With Thanksgiving around the corner, we can’t help but ask – what are you thankful for? Is it a delicious meal on your table? A heartwarming family tradition? Maybe a new experience or quality time with your loved ones, or even an in-joke with close friends? If you’re unable to single just one event out, then you’re in the right place. But what does fishing have to do with Thanksgiving?
It’s simple. Fishing is one of those adventures that combines all the above-mentioned moments and unites generations to come. Angling with your family and friends creates unforgettable memories and future longstanding traditions you’ll be forever grateful for. Sure, instead of fowl you’ll have fish, but it’ll be equally delicious – maybe even more so. After all, your entire party will participate in landing it!
So, how does creating your own new holiday tradition sound? If you’re intrigued by the idea of fishing this Thanksgiving, read on and find your ideal location. From secluded campsites to bustling hotspots, we’ve included something for everyone.
We’ll start on the East Coast in the charming little community of Millsboro. Deeply rooted in history, this Delaware gem is the perfect Thanksgiving fishing destination. Not only will you be able to visit nationally-registered historic sites, but you’ll also be able to explore some prolific fisheries around it. What screams family time more than this?
The town is cozily nestled between Millsboro and Ingram Ponds. Besides the ponds, it has Indian River Bay and the Atlantic Ocean at its doorstep. Whether in the inland kingdom or the bluewater realm, you’ll cross paths with some of the most prominent freshwater and saltwater residents. Bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Perch, Wahoo, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi – Millsboro has them all!
Once you’ve secured your festive dinner, you’ll be free to roam through the streets studded with buildings dating from the mid-1800s. Be it the Indian River Archaeological Complex, the Nanticoke Indian Museum, or the Isaac Harmon Farmhouse, Millsboro is the true embodiment of the Thanksgiving spirit.
Exhausted from your day of angling and that history treasure hunt? Don’t worry, Millsboro’s got you! The town is custom-made for outdoor relaxation, too. Before you head home, check out Cupola Park and make some well-rounded Thanksgiving memories.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Moving toward Florida, you’ll reach the ultimate vacationland – Daytona Beach. Dubbed the “Springbreak Capital of the World,” Daytona Beach can be crowned as a Thanksgiving fishing getaway as well. The holiday season in Daytona Beach is nothing short of majestic. Live music, sports tournaments, food festivals, magic and car shows, and deep sea fishing – the city is teeming with entertainment!
You can kick off your Thanksgiving week with dazzling performances for the entire family such as Magic of Lights, and end it in style with the Daytona Turkey Run. This major outdoor event is held every year during Thanksgiving weekend. Car collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the Daytona Turkey Run for shows, sales, trades, and swap meets.
But do you know what else is worthy of your attention? The underwater world! Under no circumstances are you to visit Daytona Beach and skip deep sea fishing. With the Gulf Stream and the Atlantic Ocean at your disposal, you’re in for the pursuit of a lifetime. You can troll for Tuna and Sailfish, or bottom fish for Snappers and Groupers. One thing is sure – you won’t end up empty-handed.
There’s one more reason to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Even though Hurricane Ian left an impact on the area, Daytona Beach was spared the full force of the storm. Nearly all of its tourism facilities, including fishing charters, are now open for business.
South Bend, Indiana
Situated on the very border of Indiana and Michigan, our next must-fish Thanksgiving hotspot is the delightful city of South Bend. Not only does the area radiate holiday vibes with its bright orange and yellow colors, but it also captures the hearts of its visitors with family-oriented attractions. If you’re into crisp fall air, raw nature, pristine waters, and a strong fish bite, look no further than South Bend.
If November decides to bring chilly weather, there are plenty of activities to warm you up. Hiking and fishing are just a couple of popular pastimes around here. With acres of idyllic settings and prolific waters, it’s no wonder that hiking trails and angling spots are everywhere. But if you’re after a safe bet, you can’t go wrong with Potato Creek State Park and the St. Joseph River.
Potato Creek is one of Indiana’s most visited recreational grounds. It offers everything from boating, biking, hiking, and bird watching, to fishing. It’s home to Worster Lake and renowned fish species like Bluegill, Crappie, Perch, and Bass. And let’s not forget about the St. Joseph River. It’s a Salmon, Trout, and Walleye heaven.
