hour drive north of San Diego, Big Bear Lake promises a variety of fish and breathtaking mountain scenery. The lake is a prime spot for rainbow trout, bass, catfish, pumpkinseed, bluegill, and more. Drop a line on a carefree day at the docks, or try your luck in the area’s fishing tournaments, like Fishin’ for 50k or WON Big Bear Troutfest. Win or lose, it’s hard to go home unhappy with views this good.

California waterfront vacation rentals

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