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.

Sam White Editor-in-Chief

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