Top 10 Fastest Growing Fishing Destinations to Visit in 2023

Feb 6, 2023 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Spending time in nature is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and discovering a new hobby is always very exciting. Fishing, in particular, gained some extra popularity in the last three years – due to being very COVID-friendly – with tens of millions of Americans enjoying their time on the water even more so than before.

Fishing rods and a fighting chair on the back of a boat off the coast of Lihue, Hawaii. The island of Kauai is in the background.

With 2023 having already started, this is a good time to look back on 2022 and examine trends in the sportfishing world. At FishingBooker, we were wondering which fishing locations stood out from the rest in terms of an increase in popularity. So we found out.

Method

To determine our list, we extracted data from hundreds of thousands of trips booked via FishingBooker in the past two years and compiled a list of the locations with the biggest relative increase in the number of booked fishing trips in 2022 compared to 2021.

In order to eliminate outliers, we only took into account locations that had at least 50 bookings in 2021.

So without further ado, here are America’s top ten up-and-coming fishing spots that you should check out in 2023.

Location Growth rate
1 Lihue, HI 172.7%
2 Ninilchik, AK 133.3%
3 Daytona Beach, FL 115.3%
4 Ocean Isle Beach, NC 79.4%
5 Lantana, FL 67.1%
6 Gulf Breeze, FL 60%
7 New Orleans, LA 54.5%
8 Minneapolis, MN 53.6%
9 Seattle, WA 52.6%
10 Honolulu, HI 52%

Locations in Florida and Hawaii did especially well, covering half of the top 10 with three and two locations, respectively. Looking at the entire list, four states – Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, – had 5 or more locations featured. We’ll get into those further down. But first some details on the US-wide top 10.

Florida Top 5

Georgia Top 5

North Carolina Top 5

Texas Top 5

1. Lihue, HI

Growth: 172.7%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 27.5
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 75

With 172.7% growth, Lihue is by far the fastest-growing location in the past year. Top-notch crews, along with a wide variety of species and rich wildlife make Lihue a fantastic place to fish, so it should come as no surprise that this town dominates this list. In fact, two Hawaiian towns rank among the top 10 fastest-growing fishing destinations. Hawaii has some of the best deep-sea fishing in the world, and it seems that more and more people are wanting to experience it firsthand.

2. Ninilchik, AK

Growth: 133.3%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 14.2
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 33.2

Ninilchik is the second fastest-growing spot. The number of fishing trips here more than doubled compared to the year before. What’s most interesting about this town on the Kenai Peninsula is that this is one of the few locations in Alaska where trophy King Salmon are available year-round. Besides, Alaska has some of the best Halibut fishing in the world, and there are a lot of fly fishing opportunities too. 

 3. Daytona Beach, FL

Growth: 115.3%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 16
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 34.4

Several waterways make Daytona Beach a fantastic spot for fishing, so it’s no wonder the “Springbreak Capital of the World” made the top 3. Aside from the Atlantic Ocean, there are also the Halifax River, Tomoka River, and St. Johns River within reach. From Tarpon to Largemouth Bass, Sailfish to Goliath Grouper the fishing opportunities seem almost endless. And it’s not only the fish that are diverse. From pier fishing to party boats and deep sea fishing, the ways to fish are equally varied.

4.  Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Growth: 79.4%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 27.2
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 48.8

With access to some of the best fishing on the East Coast, Ocean Isle Beach is home to a wide variety of fish species. Local captains offer a range of trips from shorter family outings to action-loaded offshore angling. You can go after Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, and Flounder inshore, look for Gag Grouper and Snapper on the reefs, or even fight with Mahi Mahi and Amberjack further out. Either way, you’re gonna have a good time on the water here.

5. Lantana, FL

Growth: 67.1%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 20.5
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 34.3

Just south of the famous Sailfish Alley, Lantana is at the doorstep of great offshore fishing. King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, and Sailfish rule the waters off the coast, while closer to shore you’ll find Mangrove Snapper and Cobia. With the well-known West Palm Beach nearby, the popularity seems to be rubbing off on Lantana, landing it a nice spot at number 5.

