Discerning anglers are a rare but growing breed. Patient, cunning, careful. They sit in sun, snow and rain, lying in wait for the chance to snag a big one.
The Northeast, Southeast, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and the Pacific are all largely accessible to fishing-friendly travelers who are looking to stay closer to home.
Adam Popescu investigates five great places for angler-philes to perch this spring and summer.
1. MONTAUK, NEW YORK
The Long Island community of Montauk offers classic Northeast fishing. Known as the “Living End,” for years, fishermen have been crazy about this place. Waters abound with striper, monster-sized bluefish and tuna. The fishing season begins the last weekend in June to Labor Day weekend, though businesses tend to remain open between April and December.
Right now, you can fish for winter cod with Captain Jamie Quaresimo aboard the 80-foot Miss Montauk, from $75 per person. Bait, tackle and fishing poles are included. Layers, waterproof boots, and coolers are recommended. If you’re a land lover, it’s also possible to fish off the pier.
Stay at the Montauk Yacht Club, a full-service resort and spa. The club is currently offering what it calls its “lowest rates of the year,” with average nightly rates as low as $109 for Admiral Class king bed accommodations (note to boat captains: stays include dockage).
Love being on the water? Don’t miss our Water Sports section.
2. SKANEATELES, NEW YORK
The sleepy Finger Lakes wine region of Central New York features picturesque, pastoral settings and 11 pristine lakes, full of world-class freshwater trout, salmon, bass, walleye, pike, carp and catfish.
The crown jewel of the region is the town of Skaneateles and its lake of the same name. The fifth largest of the Finger Lakes, the town is full of antique shops, bookstores and quality food, most of it grown in the surrounding area.
The lake is home to rainbow trout, lake trout and yellow perch. Get on the lake and troll in the shallows for the abundant lake trout, which average 18 inches. Guides include Fish Tales Sport Fishing and Lakeview Charters.
Come during the summer and check regional treats like the Finger Lakes Wine Festival in Watkins Glen (July 16-18) and the Lake Ontario Counties Fish Derbies (August 7-22), with daily prizes of $600 for largest salmon and trout.
Mirbeau Spa and Inn, modeled after a restorative French resort, is offering a weekend package from $290, which includes an overnight stay and 50-minute couple’s massage.
Find out some Travel Events Only in Spring: Maple Sugar to Cherry Blossoms.
3. MARYLAND’S EASTERN SHORE
Angle for rockfish, striped bass and crooker in the calm waters off St. Michaels. Called the Hamptons of the mid-Atlantic, the village of St. Michaels is known for its blend of Old World charm and fishing culture, with the season running from April through mid-November.
Five Gables Inn & Spa offers a special getaway package which includes two nights’ accommodations, a 60-minute Swedish massage, and a half-day fishing excursion for two on Captain Russ Wilkinson’s Yamaha-powered Everglades 243CC. The day ends with a tour and tasting at the Eastern Shore Brewery or St. Michaels Winery, and a bottle to take home. Rates begin at $750 from Sunday to Thursday, and $950 on weekends. Helio rods, ORVIS tackle, flies, leaders all provided.
If you’re around, the weekend of April 23-25, check out WineFest at St Michaels, celebrating the Chesapeake and supporting the community. Not much beats a good view and wine after a long day of fishing.
Also watch out for kitsch goodies like fall festivals in late October and OysterFest in early November. Expect all manner of oysters, and oyster culture, including live music, skipjack and buyboat rides, oyster tonging, and cooking demonstrations.
Headed to Maryland? For great local recommendations, don’t miss our Ask the Locals City Guide: Baltimore, Maryland.
Every year, between mid-March and mid-April, something special happens on the water off Panama City Beach, Florida. Swimming up from the Keys, the annual cobia run lures anglers eager to try their luck hunting and sight casting the fish.
Cobia, also known as lemon fish and ling, range from 20-80 pounds. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission limit one cobia per person, and six per day, per vessel, keepers starting at 33 inches.
Sail with Captain James Pic of JP2 Fish Charters. In addition to cobia, sight cast for pompano, jacks, sharks, and other migrating fish. From May through September, the Captain takes anglers hunting for king mackerel.
In May, the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is scheduled to open in Panama City Beach. With 27 miles of beach and crystal-clear waters, this is a place with all the right ingredients to become the next eco-enclave.
Find more ideas in our Beach Vacations section.
In April and May, whale sharks begin their annual Caribbean migration, passing off Placencia—and yes, you can go snorkeling with 45-foot long gentle giants. Caribbean Tours offers a day of snorkeling with these majestic animals starting at $100. Fees include breakfast and lunch, gear, park fee, and a guided day excursion.
You will catch something. It will probably be big. When you eat it, it will taste delicious. Home to some of the richest marine life in the world, barracuda, king mackerel and snapper are among the fish you’re likely to catch.
Learn more about travel in Belize with The Eco-Lodges of Belize.
The chefs at Turtle Inn will happily cook up whatever you catch for dinner. Turtle is Francis Ford Coppola’s beach haven, incorporating a love and respect for all things natural: food, nature and family. Located between the ocean and a lagoon, Turtle is an ideal launching pad for fishing excursions.
Half and full-day fly fishing tours go on 25-foot skiffs, early in the morning, before the sun is too high in the sky. Fresh and salt-water fly-fishing use fly and spinning rods, targeting tarpon, snook, bonefish and permit in lagoon and mangrove estuaries. Spin fishing, done primarily with lures, is catch and release only. Tours for permit and bonefish are done along the reefs and smaller inner islands, either fly fishing off the boat or wading the flats.
Turtle Inn rates start at $285 per night (double occupancy), and vary according to season. Some seasons require a minimum stay of two to three nights. The resort is accessible from Belize City via a short propeller flight on Maya or Tropic Air to Placencia for around $50.
Stay tuned for part two of Adam’s round on great fishing destinations.
By Adam Popescu for PeterGreenberg.com.
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