North America seems to have as many amazing places to fish as people to fish them, but there are some spots that transcend merely being productive fishing holes. Some anglers are happy catching a few decently sized fish, but for those in the locations listed below, expectations and results are much greater. Here are five of North America’s most amazing places to fish.
There are hundreds of species of fish that swim the waters of Chesapeake Bay, many of which are year-round residents. The king of all fish for anglers, however, is the striped bass, the area’s most important fish both commercially and recreationally. Striped bass – or rockfish as it is called by locals – are in great abundance, are excellent fighters, and grow to massive weights over 60 pounds. Towns throughout the State of Maryland fully embrace their fishing culture, making the area even better for anglers.
California Delta and Bay Area
Monster sturgeon, migrating salmon, sharks, rays…the list goes on for this highly productive fishing region. The Sacramento River holds some of the biggest sturgeon in the United States, while closer to San Francisco is an abundance of saltwater fish, many of which can be caught right from shore. Charters, guides, and bait stores are littered across the coastline as communities take advantage of this thriving fishery.
The entire state of Florida is a fishing paradise. The Everglades in particular provides so many kinds of fish to catch that you may go a whole lifetime and not catch a certain species – and that’s just in the ocean. While tuna, barracuda, and tarpon are prime targets out at sea, on the mainland bass reign supreme.
Haida Gwaii, B.C
Queen Charlotte Islands is a haven for salmon, and therefore may as well be Disneyland for anglers. Haida Gwaii serves as salmon’s main stopping point as they migrate from Alaska to the Pacific Northwest to spawn. Chinook, chum, and coho all swim near this island system, sharing the water with halibut, lingcod, and red snapper. The salmon run is so huge there that the main source of income for several communities in the area lies in the fishing industry. Lodges are sprinkled across the island for visiting anglers to stay in while they have the best fishing times of their lives.
They may have been called ‘great’ for their size, but as any angler would tell you, it’s the fishing that’s the main attraction for these lakes. Nowhere in the world can you find such a freshwater fishing experience as you can here. Salmon, rainbow and lake trout, walleye, perch, muskie, bass, and pike are just a few of the species you can find in these waters. Cities and towns fortunate enough to be along the shorelines provide plenty of charters to get to these fish.
What Makes a Good Fishing Town?
The regions mentioned above are lucky to have such great fishing, but what also sets them apart is how much they take advantage and embrace that fishery. It’s a community that keeps the fishing tradition alive, which is why the World Fishing Network wants to recognize that commitment and spirit with its Ultimate Fishing Town contest. The winning town in both the United States and Canada receive a $25,000 community donation and national awareness if it can best prove to be the greatest fishing town in the country.
Last year’s winner in Canada was Port Alberni, a town of just 18,000 people on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In addition to its beautiful natural surroundings, the town boasts some of the best salmon and steelhead fishing in the world, as well as freshwater bass and trout. Most importantly, Port Alberni takes pride in its fishery.
How do you know if your community is an Ultimate Fishing Town like Port Alberni? It comes down to several contributing factors. Let’s examine them.
Quality of Fishing
When you think of an ultimate fishing town, you probably envision a place where monster fish are no more than a quick boat ride away, like on the Great Lakes. If there are hardly any lakes or streams in the area, however, or if bodies of water are not regularly stocked and kept clean by wildlife agencies, then it’s pretty hard to make a claim as being a great fishing town. Often the best fishing locations have either a variety of species, lots of catchable fish, or trophy-sized specimens rarely found elsewhere.
As much as some locals like to keep the fishing to themselves, it’s often the case that visiting anglers are what drives the economy. A community’s ability to best accommodate vacationing anglers looks good on a town’s reputation. As those on vacation are not nearly as familiar with the town and nearby fishing holes, having several lodges and resorts to house visiting anglers is key.
Guides and Charters
Many anglers enjoy doing the research and going out to find the fish on their own, but there are times when locating the right spot or using the right technique and equipment comes down to the help of an expert. Charters are especially important for towns on the ocean or other larger bodies of water, as not everyone has a big enough boat to get to where the fish are. Having plenty of guides and charters to choose from not only ensures there aren’t anyone out there who is out of luck finding help on any given day, but keeps business competitive and prices lower.
Stocking Programs/Government Support
A town’s fishing heritage is best kept alive for two reasons: anglers follow regulation laws and never keep more than they should, and the local government agency ensures the fish population remains healthy. If even one of these two chains is broken, then a fishery cannot survive. A responsible local wildlife department makes sure the lakes it chooses to stock with fish can support the species, and that the number stocked is enough to support the amount of anglers that will fish for them. For bodies of water with naturally occurring populations, it is important overfishing never becomes a problem and invasive species are kept at bay.
Bait and Gear Stores
Stocking up on gear for the upcoming tournament, or picking up some minnows on the way to the lake, wouldn’t be possible if there weren’t any vendors in the area to supply your needs. A good fishing town will have the necessary stores to outfit the angler on the spot, or at least has the tools to order in what you’re looking for. These stores are also a valuable place for information. If paying for a guide is not in your budget, try picking the brain of bait store employee as they can be a helpful wealth of information. All local anglers stop in every once in awhile, and some like to divulge their information.
For a fishing town to truly be ultimate, the majority of the community must embrace the sport of fishing. A town may have the best fishing club in the world filled with quality anglers, but without the support of the rest of the community, it is difficult for a fishery to develop and thrive. Things like hosting fishing tournaments and providing space along waterfront for fishing walls and piers go a long way in showing a town’s passion for fishing.
When all the above criteria are met, it’s as if any angler who comes into a town will automatically know that they have entered a great fishing destination. If you think your town fits the bill, or know of a community that deserves to be nominated, head over to www.wfnfishingtown.com and tell us why you think it deserves to be named the nation’s Ultimate Fishing Town.