9 Best Labor Day Fishing Destinations

Aug 18, 2022 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Some see Labor Day as an ode to union workers who changed the lives of future generations. Some use it as the last chance to bask in the summer before the school year begins. Most people, however, just want some time to spend with their families, doing the things they love. But parades and barbecues aren’t the only way to celebrate. We’re just going to say: fishing is one of the best ways to spend this holiday. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of top Labor Day fishing spots, to make your travel planning easier.

A family of smiling anglers on a fishing boat holding a big Redfish

You’ll find a diverse selection of fishing locales on the list, and no matter where you are in the US, chances are, there’s a destination that’s not too far from you. Read on and see what we’ve got in store for you.

Ketchikan, AK

If there’s a state that combines fantastic fishing opportunities with breathtaking nature, it’s Alaska. There’s no overstating just how good of a time fishermen have here. If you’re not sure where to go, we wholeheartedly recommend Ketchikan.

A view from the water of the colorful houses in Ketchikan, Alaska

September in Ketchikan offers prolific angling conditions. Pleasant temperatures (with quite a bit of rainfall) make it easy to enjoy the bite – and the list of species is impressive, too. First in line is Coho Salmon. These silvery beauties are the talk of the town around Labor Day. Don’t get us wrong, all five Salmon species are in the cards, but Coho is the most popular draw. Follow that up with some Halibut and Rockfishing, and you’ve got yourself a feast. 

If you prefer freshwater fishing, head to Ward Lake or Connell Lake. You’ll come face to gills with Rainbow, Cutthroat, and Brook Trout, as well as Dolly Warden and Steelhead.

When you’ve had your fill of battles, take a walk through history in Totem Bight State Historical Park. Don’t miss the Misty Fjords National Monument and definitely explore Creek Street. If you’re going to Ketchikan for your Labor Day weekend, trust us when we say there’s plenty to see, do, and experience.

Santa Cruz, CA

From Ketchikan, we head south to a colorful city smack in the middle of the California Coast. If you’re on the lookout for a sun-drenched location with strong fishing for your Labor Day celebrations, then you can’t do better than Santa Cruz.

A view from the water of colorful houses in Santa Cruz, California at sunset

With the San Lorenzo River on your doorstep and productive Monterey Bay a short boat ride away, there’s a bit of something for everyone here. The city has its share of fishing grounds. If you cast a line from the Santa Cruz Wharf, you can land anything from Surfperch to chicken Halibut. Meanwhile, the nearshore waters will put you on Chinook Salmon, Cabezon, Rockfish, White Seabass, and Lingcod

If you want to fish in the big leagues, September marks the beginning of Tuna season. Albacore Tuna are the most common catch, but you can also stumble upon Pacific Bluefin Tuna when deep sea fishing. Tuna are the ultimate game fish and their movements can be unpredictable, but the reward is well worth it.

Another reason we featured Santa Cruz as one of the top Labor Day fishing spots is the number of things you can do even when you’re not on the water. The most beautiful and oldest forest in the US is here – the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. You can spend hours on the rides along the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – it’s also known as the Coney Island of the West! For a fitting ending to a fulfilling day, breathe in the sunset on the Natural Bridges State Beach.

Bar Harbor, ME

Next up, we’ve got the gem of the Pine Tree State – Bar Harbor. This town on Mount Desert Island will wow you with its low-key charm and untamed glory. Add to that the fact that the angling action here is excellent thanks to the fish-rich narrows and bays, and you’ve got a match made in heaven.

An aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine with blue water, many docks, and houses

Bar Harbor is that fishing destination that might not occur to you right away. But once you try it out, it becomes a game changer. For starters, it has the Acadia National Park, with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. From here, anything from Bluefish and Stripers to Halibut, Flounder, and Tuna is on the menu. On the other side of the island, Frenchman Bay can put you on Mackerel, Black Seabass, and Haddock.

The freshwater bite is not to be neglected either. There are many lakes in the park that won’t disappoint you with their population of Trout, Bass, Sunfish, and Perch. Witch Hole Pond, Seal Cove Pond, and Eagle Lake are just some of the many local watersheds.