In short, your Thanksgiving dinner will be finger-licking good after a nature-flavored South Bend vacation!
If long-lasting traditions are on the top of your Thanksgiving fishing list, then the “Quilt City” is the tailor-made place for you and your family. Being a mecca for artists, Paducah has been recognized as UNESCO Creative City. While quilt-making is woven into the town’s essence, this historic river town can brag about some incredible fisheries, too.
This Bass and Catfish site is engulfed in the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers. As if this isn’t impressive enough on its own, Paducah is also surrounded by famous lakes such as Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. With name-dropping as its forté, it becomes clear why Paducah is a star of our Thanksgiving line-up, right?
But before you conquer its waters, you should get familiar with Paducah by checking out its artisan scene. The National Quilt Museum is the right place for this because the intricate quilt patterns are truly a work of art.
Speaking of artwork, don’t miss out on the annual Shop Small Business event that takes place just after Thanksgiving. It’s a wonderful opportunity to try locally-made goodies and see what Paducah is all about.
Our next stop is an aptly-named twin city called Texarkana. Spanning two states – Texas and Arkansas – Texarkana goes by the slogan “Twice as Nice.” It speaks volumes about what life in Texarkana is like. The same motto could be applied to fishing – it’s twice as good! While there are lakes on both sides of the city, northeast Texas is where the gorgeous Wright Patman Lake lies.
Wright Patman Lake boasts over 20,000 acres of water and twice as many acres of land. These facts alone testify to the outstanding recreational opportunities the region offers. Be it boating, hiking, or angling, you’re in for a treat. As for the fish, you don’t have to worry about them biting. Largemouth Bass, White Bass, Crappie, and Blue Catfish will grace the end of your line!
Bear in mind that November is slightly unpredictable weather-wise, but the saying “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes and it’ll change” is so applicable in Texarkana. Dress appropriately and you’ll be sure to enjoy the fall ambiance that only Wright Patman Lake can offer. Should you need a soul and body warm-up after a long day outside, Texarkana’s restaurants will come to the rescue.
Port Aransas, Texas
Visit coastal Texas and Port Aransas will show you what fishing in the American South has in store for you this Thanksgiving. Located at the very heart of the Gulf of Mexico‘s coast, Port Aransas promises enviable inshore, nearshore, and offshore pursuits. So, if you’re thinking about spicing your Thanksgiving experience up, put Port Aransas on your list.
The inshore waters are simply brimming with Redfish. Your chances at landing Bulls (impressively large Reds) skyrocket during fall. Besides them, you’ll get to battle the biggest Gulf superstars – Red Snappers. Yes, you read that right. Unlike other states, Texas is a year-round Red Snapper playground. And if that hasn’t persuaded you to fish in Port Aransas this November, maybe some other major-league players will. Move further out, and test your skills against Tuna and Marlin!
Speaking of players, how do you feel about golf, bowling, and family-friendly competitions? If you’d love to try your luck at any of these three activities, you should get to Port Aransas a couple of days before Thanksgiving. This is when the Trinity Classic, Gobble on the Grand, and Turkey Trot trio of events take place. It doesn’t get more festive than this!
Caballo Lake State Park, New Mexico
If the only sounds you want to hear are the chatter of your gang and fishing lines getting tight, then consider Caballo Lake State Park as your Thanksgiving fishing destination. While angling isn’t the first thing that crosses your mind when you think of New Mexico, this elevated oasis begs to disagree.
Caballo Lake is the fifth-largest body of water in New Mexico. As such, this reservoir on the Rio Grande hides freshwater species that are on everyone’s radar. Walleye, Bass, Catfish, Crappie, and Bluegill, all call these waters home. Keep in mind that fishing might not be as frantic as in spring and summer, but staying at Caballo Lake State Park in the fall is worth it.
There’s so much to see and do off the water, that you and your family will enjoy every second spent at Caballo Lake State Park. Apart from fishing, hiking, and boating, birdwatching stands out. Come fall, and you can witness majestic bald and golden eagles who nest here. Wouldn’t that be a story to tell?
Framed against dramatic mountain ranges, the lake radiates serenity and much-needed unplugged vacation vibes. If you ask us, we have no dilemma about where to be this Thanksgiving.
