Ihave always loved travel. The thought of that next big adventure has pulled me in directions I would have once thought impossible, and sometimes it’s hard to stop the daydreams about what lies ahead. My grandfather served in the U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II, then worked as a radar tech for Eastern Air Lines until he retired. I have many fond memories of him as he regaled my younger brother and me with his tales from distant lands. Whether he was dodging icebergs and German U-boat torpedoes in a freighter full of ammunition on the infamous Murmansk run to Russia, or flying for free around the world and witnessing the exotic cultures of India and the Far East, he was always good for a story.
While I’ve been fortunate to experience my share of travel, I also love fishing right here in the United States. Sometimes, in the quest for bigger numbers or better weather, we’re the first to jump on an airplane for that next new hot spot. But having grown up in North Carolina and now living on the west coast of Florida, I feel that we have fishing that’s almost as good, if not better, right here at home.
Case in point: In Florida this year, we had an unusually chilly winter, with cold fronts seeming to pass from north to south almost weekly. Aside from the “it’s-a-lot-colder-thanwe-are-used-to” air temperatures, these fronts pushed in some jaw-dropping numbers of sailfish. Boats in the Stuart area were regularly releasing as many as 15 to 25 sails in one day, with some captains seeing up to 50 on an eight-hour charter trip. For a stretch of more than two months, the fishing was better in Stuart than it was in Costa Rica!
Want some hot action on white marlin? Head for the Outer Banks in August or September and hold on to your hat. Big blues on the list? How about live-baiting with a 25-pound yellowfin tuna around a six-story oil rig 150 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. Spearfish? Book a flight to Kona, Hawaii. Welcome to Destination USA.
In this issue, we cover some top-shelf but lesser-known fisheries. First up is the Palmetto State: South Carolina. This is a very passionate group of boat owners, captains and anglers who target billfish in these historic waters. The deckhands are often the owner’s or captain’s kids, and the anglers are family and friends. Count on great food, terrific camaraderie and a lot of laughs.
We also showcase Cape May, New Jersey, and the action in the offshore canyons. Picture dozens of white marlin cutting through bait on the surface, with some hefty blue marlin, yellowfin, bigeye and bluefin tuna in the mix.
And if you are looking for something totally different, head to Southern California for striped marlin and swordfish. It’s a knee-knocking adrenaline rush to stand in a bow pulpit next to a marlin or sword swimming along on the surface, then accurately cast a live bait within 6 feet of its nose to entice a bite. The locals call it “eyeball fishing,” and it’s 100 percent addictive.
The next time the travel bug bites, think about the fishing opportunities we have here first — no passport required.