Memorial Day fishing… It’s just natural. Coming at the heart of spring, this important holiday heralds in the start of peak fishing season in most parts of the country. And with the sun usually shining down at this time of year, it’s a win-win when it comes to casting a line.
Whether you’re looking for a fun activity to keep the kids entertained or fancy some alone time over this deserved long weekend, fishing is the perfect option. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to some of the best spots from coast to coast – from remote hideaways to bustling city parks. There really is something for everyone, and we seriously encourage you to get out and try it!
So without further ado, here’s our pick of the top fishing destinations for Memorial Day weekend 2022.
Block Island, RI
We’ll start our tour of the best Memorial Day fishing spots on the East Coast. Well, actually, Block Island is out in the Atlantic Ocean! And, as it’s separated from the mainland by its namesake sound, it boasts nearshore and offshore fishing aplenty.
This is Striped Bass country. These creatures grow to incredible sizes here, and spring is when they’re at their biggest. Just ask local angler, Peter Vican, who landed a state record 77+ lb specimen in June 2011! Apart from that, the Block Island sound and Great Salt Pond are full of prized fish, such as Tautog, Bluefish, Weakfish, and more. And that’s before you head offshore, where monster Bluefin Tuna make for an enticing battle.
While cars are allowed on the island, we recommend hiring a bike or exploring on foot when you get there. Take a ferry or flight from spots in Rhode Island, Connecticut, or Montauk, NY, and immerse yourself in the stunning nature of the island. Explore 17 miles of untouched beaches. Read a book in the shade of one of the two lighthouses. Or head into town and go shopping in one of the specialized craft shops – all before devouring a delicious fishy dinner.
Finger Lakes, NY
Back on the mainland, we head to upstate New York for the next destination on our list. Most anglers would think that the Great Lakes would be a must when freshwater fishing in the Empire State – and usually they’d be right! But come Memorial Day weekend, it’s the Finger Lakes that take all the attention.
The National Lake Trout Derby takes place on Seneca Lake. Head to Geneva at the northern tip, and you’re sure to find plenty in the way of these wily, tasty creatures. This is the “Lake Trout Capital of the World” and provides shore fishing spots, along with plenty of charters to take you across the lake. Want to avoid the crowds? Watkins Glen at the opposite end is just as plentiful.
And it’s not just Trout, either. Walleye, Bass, and Salmon are all possible catches across the region. A total of eleven lakes make up the “fingers,” so there’s more than just Seneca Lake to explore. Head to bustling Ithaca on Cayuga Lake or get lost in the wilderness around the other remote bodies of water. There really is something for everyone here. Choosing exactly where to go this Memorial Day weekend may not be so easy!
Port Clinton, OH
We couldn’t leave the Great Lakes completely off our list of Memorial Day fishing spots. This year, we’ve gone for Lake Erie. Well, Port Clinton, Ohio, on Lake Erie to be precise. Much like Geneva, Port Clinton comes alive on Memorial Day, as the 41st Annual Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival draws angling enthusiasts to test their skills against each other all weekend long.
Get out on the water and join other like-minded anglers – and there’s even a special Kids’ Fishing Derby! You can also revel in the carnival atmosphere in town. Enjoy firework displays every night, take the kids to the fair, and indulge in one of the numerous concerts organized on a regular basis. You’ll never get bored!
Had enough of fishing? Fear not! You can hit the beach downtown or explore the stunning waterfront park and lighthouse. Feeling more adventurous? A trip out onto the lake is a must. Discover the remote islands out in Lake Erie itself. Nature and culture melt into one another wherever you go here, giving meaning to Ohio’s nickname “the Heart of It All.”
Lake Murray, SC
The next spot on our list is the only one that featured on last year’s list. Lake Murray in South Carolina was the largest earthen dam on the planet when it was built. But today, it’s fishing that makes this body of water in the heart of the Palmetto State famous.
As you already know, spring is the perfect time for casting for certain freshwater species and it’s no different in Lake Murray. Come Memorial Day weekend, you can find guides to take you out on the water or cast from shore, as you go in pursuit of fun and delicious species. Were talking Bluegill, Crappie, Trout, and Largemouth Bass.
Head out from some of the remote marinas in the west of the lake, explore Dreher Island State Park near the center, or visit on a day trip from nearby Columbia. It all depends on how much time you want to spend fishing. Oh, and South Carolina offers free fishing on Memorial Day weekend. That means there’s no need to get a license to cast a line. What better time to come, eh?
St. Augustine, FL
Located on Florida’s “Historic Coast,” St. Augustine is dripping with culture. From the majestic Castillo de San Marcos via the Mission Nombre de Dios and Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth, out to the impressive lighthouse and maritime museum, you can’t move for landmarks. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.
St. Augustine is located on the Intracoastal Waterway, just in from its namesake inlet which offers access to the Atlantic. That means great fishing whenever you come, but especially in spring. At this time of year, Kingfish are all the rage, with the Kingfish Mayhem competition taking place just a few days after Memorial Day weekend and the Old School Kingfish Shootout a week later.
That’s not all you can catch here – no siree! Hit an inshore pier or venture along the Intracoastal and you could come into contact with Jack Crevalle, Spotted Seatrout, and Redfish. Head out beyond the inlet, and Cobia, Groupers, and Red Snappers will be waiting, before Mahi Mahi and Wahoo steal the show offshore. Get ready to test your skills wherever you go, before unwinding with a drink or dinner in one of the numerous cool spots downtown.
