Fishing is the perfect Labor Day activity. You can spend time with friends and family, escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and relax among some beautiful natural scenery. After the stresses and strains of the past year, we all deserve to indulge in some well-earned R’n’R! With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of the best Labor Day fishing destinations that 2021 has to offer.
What we ended up with is a diversity of locations scattered all across the US, from Florida’s southernmost point to the Alaskan panhandle. Without further ado, let’s dive in…
Alaska’s state capital, nestled among steep mountains and dense woodlands, is truly unique. It’s the second-largest city in the US by area, but is almost impossible to access by land-based transportation. If your idea of a perfect Labor Day Weekend involves a seriously remote location and plenty of lush nature, there’s no better place to wet your line.
That’s not all Juneau has to offer, though. It’s also one of Alaska’s premier fishing destinations, thanks to its proximity to both fresh and saltwater fishing grounds. The fishing season is on fire during the fall, and you can chase five varieties of Salmon along the creeks and in the bays, or bottom fish further from shore for delicious Halibut, Cod, and Rockfish. The weather is usually pretty mild, too. Don’t be put off by the idea that you’ll be fishing in sub-zero temperatures!
Juneau is a fishing town through and through, with many locals taking up charter fishing as a career. You won’t be hard pressed to find a suitable charter. Not sure how you’ll fare on a boat? The city boasts a good number of fishing piers and nature parks that provide access to inshore waters. While you won’t be hooking into monsters of the deep, you’ll still find plenty of angling action to be had.
Once you’ve had your fill of fishing the Alaskan way, you can take the opportunity to explore Juneau on land. The city boasts a robust dining scene (sometimes you can even eat what you catch!) and is a nature-lover’s dream. There are plenty of activities that let you explore its many glaciers, wildlife, and rugged wilderness. No matter your age or interests, Juneau really is a “one-stop-shop” fishing destination that you’ll fall in love with.
The Everglades, FL
Next on our list is a location that’s often called the only truly wild pocket of nature left in Florida. It’s a vast marshland filled with exotic wildlife, a bragworthy combination of fresh, brackish, and saltwaters, and lush scenery. We could only be talking about the Everglades, of course! This one-of-a-kind ecosystem is located in Collier County, along South Florida’s Paradise Coast. It’s fair to say that fishing here is like nothing else you’ve experienced on Earth.
Spanning a whopping 1.5 million acres, this oasis of calm is bustling with a huge variety of fish species. The jewel in Florida’s crown, Tarpon, can be found in the Everglades’ salt and brackish waters. They’re joined by other inshore favorites such as Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Snook. Where there are freshwaters, you’ll find common Floridian species such as Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, as well as the unique and colorful Peacock Bass.
Because of the Everglades’ vast size, there are plenty of places to cast a line. The Ten Thousand Islands National Refuge area and Marco Island, easily accessible from the mainland’s Everglades City, are especially popular locations. If you’re new to fishing or want to cover more ground, heading out alongside a local charter guide allows for flexibility and versatility. It also gives you an insight into how Florida natives like to cast a line.
Labor Day Weekend 2021 in Collier County isn’t just about fishing, though. The entire stretch of the Paradise Coast is going to be bustling with a whole host of family-friendly activities, including a cruise on the “Dolphin Explorer,” which allows guests to help local dolphin researchers with their ongoing Ten Thousand Islands Dolphin Project. Fishing followed by an exciting activity that’ll keep the kids happy? It’s the perfect combination.
Located almost smack-bang in between Los Angeles and San Francisco, California’s Visalia is perhaps less famous than other locations on our list. Those who haven’t heard of it, though, are really missing out. It’s perfectly positioned at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, near the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This means there’s breathtaking scenery to be found in spades.
But what makes Visalia a real candidate for 2021’s top Labor Day fishing locations is the sheer number of places you can drop a line. Local fly fishing club Kaweah Fly Fishers will take you on guided excursions, mainly targeting Bass species, Trout, and Panfish. And if you’ve always wanted to learn this technique, stretch Labor Day into a full week, as the group offers free lessons on Wednesdays.
Fly fishing in Visalia generally doesn’t involve boats. It’s all about getting back to nature and discovering secret streams and hidden hot spots. The national parks also allow anglers to fish on foot. Spending Labor Day with little ones or family members who tire easily? Head straight to Lake Kaweah, where you can target Bass and Trout. You can rent many types of boats from the marina, from small fishing boats to family-friendly patio vessels.