Bar Harbor is a great choice for anyone who prefers to spend their free time away from the crowds. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the wide array of activities like kayaking, birdwatching, and hiking. You can relax on a sunset boat tour or go to one of the rocky beaches on the island. The views and the nature around Bar Harbor will not let you down.

Estes Park, CO

Let’s move to the very heart of the country, to the mountainous landscapes of Colorado. There, nestled right next to the Rockies, lies Estes Park, with its peaceful, yet wild allure. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or you’re simply looking for a tranquil fishing spot this Labor Day, Estes Park will provide everything you need and more.

A view of Lake Estes in Estes Park, Colorado, with clear water mirroring evergreen trees surrounding it, and mountains in the background

The waters of Fall River and Big Thompson River are the playground of many beloved cold-water species like Brook, Rainbow, and Brown Trout. But that’s not all. Some of the countless creeks, ponds, and lakes in the area are home to the indigenous Cutthroat Trout. If you feel like you’re on a roll, try landing a Trout Grand Slam, which is all four Trout species on the same day! In the center of town, you’ll find its namesake lake, so you don’t even have to travel far for some solid action.

The thing about Estes Park is that it’s off the beaten path. But from here, you can go wherever you want. There’s an aerial tramway that can take you to the top of Prospect Mountain, and Labor Day is the last day of the year to ride it! Just in time for the holiday weekend, there’s going to be an Arts & Crafts Festival in town. And if you’re in the mood for adrenaline-pumping escapades, try whitewater rafting – it promises to be an experience to remember.

Put-In-Bay, OH

If lake vacations are more your style but you’d still like to be secluded from the everyday bustle, the village of Put-in-Bay might be just the place for you. Conveniently located on South Bass Island, right in Lake Erie, you’ll hardly find a better freshwater fishery to enjoy this Labor Day.

An aerial view of Put-in-Bay, Ohio with a monument in its center

The main star of the show is, of course, the legendary Walleye. Lake Erie is famous for its premier Walleye fishing, and fall is a great time to hit the water and catch your limit. Not only are these fellas feisty and fun to catch, but they’re also delicious eating, so you’ve got a win-win situation! Other species you can target are Yellow Perch, Steelhead, and Smallmouth Bass.

So, what can you do in Put-in-Bay when you’re not fishing? The village is small and picture-perfect for those easy-going, laid-back days. You can soak in the still-warm sun on one of the pebble beaches and get a bit of a tan. Why not also dedicate a few hours to exploring Perry’s Cave and the adjoining fun center? Then, admire the rare butterflies and their unique coloring in the Butterfly House or take the tour train and check out some of the island’s highlights before dinner. There’s something for everyone.

Fox Cities, WI

We know, we know, Fox Cities are technically multiple destinations, but trust us when we say, you’ll want to check out their fishing opportunities. The name of Fox Cities actually covers the communities around the Fox River and Lake Winnebago – and the center is in Appleton. With two prominent bodies of water at your fingertips, it’s not hard to understand why Fox Cities have made it to our list of the best Labor Day fishing spots.

An aerial view of Appleton, Wisconsin with the Main Hall of Lawrence University in the foreground

Not to much surprise, Lake Winnebago is the center of attention of the Fox Cities’ angling community. This only makes sense, seeing that it’s the biggest lake in the state and its fishing potential can’t be overstated. If you’re an avid freshwater angler, set your sights on Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, and Bluegill. The local Bass fishery is excellent and it attracts aficionados from all over the Badger State. Get out of Appleton, and soon you’ll hit the Lower Appleton Dam, where you can add Carp and Crappie to your to-catch list. 

When you’re not fishing, you can have fun participating in other water activities. Kayaking and paddleboarding are ever-popular here, and there’s so much to see both on the lake and on the river. You’ll also want to spend a couple of days hiking in nature, recharging, and getting ready for the fall in the best possible setting. 

Richmond, VA

We haven’t forgotten about urban anglers in our list of best Labor Day fishing spots. Maybe you don’t feel like going into the wild and recreating scenes from the movie “The River Runs through It” and that’s ok! Head to Richmond, the capital of Virginia, and you’ll have your hands full. With the James River in the city center and many parks that allow fishing, you’re in for a treat.