6. Gulf Breeze, FL

Growth: 60%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 9.6
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 15.3

Located at the western end of the Florida Panhandle, Gulf Breeze is definitely a prime angling spot. What makes Gulf Breeze stand out is one species for which the Gulf is famous – the coveted Red Snapper. In fact, this area is known as the “Red Snapper Capital of the World”. Besides Snapper, you can expect a lot of bites throughout the whole Emerald Coast, whether it’s Tarpon, Black Seabass, Tuna, Cobia, or Red Drum. No wonder anglers all across the country come here to cast a line!

7. New Orleans, LA

Growth: 54.5%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 20.5
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 31.7

The city is surrounded by freshwater, saltwater, and waterways on all sides, providing the optimal environment for tasty inshore species. Fishing charters in New Orleans will take you after the numerous fish that make this city one of the greatest for seafood in the US. Here you’ll be able to target some of the most sought-after inshore species like Speckled Trout, Black Drum, Flounder, Jack Crevalle, Redfish, and Black Drum. Also, some of the top Bass fishing lakes in Louisiana are located near New Orleans, so you don’t want to miss it!

8.  Minneapolis, MN

Growth: 53.6%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 23
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 35.3

What makes Minneapolis attractive to anglers is the fact that there are over 22 lakes found within the city alone, not to mention the many other lakes located outside of it. Along with neighboring St. Paul, the “Twin Cities” also have a number of easily accessible piers that allow anyone to engage in their favorite activity. Additionally, Minnesota has some of the best Walleye fishing in the world, so it’s a great place to visit if you want to cast a line for this prized game fish. You could end up with a top-tier dinner dish.

9.  Seattle, WA

Growth: 52.6%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 33.3
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 50.8

No matter when you visit, you’ll be able to fish in Puget Sound or any of Seattle’s lakes and land a great catch. When it comes to targeted species, you’ll be able to go after Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Chum, as well as Pink Salmon. With all five Pacific Salmon species around, Seattle and Washington state in general have some of the best Salmon fishing in the world. And it appears that more and more people are becoming aware of it. 

10. Honolulu, HI

Growth: 52%

Average bookings per charter in 2021: 73.7
Average bookings per charter in 2022: 112.1

As the second location from Hawaii, Honolulu closes out the list at number 10. Famous for its deep-sea fishing, Honolulu is one of the best places to be if you’re looking for a trophy. Marlin, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Sharks, and Shortbill Spearfish inhabit the waters around Oahu, ready to give you the fight of your life. If you want to stay closer to shore, you’ll find Snapper, Grouper, and Triggerfish on the reefs.

States’ Top 5

Four states, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, did especially well and had five or more locations on our list. You’ll find the top 5 from these states below along with the growth rates for each location.

Happy black female angler in a visor, sunglasses, and orange t-shirt holding a redfish while standing on a boat.

Top 5 Florida

Location Growth rate
1 Daytona Beach 115.3%
2 Lantana 67.1%
3 Gulf Breeze 60%
4 Cocoa Beach 49.2%
5 Fort Pierce 46.6%

Daytona Beach

Growth: 115.3%

The list of available fish species in Daytona Beach is as diverse as the fishing techniques to catch them. And with both fresh and saltwater at your disposal, you’ll be truly spoilt for choice.

Lantana

Growth: 67.1%

From the fishing pier to deep sea charters, Lantana doesn’t need to hide behind Daytona Beach when it comes to variety. Most charters will fish further off the coast, so the common catches are Kingfish, Cobia, and Mahi Mahi.

Gulf Breeze

Growth: 60%

As one of the smaller spots that made it to the top 10 list of all US locations, Gulf Breeze landed a well-deserved third place. Red Snapper is the name of the game once the season opens in June, while the rest of the year you’ll be looking for anything from Redfish to Sailfish.

Cocoa Beach

Growth: 49.2%

Located along the Space Coast, Cocoa Beach offers excellent inshore fishing, breathtaking views, and deep sea fishing for that trophy catch.

Fort Pierce

Growth: 46.6%

The Indian River Lagoon, the reefs along the coast, and deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean make Fort Pierce a prime destination for all kinds of angling opportunities.

