5 Warm-Weather Fishing Destinations to Escape the Cold

Say goodbye to the chill of winter and hello to some great fishing. 

By Trent Jonas

5 Warm-Weather Fishing Destinations to Escape the Cold
Photograph Courtesy of Dirty Boat Charters

When winter drops its icy fingers across the fisheries of the United States, making the water hard in some places or the air just too darn cold in others, many anglers find themselves dreaming of warmer weather. The good news is, you don’t have to wait. If dropping a line through a little hole in the ice isn’t your idea of fun, head south! There are plenty of places where you can enjoy both tight lines and warm weather, all winter long. Here are a handful of warm-weather fishing destinations where you can go to escape the cold.

Islamorada, FL

Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, is the self-proclaimed “Sportfishing Capital of the World”—and you know, it just may be. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Florida Bay on the other, Islamorada is exceptionally well positioned to offer a tremendous variety of fishing opportunities, including inshore, offshore, reef fishing, and flats fishing. So, whether you’re targeting tarpon, trolling for tuna, or stalking snook, you’ll find a fishery in close proximity to the island. 

The Hadley House Resort, located right on Islamorada, is one of the best lodging values on the key. Hit Florida Bay for some “backcountry” fishing (inshore and flats) with Pirate for Hire Charters, or head offshore on one of Dirty Boat Charters’ trips.

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Venice, LA

Venice, Louisiana, is another U.S. fishing Mecca with its own title—alternately known as the Redfish or Fishing “Capital of the World”—that derives from its unique location, which places it at the center of a variety of fisheries: Inshore, offshore, bottom fishing, and even freshwater bass fishing. You could catch a bull redfish and trophy largemouth in the morning and bring home yellowfin tuna steaks for dinner in the afternoon.

Stay at Nicole’s Fishing Bed and Breakfast, which partners with several local houseboats to provide accommodation for visiting anglers. To hunt trophy-size inshore species like bull redfish, tarpon or speckled trout, hook up with Reel Tite Fishing Guide Service. Voodoo Fishing Charters will put you on the offshore species, like yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi.

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Kailua-Kona, HI

The Kona Coast of the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island) is yet-another destination that draws sport anglers from all over the world. Kailua-Kona’s large charter fleet is testament to the large numbers of marlin, tuna, and mahi mahi that make their home in the warm Hawaiian waters. Shore anglers can get in one some of the Big Island’s massive ulua (giant trevally) action—if you can get a local to tell you where to go.

Camelot Kona Fishing Charters is a skilled and respected charter outfit that has been putting people on fish for more than four decades. The Royal Kona Resort, on the bay in Kailua-Kona, is just minutes from the marina and is a great place to stay and relax after a long day on the water. 

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Falcon International Reservoir, Zapata, TX

Largemouth anglers have it tough in the winter time, especially in the more-northern latitudes of the United States. Well, here’s some good news to soothe your winter bassin’ blues: One of the Lone Star State’s best largemouth fisheries is located deep in South Texas, along the Mexican border. On Falcon International Reservoir, more commonly called Falcon Lake, the day time air temperatures during the winter months average in the 70s and 80s. You won’t even need a jacket.

Falcon Lake is an impoundment of the Rio Grande, just southeast of Laredo. The 83,000-acre lake is a renowned largemouth bass and catfish fishery. Five and six-pound bucketmouths are not uncommon. If you’re looking for a different kind of challenge, Falcon Lake also supports a decent alligator gar population. The lake does straddle the border, so if you intend to fish in Mexican waters, you will need a Mexico fishing license. If you don’t bring your own, you can rent a boat from Falcon Lake Marina. Lakefront Lodge offers a variety of accommodations, from RV sites to motel rooms and rental cabins.

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St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is another sunny island destination you can reach without a passport. And the flight is definitely worth it! More than 20 IGFA world records have been set by angler’s fishing out of the Virgin Islands, including the women’s all-tackle record for blue marlin, which was set by a 1,073-pound monster billfish. The islands’ location on the edge of the Puerto Rico Trench and in close proximity to the Gulf Stream make the USVI the perfect launching point for hunting big pelagic species, ranging from massive marlin to trophy tuna.

Consider Point Pleasant Resort, not far from Red Hook, for lodging. Double Header Sportfishing will get you out to the fish.

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