In part one of our spring fishing guide, we uncovered some East Coast and tropical getaways for the discerning angler.
This week, Adam Popescu investigates some of the top fishing finds in the West.
From sunny California to wild Alaska, there are plenty of places to travel to for great fishing experiences.
6. CHANNEL ISLANDS, CALIFORNIA
Follow the the trail of bass … on an island of bison. More than 300 of these hoofed beasts roam the Channel Island of Santa Catalina.
Just off the California coast, this eight-island archipelago, once inhabited by seafaring Indians, is a one-hour ferry from downtown Long Beach to Avalon on Catalina for $66.50, round-trip, on the Catalina Express. Or try a 14-minute helicopter ride on the Island Express, from San Pedro or Long Beach for $170, round-trip.
When you get to the Islands, get ready, because Avalon is full of charter possibilities. For a thorough list of local charters on all eight islands, click here.
Growing in popularity, kayak fishing and hooping is a great way to snag coastal calico bass, sand bass and halibut. Depending on the time of the year, you might also have the chance at putting barracuda, salmon and halibut in your cooler. Kayak Sport Fishing offers guided services for about $250 per person, including kayak, fishing gear and bait.
Note that many of Catalina’s older, turn-of-the-century hotels come sans air-conditioned and elevators. Some hotels offer packages that include boat fare from the mainland, taxi fare to the hotel and island activities. Right now, the Hotel Vista Del Mar and the Snug Harbor Inn both offer weekend retreat packages for couples starting under $150.
Don’t miss Part 1 of the Spring Fishing Guide: Top Fishing Destinations.
7. VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA
The largest island in the Pacific Coast of the Americas, Vancouver Island, is home to intact temperate rain forests, the largest concentration of mountain lions in the hemisphere, bed and breakfasts, high-end eco-resorts, and a quality food culture. All that, and some of the best salmon steelhead fishing anywhere.
From March to May, millions of salmon, head for coastal rivers to spawn in the Columbia, the Fraser, and Stamp River system, hot on the trail of the huge schools of herring, pilchard, needlefish and squid. The salmon swarm the waters off Ucluelet, gorging themselves in an attempt to quickly fatten up before winter.
A basic two-day, couples package with Salmon Eye Charters includes all gear, fish cleaning, and accommodations (in either cabin suites, or bed and breakfast) for $1,145 in May, June and September. From July to August, the price increases to $1,245. Day trips run from $540 per person, for a six-hour salmon fishing trip. Salmon Eye offers vacuum pack services to send your catch home, and offers on-site preparation of meals.
This land has options for all types of travelers: adventurers can go full throttle hiking the legendary 47-mile West Coast Trail or can relax and indulge in spa treatments overlooking the ocean.
Headed to Canada? Don’t miss our Canadian Travel section.
Built on the water with panoramic views of the Pacific, the brand-new Black Rock Oceanfront Resort is offering a fishing package from $532 per person, with a minimum of two nights, including a four-hour fishing charter with Long Beach Charters and daily breakfast.
8 & 9. CASTAIC LAKE & LAKE CASITAS, CALIFORNIA
Year in and year out, mild, Eastern Sierra winters and small crowds make these two lakes just north of Los Angeles a solid choice for big bass fishing. Record-size (20+ pounds) big bass swim in Castaic Lake in Santa Clarita and Lake Casitas in Ventura County.
Six of the top 25 largest bass ever caught were subsequently released back into the water … to grow even bigger. Many believe the next big one is out there, lurking somewhere in the lagoon. Little-known-fact: In Castaic, the accidental introduction of striper has changed the ecosystem, causing an increase in striper and competition for the bass.
About 80 miles east is Lake Casitas, where every year, the Department of Fish and Game delivers approximately 30,000 lbs of Fillmore hatchery trout. Big bass want to consume the largest amount of food possible while spending the least amount of energy. They do so by eating the trout.
Link up with So Cal Bass Fishing, which calls itself the only trophy guide service for both lakes. Wrangle with guides who claim record-size catches of eight of the 15 largest bass ever caught. Guided trips start at $250 per day, plus a two-day Swim Bait 101 class from October to April.
10. SOUTHEAST ALASKA
Up the coast, the lush panhandle of Southeast Alaska beckons. Remote locales offer top angling opportunities for fresh and salt-water halibut. The current state of Alaska record for halibut is a 459-pound fish caught in 1996 in Unalaska Bay. On average, mature halibut in Southeast Alaska weigh anywhere from 25-35 lbs. Get on the water and you might just snag a real whopper.
Based out of Sitka, Alaska, Glacier Adventures offers four and five-day overnight, all-inclusive remote fishing packages for halibut, king salmon, lingcod, yelloweye, rockfish, Dungeness crab, and giant Alaska spot prawns. Anglers will sail on the Glacier, a 38-foot twin-diesel, high-speed fishing vessel. High-volume fishing will keep you dining on your catches, day and night.
Expect to see pods of breeching humpbacks, orcas, sea otter, sea lions, and seals in the water. River fishing, kayaking and bear viewing are all options, all catered to your desire. Rates are about $3,000 per person, and includes all gear, tackle, taxes, licenses, lodging and meals onboard. At the end of the trip, you and your boxed catch will be transported to the lodging of your choice.
For a more short-term experience, look up Juneau Sportfishing & Sightseeing offering half-day fishing excursions in Auke Bay, with views of the Mendenhall Glacier for $205 per person.
The big one is out there and you’ve got fishing to do.
By Adam Popescu for PeterGreenberg.com.
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