Top Veterans Day Fishing Destinations 2023

Nov 3, 2023 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

With Veterans Day upon us, it’s high time we all found a way to spend some quality time with our families and friends. If you ask us, there isn’t a better activity than fishing to gather your loved ones in the same place and honor this day. And since you’re reading this, something tells us we think alike. So we’ll share the top Veterans Day fishing destinations you may consider for the upcoming holiday.

A photo of three anglers squatting on a charter fishing boat dressed up in patriotic colors honoring Veterans Day by fishing for Speckled Trout and Redfish inshore
Photo taken by Reel Good Style

We carefully handpicked 11 locations for everyone’s taste. We’ve included spots both for people who want to spend the day with a large group and those who prefer some peace and quiet. There are both saltwater and freshwater options, as well as inshore and offshore hotspots. Without further ado, take a look at where you should go this Veterans Day!

Port Aransas, TX

It’s only suitable to open our list of Veterans Day fishing destinations with one of the best saltwater locations in Texas – Port Aransas. Apart from ocean-kissed beaches and breathtaking sunsets, Port Aransas is famous for its recreational opportunities, angling being the most rewarding one.

A photo of a fly fishing angler squatting on a charter boat and posing with a fly fishing rod and a Bull Redfish in both hands with the greenery and shoreline in the background
Photo taken by Captain Jeff’s Fly Fishing

With direct access to the Gulf of Mexico and Corpus Christi Bay, Port Aransas boasts inshore, nearshore, and offshore game fish. Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder rule the shallows. The “big three” promise an authentic Texas Inshore Slam experience. Move further out and you’ll get Snapper, Grouper, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Marlin

If you decide to spend the whole weekend in Port Aransas, we recommend exploring the area. The town is deeply rooted in history and their museum is worth the visit. And since history and Veterans Day go hand in hand, you must also stop by the USS Lexington Museum in Corpus Christi on your way back. The museum features the largest scale model collection in the state, a flight simulator, escape rooms, guided tours, and various exhibits for the entire family.

Panama City Beach, FL

For our next Veterans Day fishing destination, we picked Panama City Beach. This beauty is situated on the very coast of Florida facing the Gulf of Mexico. Panama City Beach is synonymous with tight lines and screaming reels. Thus, it gets an honorable place in this year’s line-up. But what sets it apart from neighboring cities?

A photo of a happy kid standing on a dock and posing in front of charter boats in the background with a Blackfin Tuna in both of his hands caught around Veterans Day
Photo taken by Old Town Charters

Panama City Beach is the holder of several titles including Seafood Capital of the World and Wreck Capital of the South. It’s also been voted one of America’s Top Beach Destinations. And we’ll add another title – the Ultimate Veterans Day Fishing Getaway! Be it Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Flounder, Cobia, Snappers, Groupers, King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, or Blackfin Tuna – Panama City Beach has them all!

And after you’ve fished your heart out, go to St. Andrews State Park to soak up the sun and confirm why beaches are ranked among the best in the country. Additionally, don’t miss out on the spectacular Emerald Coast Cruizin‘ festival that falls on Veterans Day! Iconic vehicles, live bands, parades, and valuable prizes await all visitors.

Charleston, SC

Before we move inland, we have one more coastal jewel for you. But this time we dug out an Atlantic Ocean treasure. Charleston is the right place for going back to our roots, and Veterans Day is the perfect time for it. This South Carolina royal is home to more “firsts” than we can count, which, along with superb angling, cemented its place on this year’s Veterans Day fishing destinations list.

A group of happy clients standing on  a charter fishing boat and posing by looking directly to the camera while holding a Redfish caught during their inshore fishing trip in Charleston
Photo taken by Heritage Fishing Charters

Prepare for a fully packed weekend because, if you’re not checking out the Charleston Museum and learning about all the firsts, then you’ll most likely be supporting events organized in honor of our military veterans. Each year the area hosts numerous Veterans Day ceremonies to pay tribute to those who served the country.

And as if you don’t already have a tight schedule, there’s one more Charleston activity you should book. Fishing, of course! You can go pier fishing, deep sea angling, or surf casting, and a brag-worthy catch will grace the end of your line. Redfish, Black Seabass, King Mackerel, and Mahi Mahi are all on the menu in Charleston come November.

Lake Norman, NC

For your first freshwater Veterans Day fishing destination, we suggest the “Inland Sea” of SC’s neighboring state – Lake Norman. The largest man-made lake in North Carolina spans four counties and covers more than 30,000 acres. We can testify to its angling and outdoor opportunities, and the numbers speak for themselves.