We’re sticking with the saltwater fishing theme with this next spot, as we head to Texas’s Gulf Coast. Freeport is bang in the middle of two of the Lone Star State’s most prolific inshore fisheries, and also offers deepwater access, too.
This community lives and breathes fishing, so you’ll have no trouble finding someone to show you around. Captains specializing in inshore and offshore charters are commonplace – along with everything in between. Fancy some DIY fishing? The jetties, beaches, and shorelines along the winding waterways and bayous are great for spending the day.
Come Memorial Day weekend, there’s no end to what you can catch. Black and Red Drum, along with Speckled Trout are always biting in the shallows. Hit the beaches, and you could find yourself landing a Shark! Head offshore towards the oil rigs and Red Snapper, Mahi Mahi, Cobia, Kingfish, and Tuna could be on the menu. Just remember that the further you go, the bigger the fish get!
Black Hills, SD
With 98% of its waters open for fishing, South Dakota should be on every angler’s to-visit list. But the Black Hills are simply not to be missed when you’re planning a trip. After all, this national forest is home to Mount Rushmore – somewhere we’ve all been dreaming of visiting since we were kids!
Stunning wilderness and a chance to get away from it all complement the incredible fishing on offer here. Choose your pick from an incredible 14 mountain lakes or over 400 miles of streams – all of which are ripe for fly fishing. Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout are all on offer, depending on where you go, with Perch and Crappie offering up a worthy supporting cast.
Want the best of all worlds? Rapid City is the place to be. The largest creek in the area, Rapid Creek, winds through town giving you the chance to target feisty, oversized Brown Trout right in the heart of the city! Of course, we suggest using here as a base for a multi-day trip to discover the beauty of what’s, undoubtedly, one of the most unspoiled corners of the country.
Parker Canyon Lake, AZ
If you thought the Black Hills were off the beaten track, wait until you see what’s next on our list. Parker Canyon Lake near Arizona’s border with Mexico is a gem worth discovering. It may not be the biggest body of water in the world, but it’s a great getaway from the stifling heat of Tucson or Phoenix. Why? Well, it’s 5,400 feet above sea level, so you can count on it being considerably cooler up here.
When it comes to the fishing, you can head out from one of the lake’s numerous marinas with a guide, or explore the rich shorelines. There are plenty of spots designated for fishing, including a pier – along with areas for kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming. But you may want to wait until it warms up a bit to jump in!
Casting a line here promises great rewards, with warm and coldwater fish stocked yearly. Rainbow Trout are anglers’ favorites, while Bass, Catfish, and Sunfish don’t lag far behind. You can get a day’s pass for just $8 to take advantage of all the species on offer. Nearby Sonoita or Sierra Vista are your best bets for accommodation, with the latter even offering up a wine, beer, and spirits festival this Memorial Day weekend to help you kick back.
There’s little wonder that Reno-Tahoe has earned itself the nickname the “Biggest Little City in the World.” While the city has a population of just over 250,000, it boasts sights and activities that metropolises ten times its size would envy. From skiing in winter to indulging in the casinos, there’s plenty to do. And the jewel in the city’s crown is Lake Tahoe.
Nestled high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it ranks only behind the Great Lakes when it comes to volume of water, and boasts three kinds of Trout, Sockeye Salmon, and much more! But that’s not all Reno-Tahoe has in its tackle box. Head north of the down and you could explore the stunning Pyramid Lake, or hit up the Truckee River for some fly fishing action. Both boast elusive creatures such as Cui-Cui and Cutthroat Trout, with other species growing to record sizes.
And after you’re done with fishing? Reno never sleeps. We mentioned the casinos, but downtown is about more than just that. Soak in the culture at museums, art galleries, and music venues, or indulge in delicious food and drink in the Riverwalk and Midtown Districts. Alternatively, be at one with nature and spend a night looking at the stars around Lakes Tahoe or Pyramid. Just don’t forget to wrap up warm!
We’ll complete our journey across the US in California. When you think of fishing in the Golden State, you probably imagine pier fishing in the Bay Area or heading out from LA or San Diego to the islands, right? Well, casting a line in freshwater can be just as productive, and Stockton is a great starting point.
Whether wanting to get involved in some urban fishing or heading further afield, there’s nowhere better to be. The Oak Grove Regional Park in the north of the city is a convenient halfway stop. The waters here are full of Trout, Catfish, Bluegill, Bass, and Crappie. But you’re also just a short hop from the California Delta! Head along the San Joaquin River to the brackish water, and you can test your skills against Striped Bass, Salmon, and more.
Either side of your fishing adventure, you can enjoy the vibrant surroundings of Stockton itself. Home to the oldest university in California, it has a healthy student population, and the southern end of Pacific Avenue is the place to be for dining and nightlife options. We also suggest taking a waterfront stroll during your stay, and definitely checking out the Haggin Museum’s local history and art exhibitions.
Memorial Day and Fishing: They Go Hand in Hand
So there you have it – our pick of the top ten places to go fishing this Memorial Day weekend. But these are by no means the only places you can check out. Have a look at our list from last year to see if somewhere closer to home featured in 2021. After all, Memorial Day and fishing go hand-in-hand. Get out there and make the most of the long weekend!
And now over to you! Where are you planning on going fishing this Memorial Day weekend? Any tips for your fellow anglers? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!