Best Memorial Day Fishing Destinations for 2024

May 20, 2024 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

How will you honor this year’s Memorial Day? If you haven’t made any plans yet, our list of top 10 Memorial Day fishing destinations is here to give you some inspiration. There isn’t a better way to spend the last Monday in May than to wet a line with your loved ones and remember those who gave their lives for us.

A photo featuring a wind-borne American flag on a charter while the boat is moving away from the shore on a Memorial Day fishing trip

From angling epicenters to quiet corners, there’s something for every type of angler on this list. But that’s not all. Along with fishing hotspots, we’ll include some additional Memorial Day activities you can check out. Be they festivals, shows, observance events, remembrance ceremonies, or outdoor recreation, there’s no doubt you’ll spend some quality time with your family and friends wherever you go.

For more inspiration on where to go this Memorial Day, check out our suggestions from last year.

San Francisco, CA

Visiting the Golden City is always a good idea. Whether you’re a food lover, a tech fan, or a nature buff, San Francisco is the place to be. But fishing in San Francisco during Memorial Day weekend takes a special place in the hearts of many anglers. So, if you’re a fishing enthusiast, this is your must-visit Memorial Day destination.

A photo featuring the National Cemetery in Presidio in San Francisco with a view of the water in the distance

Fishing in May is synonymous with screaming reels, tight lines, and Striped Bass and Halibut stealing your bait. But Sharks and Flounder aren’t lagging far behind either. From piers and beaches to the bay and deeper waters, you’ll be spoiled for choice with spots to cast from. But if you have to choose one hotspot, don’t miss out on the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf and its fishing platforms. 

San Francisco isn’t only about fishing on Memorial Day, though. The city also holds events in honor of our military personnel, becoming the commemoration epicenter of the Bay Area. One of the largest and longest-running ceremonies takes place at the National Cemetery in Presidio (pictured above). Speaking of tradition, the San Francisco Giants will kick off their home series on Memorial Day with specially-designed uniforms for the occasion, so don’t forget to support them as well. 

Montauk, NY

Montauk is famous worldwide for its stunning beaches, enviable oceanfront, breathtaking sunsets, gorgeous parks, historical landmarks, and superb angling opportunities. There’s no wonder it’s a favorite destination for countless visitors each year. But why should Montauk be your go-to Memorial Day choice?

A photo featuring an angler wearing a cap and a pair of sunglasses while standing on a charter boat and posing with a decent-sized Fluke caught on a Memorial Day fishing trip in Montauk
Photo taken by Kopis Charters

Montauk is brimming with tourists from June to September, and Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial season opener. However, it’ll still be quiet enough for you to relax before the high season skyrockets. You’ll be able to unwind on its sandy beaches and stroll to the Montauk Point Lighthouse without bumping into a sea of people. 

As Memorial Day marks the beginning of the fishing season, you’ll get to experience the inshore angling scene in bloom. Expect to catch anything from Stripers, Bluefish, and Seabass to Fluke and Flounder. Stay a bit longer, and June will also reward you with offshore big game, such as Tuna

Long story short, Montauk wakes up inland, inshore, and offshore on Memorial Day, and you can witness its awakening before the hustle and bustle hits hard.

Nashville, TN

For our next Memorial Day fishing destination, we’re moving inland to the capital of Tennessee – Nashville. Blessed with the Cumberland River, Percy Priest Lake, and numerous streams and ponds, Nashville is one of the few metropolitan areas that can brag about having major fisheries in its urban vicinity. It’s needless to say, then, that the angling is excellent, especially around Memorial Day.

A photo featuring buildings, a bridge, and a river flowing through downtown Nashville on a bright and sunny day

If Striped Bass make you tick, cast your attention toward the Cumberland River. Anglers say that the river never fails to produce monster Stripers. Catfish devotees, on the other hand, should head to Percy Priest Lake. Memorial Day marks the beginning of the jaw-dropping Catfish angling action, which lasts until mid-June.

If you’re into your music, Nashville is a no-brainer for you this Memorial Day.  Known as the “Music City,” Nashville will live up to its name and organize multiple concerts to honor our American heroes. If you’re more of an athlete, however, join the 24th Annual Memorial Day Dash 5k Run, which will take you past the city’s most historical places.

Lake City, MN

Freshwater fishing enthusiasts will fall head over heels for the next Memorial Day fishing destination. Situated on the Mississippi River, on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, our next suggestion is a true angling paradise. Meet Lake City, the birthplace of waterskiing and a match made in heaven for all water-based activities.

