FloridaVisit FloridaBy Josephine Matyas

Some destinations are blessed with shorelines, rivers and lakes teeming with catch – a magnet for those that love the outdoors, whether spending all day casting a line into the water, or just dabbling in a little catch-and-release while on vacation.

Florida
The Florida Panhandle has always been a draw for those that love to fish. In Panama City Beach – a popular stop for Canadian snowbirds and families – the new 460-metre City Pier attracts anglers looking to catch blue tang, Gulf flounder and black sea bass. www.visitpanamacitybeach.com

Further west, along the Gulf Coast, the city of Destin – nicknamed “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” – lays claim to the largest charter fishing industry in the state. Every year, the entire month of October is dedicated to the Destin Annual Fishing Rodeo, with more than 100 categories and 35 species of fish drawing thousands from around the world. An online webcam beams the weigh-ins live, www.destinfishingrodeo.org

Arizona
Yes, it’s landlocked (and we tend to think of it as desert) but sunny Yuma is a great year-round fishing destination, with lots of local tournaments to choose, thanks to the damming of the mighty Colorado River which created a nearly limitless landscape of backwater channels and hidden lakes upstream. These cool waters are home to world-class fishing for largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass, as well as flathead and channel catfish, tilapia, crappie, mullet and bluegill. www.visityuma.com/water_sports.html

Arizona Game & Fish Department is luring hotel guests with its new, free “Check It Out” program, in partnership with five Yuma hotels, including Best Western Coronado, Clarion Suites Yuma, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites and Radisson Yuma. Game & Fish provides each property with four new rods and reels, rigged and ready to fish, four stocked tackle boxes, information about online licence purchase and brochures with tips for new anglers that also highlight local fishing hot spots.

In Prescott, Arizona, visitors come for the town’s mile-high location in the Grand Canyon State’s central highlands, with four mild seasons, an average annual daytime temperature of about 70 degrees, and more than 300 days of sunshine. www.visit-prescott.com In Prescott, a beginner’s eight-hour fly fishing course is offered by The Drag Free School of Fly Fishing, covering the basic knowledge and skills of the art of fly fishing. Private and group lessons are available. jasonmeszaros.wordpress.com/rates-and-scheduling/

Virginia
Virginia Beach is known as the “Striped Bass Capital of the World.” But outside of striper season, anglers are hauling in the mightiest of tuna, flounder, amberjack, wahoo, mackerel, red drum and tautog. Virginia Beach’s “reel” claim-to-fame is its year-round superior sportfishing and diversity of species that – along with being able to fish in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay – results in some of the best catches in the world.

Visitors can embark on half-day and full-day inshore and offshore charters to chase everything from marlin to mahi-mahi. In town, Virginia Beach has four fishing piers offering tackle rental and bait. Fall opens the striped bass season and they’re bountiful into and through the winter months. Winter also has seen a renaissance for black sea bass that tempt offshore anglers during the cooler months. Upcoming Virginia Beach tournaments?

• 2011 Striped Bass World Championships November 1 to December 31.  
• Million Dollar Rockfish Challenge December 26 to 30.
• Waterman’s Mid-Atlantic Rockfish Shootout January 5 to 7, 2012.
 
Oregon
With year-round fishing, beautiful Oregon is truly an angler’s paradise. The state’s nationally renowned rivers, streams and lakes provide anglers with an abundance and variety of world class fishing opportunities. Try these specials:

Rogue River, Lodge to Lodge Drift Boat Fishing Trips: A unique combination of a world-class canyon, whitewater, historic river craft, wilderness lodging, and a long tradition of steelhead fly fishing. Perfect for first-timers, mixed groups of beginners and long time anglers, and for anyone wanting a unique wilderness fishing experience. Prices include all fishing equipment, meals featuring local and organic produce and products, and lodging in comfortable wilderness lodges. Four-day Lodge Trips: $1,850 US/$1,650 US (youth) per guest, based on double occupancy (two people per drift boat, return transportation back to Galice, Oregon, world-class fishing guides. www.roguefishing.com/rogue-lodge-fishing-trips/

Deep Canyon Outfitters – Guided Oregon Fly Fishing Trip: A multi-day trip on the Deschutes River in central Oregon. Rates include camping gear (cots, tents, kitchen, rain/sun shelters, tables and chairs), all meals, non-alcoholic beverages, rental fly fishing equipment and expert guide staff. Multi-Day Float Rates: $400 US/person/day for two anglers; $375 US/person/day for three or more anglers. www.deschutesflyfish.com/index.html

To find out more about the Discover America – Canada Committee, attend a meeting or receive the bi-monthly newsletter, contact them by fax at (416) 352-5567, by e-mail at admin@seeamerica.ca or visit www.discoveramericacanada.org

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