The 12 Best US Fishing Cities for 2022

Dec 1, 2023 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

The holiday season may be over, but that just means it’s time to look forward. A new year means new beginnings, and the fishing season is just around the corner. In fact, it’s already underway in some parts of the country. 

Chairs and a stage set out for a wedding on the sand with a fishing pier and the San Diego skyline behind

Are you looking for a city break where you can wet your line this year? As with every year, we’ve put together a list of the best US fishing cities you can visit in 2022.

From inner-city lakes and rivers, to oceanside marinas offering offshore adventure, all the way to great locales that offer access to remote angling spots… This list has it all. In fact, we’ve made a special effort to cover spots we sometimes forget to mention. Check out our 2020 and 2021 guides, as well as our latest picks for inspiration, too. But here are the places we suggest you visit in 2022!

1. San Diego, CA

The first offshore fishing hub on our list is in the Golden State. San Diego has been an angler’s paradise for many years, owing to its quick access to SoCal’s rich waters and proximity to the remote islands of Catalina and San Clemente.

A view of the San Diego skjyline across the water with a boat sailing in the left of the picture

Along with downtown fishing piers, charters here offer trips ranging from a few hours in the bay to overnight excursions way out on the open ocean. That means there’s something for everyone when they visit. Target local delicacies such as Calico Bass and California Halibut, or test your skills against Bonefish inshore. The further out you go, the more it becomes about the Yellowtail, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and even Marlin. 

Despite its fishing being top drawer, San Diego didn’t earn the nickname “America’s Finest City” because of just that. There’s plenty of exciting attractions and things to do downtown and on the beaches. Hit the numerous amusement parks along with the Historic Park, and kick back with a craft beer. After all, it’s also the nation’s craft beer capital. 

2. Key West, FL

Key West is possibly the most-visited fishing city in the world, and for good reason too. It was here that Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his best work, and surely got his inspiration for “The Old Man and the Sea.”

An aerial view of Key West with a cruise ship docked in the arbor at the bottom of the picture

It’s no wonder he loved this city so much, when incredible Billfishing grounds are just minutes away. Hit the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Stream, or the Atlantic, and you could be battling some of the most sought-after fish in the world. But that’s not all. There’s also a star-studded supporting cast of Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit on the flats. On the reefs, there’s Snapper and Grouper. And the further out you go, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and many more await. 

Along with seeing Hemingway’s house – and that of his close friend Tennessee Williams – there are plenty of things to do in Key West too. The Old Town is oozing with history, and the Little White House offers a glimpse into 20th century America. Then there are the beaches, bars, and restaurants. Kick back and live a little – that’s what Key West is really all about. 

3. Milwaukee, WI

Ice fishing season is already in full swing on the Great Lakes, and Lake Michigan is no exception. A great starting point to discover the second-largest of these five fisheries is the bustling city of Milwaukee. Right on the water, it offers quick access to the deep waters of the lake, and even sits on its namesake river.

A view of Milwaukee's skyline with a marina in the foreground

This means that, whenever you come, there’s always the chance of a fishing adventure. And, boy, is it worth it. Coho (a.k.a. Silver) and Chinook (a.k.a. King) Salmon are prime targets in the lake, along with oversized Trout. Brown and Lake varieties are popular catches, with Steelhead crowning off the Trout trio.

And, after a productive day on the water (or ice), you could find yourself enjoying a brew in arguably the home of American beer. Grab a Miller in any local bar or discover the range of craft options available, and you won’t go wrong. Looking for something more cultural? Visit the Art Museum, Discovery World, or take in a concert at the Symphonic Center – Milwaukee has it all!

4. Wilmington, NC

Now, we’re going out East to North Carolina. 2014’s “best riverfront” in the country earns 4th place on our list of the best 2022 fishing spots in the US. Wilmington, NC, has more than just access to the Cape Fear River. It’s a great starting point to explore inshore and offshore fisheries as you head out towards the Atlantic. 

A view of the bridge in Wilmington, NC, with the famous riverwalk in the left of the picture

These diverse fisheries naturally lend themselves to a diverse range of fish. From Striped and Largemouth Bass upstream to Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, and Flounder nearshore, you can’t go wrong. And then come the big game species. Hop on a charter offshore and you could get your hands on prized creatures such as Kingfish, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and even Marlin

And when you’re not fishing? Well, it’s time to explore that stunning riverfront – and more! Chill out looking to the water, but don’t forget to make time for Wilmington’s old district. Across 300 blocks and almost 900 buildings – many dating from colonial times – you can learn all about the history of this city and, indeed, the nation! And then there’s time to kick back on one of the beaches. 

