Celebrating New Year’s Eve is the perfect excuse to dust off those rods and pack your fishing gear. For this occasion, however, you don’t want to wet your line in any old pond. No, your New Year’s fishing adventure deserves to be a little more special than that.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of our picks for the ideal New Year’s fishing destination. Whether you’re partying with friends or celebrating with your family, these places are just what you need to start the year in style.
To make our list, our destinations had to check a few boxes first. Each of these locales boasts a beautiful setting, plenty of holiday cheer, and reel action that’ll make your arms sore.
Arguably the most festive town in the country, Orlando is the ideal New Year’s destination. With theme park galore, and a fairy-tale atmosphere, this place is the go-to choice for young families. It also happens to be one of the best freshwater fisheries in the nation.
Fishing around Orlando will have you spoiled for choice. With an expansive network of lakes, this is one of the premier Bass fisheries in the country. Particularly around New Year’s, the Kissimmee Chain of lakes holds great numbers of Largemouth Bass and Crappie.
Back in town, Orlando serves up a complete overdose of theme park fun. From Sea World to Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando’s family entertainment is in a league of its own. For New Year’s Eve, each park will have its own live music and dance party, culminating with a huge fireworks show.
Of course, the town has plenty of entertainment to offer to adults, too. Head downtown and dance the night away in one of the town’s many clubs and bars.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
With New Year’s temperatures hovering around 87°F, Puerto Vallarta is the perfect place to get that winter tan. A chance to fish in one of the best fisheries in the Pacific is just an added bonus.
Around New Year’s, the warm waters of Puerto Vallarta attract some truly spectacular big game. The Billfish trio of Sailfish, Blue Marlin, and Black Marlin roam these waters in great numbers. Catch all three and you’ll achieve the coveted Billfish Grand Slam. No chance anyone’s beating that New Year’s story back home.
If you’re not out for bragging rights, there’s still a lot more your can catch in these parts. Our recommendation? Hit the reefs and catch some tasty Mahi Mahi and Wahoo!
Back in town, the atmosphere is buzzing. New Year’s Eve in Puerto Vallarta is a four-day affair, with many clubs and restaurants throwing parties and celebrations ahead of time. Make your way through the tiny streets of Old Town, with countless local joints battling for your attention.
The town has a number of clubs offering exclusive New Year’s bashes. If you’re up for a more laid-back experience, visit the local restaurants for all-inclusive packages including three-course meals, champagne – the whole nine yards.
If you’re more of a “people person” the Olas Altas street in Old Town has got your number. With cobbled streets and charming cafés, this place is known as “Little Paris.” At 9:00 p.m., Olas Altas comes alive with locals and tourists, making for a quintessential Mexican street celebration.
Cape Town, South Africa
Lying between two oceans, Cape Town was always destined to be an incredible fishery. Its unique position also allowed it to become a cultural melting pot, and a favorite holiday destination for people from all over the world.
Jutting out into the Pacific and the Atlantic, Cape Town seems to attract much larger fish than you’d expect. Around New Year’s, Tuna fishing is the name of the game here, putting you on anything from Yellowfin to Bigeye and Longtail.
Just outside of town, the bountiful waters of Hout Bay hold great numbers of local-favorite Geelbeck and Kob. The two species make for amazing table fare, and they’re ripe for catching around the New Year.
And when the time comes to party, Cape Town won’t disappoint. The famous Alcazar NYE festival is a 12-hour music and performance art spectacle, attracting electro-music lovers from far and wide.
If electro is not your style, don’t fret, because there’s plenty of other NYE celebrations around. From 1920s noire clubs, to open beach bars and classy vineyard retreats, Cape Town’s New Year’s scene is truly tough to match.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Lake Tahoe is one of America’s favorite winter getaways, and for good reason. While first-timers usually come to the lake to ski and party, its more experienced visitors make sure to cast a few lines, too.
The scenic lake is an amazing winter Trout fishery. In these cold waters, you’ll have your hands full with Mackinaw, as well as Brown, Kokanee, and Rainbow Trout. Because the waters are cooler in winter, the Trout come closer to the surface, making your job a lot easier.
From Tahoe City to South Lake Tahoe, to Incline Village, the lake has numerous access points, both in California and Nevada. The best part is, a fishing license of either state will cover your outing no matter where you are on the lake.
