10 Top Sport-Fishing Towns

Ten communities that offer hot fishing and a whole lot more to enjoy when not on the water.

This gallery offers a look at some of the best saltwater fishing destinations in the world all around the planet. There are other great ones, of course, and which are best could be the source of long debate — but few would debate the merits of these spots. (They’re listed in alphabetical order.)

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO

Aerial view of fishing marina Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

CABO -- MEXICO

Surrounding a protected harbor are muchos restaurantes and a variety of hotels. Charter-boat options abound — convertibles, expresses and smaller pangas — and blue water isn't far off. Water-related activities are vast; Cabo rates are reasonable all around. What's not to like? For more information, see this resorts and hotel directory and this charter-boat directory. For general information, click here.Sport Fishing Magazine

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA

Aerial view of Cairns, North Queensland, Oz fishing village
I've always had a special place in my heart for Cairns. I've spent a bit of time (not enough) there on two occasions. Besides its importance as a major jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef and some of the world's most gargantuan black marlin, Cairns is very visitor-friendly. In addition to the generally gracious Aussies, I liked the great variety of eateries (lots of great Asian choices and of course outstanding seafood) and shops, many touristy but many selling some pretty cool stuff. And I was amazed every evening both by the astoundingly loud and busy roosting habits of hundreds of gregarious parrots in a large tree in downtown Cairns and by the huge, black "flying shadows" overhead as fruit bats winged their way silently to wherever they were headed. Definitely not Kansas. Get more info on visiting Cairns via cairnstoday.com.Courtesy Tourism Tropical North Queensland

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Aerial view of Charleston, South Carolina, fishing marina
When you're ready for some time off from all the fishing opportunities in the vast spartina low country marshes and Charleston harbor itself (where I've caught a lot of mighty big bull redfish), or offshore, you'll be in a great spot. This small city is the epitome of Southern hospitality and is a southern epicenter for the arts, full of art galleries (and the Gibbs Museum of Art). There's no shortage of either restaurants or history — historic plantations and Fort Sumter National Monument. More information on visiting Charleston at charlestoncvb.com.Courtesy Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

HATTERAS, NORTH CAROLINA

Aerial view of Hatteras, North Carolina fishing
As gateway to North Carolina's famed outer banks, Hatteras (while technically an unincorporated community) offers plenty of offshore charters in fast convertibles sporting their famous Carolina-flair bows as well as smaller, inshore boats from which guides work the Pamlico Sound. Some of the best surf-fishing in the world for big red drum as well as stripers and blues is found here. The area relies heavily on tourism and, in warmer weather, is busy with visitors looking not only to fish but to surf, kite board and walk the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Hotels around Hatteras Island are abundant. Get more information on visiting the area at hatterasguide.com.Courtesy Ray Matthews

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, sea fishing
The Big Island is famous for its big-marlin fishing on calm seas in the lee of volcanic slopes. Beyond fishing (and the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament), there's always plenty going on here including the annual Kona Coffee Festival and the Ironman World Championship triathlon (Kona is the starting and finishing point). Some of the world's best golfing and surfing await here. Hotels range from relatively simple to lavish resorts spread over acres; shopping, dining, nightlife — Kona (as Kailua-Kona is often known) has it all.Douglas Peebles Photography / Alamy

KEY WEST, FLORIDA

Dry Tortugas, Florida Keys and Key West
Key West is hard to beat when it comes to fishing towns. 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. Anglers may enjoy some photo galleries of fishing off Key West for variety, with light tackle, and in the heat of summer (an article). You'll find general information about visiting Key West and the Florida Keys at fla-keys.com.Courtesy Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

MONTAUK, NEW YORK

Montauk, New York, fishing grounds
Strategically located on the far eastern end of Long Island's south shore, Montauk's a popular jumping-off point for Block Island Sound and more distant canyons. It also offers right around its shores each fall some of the most amazing bass blitzes on anchovies imaginable. But it ain't all about fishing here, obviously since it's a popular destination for weekenders from New York (110 miles away) and vacationers from more distant areas who come to also surf, golf, hike, bird-watch and of course walk the shore. It's been compared to the Hamptons but at more reasonable prices. Onmontauk.com has more, general information.Courtesy Alex Ferrone

PORT MANSFIELD, TEXAS

Port Mansfield fishing marina
For sport fishermen, Port Mansfield is strategically located on South Texas' sprawling Laguna Madre with mile after mile of shallows, home to reds, trout, flounder and the best shot at snook this side of Florida. Visitors won't find trendy late-night clubs here; in fact, past 10 p.m. they won't find much going on in this small (official population most recently, 415), quiet community. But there are a number of fishing resorts, great Tex-Mex eateries and even some shops. Duck hunters, er ... flock here in the fall. Closest airport — and Bass Pro Shops — are in nearby Harlingen.Bob Daemmrich / Alamy

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Downtown San Diego view from Point Loma
San Diego offers both its famed long-range fleet of multi-day (and multi-week) mother ships that fish Baja waters, and half-day and day boats that fish closer waters. But San Diego, with its marvelous climate and world-class beaches, has a broad appeal to visitors from all over the world. And visit they do: In 2012, the area hosted 32 million visitors. In terms of accommodations, dining, shopping and entertainment, San Diego is a top tourist destination. For general info on visiting SD, visit sandiego.com.Courtesy Joanne DiBona / sandiego.org

SITKA, ALASKA

Sitka, Alaska
Located on the outer coast of southeast Alaska's panhandle and accessible only by plan or boat (including regular ferry service), Sitka has a sizable fleet of charter boats that pursues Chinook and coho salmon and halibut, along with various other bottomfish. Visitors find both fishing resorts and hotels/bed-and-breakfast lodging. The surrounding wilderness (including part of the Tongass National Forest) offers unlimited hiking opportunities. The Pacific here offers not only sport fishing but whale watching and sea kayaking as well. Find more information on visiting Sitka at sitka.org.Courtesy William Greer and Sitka Convention/Visitors Bureau