by MARTIN BROOKS
The South is an angler’s paradise. Southerners are blessed with year-round fishing weather and a huge variety of secret and not-so-secret fishing destinations.
Of course, the South’s best fishing spot depends on who you ask. Some anglers want nothing more than to enjoy a lazy day reeling in catfish at the local creek, while others prefer fighting the ferocious saltwater monsters in the Atlantic.
No matter what your fishing style may be, if you’re fixin’ to do some fishing in the South, you’re in for a good time. There’s no shortage of picturesque scenery and good company with good folks to enjoy. And if you’re lucky, you might even get a tasty meal out of it.
Here’s a look at five must-fish destinations in the South.
1. Lake Fork, Texas
They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, and at Lake Fork, that applies to fish. While the lake is most famous for its bass fishing, you may want to show up equipped with carp rods—the lake’s carp are known to hit 30+ pounds! In contrast, wall-worthy bass average around 7-10 pounds.
And, unlike many other popular species in the lake, there’s no daily bag limit or length limit for common carp.
2. The Florida Keys
The Sunshine State is home to some of the world’s best saltwater fishing, and the Florida Keys are the cream of the crop. Whether you pack a boat full of your own offshore fishing gear or hit the ocean in an all-inclusive charter boat, you can’t beat the weather, scenery, and variety of species.
Just make sure you plan your trip based on your skill and experience level. Trolling for game fish like marlin, tuna, and dolphin is a serious undertaking and may not be the best choice for a relaxing family vacation. That said, there are lots of places where casual anglers can enjoy a leisurely day on the water.
3. Pickwick Lake, Tennessee/Mississippi/Alabama
Part of the Bill Dance Signature Lakes initiative, Pickwick Lake touches three Southern states: Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. This man-made reservoir has deepwater fish attractors in place to concentrate fish in the area. The lake is famous for producing some record-size catfish and smallmouth bass, so show up ready to reel.
4. Bullock Pen Lake, Kentucky
If you’re looking for a lesser-known local lake, consider Bullock Pen Lake near Crittenden in Kentucky. The lake produced a record-breaking saugeye that was caught by Wolfgang Katzenberg in 2021. The whopper weighed in at an impressive 9.05 pounds and was 27-inches long and 17.5-inches wide.
5. Louisiana Bayous
The bayous in Louisiana are famous for having the country’s biggest alligator population, but there’s plenty of good fishing to be had, too. While you’re waiting for a bite, there’s an extremely high chance that you’ll see at least one gator, so these are great locations for anglers who want to do some sightseeing.
Not sure where to begin? There are countless hot spots, so you could simply ask a local for a recommendation. Bayou Black, Bayou Lafourche, Bayou Segnette, and Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge are all fantastic options.
Consider the Water Less Traveled
The most famous fishing spots are usually famous for a reason, but that doesn’t mean they’re always the best choices in the area. Some of the South’s best fishing locations are carefully kept secrets, so you may need to do a little digging. When in doubt, visit a local watering hole—if you’re lucky, a friendly local angler might trade a tip for a cold one.