Best Deep Sea Fishing Spots for Summer 2020

While most of us fish our own backyards most of the time, we also dream about traveling to some of the best fishing destinations. Dreaming and planning are two very different things, and sometimes it helps to have a list of the best fishing trips in the world to get started.

Luckily arriving at one of the best fishing destinations doesn’t necessarily require flying to the far side of the planet. The best places for fishing cited here are in or near North/Central America. Each is oriented around a particular goal or fish.

Prince Edward Island/Nova Scotia, Canada

PEI, Nova Scotia, Canada — One of the best places in the world to catch a huge tuna
Catch a huge tuna off Prince Edward Island/Nova Scotia, Canada.Capt. Josh Temple

Why here? 1,496: That’s the weight of the all-tackle world-record bluefin tuna caught here in 1979. Many more weighing better than 1,000 pounds have been taken over the years, and the odds for a bluefin that size are higher off the Canadian Maritimes than anywhere else in the world (with fish commonly more than 800 pounds), as are your chances for the stand-up battle of a lifetime. Fishing is often very near port/land, often less than a mile run. Most boats are equipped with fighting chairs, but if you’re a really hard-core stand-up kind of guy, bring it on. You’ll fish live, chunked or whole fish for bait, often on kites. By law, this is a catch-and-release fishery; however, boats currently are allowed to keep one or two fish per season. Regulations for this controlled fishery are subject to change from year to year.

When: August through mid-October

Cost to get here: $$ (These very general estimates are based on this very rough scale: $ = reasonable, $$ = moderately expensive and $$$ = downright pricey.

Cost to fish here: $$$


Belize — One of the Best Places in the World to Catch an Inshore Slam
Catch an inshore slam off Belize.Courtesy Belize Tourism Board

Why here? Quite simply, it’s hard to find a spot anywhere with greater numbers of willing bonefish, permit and tarpon; the odds of releasing at least one of each in a day are remarkably high. The chances for trophy-size fish, especially bones, are better elsewhere. But for numbers (schools of bones in the hundreds aren’t uncommon), action (with bonefish known to be more aggressive than spooky) and slams, Belize is a great bet. The country zealously guards its extensive flats, which remain pristine. The only country in Central America where English is the primary language, Belize is just two or three hours from most southeastern U.S. cities. Many resorts and lodges cater to anglers; guides can range from local pangeros to veteran pros in top-notch flats skiffs.

When: Year-round (For bigger tarpon, plan to fish midsummer to late fall.)

Cost to get here: $$

Cost to fish here: $$

Malindi, Kenya

Malindi, Kenya — One of the best places in the world to catch an offshore slam
Catch an offshore slam off Malindi, Kenya.Dave Lewis

Why here? The waters off Malindi, on Kenya’s central coast, offer one of the few places on the planet where anglers can realistically hope to accomplish a billfish royal slam, or even a fantasy slam. The latter (which has been done here a number of times) requires five different species of billfish in a day, and they’re all here. In fact, someday, some angler off Kenya might go beyond a fantasy slam to catch the ultimate six species in a day: blue marlin, striped marlin, black marlin, sailfish, swordfish and shortbill spearfish. You can choose from among competent, experienced crews for offshore charters. Closer in, anglers can target giant trevally and other reef fishes, as well as nearshore pelagics. Several hotels in the Malindi/Watamu area offer accommodations, and resorts such as Hemingways also offer charters.

When: Billfish feed in these waters all year, but January through February (summer in this hemisphere) probably offers the best shot at fantasies fulfilled.

Cost to get here: $$$

Cost to fish here: $$ to $$$

Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida — One of the best places in the world to visit a great sport-fishing town
Visit an angler-oriented sport-fishing town: Key West, Florida.Courtesy Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

Why here? Only anglers who have never visited Key West would need to ask. Key West serves as a gateway to the Dry Tortugas and sits in the middle of world-class fishing grounds, where blue water, reefs and flats all beckon enthusiasts. Few communities on the planet are more oriented to anglers and their needs, with a tremendous array of first-rate inshore guides and offshore charters as well as a variety of moorage options. At the same time, Key West offers an endless variety of seafood eateries, a great range of accommodations and, of course, bars of every kind and flavor; it’s a party every night on famous Duval Street! Air Tran, Southwest and Delta fly into the Key West airport.

When: Year-round; winters can be rough, but it’s a great time for sails on the outer reefs and tarpon in the harbor.

Cost to get here: $ to $$

Cost to fish here: $ to $$


Panama — One of the best spots in the world to catch big fish on poppers
Catch big fish on poppers in Panama.Sam Root /

Why here? Amazingly productive offshore seamounts and rugged coastline loaded with rocky headlands and nearshore reefs — that’s why. Schools of tuna patrol iconic seamounts such as Zane Grey Bank and Hannibal Bank, where they can be seen frothing the surface while crashing bait, often mixed in with vast schools of dolphin (the mammal). Mahi and wahoo will nail poppers, especially around floating logs. Topwater predators that lurk closer to shore include huge cubera snapper, roosterfish, bluefin trevally, large sierra and other game fish. A mere two-and-a-half hours from Miami and served by many airlines, this tourist-friendly country is a snap to fly into, and the Pacific coast offers many excellent fishing resorts.

When: Year-round, though the coast can be pretty wet during the fall rainy season.

Cost to get here: $$

Cost to fish here: $$ to $$$

Louisiana/Mississippi Marshes

Louisiana/Mississippi Marshes — One of the best places in the world to find fabulous saltwater fly-fishing
Find fabulous saltwater fly-fishing in the Louisiana and Mississippi marshes.Will Drost

Why here? Endless shallow-water habitat makes up the vast coastal marshes that stretch from western Mississippi into Louisiana — just the sort of habitat that red drum love. In other words, these marshes offer a huge population of one of the world’s superb game fish for fly-rodders, all in a vast and fabulous sight-casting milieu. Of course there are various other species on hand as well (such as seatrout and black drum), but with aggressive, hard-fighting reds often in the 15- to 35-pound range, they remain the top target. Nor is there anything difficult about getting here: The marsh begins an hour or two from New Orleans.

When: The fishery is available all year, but winter weather is more erratic than the period from April through December. Look for best shots at big bulls in fall. In general, sunny days up sight-casting ops greatly.

Cost to get here: $ to $$

Cost to fish here: $$

All credit for this awesome list goes to Sport Fishing Magazine.

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