winter fishing vacation
Craig Raleigh

Winter Fishing Vacation: 6 Top Destinations to Consider for Winter Angling Fun


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Here are six reasons to keep your favorite rod and reel combo ready to get in on some great winter fishing action.

Does your current wish list include fishing in a great location where the sun is still shining brightly and the fish are cooperating?

With all due respect to places like Costa Rica and the Bahamas (where it seems like it's always warm), let's look at a few North American spots where fishing can be enjoyable and successful in the winter months. Sure, not every one of these winter fishing destinations are meant to be tropical, but let's be honest: we want to catch fish and when the bite is on, that's more than enough to keep us warm.

Great Lakes Tributaries

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Veteran fishermen and women from this northern tier of states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York will tell you that once the holidays are over, it's time to rig up with your favorite gear and do some wading for trout in the Great Lakes tributaries.

The first order of business is usually the brown trout that linger after their spawning run, followed closely by the steelhead and rainbow trout that are getting into pre-spawn mode. Being prepared for the cold weather is essential, but so is the action in streams and rivers that still have ice chunks floating by you.

Arizona

Areas like Sedona, with its mountain views and pristine streams, can afford a fly fishing enthusiast some amazing trout habitat and gorgeous scenery. Add to that the Colorado River below Davis Dam and you've got yourself into some of the best winter fishing there is.

But let's not forget Lake Havasu, which is consistently ranked among the top bass fishing destinations anywhere, not to mention that the world-record 5.8-pound redear sunfish was taken from the lake in February 2014.

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Florida

Of course the Sunshine State had to be a part of this list, and for many of the same reasons. An angler can not only get a great dose of winter vitamin D, but witness some incredible angling action as well.

Inshore fishing for seatrout, snook, cobia, tarpon, red and black drum just to name a few can be excellent, but then there is Florida's esteemed and tremendous largemouth bass fishing. Even though the weather can get chilly in parts of Florida, the southern part of the state is replete with bass fishing that is some of the best of the winter anywhere.

California Coast

Surf fishing or trolling for stripers along the coast in temperatures that don't tend to go below the 60 degree mark is a great way to spend some time fishing for those of us that get sick of the cold in January and February.

Snapper, flounder, and halibut round out some of the best eating fish you can catch in the winter and the California coast has all that and more.

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Texas

Texas isn't just a great state to do some winter fishing, it's a great state to visit no matter where you come from. These welcoming folks would love to set you up in January for everything from alligator gar, catfish, crappie, snook, speckled trout, and our favorite gamefish the largemouth bass.

From freshwater to saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, everyone can find a favorite fish to target. Just remember, even Texas can get chilly in mid-winter, so be ready for anything.

Outer Banks

The biggest issue you may face in getting over to the East Coast for its outstanding saltwater fishing is the fact that the charters get quite busy this time of year. There might not be a better indication of how great the fishing is on the Outer Banks in the winter, so be prepared to book early.

You can target everything from bluefish, cobia, mahi-mahi, flounder, mackerel, and wahoo to bluefin and yellowfin tuna.

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Do It Yourself and Plan a Winter Fishing Trip

Whether you plan your trip as a group or as an individual you will find everything you need to formulate a strategy with ease is right there for the asking. Let's embrace the cold weather as a great time to do some fishing, but we can also remember that there are areas in our nation with a warmer climate just waiting for us to enjoy.

Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube. Go to Rack Hub and use the coupon code Craiger for a new way to display those antler sheds!

NEXT: 5 BEST FISHING STATES WEST OF THE ROCKIES

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