Boating / POSTED 12-Feb-2024

America’s Greatest Fishing Spots


Nick Stanczyk is a charter guide based at Bud N’ Mary’s Marina, specializing in swordfish.

Hometown: Islamorada in the Florida Keys

Favorite Fishing Spot: The Islamorada Hump is 13 miles offshore on the Atlantic side, SE of Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

The Best Reason to Fish There: The Islamorada Hump is an underwater seamount that causes upwellings when the Gulf Stream hits it. Because of this, it’s pretty easy to find in the open ocean.   

What Can You Catch?: Blackfin tuna, mahi, and amberjack

Best Time of Year: Fall, especially October

Biggest Fish Caught There: A 31-pound blackfin, which is a lot of sushi.

Favorite Technique: My favorite method is to fill the livewell with hundreds of pilchards and use them to live chum to fire up the schools of fish and bring them up from the bottom. It’s an exciting way to fish because the schooling fish will blow up on the surface next to the boat. To catch them, hook a pilchard with an unweighted hook, pitch it overboard, and freeline it. Blackfin are underrated because they are the smallest tuna species, but they fight hard and are fantastic to eat raw or seared.

Biggest Mistake Anglers Make: All that commotion tends to draw sharks, and a lot of anglers use too light of gear to be able to quickly reel in a fish to save it from getting eaten by “The Taxman.”


Angler: Gary Caputi is the author of Fishing For Striper and hundreds of magazine articles.  

Hometown: Highlands, New Jersey

Favorite Fishing Spot: Just outside New York City is New York Bight, a triangular body of water stretching from Montauk Point, NY, to Cape May, NJ, and offshore to the outer edge of the Continental Shelf.

The Best Reason to Fish There: The waters are home to a vast striper population and other fish.

What Can You Catch?: Striped bass, fluke, and bluefish   

Best Time of Year: Although the fall run starting in mid-September is good, May is probably the best month for trophy striper.

Biggest Fish Caught There: A 54-pounder

Favorite Technique: In the last few years, I’ve caught more big fish slow-trolling live eels with floats and side-planers. My 27-foot Pathfinder has a single Yamaha F300, and I have the full Helm Master EX suite for single engines. I use the Pattern Shift feature to troll 1 mph, which automatically shifts in and out of gear to maintain that speed.   

Biggest Mistake Anglers Make: Sometimes, the surface activity gets crazy with striper feeding on huge schools of menhaden, and inexperienced anglers will run their boats right into the middle of a feeding school, which is bad etiquette and will put the fish down, killing the action for everyone.


Angler: Ish Monroe is a pro bass fisherman who has won over $2.5 million in his career on tour.

Hometown: Oakdale, California

Favorite Fishing Spot: Clear Lake is about a 2.5-hour drive north of San Francisco.

The Best Reason to Fish There: You can catch large numbers of bass year-round there.

What Can You Catch?: Bass

Best Time of Year: March through October

Biggest Fish Caught There: A 13-pounder

Favorite Technique: Clear Lake is a shallow lake with a maximum depth of 60 feet. I like tossing a frog in 3 feet of water or less. In deeper water, I bounce a ¾ ounce jig off the rocks. 

Biggest Mistake Anglers Make: Given the healthy fish population here, you can make very few mistakes. You can catch bass on a drop shot, spinner or swim bait. Guys who have never been here before will show up and catch 30 fish and will think they’ve had a great day. Around here, that’s what we call a slow day.

Angler: Steve Pennaz is a Freshwater Hall of Fame fisherman and host of the TV show Lake Commandos.

Hometown: Independence, Minnesota and Ennis, Montana

Favorite Fishing Spot: Mille Lacs Lake is about two hours north of Minneapolis.

The Best reason t Fish There: Because the bag limit for walleye is just one fish, the catch-and-release fishing is phenomenal. Last year, the DNR tracked 177,874 walleye caught there.

What Can You Catch?: Walleye and smallmouth

Best Time of Year: I like to fish in the fall when the vacationers are gone. During the week, I’ll nearly have the lake to myself. We’ve had days where we’ve caught more than 100 fish.

Biggest Fish Caught There: Mille Lacs isn’t known for trophy walleye, but I’ve caught fish up to 8 pounds there.

Favorite Technique: I like to drop a Berkley Champ Swimmer PowerBait with a 3/4-ounce head. I throw it, let it sink to the bottom, and then make a slow, standard retrieve.  

Biggest Mistake Anglers Make: The biggest challenge on Mille Lacs is staying flexible and trying different lures and colors. Many anglers have a favorite lure and will stick with it even if it isn’t producing. We’ll generally start with three different colors of lures and watch the LiveScope to see what the fish respond to.

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