A photo of five kids wearing life vests and posing on a dock with two Bass catches each after a fishing trip on Lake Norman during a cold fall day
Photo taken by Set n Hooks Guide Service

Needless to say, Lake Norman is fish-filled. It’s particularly stocked with Bass and fall is the prime time to go after them. Besides these celebrities, you may catch Crappie, Perch, and Catfish, too. And if you need a helping hand finding the hot bite, you’ll find a top-notch charter offer everywhere from Mooresville to Sherrills Ford.

In fact, Mooresville is a great place for your Veterans Day vacation. The town is famous for its multi-day celebration of the holiday and this year is no exception. The Mooresville Veterans Celebration will begin on November 6 and it’ll last almost two full weeks! So, if you were thinking about extending your vacation, here’s a subtle nudge to do it.

South Holston Lake and River, TN

If you crave a more peaceful place, how about a remote fishery in Tennessee? Situated on the very border with Virginia and surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest, South Holston Lake is an elevated oasis tailor-made for an unplugged Veterans Day getaway. With the nearby South Fork of the Holston River, the region is a match made in heaven for fishing and relaxing.

A photo of an angler fly casting on the South Fork Holston River in Tennessee on a bright and sunny day, and holding his rod with both hands, wearing a backpack with tackle and lures on his shoulder

Should you decide to explore South Holston Lake, it’ll bless you with a healthy Crappie population. Crappie fishing is great in November, especially around Jacobs Creek. If you opt for the South Fork of the Holston River, you’ll be in for a treat in the form of Trout. The river is nationally recognized as a top Trout fishery, so if you love fly fishing, this is your paradise.

And no we aren’t exaggerating. We’re probably selling it short. The South Fork of the Holston River offers more than 18 miles of fishable waters that are brimming with Trout. Add stunning nature and breathtaking forests to the mix, and you’ll immediately realize why both the river and lake are on this list. No other location will be as gratifying as this one.

Smith Mountain Lake, VA

Since we mentioned Virginia, we can’t move on with the list without stopping by the gorgeous Smith Mountain Lake. This tucked-away reservoir is a refreshingly different Veterans Day destination. If South Holston Lake sparked your interest in fishing in a more tranquil environment, then Smith Mountain Lake will most certainly convince you to give a secluded vacation a try.

A view of a wooden dock and two canoes left on the sandy shores of Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia on a early fall day

Its serene atmosphere and therapeutic ambience are particularly appealing in fall. The same goes for fishing. Angling has a unique allure in November. While you can always go for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Striped Bass are the superstars here. Smith Mountain Lake is a prominent Striper fishery and, this time of year, they’re heading up the river to the pockets where bait fish swim.

With more than 500 miles of shoreline, this is the second-largest lake in Virginia and it isn’t only a retreat for anglers but also a haven for every outdoor enthusiast. Smith Mountain Lake boasts stunning parks and hiking trails. Alternatively, you can visit nearby attractions. But, truth be told, simply roaming in nature is more than enough when you’re at a place such as this.

Muskegon, MI

If you’re curious to see what the American Midwest has in store for anglers, here’s the gem we selected for you – Muskegon. Cozily nestled in West Michigan, Muskegon is our next top Veterans Day fishing destination. Not only does it guarantee a memorable angling experience, but it also promises a one-of-a-kind Veterans Day tribute.

A photo of an angler standing on a charter boat dressed up for cold weather and holding a big Steelhead with both hands while posing against colorful fall trees in the background
Photo taken by Bending Limits Sportfishing

With both Lake Michigan and the Muskegon River at its disposal, Muskegon will spoil you for choice. And two species are all the rage in November – Chinook Salmon and Steelhead. Both fish are highly prized in fishing circles and you have the opportunity to land them in Muskegon around Veterans Day. Music to your ears, right?

Speaking of music, Muskegon celebrates Veterans Day by playing patriotic tunes on the magnificent Barton Organ. The Musical Americana Concert takes place at Frauenthal Center and, if you’re veteran and a fishing aficionado at the same time, we recommend one more event that might be near and dear to your heart – Flyin’ Heroes.

Toledo Bend Reservoir, LA

Separating Louisiana from Texas, Toledo Bend Reservoir is your forest-hugged Veterans Day fishing destination in the South. Engulfed in greenery, this place promises a vacation for both your body and mind. As for your soul, well, that’s where fishing comes in.

