For the top spots this year, check out our latest Presidents’ Day article.
While a lot of people stick with cherry pie, fishing is also a valid way to celebrate Presidents’ Day. From John Quincy Adams to George H.W. Bush, a number of US presidents have also been avid fishermen. It just goes to show that fishing has and continues to be a popular pastime for people from all walks of life. As Herbert Hoover once wrote, “All men are equal before fish.”
And if you’re looking to mark the occasion with a bit of fishing, we hope you find this article useful. We’ll take you through our pick of the eight best places where you can have an unforgettable day of fishing on the third Monday of February. For those of you who can’t make it on the actual day, you can also keep them in mind for your future fishing plans – they’re all well worth the trip!
Seeing as it’s Presidents’ Day and all, it only makes sense for our first featured destination to be from the home state of George Washington. Thanks to having one of only two urban Trout fisheries in Virginia, Waynesboro is an excellent year-round destination for all your freshwater angling needs, Presidents’ Day included.
The South River flows directly through the city, making it super easy to go after a trophy Rainbow or Brown Trout. To the north you’ll find the mountain streams of George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park where you’ll find a good deal of Brook Trout. And if that’s not enough, local guides also provide trips to the nearby James and Jackson rivers.
Fly fishing is also a big deal in this part of Virginia. A part of the South River near the community of Lyndhurst has a special fly fishing-only zone that’s home to solid numbers of trophy Trout year after year. But even if you’re not a fly enthusiast yourself, you’ll be impressed with what Waynesboro has to offer.
Lake Jocassee, SC
Another freshwater favorite, Lake Jocassee is the only lake in South Carolina where you can go after both trophy Trout and Smallmouth Bass. You can access the lake through Devils Fork State Park, making it a perfect option for that family trip you’ve been wanting to do for ages. As far as Presidents’ Day fishing goes, you should brace for a world-class Trout fishery.
Why are we so excited about this lake that sits on the border with North Carolina? For starters, it holds state records for Redeye, Smallmouth, and Spotted Bass, as well as Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. That’s quite a cover letter if you ask us. Add to that some beautiful sights from the Jocassee Gorges, and you’ll be coming back here every year.
Fort Myers, FL
If you’re more of a saltwater kind of angler, then the Fort Myers area should be up there at the top of your Presidents’ Day fishing list. From quick inshore trips to longer offshore excursions, you have the freedom to find a trip that’s right up your alley. If anything, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Presidents’ Day comes along right in the middle of Florida’s peak fishing season, so expect scores of other anglers with the same goal as you – reeling in a prized catch! Check out the inshore mangroves for Snook, Redfish, Sheepshead, Mangrove Snapper, and more. For a hassle-free experience, you can hit the local beaches or the pier and fish to your heart’s content.
For the bigger catches, you’ll want to hire a charter boat and hit the offshore waters. Out there you can target the likes of Kingfish, Groupers, Spanish Mackerel, and Sharks. These trips tend to be longer because it takes a bit to reach the fishing grounds – but we can confidently say it’s more than worth the price of admission.
Port Aransas, TX
Anglers know it as the “Fishing Capital of Texas” and locals affectionately call it Port A. We feel the nickname is well-earned, with Presidents’ Day fishing being no exception. Like elsewhere in the Gulf, you’ll find great fishing both close to shore as well as in the deep blue. It all comes down to preference since there’s plenty here for both skilled anglers and those new to the whole thing.
Let’s start with the basics. The easiest way to go fishing if you’ve got your own gear is to hit the Horace Caldwell Pier or the popular South Jetty for a top-notch surf fishing experience. On the other hand, if you want to get a stronger feel for Port A’s excellent Red Drum fishery, we recommend hiring a charter boat for a day of bay fishing. Besides Redfish, you can also target Flounder, Black Drum, and Trout.
Finally, you can also try your hand at offshore fishing if big game is what you’re after. Think Kingfish, Wahoo, Marlin, Tuna, and more. You’ll need to go farther than you would during summer, but the fish are there if you’re willing to look.
All you fishing fanatics out there probably know Hayward as the place where the World Record Musky was caught in the Chippewa Flowage on October 20, 1949, by Louis Spray. While that was some time ago, the fishery is still going strong even when the water freezes over.
For your Presidents’ Day fishing needs, we’d recommend heading down to Lake Hayward. An ice fishing event called the Junior Angler Jamboree will be taking place over the weekend, making it an excellent opportunity to fish, have fun, and win some prizes. And if you happen to be as interested in freshwater fishing as we are, you might want to check out the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Lake Hayward is also part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, making it a popular travel destination throughout the year. Other than fishing, a lot of people come for canoeing, boating, camping, tubing, and the like. Anyone who’s hankering for a return to nature, even if it’s just for a day or two, will have a blast out on Lake Hayward.
Olympic Peninsula, WA
Speaking of nature’s wonders, the Olympic Peninsula is another scenic location that any intrepid explorer and angler should visit at least once. Bordering the Pacific and anchored by the majestic Olympic Mountains, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. And before you ask, yes, the fishing is also pretty great!
The 4,000 miles of branching rivers in the Olympic Peninsula area are widely known for their spectacular Steelhead fishing. It’ll take you a couple of hours to drive there from Seattle but it’s very much worth the hassle. Good places to start your adventure include the Sol Duc, Queets, and Hoh Rivers, as well as the Seven Lakes Basin.
Chickasaw Country, OK
For some perspective, consider the fact that Oklahoma has more shoreline than the entire East and Gulf coasts combined. Oklahoma’s Fishing Trail is a piece of angling paradise, both for Presidents’ Day fishing and otherwise.
If you do plan on visiting for the holiday, we recommend starting with the Blue River. You can participate in the Presidents’ Day Blue River Trout Derby and compete for the largest Trout, biggest stringer and heaviest stinger. Nothing gets the blood pumping like a little competition thrown into the mix.
Of course, there are plenty of other options if tournaments aren’t your thing. Lake of the Arbuckles, for one, has been named the best Bass fishing lake in Oklahoma by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Another popular option is Lake Texoma, the state’s second largest lake. With over 70 species of fish in these waters, you won’t regret spending a day or two here.
Chautauqua Lake, NY
For a family-friendly way to spend the holiday, Chautauqua Lake is another worthwhile option. At the upper end of the lake, the Mayville Winter Festival for Presidents’ Day Weekend at Lakeside Park has become an annual tradition. If you’re a fan of things like ice fishing, snowmobiles, and carriage rides, as well as good food, you won’t want to miss out.
As for the actual fishing, February is a great time for targeting Bluegill, Perch, and Walleye. The latter aren’t native to the lake, but you can still find them in good numbers this time of year. Even if you’ve never been ice fishing before, it won’t take long for you to pick up the ropes. And if you like it enough to come back again later, you can look forward to some prime Bass fishing.
A Presidential Day on the Water
The destinations we covered only scratch the surface of all the possible places you can go fishing for Presidents’ Day across the 50 states. Hopefully we’ve inspired you to celebrate this holiday a bit differently than you’re used to. And if you’re already planning to head out on the water, we hope we’ve given you new places to consider.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you’re fishing as long as you’re having fun. If that means casting a line at one of your favorite local spots, all the better.
What’s your Presidents’ Day tradition? Any other places you can recommend to our readers for the occasion? Let us know in the comments below!