A photo featuring three elderly anglers sitting on a charter boat and posing with a Walleye each during their Memorial Day fishing trip in Lake City
Photo taken by Kujawa Outdoors

Lake City taps into the largest natural lake on the Mississippi River, Lake Pepin, which is home to almost 90 fish species! In other words, the chances of you returning empty-handed are almost non-existent. And as if this isn’t impressive enough, Lake Pepin has so many enviable Walleye specimens that it hosted the 2021 MWC World Walleye Championship.

But there’s more. This year’s Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener celebrates its 76th anniversary precisely on Lake Pepin just two weeks before Memorial Day. This confirms that Lake Pepin’s reputation as a prime sportfishing destination is well deserved and is worthy of your time this Memorial Day. 

Heber Valley, UT

It’s high time you saw what the West hides. As your top Memorial Day fishing destination in Utah, we picked the Heber Valley. Cozily nestled between a couple of mountain ranges, the area between Park City and Heber City is an elevated oasis tailored for outdoor recreation. So, if an unplugged getaway is on your mind, then the Heber Valley is your pick.

A photo featuring scenic city of Park City dotted with colorful buildings and houses surrounded by mountains  at dusk

May brings a long list of activities, with fly fishing being the most popular one. And how could it not be a favorite pastime when Park City and Heber City are surrounded by Blue Ribbon fisheries stocked with trophy fish? The Provo River is an excellent spot for targeting Brown and Rainbow Trout, whereas the Jordanelle Reservoir also brims with Bass and Perch. Meanwhile, Deer Creek Reservoir adds Catfish and Walleye to an already mixed bag of fish species.

Besides fishing, we recommend going for a hike. Nothing resonates better with our bodies and minds than a day spent in nature. And the Heber Valley boasts lush forests, pristine waters, and fresh alpine air that will help you recharge your batteries. Apart from a soul-invigorating hike, don’t miss out on a heartwarming meal by signing up for the Santa Maria BBQ at Mindful Cuisine.

Moses Lake, WA

Before we uncover what the South has in store for you, we can’t leave the West without stopping by Moses Lake. The town and its namesake lake are conveniently located close to Seattle and Tacoma, yet they’re far enough from Washington‘s cosmopolitan cities to guarantee a peaceful Memorial Day weekend.

A photo featuring an orange sunset over Moses Lake in Washington state, with calm waters and lush green trees visible all around

Covering over 6,500 acres, Moses Lake is the largest freshwater fishery in Grant County. It’s best known for its sizable Walleye and Bass catches. It’s not uncommon for Walleye to exceed the 10-pound mark and for Smallmouth Bass to tip the scales at 5 pounds, too. Besides fishing, this natural marvel with crystal-clear waters and sandy dunes is also a great spot for boating and sand-based activities.

When you’ve fished your heart out, head to Moses Lake’s Spring Festival traditionally held on Memorial Day weekend. The festival boasts a number of free activities and entertainment for the entire family. There’s everything from parades, car shows, and doughnut-eating contests to 3-on-3 basketball tournaments and musical performances. All in all, you can’t go wrong with Moses Lake as your Memorial Day destination.

The Woodlands, TX

It’s time for the American South to take over the spotlight. The following gem is a well-guarded Texas secret situated less than 30 miles from Houston. Aptly named The Woodlands, this Texas beauty revolves around nature. At the same time, The Woodlands’ dining, shopping, and entertainment scenes rival the nation’s hive cities. And this combo is precisely what makes it a good Memorial Day destination.

An aerial view of the lush forests, greenery, and water in the community of The Woodlands in Texas on a lovely spring day

First and foremost, let’s talk about the incredible outdoor opportunities here. You can try anything from hiking and tree-venturing to kayaking and fishing. Fishing, naturally, is what we’re the most interested in, though. With its namesake lake right in the city, along with Lake Conroe and Lake Houston nearby, The Woodlands is an excellent Bass fishing destination for Memorial Day. Trinity and Galveston Bays aren’t too far either in case you crave top-notch saltwater angling action.

Once you’re done fishing, wrap up your day by celebrating Memorial Day at The Woodlands’ annual festival, which takes place at Town Green Park. Besides good vibes and live music, you’ll hear various speakers and witness spectacular fireworks in the evening. Now that sounds like a great way to spend Memorial Day weekend with your loved ones, right?