A photo of two anglers wearing sunglasses and caps while posing against a wall full of logos of tournament sponsors with two Largemouth Bass catches in their hands
Photo taken by Ross Jewell Fishing

Toledo Bend Reservoir is Louisiana’s sweetheart. And rightfully so. No other body of water will shower you with as many trophy Largemouth Bass in fall as Toledo Bend Reservoir. It comes as no surprise then that this is your go-to Bass tournament location. Several tournaments are already scheduled just before Veterans Day, including the Disabled Veteran Fishing for Bass Tournament.

If you want to experience Toledo Bend Reservoir in its full glory, we recommend extending your vacation and squeezing in the Bass tournaments in your Veterans Day itinerary. And how do you feel about glamping? Louisiana State Parks now allow camping in style. And with the scenic views Toledo has, it would be a shame not to spend the days and nights out there in the open. 

Strawberry Reservoir, UT

When you browse Strawberry Reservoir, one of the first things you’ll see popping up is fishing. This speaks volumes about it. Locally nicknamed “the Berry,” it’s Utah’s pride and joy. This high alpine and mountain-rimmed fishery revolves around angling which makes it a must-visit destination this Veterans Day.

A distant view of Strawberry Reservoir posing against blue skies in the background, with a tree and shoreline visible in the foreground

Fall is widely considered the best season to explore what the Berry has to offer. This is particularly true for wading, as fish still frequent the shallows in late October and early November. Massive Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout are the main prizes here but you may also lay your hands on Kokanee and Smallmouth Bass, too. 

Strawberry Reservoir is one of those remote locations where you’ll completely immerse yourself in your surroundings. Fishing is by far the best pastime here, but you can also spend hours simply feasting your eyes on the Wasatch Mountain range and the Uinta National Forest.

Boise River, ID

We’re doing our best not to play favorites, but some spots just get the better of us. This is precisely the case with the Boise River. Featured in last year’s article, this Idaho headliner has found its place again on our list of Veterans Day fishing destinations. So, what’s all the hype about?

A photo of a fly fishing angler casting while standing alone in the middle of the Boise River surrounded by mountains and greenery during the fall fishing season

If you want to know where fly fishing is at its best, look no further than the Boise River. This is the finest urban Trout fishery in the state. The South Fork of the Boise is especially famous for its Rainbow Trout, Whitefish, and Bull Trout. With a thriving Trout population under its belt and exceptional fly angling conditions, it becomes clear why the Boise River should be on your to-visit list this fall.

Add the Veterans Day Parade to an already amazing fishing adventure, and we have no doubt you’ll want to check out the capital of Idaho this holiday. This year’s parade commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement, so there’s sure to be some added excitement. You can also sign up to be a sponsor, volunteer, or participate in the parade!

Modesto, CA

And just like that, we’ve reached the end of this year’s rundown of top Veterans Day fishing destinations. But don’t worry, we saved the best for last. For your final stop, we’re taking you to the East Coast and the state of California. Meet Modesto – a hub for foodies, an epicenter for graffiti artists, a city for history buffs, a mecca for nature enthusiasts… the list goes on and on. But, most importantly, it’s a heaven for anglers!

A view of the Knights Ferry Covered Bridge, a location near Modesto in California famous for its Salmon runs in fall

Situated less than a 2-hour drive from San Francisco, Modesto is an equally rewarding city to visit. Diversity echoes through its community, cuisine, and culture. Be it food-tasting, mural sightseeing, or concert-going, you’ll be in for a treat. But the variety isn’t only for land-based events. It translates into outdoor activities, too. 

Located in the heart of the Central Valley, Modesto is made for biking, camping, hiking, and fishing. Angling, in particular, is great in November. The nearby rivers of Tuolumne and Stanislaus are overflowing with Salmon because fall sees their annual run. And this year’s Stanislaus River Salmon Run Festival falls exactly on November 11th. How about that? 

Veterans Day Fishing: A Corner for Everyone

A photo of a charter fishing boat with a captain on it and the US flag standing still on turquoise waters somewhere in Florida surrounded with other boats in the background
Photo taken by Panhandle Fishing Charters

From bustling hotspots like Port Aransas, Charleston, and Panama City Beach, to more secluded and off-the-beaten-path corners such as Smith Mountain Lake and the South Holston River, there’s something for everyone on this list. We hope our top 11 picks inspired you to book a trip and spend the upcoming holiday fishing.

If you crave more ideas on where to go, check out last year’s Veterans Day fishing destinations article. Tight lines!

Have you ever fished in any of these locations? What did you catch? Do you have more locations to suggest for this year’s Veterans Day fishing destinations list? Hit the comment button below and share your thoughts with us!

Author profile picture

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.

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