An aerial view of Richmond, Virginia at sunset with train tracks running through the centre of the picture

Fishing in Richmond is the perfect pastime if you’d like to spend a few hours on the water every day instead of going off and fishing for days on end. The James River is home to good-eating fish, including Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Catfish, and even Striped Bass. Some of the lakes in the parks even stock Trout, so you can pick your spot depending on your preference. 

Ancarrow’s Landing is the easternmost section of the river and one of the most popular spots in the city. You can also test your lines in the Robious Landing Park, which is not only fishing-ready but also a great setting for a family picnic. For some strong Largie fishing, head to Deep Bottom Park.

Never been to Richmond before? The city is the ideal getaway for history buffs and nature lovers alike. The American Civil War Museum is a must-see, and there are plenty of other museums and galleries you can visit as well. Maymont Park is simply beautiful, and the dining and nightlife scene has something for all tastes and ages.

Charleston, SC

Keep going south from Richmond, and eventually, you’ll end up in scenic Charleston. South Carolina has earned its fishing bragging rights and fishermen from all over the country know it. The “Holy City” is no different, seeing that it boasts phenomenal saltwater fishing right on its doorstep.

A view from the water of waterfront houses in Charleston, South Carolina

The Atlantic Ocean is never too far away wherever you are in Charleston, and there are a lot of awesome fishing spots to choose from. Inshore and nearshore action are on fire around Labor Day. All-time favorites like Tarpon, Speckled Trout, Black Drum, and Flounder are always eager to bite. Further out, you’ll find your fair share of Redfish, Porgy, King Mackerel, and Black Seabass. Surf fishing is top-notch in Charleston, especially from the Isle of Palms and Folly Beach. 

Spending your vacation in Charleston is the awesome combo of a beach holiday and a cityscape. You’ve got fabulous beaches you can visit during the day, then enjoy the exciting nightlife and dining scene afterward. From Magnolia Gardens and Drayton Hall Plantation to ghost tours and rides on horse-drawn carriages, you’ll fall in love with the unique vibe Charleston has to offer.

Matagorda, TX

We end our journey of the top Labor Day fishing spots in the Lone Star State. If you’d like fishing to be your main focus this holiday weekend, then you’ll feel at home in Matagorda. The whole county is a fishing central, and Matagorda Bay Nature Park is where you’ll find all the most popular species Texans love and cherish. This is easily one of the best angling destinations in Texas, so it only makes sense for it to be on our list.

A sandy shore of Matagorda Bay at sunset with the ocean on the left of the image

With quick access to Matagorda Bay and the Colorado River, you better believe that the bite is hot! Inshore superstars like Speckled Trout, Redfish, Sheepshead, Jack Crevalle, and Black Drum are on the menu and they get big! The wetlands are the perfect habitat for these species to thrive and don’t anglers know it. You can cast your line from land if you’re looking to fill your cooler with delicious fillets. If you want to land something big, then going out on a boat will give you better chances of landing a trophy. 

Matagorda and its bay park cater to plenty of activities you can try when you’re not fishing. “Savor the Outdoors” is happening just in time for Labor Day weekend, with fantastic food and live music to enjoy. Golfing is big here, as well as kayaking and hiking, so all you have to do is decide what you feel like doing.

Top Fishing Labor Day Spots – Let’s Get Going!

A fisherman standing on a boat, fishing, with sunset in front of him

Now that you’ve got your selection of the best fishing locations for this Labor Day, it’s time to make a decision. Each of the destinations has their own charm and appeal, the only question is – what’s the right fit for you? Whatever you decide, enjoy your Labor Day celebrations and the premier fishing that comes with it! After all, you’ve earned it.

Looking for even more inspiration about where to go fishing on Labor Day? Check out our last year’s list of top destinations.

Which Labor Day fishing spot did you choose? Is there a place that we missed? What are your experiences when fishing during Labor Day weekend? Let’s talk in the comments below.

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