Baton Rouge, LA

Moving on to Texas’s neighboring state, and you’ll be in for a memorable trip in Louisiana‘s capital. If you opt for Baton Rouge as your Memorial Day fishing destination, you’ll have a world-renowned fishery right at your doorstep – the mighty Mississippi River! It doesn’t get much better than that.

An aerial view of the Louisiana State Capitol surrounded by greenery and fishable blue waters of Baton Rouge on a bright spring day

The best thing about fishing in Baton Rouge is that you can go fishing in the morning and then roam the city in the afternoon, as both activities will take place downtown. This is especially convenient for anglers with families. Without too much preparation and without having to travel too far, you’ll be able to pursue Catfish in the Mississippi River or Crappie in one of the many spots across the parish of East Baton Rouge.

For a true local flavor and traditional southern festivities, visit the nearby Livingston Parish or the city of Gonzales. Livingston features the Cajun Country Jam, a live music event, while Gonzales hosts its annual Jambalaya Festival. As this is the “Jambalaya Capital of the World,” it’s definitely worth checking out. Both events promise unique programs, local cuisine, and a great atmosphere for Memorial Day weekend.

Venice, FL

We’re slowly but surely approaching the end of this year’s Memorial Day fishing destinations list. With that in mind, we couldn’t conclude the list without including a Florida locale. The penultimate inspiration we have for 2024 is Venice. Stunning beaches, freshwater and saltwater angling, and a rich history – Venice has it all for an unforgettable weekend!

A photo featuring a proud angler posing on a charter fishing boat in Venice, FL, while holding a juvenile Tarpon
Photo taken by High Class Hooker Charters

May is perfect for casting your line in Venice‘s pond, bay, and Gulf waters, as you can target anything from Snook, Redfish, and Mangrove Snapper to Bass. The ultimate trophy catches around Memorial Day are the “Silver Kings,” Tarpon, of course. Move further from the coast, and you’ll cross paths with King Mackerel, Cobia, and Amberjack. As you can see, Memorial Day weekend in Venice means sore backs and full coolers!

When you aren’t testing your skills against Florida’s prize sport fish, you can attend the Memorial Day service and Myakka River Blues Festival. Alternatively, you can always spend a day sunbathing at the iconic Venice Beach, discovering the historic downtown, or go Shark spotting to find out why Venice is called the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World.”

Washington, DC 

We saved the best for last, naturally. No place embodies that Memorial Day spirit as devotedly as the nation’s capital. Washington, DC pays tribute to America’s heroes with its colossal parades, epic concerts, beloved memorial sites, and special events that salute the sacrifice of our veterans. And on top of everything, it offers stellar fishing. What more could you ask for this Memorial Day weekend?

A photo featuring a proud angler posing with a huge trophy Striped Bass caught in Washington DC during Memorial Day weekend
Photo taken by Rock On Fishing

Start your weekend with Rolling to Remember, a traditional motorcycle rally supporting veterans. Then, you can proceed by attending the National Memorial Day Concert, a multi-award-winning event in honor of our servicemen and servicewomen. Then, you can end your visit in style with the National Memorial Day Parade, the largest Memorial Day event across the country.

And what to do in the meantime? Go fishing, of course! Without any doubt, Memorial Day in Washington, DC won’t be complete without wetting your line in its prolific fisheries. Be it the Potomac or Anacostia Rivers, or the Chesapeake Bay, you’re in for a treat. You can target Largemouth Bass and Walleye, but Memorial Day is probably the best time to pursue mighty Rockfish. Mid-May is when their season picks up, and the bite is red hot. 

Memorial Day: A Harbinger of Great Fishing

Memorial Day is undoubtedly a harbinger of good weather across the country and even better angling opportunities. For this reason, we traditionally share a list of destinations where you can cast a line during the weekend and spend some time away with your family and friends. We hope that these locations inspired you on how to go about the upcoming holiday. Tight lines!

Have you ever fished in any of the Memorial Day destinations above? What was your experience like? What is your all-time favorite Memorial Day fishing hotspot? Hit the comment section below, drop us a line or two, and share your story with us. 

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Tanya is a Content Creator at FishingBooker and a secret admirer of all things weird and wonderful beneath the waves. The waves, however, are her archnemeses (#seasickness). But she got hooked on angling in 2016 and there was simply no way back. Fishing became her reel passion, and she hasn't stopped casting lines and spinning tales about it ever since.

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