Whether you want to compete for a prestigious fishing title, win a lucrative reward or just watch the angler entertainment, there are plenty of impressive fishing events and festivals across America each year. Travel somewhere warm this winter to catch one of these epic events or plan one for your next big summer vacation.
Don't Miss These Epic Fishing Events In the U.S.!
1. Bassmaster Classic
The Bassmaster Classic is a three-day tournament competition in professional bass fishing, organized by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.). B.A.S.S. was started in 1967 and now has a membership organization of more than half a million people worldwide.
The Bassmaster tournament trail occurs each year all over America, leading up to the Bassmaster Classic. The classic, televised on ESPN2 each year, is held during late winter each year—perfect for your winter getaway.
Tens of thousands of people cram into coliseums to watch the daily weigh-ins and one million dollars is awarded to the anglers—300,000 of which goes to the champion. Competing in or even attending the Bassmaster Classic is truly a bass fisherman’s dream come true.
2. Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament
The best anglers from around the world come together each August for the annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, competing for medals and honor while highlighting Hawaii as a premier location for world-class big game fishing.
The tournament, also known as the “Grandfather of All Big Game Fishing Tournaments,” is held annually in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii and is presented by Hawaiian International Billfish Association (HIBA).
This world-renown event directs attention to Kailua-Kona as a year round, Big Fish, Marlin and Tuna, destination. Spectators can enjoy arts, crafts and food fair, daily weigh-ins and international entertainment.
3. White Marlin Open
The Annual White Marlin Open, hosted early August at Harbour Island in Ocean City, Maryland, is the largest and richest billfish tournament. This tournament stands out because anyone can enter to fish; all you have to do is officially register a boat and/or be registered as an angler on an officially registered boat prior to fishing.
The White Marlin Open is a fun and exciting event for anglers and spectators alike, offering prizes for catching white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin and shark.
The fish must be weighed on the official scale at Harbour Island each day of the tournament from 4 to 9:15 p.m. In 2015, the tournament drew 308 boats from up and down the East Coast to fish for a record purse of nearly 4 million dollars.
4. Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament
Occurring mid-June in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is an exciting weeklong event. Hundreds of anglers participate each year, representing the best marlin fishermen in the world. The Gulfstream fishing tradition has for several years offered a huge purse, but the true draw of the competition is to be crowned Big Rock champion. The Big Rock board makes sure to give back to the local community—donating over 3.5 million to tournament charities since 1988.
5. Destin’s Annual Blessing of the Fleet
This century-old ritual takes place in Destin, Florida in early May as captains and crew members gear up for deep-sea fishing season. Dating back to 1957, Destin’s annual Blessing of the Fleet is a time when locals and churches come together to pray over each fleet vessel, the captains and crewmembers and their families for safe passages, bountiful catches and prosperity.
Destin’s fleet has proved prosperous and protected from tragedies that have affected other coastal communities. Displaying tradition, heritage and culture, this event celebrates those who make up the largest fishing fleet in the state of Florida.
6. Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament
The Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament is the most exciting sportfish tournament in South Florida and has been a favorite for deep-sea fishermen for more than 30 years. It’s held at the Miami Beach Marina on South Beach in Florida, and boats fish for a 30,000-dollar Top Boat Prize plus other cash prizes, gifts and trophies.
The proceeds from the tournament go to area marine conservation, education programs and scholarships.
7. Issaquah Salmon Days Festival
The Issaquah Salmon Days takes place every year in early October and is the Pacific Northwest’s premier fish festival. Located in Seattle, it attracts more than 180,000 people every year to celebrate the return of salmon to the nearby lakes and streams. Non-stop activities are offered to festival-goers including cuisine tastings from around the world, arts and crafts, live entertainment and of course salmon. The festival also features a Grande Parade that is not to be missed.
8. Maine Lobster Festival
The Maine Lobster festival in Rockland, Maine, is a 50-year-old celebration of the return of Maine lobster season. The annual event takes place during the first weekend of August, from Wednesday to Sunday. The festival is internationally recognized for their celebration of local seafood, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year.
If you attend, you’ll nosh on fresh, local lobster dinners, and get a chance to watch cooking contests, enjoy live entertainment and meet Maine craftsmen and artists.
All of the proceeds of the festival are donated to the Midcoast Maine communities.
9. The Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo
Since 1965, the Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo has been held annually on the third weekend in May at Pompano Beach—near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The intention of the tournament was originally to keep winter tourists in South Florida and bring attention to the local charter boat business.
The South Florida tradition is open to anglers, sponsors, advertisers and anyone who wishes to participate. The Rodeo has grown over the years and is now a non-profit corporation that hopes to serve as a roundup for the most popular species.
The event showcases both anglers and spectators in a number of events including an opening party and captain’s meeting. The Rodeo ends with a fun-filled awards party that takes place Saturday evening each year.
10. Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo
Known as the largest fishing tournament in the world, The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is held the third weekend of July each summer at Dauphin Island, Alabama and is a must-see for anyone who loves to fish.
The fishing rodeo attracts more than 3,000 anglers and 75,000 spectators each year. This three-day event, which was founded in 1929, features 30 categories with prizes awarded for first to third winners in each. In 2011, the event was listed in the Guinness World Records as the largest fishing tournament. Live entertainment accompanies the rodeo all weekend long and is free for spectators.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years. She is currently a lifestyle blogger and the editor of Whooo’s Reading and Carpe Daily. When she's not writing or editing, she's trying new DIY projects around the house or training fitness clients. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.