Even the most devoted angler can only stay out on the water so long — eventually you’ll need a meal, a shower and a place to sleep. And who knows better where to find those things than the experts who get paid to travel the Gulf in pursuit of the perfect catch? Here, they spill some of their favorites for our Best of Gulf Fishing series.
CHRIS WOODWARD, Editor, Sport Fishing: Steinhatchee, Florida, would have to rank as my favorite fishing town. For one thing, it reminds me of old Florida. I grew up south of there in Tampa. It’s pretty sleepy, except during scallop season, so it’s a nice, relaxing place to get away. Steinhatchee offers excellent inshore fishing for redfish and trout on artificial baits, including topwater lures. Good fishing also lies just minutes from town, and during off-peak times, you can even find solitude. An ideal afternoon is drifting the lush grass flats south of the Steinhatchee River. But another great activity is kayaking or canoeing upriver.
DAVE FERRELL, Editor, Marlin: My father retired from the Air Force while stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. My parents live in that area now and it’s always been one of my favorite spots. With crystal-clear water and some of the world’s best beaches, the Fort Walton Beach/Destin area is my favorite spot along the “Redneck Riviera.”
DOUG OLANDER, Editor-in-Chief, Sport Fishing: Venice, Louisiana, is one of my favorites — it’s the closest jumping-off point to the Mississippi River mouth delta, blue water and many oil platforms.
GLENN LAW, Senior Editor, Saltwater Sportsman: Key West has tremendous access to almost any kind of fishing in the Gulf, and the guides with expertise to enjoy it, as well as an interesting culture and atmosphere. Fish a wreck for the incredible variety of species available — a Key West specialty — and of course watch the sunset from Mallory Square.
JOHN FRAZIER, Editor, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters: Because I’m a true Floridian, I’m partial to locations that embrace the old-school culture of Florida. In short, I really like Cracker towns. Cedar Key sticks out in my mind — it’s just one of those places that makes you feel like you’re going back in time. There are so many angling opportunities to be had and I’d recommend that any visitor spend at least one day looking for trout and redfish. Other than that, it’s a perfect place to sit on the beach and simply admire authentic peace and quiet.
MIKE MAZUR, Senior Editor, Sport Fishing: Venice, Louisiana, is a favorite. There’s so much variety, great bluewater fishing and incredible redfishing, and many great captains and good food. I always suggest to friends — even if they’re not serious anglers — that if they’re going to take a saltwater fishing trip anywhere, this town is a great option.