Top 5 Georgia

Location Growth rate
1 Tybee Island 34.4%
2 Oakwood 33.9%
3 Savannah 27.2%
4 Cumming 25%
5 Jekyll Island 17.7%

Tybee Island

Growth: 34.4%

Tybee Island is probably one of the best places to go fishing in Georgia. And the numbers agree. Whether you want to fly fish on inshore waters or explore the reefs further out, Tybee Island is the place to be. 

Oakwood

Growth: 33.9%

Georgia is well known for its freshwater fishing, so it only makes sense to find Oakwood in the number two spot. Located outside Atlanta on Lake Lanier, this is the perfect place to catch some Bass.

Savannah

Growth: 27.2%

The oldest city in Georgia offers year-round fishing opportunities. Redfish are especially popular close to the coast, but you can also go after Tuna and Billfish offshore.

Cumming

Growth: 25%

Cumming follows Oakwood as the second freshwater location making it into Georgia’s top five. Also located on Lake Lanier, you’ll find different species of Bass here, as well as Catfish.

Jekyll Island

Growth: 17.7%

As one of the Golden Isles of Georgia, Jekyll Island is not only a popular tourist destination but also a charming fishing spot. While there are plenty of species available, the most popular catches are Redfish and Tarpon.

Top 5 North Carolina

Location Growth rate
1 Ocean Isle Beach 79.4%
2 Southport 34.1%
3 Mooresville 23.5%
4 Wanchese 13.5%
5 Hampstead 5.4%

Ocean Isle Beach

Growth: 79.4%

Ocean Isle Beach has a wide range of possibilities for any angler who goes fishing here, so it’s no surprise that it leads the top five for North Carolina. Redfish are among the most popular catches, but anything up to Sailfish and Blue Marlin is possible.

Southport

Growth: 34.1%

Located just south of Wilmington, Southport’s tradition of recreational and commercial fishing speaks for itself. The town offers fantastic inshore fishing as well as access to the Atlantic with catches ranging from Redfish and Flounder to Kingfish and Mahi Mahi.

Mooresville

Growth: 23.5%

Mooresville on Lake Norman takes the third spot. Only a half hour outside Charlotte city center, this fishing destination is great if you want to go after different Bass and Catfish.

Wanchese

Growth: 13.5%

Close to the famous Nag’s Head, Wanchese has a fishing tradition that exists since people first inhabited the area. Today the three most popular fish species are Bluefish, Cobia, and Spanish Mackerel.

Hampstead

Growth: 5.4%

Hampstead lies just north of Wilmington. The waters here are teeming with different fish species so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Popular fish to go after are Kingfish, Redfish, and Flounder.

Top 5 Texas

Location Growth rate
1 San Antonio 47.2%
2 Austin 44.1%
3 Houston 26.8%
4 Pottsboro 24.4%
5 West Tawakoni 14.6%

San Antonio

Growth: 47.2%

Spearheading the top five for Texas are San Antonio’s freshwater fishing spots. Different species of Bass, as well as Catfish, Crappie, and even Redfish make a fishing trip to this area worthwhile.

Austin

Growth: 44.1%

With freshwater lakes and access to the Colorado River, the capital of Texas showed the second-biggest growth in the state. Bass fishing is the name of the game, but other species like Catfish and Sunfish are also on the cards.

Houston

Growth: 26.8%

Houston is a true all-rounder when it comes to fishing. Rivers and lakes, as well as the Trinity and Galveston Bays, offer a variety of fishing opportunities, so you can catch all kinds of fish from Bass and Carp to Kingfish and Mahi Mahi.

Pottsboro

Growth: 24.4%

With Pottsboro, we have another freshwater destination on our list. Located at Lake Texoma in the north of Texas, this small town offers fishing for Striped Bass and Catfish.

West Tawakoni

Growth: 14.6%

Surrounded on three sides by the waters of Lake Tawakoni, West Tawakoni is an ideal fishing location. Catfish is so popular here that several charter operators have made it part of their name. That’s not all – you can also find different species of Bass in the lake.

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