The 12 Best US Fishing Cities for 2023

Dec 1, 2023 | 11 minute read Comments
Reading Time: 11 minutes

With 2022 steadily drawing to a close, it’s once again time to dream about the adventures the upcoming year will bring. It may be winter, but in many places, the next fishing season is almost underway. With it, it brings new promise of exciting fish to reel in. 

A photo of sailboats in the water off the coast of Boston, with the city's buildings visible in the background.

As is, by now, a yearly tradition, we’ll present you with our choice of the twelve best US fishing cities for 2023. On the list, you’ll find all kinds of destinations, ranging from inshore fishing havens to world-class deep sea starting spots, and everything in-between. 

So if you’re searching for some inspiration for your next angling getaway, you’ll hopefully find it among the places we’ve picked. You can also check out our selections for 2021 and 2022. But for our latest lineup of cities to visit, scroll down!

San Diego, CA

“America’s Finest City” is a repeat entry from our previous year’s article. However, considering just how amazing fishing in San Diego is, the choice to include it for the second year in a row was easy to make. 

An aerial shot of San Diego, one of the best fishing cities in the US, and its coasts, with boats riding through the water.

San Diego’s angling magic begins in its bay. You can fish it from one of the city’s piers or aboard a boat. Either way, you’ll get a shot at reeling in Calico and Sand Bass, California Halibut, and Shortfin Corvina, to name a few. 

This being said, there’s even more amazing fish in store for you in SoCal’s offshore waters. With access to Catalina, San Clemente, as well as Coronado Islands, you’ll get the opportunity to navigate some of the best deep sea fishing grounds on the planet. Make your trip anytime between spring and fall and you’ll get to catch Yellowtail, Sheephead, White Seabass, Yellowfin and Bluefin Tuna, and so much more.

But let’s not forget all the other activities San Diego has to offer. Choose between relaxing on the city’s pristine beaches or walking the scenic Balboa Park. Head to one of the largest zoos in America or the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum. Discover these, and many other attractions, in beautiful San Diego.

Galveston, TX

Situated on a barrier island overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston serves as the beating heart of the Texas saltwater fishing scene. Whether you’re new to its waters or a seasoned angler looking for fresh experiences, it’s a destination you can never go wrong visiting.

A view of the city of Galveston and the beaches along the Gulf Coast.

The fishing grounds surrounding Galveston are a year-round treasure trove of fish. Like with all truly world-class destinations, there’s great fishing both close to shore and in the deep seas. Start inshore and you’ll get to explore Galveston Bay and its famous jetties that house Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, and Black Drum, among others. 

Alternatively, hit the distant offshore oil rigs to catch Tuna, Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, King Mackerel, and a range of other gamefish. Visit during summer, and you’ll even get the opportunity to reel in your share of delicious Red Snapper! They, along with numerous other food fish, will be hiding along Galveston’s reefs and wrecks.

While you’re in Galveston, make sure you visit one of its many historical attractions. Take a tour of the city’s Victorian mansions, explore one of its museums, or head to the Moody Gardens aquarium. At the end of the day, catch a breathtaking sunset at the Pleasure Pier.

Panama City Beach, FL

For our following entry, we’re once again on the Gulf Coast, to pay homage to the sunny Panama City Beach. It’s home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast, as well as some of its hottest fishing.

A photo of one of the beaches near Panama City Beach in Florida, with clear waters and buildings visible in the background.

To get a taste of just how good the fishing is in this part of Florida, you don’t have to venture too far. There’s excellent fishing both in the bays and along the coast of Panama City Beach. Some of the species you’ll see in these waters include Redfish, Flounder, Sheepshead, Black Drum, and Spanish Mackerel.

Of course, the action only gets better the further from shore you go. Bottom fish the reefs for Snapper, Grouper, Triggerfish, and Amberjack, or troll for pelagics such as Mahi Mahi and King Mackerel. Go far enough and you’ll even get to hook into the likes of Blue Marlin, Tuna, and Wahoo, giving you the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime battle.

When you’ve fished your heart out, it’ll be time to enjoy the rest of PCB. Catch some rays on the beach and relish in the clear, azure waters of St. Andrews State Park. Or, head across to Shell Island for a glimpse of the local wildlife and majestic scenery. Wherever you turn, it’ll be a feast for your eyes.

Miami, FL

Next, we’ll stay in Florida but move southeast to name another best fishing city on our list – “the 305.” For anglers visiting the state with dreams of catching some pelagics, it’s Miami that you want as your starting spot.

An aerial view of one of the finest fishing cities in the US, Miami, with intensely blue waters in the forefront and buildings in the background.

The reason why Miami, along with the rest of Florida’s east coast, is lauded for its big game fishing is the city’s relative proximity to the Gulf Stream. Out here, you don’t need to spend hours riding to the deep sea fishing grounds. As soon as you’re about 10 miles offshore, you’ll get the opportunity to battle Sailfish, Wahoo, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna. A bit further out, around the 18-mile mark, the seafloor turns into a series of valleys that get as deep as 2,000 feet. What can you catch there, you wonder? Swordfish!