5. Detroit, MI

The Great Lakes are vast and prolific, so let’s head to another spot that celebrates their fishing potential. This just also happens to be the automotive center of the country. Another city located on a river bearing the same name, Detroit offers access to Lake Erie and the lesser-known, but nonetheless well-stocked, Lake St. Clair. 

A view of the bridge in Detroit with the city's skyline behind

In these productive waters, you can try your luck come snow, rain, or shine, as there’s always something biting, and a guide to take you out. Joining Coho and Chinook are Atlantic Salmon in Lake Erie, while a range of Bass, Perch, Pike, and Walleye are available, too. Hit the river, and there’s even the chance of a prized Musky!

Known as the home of Motown and a center of hip-hop action, Detroit isn’t short of a few musical landmarks either. Dance the night away at one of downtown’s legendary bars or clubs. Staying a few more days? Head to the cultural center and discover Detroit’s rich history. Don’t forget to visit the Henry Ford to learn all about what first made this city great.

6. Mobile, AL

Let’s head south across the country now and encounter another excellent saltwater destination that made our list. Almost 1,000 miles from the Great Lakes, Mobile, Alabama offers access to the Gulf of Mexico, meaning it’s a saltwater angler’s haven. But it actually has more than just that!

An aerial view of Mobile, Alabama, with the river behind downtown

Sitting on Mobile Bay, this cultural hub of the south is actually surrounded by fresh, brackish, and saltwater. Spend the morning targeting Bass and Catfish in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, then hit the bay in the afternoon for an inshore slam of Redfish, Flounder, and Speckled Trout. The next day, you can head out onto the Gulf, where Groupers, Snappers, Amberjack, Tripletail, Cobia, Kingfish, and more await. 

We mentioned the city is a cultural hub, but even that would be an understatement. The city takes Carnival seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the action warms up in November and lasts through February! Marvel as the parade makes its way past stunning, historical buildings either side, or pay a visit to exciting exhibitions, such as the Battleship Memorial Park

7. Orlando, FL

While Alabama may border Florida, you’ll need to drive some seven hours to reach our next destination. You may be wondering, why not stop at the legendary Florida Panhandle en-route? And you’d be right to pose that question. But Orlando, FL, is a great city with even better fishing potential.

A view of the Orlando skyline across the water at night with a sifgn saying "Welcome to Downtown Orlando" in the left

Located to the north of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Orlando boasts thousands of ponds in its own right, not to mention quick access to rich bodies of water such as Lakes Apopka, Jesup, and more. And you’re just a short hop from the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. When you base yourself here, everything from Peacock Bass and Sunfish to Permit, Snook, Tarpon, and Cobia are available!

And who could forget the entertainment? After all, Orlando is known as the “Theme Park Capital of the World.” Experience more thrills at Universal Studios, Disney World, Legoland, or SeaWorld. Doesn’t sound like your thing? Why not hit up one of the numerous golf courses and kick back with 18 holes? There’s truly something for everyone. 

8. Spokane, WA

East Washington is home to a hidden gem that has a lot to offer to avid freshwater anglers. Spokane is the fishing hub of the area, and for all the right reasons. Whether you come here to explore the Spokane River or one of the nearby lakes, you’re in for a great time on the water. Come in the summer, and you’ll experience some of the best action in the area.

A view from the water of Spokane, Washington

The name of the game in Spokane is diversity – in watersheds, species, and fishing techniques. The Spokane River flows through the city, providing easy fishing access to anyone who doesn’t feel like venturing out of the city proper. Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout are in the cards. Needless to say, fly fishing in the area is excellent, but bear in mind that this is a strictly catch and release fishery.

Head northwest from Spokane, and before too long, you’ll be casting a line at Long Lake. This reservoir boasts solid numbers of Crappie, Bass, Walleye, and Perch, and you can target them from a boat and from shore. Other productive bodies of water like Eloika Lake, Hog Canyon Lake, and Amber Lake are at your disposal too.

When you go to Spokane, you’ll want to lose yourself in its beautiful nature and stunning vistas. After you’ve had your fill of fishing, spend some time in one of many local parks, go for a hike at Mount Spokane State Park, or enjoy a night on the town. You’ll be glad you did!

9. Anchorage, AK

If you’re looking for world-beating Salmon and Halibut, however, there’s only one place in the US that can top the Pacific Northwest. Alaska! Anchorage, AK, is your gateway to some of the world’s best fishing grounds, as you escape to the wilderness and focus on going after a battle you won’t forget. 

