If you’re an angler and you love the outdoors, 2020 has been a reminder of just how precious time spent on the water can be. Thankfully, the US has no shortage of awesome angling spots you can explore. As we look forward to packing our rods again in 2021, it’s time to give a nod to some of the best fishing cities in the country. If you’re coming here in early 2022, check out our latest picks for our best US fishing cities.
Before we reveal this year’s best urban angling destinations, let’s have a quick reminder of why fishing in a city is so appealing in the first place.
Why fish in a city?
Wetting your line in a secluded mountain stream is always nice but let’s face it – who likes to drive for hours after a whole day of reeling? Fishing in a city lets you catch huge fish without missing out on any creature comforts.
You also get to stock up in the best bait and tackle shops, and there’s just that added feeling of safety in case something goes wrong. Last but not least, fishing in a city gives you a ton of activities to enjoy once you’re back ashore. If you’ve ever brought your catch to a restaurant for dinner, you know what we’re talking about.
Now, let’s get down to business. These are the best fishing cities in the US for 2021.
Fishing in the Capital may sound strange to some, but if you’re from The District, you know just how good it is to drop the line here. From huge Rockfish to feisty Bass, Washington, DC lends itself to some truly incredible angling.
Fishing the mighty Potomac River is an event in itself. But to do it right under some of the nation’s most iconic landmarks – now that’s something to write home about. Hop on a kayak from Fletcher’s Cove and enjoy the views – but be careful! Those sneaky Stripers have made a living out of fooling awe-struck anglers.
Another productive spot to check out is Anacostia Park. As abudant as it is, it rarely seems to attract too big of a crowd. If you’d like something even more secluded, though, check out our guide to some of the best fishing spots nearby.
2. Tampa, FL
You know what we’d like to find out? How many top 10 lists Tampa has been on. Seriously, this place seems to have it all. From wildlife to theme parks and museums, there’s no end to what you can see here.
What earned Tampa its place on our list, however, is the jaw-dropping fishing scene it has. Similar to what you can do around town, fishing in Tampa is nothing if not diverse.
A stone’s throw from downtown, Lake Thonotosassa and Edward Medard Conservation Park are two Bass fishing hotspots you don’t want to miss. If you’re into saltwater fishing, Tampa Bay has everything from Spanish Mackerel, to Snook and Redfish.
The star of the show, however, is Tarpon. Catching the Silver King is what anglers’ dreams are made of, and Tampa is one of the best places on earth to make those dreams come true.
Making its way back to our list from 2019, Corpus Christi is one of the most prolific fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. Nestled behind Mustang Island and Padre Island, the city sits on the calm waters of Corpus Christi Bay. If that needs translating, that means you’ll have Texan staples like Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder right on your doorstep.
If you’re up for a challenge, a quick trip through Aransas Pass will put you right in the Gulf. Here, you can go head to head with the likes of Red Snapper, Tuna, and Billfish, too!
Back on shore, things are equally action-packed. Take a tour of the awe-inspiring USS Lexington aircraft carrier and the nearby Texas State Aquarium. If you’d like to avoid the crowds, take a stroll and enjoy the sea breeze at the Mustang Island State Park.
4. St. Louis, MO
Shifting gears and moving inland, the next city on our list is a fishery often overlooked by traveling anglers. Wrongly so. St. Louis isn’t just a place of impeccable charm, it happens to be an awesome place to fish, too.
Boasting as many as 17 lakes in its vicinity, St. Louis is a staging point for some heart-pounding Trout fishing. Choose an outing on the mighty Mississippi River, and you’ll have some seriously big Catfish to contend with. If you’re looking for something otherworldly to catch, however, book a charter and try your luck against a giant Paddlefish!
When you’re done reeling, it’s time to unwind and enjoy the views at Forest Park. The sprawling 1300-acre reserve is one of the largest urban parks in the world, and it’s full of opportunities for fun and recreation.
5. Duluth, MN
Home to the largest port on the Great Lakes, the city of Duluth is one of the major tourist hubs of the Midwest. You’ve probably seen its landmark Aerial Bridge, or heard of its rich history and expansive recreation areas. What we’re here to talk about is its world-class fishing.
As the largest and cleanest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior definitely lives up to its name. Its southeastern end is fed by the St. Louis River, making Duluth a prime destination for catching the likes of Salmon and Trout.
If you’re bringing your kids along, there’s plenty of Walleye for them to catch. And if you’re looking for something a little more brawny, the local Muskies will be happy to oblige.
6. Honolulu, HI
Most people will agree that a visit to Hawaii is a life-changing experience. This is a land made for postcards, a place you dream about when you want to escape from it all. From surfing to zip-lining, to whale-watching, this place has “adventure” written all over it. Most importantly though, fishing in Hawaii is fantastic.
The best place to start an angling expedition is Honolulu. The city has a host of fishing guides to choose from, and provides easy access to the southern shore of Oahu. Hop on a charter and get your taste of some of the best fishing the Pacific has to offer.
From bucket-listers like Marlin and Spearfish, to tasty critters like Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna, everything is in the cards in these waters.
7. Savannah, GA
It’s hard to find a fishing town as steeped in history as Savannah. With its unmistakable cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture, and rich cultural heritage, Savannah is nothing short of an open-air time machine.