When it comes to land-based activities, Visalia has plenty to offer, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a wander through the national parks, go hiking (the St. John’s River Parkway trail is especially popular), or visit one of the many waterfalls on offer. Then, head to downtown Visalia’s walkable restaurant district, grab a bite to eat, and put your feet up. You deserve it!
Cedar City, UT
September in Utah’s Cedar City is nothing short of stunning. Tree leaves turn golden and temperatures start slowly dropping, but still remain mild. A visit here over Labor Day Weekend will place you right among vibrant fall colors, sweeping high elevation views of Dixie National Forest, and some truly excellent fishing opportunities.
Perhaps the most well-known fishing hotspot in this part of southern Utah is Navajo Lake, located just over 30 minutes east of Cedar City by car. This body of water boasts strong numbers of Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, and the more unusual Splake – a Brook–Brown Trout hybrid. Anglers can fish the lake on foot, or launch a boat from one of the two dirt ramps.
Closer to home, there’s also Lake at the Hills, which is located in Cedar City itself. This urban fishery is home to Rainbow Trout, Bass varieties, and Catfish. Newer to casting a line or spending Labor Day with little ones? Lake at the Hills is an excellent location. As well as fishing, there’s a variety of water sports on offer, as well as a beach to relax on.
When you’re all fished out, there’s plenty to explore on land. You can catch Cedar City’s very own Iron County Fair, watch a showing of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, visit the Cedar City Festival of Homes, and do some taste-testing at the Utah Wine Festival. As well as these events, there are always the nearby national parks and outdoor recreational opportunities at Brian Head Resort and throughout Dixie National Forest.
Yakima Valley, WA
Located in central Washington, many anglers consider the Yakima Valley to be one of this state’s premier fishing spots. Why? Well, it’s home to the Yakima River, which is Washington state’s only “Blue Ribbon” Trout stream. If you’re looking for a Labor Day experience that’s full of unbeatable fly fishing, you’ve found it. On top of this, the valley offers camping, hiking, and wildlife-viewing opportunities for adventure seekers of all ages.
The Yakima River boasts large Rainbow Trout and other Trout species throughout the year. The time around Labor Day, though, is truly special. It offers up the best “nymphing” opportunities for numbers of fish, with Summer Stones in the first few weeks of September, followed by October Caddis and Light Cahills as the water cools. As if that wasn’t enough, the valley is also home to over 100 fishable lakes.
There are a number of professional guides in the Yakima Valley area, ready to take you where the bite is hot. Roza, Big Pines, Lmuma Creek, and Umtanum offer great fishing spots. They also boast camping sites, picnic tables, and hiking trails. Red’s Fly Shop, located at the beautiful Canyon River Ranch, is your source for fly fishing gear and expert-led guided trips and classes.
Had your fill of fishing? The Umtanum Creek Bridge is a must-see, and serves as a trailhead for the long but rewarding hike to Umtanum Falls. Canyon River Ranch is a riverside resort with condominium-style accommodation, a pool, and a half-mile of private riverfront to enjoy. It also has its own restaurant, Canyon River Grill, perfect for grabbing a bite after a day on the water. Sounds like the perfect Pacific Northwest getaway, right?
Eureka Springs, AR
Nestled in the heart of Northwest Arkansas’s picturesque Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is a thriving small town. It’s known for its rich history, hospitality, and scenic beauty. Surrounded by two rivers, three lakes, and an abundance of parks and trails, it’s the perfect Labor Day destination for nature lovers and adventurers. With hiking, biking, and water sports on offer, there are plenty of activities to combine with your fishing trip!
And the fishing itself is pretty excellent. Eureka Springs is home to the scenic White River, which boasts miles of water bustling with different fish species. The river is a unique cold-water fishing locale, with common targets being Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat Trout, and Walleye. Spinning and fly fishing are favored local techniques. Many anglers choose to explore the river on foot, meaning you can come and go at your own pace.
Looking for a fishery that’s one of the area’s best-kept secrets? Beaver Lake is a hidden favorite, serving as the pinnacle of “lake life” in Eureka Springs. As well as exciting Bass fishing action, you’ll be able to partake in birdwatching, hiking, and various types of water sports.
After spending your morning or afternoon on the water, head to Eureka Springs itself. This weirdly wonderful town has only 2,000 inhabitants. Here, you’ll discover a variety of restaurants, shops, and waterfront accommodation. The winding streets are carved into rocky hillsides and are adorned with perfectly-preserved Victorian architecture. It’s the seriously charming focal point of an already charming town. If you’re looking for quirky, Eureka Springs is the perfect place!