As the city of neverending parties, stunning beaches, and year-round warm weather, Miami has plenty of attractions besides fishing. However, if you’re itching for something really unique, some charter captains offer trips to Bimini in the Bahamas. Its white sand beaches, see-through waters, and epic angling are only 50 miles away from Miami.

Charleston, SC

Whoever it was that decided Charleston is going to be where it’s positioned today must’ve been an angler. The city sits at the confluence of three different rivers. It’s surrounded by tidal creeks and salt marshes, all eventually leading to the Atlantic Ocean. If there ever was a city that’s tailor-made for fishing, we’d say Charleston comes pretty close.

A sunset shot of a lit up bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, with the city skyline in the background.

Charleston is part of what’s known as the South Carolina Lowcountry. This region’s waters are famous for the abundance of Red Drum, Speckled Trout, Flounder, and other inshore superstars. And with the Gulf Stream flowing 50 miles offshore, the deep sea action is no less impressive. In summer, it’s where you’ll catch Billfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Yellowfin Tuna, while Bluefins will make their appearance in winter.

The city also features a charming French Quarter and streets paved with cobblestone. There’s also the Charleston Museum filled with various Civil War-era artifacts, as well as a dinosaur skeleton. For fans of architecture, there’s the Gothic-style Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, dating from 1821. All in all, Charleston is a charming city with off-the-charts fishing.

Boston, MA

As the setting for some of the most important events in the American past, Boston is an iconic destination. It’s a city with history and culture at every corner. And with its famous harbor and access to the Atlantic, you’ll quickly discover Boston also boasts tremendous fishing.

An aerial photo of the city of Boston and numerous boats positioned close to its shores.

In the city, urban anglers can explore spots along the Charles River, Castle Island, or even Jamaica Pond, which has Trout. But if you hop on one of the charter boats, your target list will only expand even more. The Boston Harbor features a healthy mix of Flounder, Cod, Striped Bass, and Bluefish. The waters off the city’s coasts also hold Haddock and Pollock, while going offshore during summer will put you up against Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna, and Atlantic Mackerel. Quite the lineup, right?

When you’re done fishing, it’ll be time to hit the city. Get ready to do so on foot, since Boston is one of the nation’s most walkable cities! Visit the Boston Tea Party Museum for a revolutionary experience or walk the Freedom Trail. Stop by the Quincy Market for some shopping or a bite, and take in the eclectic culture Boston is known for.

Rochester, NY

Let’s take a break from saltwater fishing and journey to the shores of Lake Ontario and the city of Rochester. Thanks to its unique position, the city offers an incredible variety of angling options. Besides the previously mentioned Great Lake, you’ll have your pick between fishing the Genesee River, the Irondequoit Bay, or the scenic Finger Lakes.

A skyline view of Rochester, New York and the Genesee River.

In Rochester, you don’t even have to leave the city to get your hands on some Salmon and Trout. The Genesee River, and its Lower Falls, are home to both of these fish, with the action getting especially great in the fall. Naturally, you’ll also find Salmon and Trout in Lake Ontario, where you can reel them in during late spring and summer.

If you’re in the mood for some Yellow Perch, Irondequoit Bay is an excellent place to catch them. While the action is best in spring, you can fish its waters year-round, as the bay turns into an ice fishing spot during winter. Lastly, you’ll find the Finger Lakes just south of Rochester. These feature some of the best Bass fishing in New York State, with Walleye, Perch, and even Muskie also prowling about.

While you’re in Rochester, take a moment to enjoy its year-round butterfly garden. There are also several museums scattered throughout the city, including the Strong National Museum of Play. And if you’re visiting during the warmer months, you can spend some time in the Seabreeze Amusement Park overlooking Lake Ontario.

Muskegon, MI

Moving west, we reach another one of our Great Lakes picks for 2023. Muskegon is situated on the coast of Lake Michigan as well as the lake and the river which share the city’s name. Muskegon River flows into Muskegon Lake, eventually emptying into Lake Michigan. But what’s important is that all three bodies of water will provide you with plenty of fish to chase after.

An aerial view of Muskegon, one of the best fishing cities on the US side of Lake Michigan.

On Muskegon River, Steelhead will bite throughout winter, though they begin feeding more heavily in spring. As the waters warm up, the bulk of the action switches to Lake Michigan. There, you’ll get to reel in Chinook and Coho Salmon, as well as Lake Trout. And after the dog days of summer have passed, the fish will start making their way upriver once again.

With this in mind, there’s good angling in Muskegon Lake as well. There, you’ll get to catch Bass, Perch, Pike, Bluegill, Walleye, and more. This lake freezes over during winter, making it ideal for some ice fishing.

Other than fishing, Muskegon has beautiful lake beaches where you can get some hard-earned rest. There’s also the Musketawa Trail stretching from the eastern part of the city, west towards Grand Rapids. For nature lovers, Muskegon is the perfect destination to vacation in.

St. Louis, MO

Home to Budweiser beer, blues music, and the iconic Gateway Arch, St. Louis is a city with lots of charm. It’s also nestled in the very heartland of America, on the shores of the Mighty Mississippi. And it’s this famous river that makes St. Louis such a fantastic destination for the urban angler.

