13. Miami, Florida
Silver off the Beaches
Every winter, about the time tourists flock to Miami Beach, tarpon show up as well. They provide a remarkable urban fishery just off beaches crowded with sunbathers. One of the best-known tarpon skippers for decades, Bouncer Smith, says tarpon fishing remains "solid" from about mid-December (some years, weeks earlier) to mid-June (some years, weeks later). Smith looks for the fish in 12 to 20 feet of water, typically. Free-lined live shrimp account for most of the tarpon hooked up through about mid-April; then live crabs become the best bet among baits for the duration of the season. But anglers can do well casting lures (Rattlin' Raps, D.O.A. Shrimp, Gulp! Swimming Mullet) or flies (Deceivers) to rising fish in the winter or rolling fish in the spring. In late fall and early winter, the tarpon average 50 or so pounds; by February, that average goes up considerably, with fish to at least 150 caught every year. For more information, visit www.captbouncer.com.