A view of Anchorage from across the water with snow-capped mountains behind downtown

In the city itself, you can hit local creeks and lakes for Salmon and Trout, with Pike, Grayling, and Char on offer almost all year round. If you’re looking for that record-breaker, though, it’s better to head off to prime spots such as the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island, or other remote spots. Here you’ll find oversized Halibut, five kinds of Salmon, and many more. 

Unlike some of the remote lodges and fly-in spots, Anchorage offers a budget-friendly adventure for those of you wanting to discover Alaska. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, it’s the picture-perfect setting for a memorable getaway. It’s all about wildlife here, with fjords, nature reserves, and state parks and trails all on your doorstep. 

10. Austin, TX

We spoke about record-breaking fish in Alaska, but they do say everything is bigger in Texas. And that’s our next stop on our tour of the best fishing cities in the US, as we head to the state capital Austin. Much like Anchorage, it’s the gateway to some rural hotspots, this time in the form of the Texas Hill Country. But it also boasts plenty of inner-city fishing too. 

An aerial view of Austin, Texas, looking across the river and bridges to downtown

Hit the numerous lakes dotted around the city or the Colorado River, and you could get your hands on family favorites such as Bluegill, Crappie, and more. Some bodies of water hold Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, too with Catfish, Striped Bass, and even Alligator Gar on offer. When you venture out of the city, it’s all about Trout fishing. Cast a line on the fly in the famous Hill Country and you’re sure to experience a trip you’ll never forget. 

Peak seasons take place in spring and fall, but summer is also a great time to enjoy the city basking in all its glory. Just bear in mind that Lake Austin will be overcrowded. Indulge in the famous Tex-Mex cuisine or craft beer, as you discover Old Austin’s hipster vibe after a day on the water. There’s plenty to do, with live music, shows, and museums in abundance. 

11. Annapolis, MD

We’re heading to the East Coast for number 10, and where better than the fishing oasis that is the Chesapeake Bay? Located where the Severn River meets the bay, the capital of Maryland is the perfect habitat for some world-class fish, with saltwater and freshwater angling on offer.

A view of Annapolis from across the harbor with the capital building peaking out above the trees

The star of the show, as throughout the Chesapeake, is Striped Bass. Known locally as Rockfish, these creatures are abundant here year-round, although the seasons vary as to when you can target them. Alongside Stripers, there are Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Black Seabass, Fluke, Tautog, Bluefish, and much more, so you’re always in for a treat.

As with most state capitals, Annapolis is full of history and culture, and boasts a thriving arts scene too. Take in a play at one of the city’s famed theaters or explore some seafaring history at the Maritime or Naval Acadamy Museums. This is the sailing capital of the US, so come learn exactly why! 

12. Kailua-Kona, HI

We’ll leave the mainland behind as we wrap up our list of best US fishing cities for 2022, and you may accuse us of cheating with this last one. Technically, Kailua-Kona is not a city. But, then again, metropolises are few and far between on tropical islands. Kailua is the second largest town on Hawaii’s largest island – the island of Hawaii.

An aerial view of Kailua-Kona with the blue seas in the foreground and right and climbing land towards the mountain on the left

It’s a big-game hunter’s paradise, averaging not one, but two “grander” Marlins per year! Add that to the hundreds of catches weighing up to 1,000 pounds, and you know you’re in for a thrill. Alongside Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, there’s Spearfish and Swordfish in the Billfish family, with Tunas, Mahi Mahi, and Trevally to your heart’s content!

We know you’re unlikely to head all the way to Hawaii for a city break, so we expect you’ll combine your fishing trip with a relaxing getaway. Swim with dolphins, go snorkeling, or just sit back on the golden beaches – everything is possible. Just make sure to explore the archaeological ruins and try the local coffee that make this island truly famous. 

Who knew city fishing could be so fun?

An angler fishes the lake against the backdrop of Milwaukee on a foggy morning

As you can see, there’s a whole load of fishing that cities across the country can offer. Depending on what you feel like trying, there’s definitely something for you. Whether you’re a lone angler looking for a getaway, or fancy taking the whole family on an angling adventure – city breaks can tick all the boxes. If you’re looking for even more options, feel free to check out our top picks from previous years. What are you waiting for? Book up for the rest of the year!

What are your favorite US fishing cities? Have anything to add to the above list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Growing up next to a river, Rhys was always on the water. From Carp fishing in his native Wales to trying his hand at offshore fishing when traveling abroad, Rhys has vastly expanded his horizons when it comes to casting a line and continues to test new waters whenever he has the opportunity.

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