A scenic sunset shot of the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

The portion of the Mississippi River that flows through St. Louis is inhabited by numerous species of fish. Popular targets include monster Catfish, Bluegill, Bass, Gar, Walleye, and Sauger, to name a few. Just north of the city, you’ll get to fish the river’s Pool 26, which also offers diverse angling opportunities.

On the other hand, the lakes within the city are also well worth exploring. Some of them, such as Boathouse Lake and Jefferson Lake, are stocked with Trout. Others, such as Island Lake, Horseshoe Lake, or January-Wabash Park Lake feature great Largemouth Bass fishing. In most, you’ll also find Catfish lurking around.

As a metropolis, St. Louis has endless attractions for you to explore. From visiting the Gateway Arch National Park to checking out the city’s numerous historical sites, you’ll find no shortage of things to see and places to be. While you’re there, don’t miss out on the famous local barbecue, best paired with a cold beer. 

Colorado Springs, CO

Perched at an elevation of over 6,000 feet, Colorado Springs sits starkly in the middle of some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the United States. But although you could spend the entire vacation with your mouth slightly ajar, gazing at the natural marvels, you’d be doing it wrong if you didn’t spend some time fishing here.

An epic view of the mountain scenery in Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs.

From serene lakes such as Manitou or Rampart Reservoir to hidden creeks on the way to the Pine Peaks summit, the variety of places to fish is immense. And the main target? The most beautiful, vibrant Trout you can hope to encounter.

Besides Trout, some lakes are also full of Bass, Catfish, Bluegill, and Saugeye, Prospect Lake being one of them. Just make sure to set aside some time to explore and take in the stunning surroundings. There’ll be beauty wherever you look, but the Garden of the Gods in particular is a must-visit.

Portland, OR

As our journey takes us west, we reach the largest city in Oregon, Portland. It sits at the confluence of two of the best fishing rivers in the Pacific Northwest – the Willamette and the Columbia. For freshwater anglers, these waters hold some of the greatest prizes you can hope to find.

A photo of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, with the Fremont Bridge visible.

And by prizes, we mean Salmon. Both Chinook and Coho Salmon race through Portland’s rivers, gracing anglers with thrilling fights year after year. Chrome Steelhead can also be reeled in here, along with White Sturgeon, the freshwater dinosaur. Still not enough? Then you should know that there are also Walleye and Smallmouth Bass swimming about.

Portland is one of the greenest cities in the United States. Within the city, you’ll find all sorts of parks and hidden natural gems to explore. Some of the more popular ones are Forest Park and Washington Park. Also, if you head about 30 miles west of the city, you’ll get the opportunity to witness the phenomenal 600-foot-high Multnomah Falls in all their glory.

Juneau, AK

And so, we’ve come to the final entry on our 2023 list of best US fishing cities – Juneau! It’s the last but certainly not the least, as the city boasts some of the hottest bottom fishing on the planet. In fact, we’d go on to say it’s only matched by the kind of action you’d see in Alabama.

A breathtaking aerial view of Juneau, Alaska and its coastal waters.

Out here, though, it’s the huge, “barndoor” Halibut that are the most sought-after catch, followed by Rockfish and Lingcod that you’ll find in abundance. Besides bottom fishing, you’ll also get to slow-troll for Chinook, Coho, Pink, and Chum Salmon along the city’s craggy coastline. With such a lineup, these waters embody the best of what Alaska’s fishery has to offer.

Juneau is surrounded by extremely rugged terrain, making it reachable only by boat or plane. For you as a visitor, this means that you’ll be surrounded by spectacular nature wherever you look. Take a tour of the breathtaking Mendenhall Glacier and walk the wilderness trails. Or, combine your fishing trip with some whale watching. Whatever you choose, you’ll be in for an experience of a lifetime.

Set Course For New Adventures!

A sunset photo of the Portland skyline, taken from the shores of the Willamette River.

And there you have it! From coast to coast, river to ocean, we’ve searched the land to find 2023’s best fishing cities in the US. Now, we know that there are many other fantastic places to fish. We just hope our picks will serve to inspire you to get out there, whether you’re a freshwater angler or a deep sea fanatic. After all, them fish aren’t going to reel in themselves!

So how do you like our choice of the best fishing cities in the US? Would you like to add any places to the list? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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From a young age, Marko has been a nature buff. His first contact with fishing came through his dad who’d take him to the Danube River. It’s where Marko got his basic angling education, landed his first catch (an Ide), and learned how to cook a mean fish stew. Marko also enjoys hiking, running, traveling, and writing about it all.

Comments (4)


Nov 20, 2023

I grew up in Portland and was taught Salem is the capitol …..

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    Nov 21, 2023

    Hi Ray,

    You’re absolutely correct! It’s fixed now, thanks for pointing it out.

    Tight lines,


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Jul 6, 2023

Not sure who picked these.. 4 to 5 might be accurate.

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    Jul 7, 2023

    Hello Dan,

    The spots were picked based on their fishing potential, and while not all of them are super famous, they do have a lot to offer to all levels of anglers, and we always try to put the spotlight on fisheries that are unique and fun to explore.

    All the best!

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