east coast fishing

5 East Coast Fishing Spots That Truly Honor Freshwater, Saltwater Traditions

When you try to come up with great East Coast fishing spots, these five places should be on your list.

As anglers, we consider any body of water that we see as potential fishing spots, but when we think about the Atlantic coast from New York to Florida (and beyond), there are a select few that come to mind as can't-miss.

Fish such as redfish, snapper, and even flounder can be caught, but let's not forget about bluefish, mackerel, tarpon, and especially striped bass as foes for our offerings. The choices are many and the areas replete with tales of huge, line-stripping fish that battle for hours on end, but we're going to try and narrow it down to just five.

Not an easy task.

Your dream fishing trip may include inshore fishing, open ocean saltwater fishing, or the excitement of a new freshwater lake or river, but there's no denying that the best fishing from Montauk to the Florida Keys is a matter of argument.

The East Coast is littered with both freshwater and saltwater destinations that deserve a place on any angler's bucket list, making it hard to narrow down just five. However, after thorough consideration, we've put together what we thinks gives the average fisherman a taste of everything.

Since the Atlantic Coast is so great in of itself, we included both inland and open-water ocean fishing areas to give you an idea of the vastness of the "Right Coast" as a fishing spot.

1. Prince Edward Island

Or as the Canadian fishing faithful call it, the PEI. Where else in North America can you hook up with a fish that can pull speeds of up to 65 mph from late summer right up to the start of bow season, and weigh as much as 1,000 pounds?

Bluefin tuna begin to follow schools of mackerel, sea herring and squid to these relatively shallow waters—between 80-100 feet—where they are easily found by charter captains that are as knowledgable as they are experienced.

Then it is up to you as the angler to battle these fish (possibly for a couple of hours!) for the catch and release of a lifetime. Everyone who fishes these waters goes with the chance of hauling in the next record bluefin.

2. St. Lawrence River

This bucket list fishing destination has so many possibilities that even the most ardent anglers can find something to target and be successful doing so. It's not enough that the world record muskellunge was caught here, or the New York state record walleye, but each and every year it's the site of a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament, with the best professional anglers that the world has to offer.

Bass fishing this river is seemingly can't-miss for the old and young alike. There are so many shoals, weed beds and deep water humps to try, it would take a lifetime to fish them all I wonder if anyone has tried...?

Drop-shot rigs in deeper water continually catch smallmouth bass in the summer months, and casting large swim baits and spinner baits off weed edges near deep water for muskellunge may cost you a rod and reel combo if you aren't careful.

3. Smith Mountain Lake

Just in the last few years alone, catches of big hybrid striped bass have gone through the roof at this beautiful south Virginia fishing destination. Stripers in the lake have a protective slot from 30 to 40 inches, and big fish are taken even in the hot summer months.

The largemouth bass fishing in the lake is the reason that so many tournaments are held here. There are a ton of docks, boat houses and jutting rock piles that it can keep pitching and flipping bass fishing enthusiasts busy for years.

This is all well and good, but as crappie fisherman here will tell you, there's a pretty big secret that they don't want to get out!

4. Chesapeake Bay

Whether it's chasing the natural striper runs with live eels, or targeting Spanish mackerel and blues, it's a difficult prospect to decide on what you should ultimately hunker down and fish for in this most famous of coastal waterways.

Softshell crabs as bait will dredge up some monster black drum, and casting for speckled sea trout and red drum makes this giant estuary one of the premier fishing locations anywhere.

Since live-bait fishing is considered one of the top techniques, you won't have trouble finding it. Most bait and tackle shops are well-stocked, especially during peak season.

This is the kind of fishing that gives the youngest of anglers such a great head start in hooking fish. It makes a trip to Chesapeake Bay stand the potential of permanently securing a saltwater fishing fan for life.

5. Lake Okeechobee

For many, this is the Mecca of bass fishing in the United States. This 730-square mile lake is about 35 miles long and averages roughly 9 feet of depth. This watershed of the Greater Everglades makes for one of the most lively, well-oxygenated freshwater lakes in North America, and just so happens to be packed with largemouth bass.

And when we say LARGEmouth bass, we mean it: they average 8 pounds in weight.

This iconic southern lake may be one of the reasons that the bass boat was invented in the first place. Finding the fish in such a large, diverse body of water requires the use of a uniquely fast boat. This is a lake on which an angler can open their massive tackle box to just "throw the book" at fish, since virtually everything we ever bought at the local Bass Pro is fair game to use now.

Even having said that, live bait fishing in Okeechobee can be the order of the day with the inimitable golden shiner being the number one source of crushing strikes. Crankbaits are good for covering lots of water, and once you've found a good area with fish, soft plastics will keep your arm sore from all of the fights you're going to have with big bass.

Honorable mention to all the areas from Massachusetts to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and beyond for having all of the fish species and fish capital that we want as sportsmen and women There are so many places to try, don't let this small list limit you and your adventures.

There is no end to the sportfishing areas to try for world-class fishing, and the East Coast is just the starting point. Whether it be for cobia, halibut, or even yellowfin tuna, this is a splendid place to seek your favorite game fish for an overall great fishing experience.

When in doubt, try to bounce around the country and revisit this list whenever you circle back in an eastern direction. Fishing is as much about experiencing different waters and different regions of the world as it is about catching big fish and eating good after a long day of hard work.

And, if you exclusively fish saltwater or freshwater, look into fishing with a guide to experiment. There's a whole other world of fishing out there, and when you're on a coast—especially the East Coast—you're an earshot away from an affordable charter that will show you how it's done.

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