Cape Cod, MA
When it comes to excellent fishing destinations, sometimes the clue really is in the name – no more so than with Cape Cod. This historic tourist destination provides access to the Cape Cod Bay and Canal, the Massachusetts Sound, and the mighty Atlantic Ocean. This means that there are fishing opportunities aplenty, and they shine especially brightly during the fall months.
Fishing in Cape Cod usually means one thing to local anglers – huge Striped Bass! What better way to spend Labor Day than by indulging in this American tradition? Along with Bluefish, Stripers head towards the cape’s shores during September to feed and bulk up for their journey south. Fall Striper fishing brings out all the locals, and you’ll find plenty of charter guides waiting to take you out.
Cape Cod is one of the US’s most popular and renowned vacation spots. This means there’s a considerable amount of tourist-friendly activities to take part in. If you want to stay out on the water, there are more than 300 lakes and ponds on Cape Cod to explore, as well as sunset sail excursions, whale watches, and seal cruises.
When it comes to land-based fun, you’ll have a wide variety of lodging and dining options to choose from. Then there are the museums, historic villages, cycling and hiking trails, art galleries, and antiques shops to wander around. If you want to spend Labor Day chasing one of the East Coast’s most-loved fish, as well as experiencing an ample slice of local history, Cape Cod is waiting.
Lake Powell, UT/AZ
Spanning both Utah and Arizona, America’s second-largest man-made reservoir offers up 2,000 miles of scenic shoreline surrounding sapphire-blue water. It’s nestled between jaw-dropping side canyons, towering red sandstone cliffs, and flat-topped buttes. Visiting this lake feels a little like stepping foot into another world – and it’s a world that’s full of excellent fishing opportunities.
Head to Lake Powell this Labor Day, and you could encounter anything from Smallmouth, Largemouth, and Striped Bass to Walleye, Channel Catfish, Crappie, and Bluegill. Guide-led fishing excursions – dotted around the lake – are perfect if you’re spending the day with little ones. If you’re a more experienced angler, you can take advantage of local tips and tricks to try your hand at reeling in that trophy fish.
As you might have guessed, a visit to Lake Powell is all about the outdoors. If you feel at home in nature, you’ll be in your element here. There are iconic sites to explore such as Antelope Canyon and Rainbow Bridge. Then there’s the majestic Glen Canyon National Park, a nature-lover’s dream.
As Lake Powell borders two states, there’s plenty of places you can stay. If you want to fully commit to spending your whole weekend on the water, the Wahweap Marina offers an entire range of houseboats. Even better, it’s located right on Wahweap Bay, the first bay of Lake Powell, so you can wake up and start fishing right away!
Space Coast, FL
With a name like “Space Coast,” this part of Florida has experienced its fair share of puns – but we’re not exaggerating when we say that fishing here is really out of this world. Providing access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian River Lagoon, and the Intracoastal Waterway, the Space Coast is a true fishers’ paradise.
With saltwater and freshwater fisheries to explore, as well as a whopping 500 species of fish, something is always biting somewhere along the Space Coast. September, though, is an especially exciting time to visit. Mosquito Lagoon lives up to its reputation as the Redfish capital of the world, Stick Marsh/Farm 13 and Headwaters Lake are bustling with Largemouth Bass, and bottom fish and big game species are lurking further offshore.
Part of the magic of fishing along the Space Coast is not only can you catch a huge variety of fish in different bodies of water, but you can also fish for them in many different ways. If you’re comfortable cruising the open ocean on a vessel, there’s a mind-boggling number of charters. Less confident about stepping foot on a boat? The lagoons and rivers offer up opportunities to fish on foot.
Florida’s Space Coast is the perfect place to venture off the beaten path this Labor Day weekend. Adventure seekers can hang 10 in the East Coast’s surfing capital, nature lovers can venture through bioluminescent waters and spot sea turtle nests, and foodies can take their taste buds on a tour of the best local eats. Finally, you can top it all off by witnessing a rocket launch in real life.
The Perfect Labor Day Fishing Destinations
If you want this Labor Day Weekend to be truly unforgettable, any of the locations we picked out above will leave you with lifelong memories. The angling is top-notch, the nature is beautiful, and there’s plenty to do once you’re off the water. Whether you’re an outdoors enthusiast, traveling with family, or want to experience some culture alongside excellent fishing, it’s all on offer in these destinations.
Where are you planning to go this Labor Day Weekend? Are you visiting any of the places on our list? Let us know in the comments below. We love to hear from you! You can also check out our top picks for Labor Day 2020 here.