Speaking of access points, Lake Tahoe offers plenty of options to reel in the New Year, too. The lake is surrounded by deluxe ski resorts, which will all feature their own celebrations. Olympic Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, will host its traditional torchlight parade, as well as live music and a kids carnival.
But if that sounds too tame for you, Reno, the world’s Biggest Little City, is just across the border. Try your luck in one of the downtown casinos the town is famous for. At midnight, head out to Virginia Street where a huge 13-minute fireworks show will welcome you into the new year.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
We don’t know about you, but fishing the peak season in one of the Caribbean’s most prolific fisheries sounds like a good way to end the year. With miles of white sand beaches, a colorful coastline, and delightfully pleasant weather, the New Year seems like a perfect excuse to visit this tropical paradise.
Punta Cana’s fishing scene is so rich and diverse, it’s really not fair. The nearby coral reefs house schools of bait fish, which attract exciting game fish within just a few miles of the coast. Big game fishing rivals any Caribbean fishery, with Sailfish, Yellowfin, and Yellowtail being exceptionally good in late December and early January.
The weather is usually stable around New Year’s, but should you find high winds, you’ll be glad to know that Punta Cana’s inshore fishing is equally as good. These protected waters are teeming with Snappers, Jacks, Barracudas, and Triggerfish. Last but not least, the flats off the nearby Laguna de Nisibon are perfect for catching Tarpon on the fly.
On New Year’s Eve, the action shifts to Punta Cana proper, where the atmosphere is nothing short of buzzing. If you want to combine fine dining with live music and unlimited drinks close to home, the town is dotted with world-class resorts looking out onto the ocean.
Around town, the local party scene is highlighted by clubs like Coco Bongo, Huracan, or Pearl Beach Club. For a more romantic entry into 2020, head to the beach and sip on a cold drink while the fireworks light the sky.
Santa Barbara, California
Contrasting the snowy mountains of Lake Tahoe, the western side of California offers blue ocean views and pleasant 65° weather. The two Californian locales might seem worlds apart during the winter, but they’re both equally as prolific where it counts. The winter fishing scene in Santa Barbara is nothing short of spectacular.
Fishing around New Year’s serves up a variety of fish to go for. Fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish is on fire, followed closely by White Seabass and California Sheephead. Keep in mind, however, that the season for Rockfish and Sheephead closes with the last day of the year. For a taste of Santa Barbara’s signature seafood, you can give Lobster catching a go. They are in season, and delicious as ever!
The one tough thing about NYE in Santa Barbara is deciding where to be when the clock strikes midnight. The town offers a myriad of venues, each more inviting than the next. You can enjoy local craft beer to the sounds of acoustic guitars in the Night Lizard Brewing Company.
Or if you’re up for a laugh, Emmy award winning comedian Dennis Blair will crack you up at the Comedy Hideaway. If you’re into good music and cocktails, check out the Red Piano. For those of you who like a more glitzy New Year’s Eve, there’s always the Ritz.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The mainland around Dubai might be a desert, but the sea is nothing short of a marine oasis. In a city best known for luxury shopping and modern architecture, fishing is sometimes undeservedly overlooked.
The turn of the year marks the height of Dubai‘s fishing season. The fish are biting with reckless abandon and, because of the lower temperatures, they’re really close to the surface, too. This means that winter fishing in Dubai is perfect for beginners.
You can troll for anything from Kingfish and large Barracuda to Giant Trevally and Cobia. If you’d like a more hands-on approach, try bottom fishing for Emperor Bream, Golden Threadfin, or Queen Mackerel.
Dubai is renowned for its nightlife, and there’s no better time to experience it than New Year’s Eve. This place is packed with over-the-top bars and clubs, many of which offer spectacular views of the town’s impressive design.
Speaking of views, make sure to get a good one as the midnight hour gets close. The main showstopper of the evening will be a huge fireworks display launched from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
Reeling in the New Year
Whether it’s fishing to round off 2019, or wetting the line to open 2020, an angling adventure is the perfect way to celebrate the New Year. And with picture-perfect locales like the ones on our list, spectacular fishing is only half the fun.
What do you think of our picks? Do you plan on fishing for New Year’s? What’s your dream New Year’s fishing destination? Let us know in the comments below.