Salt Lake City, Utah
While we’re at no-brainers, here’s a gem we simply had to mention two times in a row. Yes, it’s that good! Last year we gushed about Joes Valley Reservoir and the Green River. This time around, we’ll give you even more incentives to visit Salt Lake City. Nicknamed “The Crossroads of the West”, Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah for a reason.
This metropolitan candidate is blessed not only with inner-city entertainment but also with splendid outdoor activities for the entire family. Is there a better way to awaken your Thanksgiving spirit and start the day than by helping a good cause? If you agree, don’t miss out on the opportunity to “run with an attitude of gratitude” in the Utah Human Race.
Use the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend to recharge your batteries and enjoy a well-deserved rest in nature. Salt Lake City has many areas in its vicinity that offer great fishing and relaxation. Jordanelle State Park, Utah Lake State Park, Rockport State Park, and East Canyon State Park are among prime regions for freshwater angling and encounters with Bass and Trout.
If we didn’t manage to convince you last year to check out Salt Lake City, what about now?
It’s high time we hopped to the Pacific Ocean and peeked into what the West Coast has to brag about. Symbolically, we chose Pacifica as your next Thanksgiving fishing destination. This coastal beauty is only 20 minutes away from San Francisco, but it offers as incredible angling as its cosmopolitan neighbor. Plus, it has something no other city in California has.
Pacifica’s Municipal Pier is considered one of the best in the state. Thanks to the quantity and quality of fish caught from the pier, innumerable anglers swarm to Pacifica every year. And Thanksgiving is no exception. Apart from Salmon and Striped Bass, expect to catch Dungeness Crab as November marks the beginning of crabbing season and these beauties are plentiful here!
But we didn’t even tell you the most exciting part yet. Fishing and crabbing from Pacifica’s Municipal Pier are free with no licenses required! If this seems too good to be true, wait until you see Pacifica’s stunning shoreline, breathtaking beaches, first-class restaurants, and a one-of-a-kind panoramic view.
Cruising along the West Coast, we eventually arrive at one of the northernmost cities in Washington – Bellingham. Proud of its citizens, local cuisine, craft brews, natural wonders, recreational options, and cultural legacy, Bellingham has effortlessly earned its spot on our Thanksgiving list. Needless to say, you’ll have your hands full when trying to discover this region.
Be it bay, lake, or pond fishing, Bellingham and Whatcom County are every angler’s dream. Bellingham Bay is a year-round fishery with a diverse ecosystem. It’s also famous for its Salmon runs during summer and fall. So, how about a Salmon sighting this Thanksgiving? If you’re more into Bass, take your kids and spend the morning at Lakes Padden or Whatcom.
Getting intentionally lost in Bellingham’s streets is easy. You can hit the scenic route of Chuckanut Drive, endlessly explore Fairhaven Village, or forever be distracted by local art. And before you know it, it’ll be time for Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t fret if you haven’t had enough time to prepare a meal. Places such as Skylark’s Cafe traditionally serve mouth-watering turkey.
We saved the best for last – Maui. If you’ve never dared to go full exotic for Thanksgiving, now is the time! Just picture white sand beaches, turquoise waves, the vastness of the ocean, a vibrant underwater world, lush forests, and nature of unparalleled beauty at your fingertips. It becomes clear that you must at least play with the idea of fishing on Maui this fall!
Maui angling is the next level indeed. Whether you want to surf cast or deep sea fish, expect battles of epic proportions. Intimidating rivals such as Mahi Mahi, Marlin, Tuna, Wahoo, Barracuda, and Amberjack rule these waters. While the giant specimens usually show up in summer, fall has a couple of tricks up its sleeve, too.
Lahaina is a great starting point for both bluewater and inland escapades. Besides top-tier Maui charter operators and surfing instructors, Lahaina will treat you to traditional Hawaiian food, a rich cultural heritage, and remarkable sights. So, what are you waiting for? Aloha and happy Thanksgiving!
My Thanksgiving Fishing Destination Is…
Enough of the hyperbole. Each location has its own Thanksgiving charm. It’s up to you to choose your favorite and spend a memorable vacation with your loved ones. And tell us all about it, of course! If you need more ideas, take a look at our 2021 list of Thanksgiving fishing destinations as well. May this be the best Thanksgiving Day for you and your family! Tight lines!
What place from the list will you visit? Do you have more Thanksgiving fishing locations to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!
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.