But Savannah’s history makes only half of its appeal – the other half lies in the city’s waters. Equally blessed with inshore and offshore fishing, local anglers are the very definition of “lucky.”
Get your feet wet fishing for Black Seabass, Bull Reds, Flounder, and Sheepshead. Want to test your skills a little more? Hit the reefs for Kingfish, Barracuda, and Amberjack.
If you want something to tell your grandkids about, go on an all-out 12 hour outing into the Gulf Stream. Hold on to your hat though, because this is giants’ territory. From huge Wahoo to unforgiving Tuna and Sailfish, this is what big game fishing is all about.
8. Colorado Springs, CO
We won’t lie – we really think Colorado Springs is a special place for anglers. The sprawling city was on our list last year, and frankly, we see no reason to change our minds. Colorado Springs lies at 6,000 feet above sea level, and is in point-blank range of some of America’s most beautiful natural wonders.
If you like fishing off the beaten track, the nearby Pike National Forest is the place to be. With countless Trout-filled streams, fly fishers really have it good here. And if that’s not your thing, there are plenty of lakes with Bass, Musky, and Walleye to keep you busy.
For those of us who can’t get enough of nature, a visit to the magical Garden of the Gods is…well, a godsend. Back in town, you can indulge in one of the local spas or take a history tour in the local Ghost Town Museum.
9. Mobile, AL
The Gulf of Mexico has no shortage of fishing towns, everyone knows that. But what happens when you throw French, Spanish, and Creole culture with a year-round Mardi Gras atmosphere in the mix? You get Mobile, Alabama, a fishing city that’s as unique as it gets.
Anglers have a lot to choose from in Mobile. Its bays and rivers are filled with tasty critters like Redfish, Flounder, and Tripletail. If you want to catch a local favorite, go for Speckled Trout – it’s biting throughout the year.
And if you’re really looking to bend your rod, head out to the Gulf to battle Snapper, Jacks, and Tuna. Pro tip: make a pit stop at Fort Morgan and have your catch cooked at the local restaurant (make sure to check hours ahead of time).
10. Sacramento, CA
When you think of fishing cities in The Golden State, it’s usually San Francisco that comes to mind. And while San Fran certainly deserves the hype, we’re here to tell you that there’s another city nearby that’s just as good. That’s right, we’re talking about Sacramento, a bonafide freshwater fishing Mecca.
What makes Sacramento so good for fishing? Simply put, it’s got three spectacular fisheries almost within walking distance.
The first two are the American and Sacramento rivers. These two are notorious for hiding copious numbers of Steelhead, Chinooks, Stripers, and Sturgeon. By all accounts, they’re not very successful at doing so.
The third hotspot, Folsom Lake, is no slouch either. Bass anglers have good numbers of Largemouths and Smallmouths to catch, while kids can have fun battling Crappie, Sunfish, and Perch.
Folsom Lake isn’t just about fishing, mind you. There are scenic hiking trails along the coastline, as well as picnic areas and a couple of campgrounds if you’d like to spend the night.
11. Burlington, VT
If you’re the type of angler who likes a diverse catch, you’re going to love fishing in Burlington. It all starts with Lake Champlain, a bucket-list destination for countless anglers in the Northeast.
Right there on the lake shore, you can cast your line from the scenic Oakledge Park. The park may seem serene, but that’s only until the fishing starts. With Largemouths, Smallmouths, and Landlocked Salmon all fighting for your bait, this place is as action-packed as it gets.
Fly fishing purists have a lot to look forward to as well. The entire Chittenden County is basically criss-crossed with creeks and little rivers, so you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect casting spot.
Back in town, Burlington offers a unique blend of old and new. Its century-old avenues connect unique arts and crafts shops with ancient-looking churches and synagogues. At the same time, these same streets are part of what’s America’s first city to run completely on sustainable energy.
12. Seattle, WA
For almost a decade, Seattle has been America’s fastest-growing city. We’re pretty sure that there will be a study that explains why this is, but we’re willing to go out on a limb and say that it’s all down to the spectacular fishing it offers. Alright, perhaps they didn’t all move to Seattle to catch fish, but hey – that leaves more fish for you!
The Emerald City sits cuddled in the middle of Puget Sound, and that makes it ideal for an angling adventure. With over 1500 miles of shoreline and countless bays and tributaries, the Sound offers a long list of species to go for.
Fly fishers are particularly spoiled around here. Chinook Salmon and Cutthroat Trout are highlights of the show, but there are plenty more catches to explore. If you’re after something a little different, we’ll just mention Skate, Sablefish, and Flounder and leave it to you to discover the rest.
A few lines of text could never describe just how magical the Sound really is. But not to worry, all you need to do is step into the Space Needle, and let the enchantment sink in.
Rods at the Ready
It goes without saying that in 2021, we’re all hoping to fish a lot more than we did this year. Until then, find a guide in your local area and keep our list of go-to fishing cities ready for when things pick up. The fish are probably wondering where we are!
So there you have it. Those were our picks for the best fishing cities in the U.S., but what are yours? What’s your first angling destination for 2021? Let us know in the comments below!