The 12 Ultimate Bucket List Fishing Spots


Reading Time: 10 minutes

Everyone has that must-happen fishing trip burning away at the back of their mind. For some, it’s a remote, icy stream with nothing but the soft swish of a fly line for company. Others imagine reels screaming under the strain of a 1,000 lb monster. Whatever it is, it’s the thing you spend your life working toward. The reason to keep improving your game. But among so many bucket list fishing spots, where do you start?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help you out. We’ve put together what we think are the ultimate bucket list adventures around the world. The spots are as varied as the target species, but they all have one thing in common – that once-in-a-lifetime catch that many anglers dream of but only a few see come true.

Inshore Bucket List Fishing Spots

Turneffe Atoll, Belize

Clear turquoise water and a greenery on the island on Belize

We’re starting off strong. Sitting 20 miles off the coast of Belize City, Turneffe Atoll is one of the world’s top Bonefish fisheries. The sheer number of Bonefish makes this the perfect place to hone your skills, or even catch your first fish. Most are medium-sized but don’t worry, there are plenty of larger, battle-hardened Bones around too.

Belize’s Bonefishing is incredible, but the country is mainly known for its Permit. Turneffe Atoll is no exception, with a massive Permit population averaging 10-20 pounds. Big fish can reach up to 30 pounds or even more. The best part? You can catch them on the flats all year round!

A man holding a Bonefish with shallow water behind him.

Bonefish? Check. Permit? Check. Someone’s still missing, though: Tarpon. Yes, of course, you can catch Tarpon here. Smaller fish live in the channels and lagoons year-round. Come summer, Silver Kings worthy of the crown come barreling through by the hundred. They can often tip the 10 lb mark and some get closer to 150 pounds!

Mississippi River Delta, Louisiana

A view of the Louisiana wetlands at sunset, with grass in the foreground, water in the center, and sky in the distance.

When many people think of bucket list fishing trips, they imagine an alien land of winding waters and huge, colorful fish. What people generally don’t realize is that this watery wonderland might be closer than they think. In fact, it’s just a short hop south from the bright lights of New Orleans!

Entering Louisiana’s Mississippi River Delta is like stepping into another world. This is a place ruled by fish, where skilled captains and experienced anglers are both put to the test. The kings of these waters are Bull Redfish and Gator Speckled Trout – both fish which more than earn their names.

An angler on a flats fishing boat holding a large Bull Redfish with water and sky behind him.

American anglers can get so used to catching these monsters that they forget just how awesome they are. Make no mistake, both these guys are world-class game fish that deserve all the respect you’d give Salmon or Tarpon. Take them on in the mouth of Old Man River, and you’re in for an experience you’ll never forget.

Andaman Islands, India

A beach on the Andaman Islands with dense jungle and turquoise sea.

The Andaman Islands are about as picturesque as you can get. Step out of the lush jungle and feel the smooth, yellow sand between your toes. Dive into clean, warm waters to find a world of colorful corals and outlandish fish. It really is that special.

Not that you’ll have time to notice any of that. You’ll be on a small boat a mile or two out, locked in the fight of your life with a monster Giant Trevally. GTs are the bullies of the reef, and their fighting power has earned them a loyal following all over the world. The Andaman Islands are home to some of the biggest and meanest ones out there.

See also  Enormous, orchard-fed bear becomes a legend in death
A bearded fisherman in sunglasses with a large Giant Trevally fish on his lap.

They’re not alone, either. You’ve also got Dogtooth Tuna, super-sized Grouper, and Coral Trout, as colorful as the reefs themselves. These waters hide beauty and marvel you’ll hardly find anywhere else, and it’s a true sight to behold.

Bissagos Islands, Guinea-Bissau

An aerial view of a winding water channel and dense vegetation on Guinea-Bissau

Sitting just off the west coast of Africa, the Bissagos Islands are a vast, largely uninhabited archipelago of tidal flats, volcanic rocks, sprawling mangroves, and inland channels. The sea goes from gin clear to dark and murky within wading distance, all fed by the nutrients of four massive river mouths. This is the most important fishery that you’ve probably never heard of.

In case you hadn’t guessed, variety is the spice of life on the Bissagos Islands. Love fishing the Gulf of Mexico? Take on Barracuda, Cobia, Tripletail, and an army of giant Jacks. Prefer the South African scene? Try your luck at Leerfish and Kob. Then there are Snapper, Grouper, Ladyfish, Needlefish, and several species of large Sharks.

A smiling angler in a cap and sunglasses struggles to hold up a giant Tarpon while standing in murky water up to his chest.

If this sounds like a case of quantity over quality, wait until you meet the area’s signature species: Tarpon. The Tarpon world record was set here at 286 pounds, and 200 pounders are considered average. Admittedly, it’s not a great place to take Tarpon on the fly, but there are also Bonefish and Permit if that’s what you’re after.

Deep Sea Bucket List Fishing Spots

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

An aerial view of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, with blue sea to the left and the island to the right.

Hawaii is one of those places that just seems too good to be true. Impossibly tall mountains with nothing but water for thousands of miles in every direction. Plants and animals you won’t find anywhere else on earth. Best of all? A laid-back vibe that can only come from living in paradise.

And what a paradise it is! If Cairns is known for its giant Black Marlin, Kona is synonymous with the behemoth Blue Marlin. You don’t have to travel far to find them, either. Billfish show up just off the beach here – not surprising, considering the seafloor drops 1,000 feet within half a mile of shore.

Two anglers looking at a huge Blue Marlin in the water next to their boat.

If you somehow get enough of Blue Marlin, there are plenty more monsters to choose from. For starters, there are also Striped and Black Marlin. Then there are Tuna, Swordfish, Spearfish, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi, not to mention Hawaii’s “Deep Seven” reef species. All that, without ever losing sight of land.

Cairns, Australia

A view of the bay in Cairns, Australia, with green trees, yellow sand, and turquoise water.

The North Queensland coast is a paradise for many reasons. Great weather, friendly people, and of course, easy access to the Great Barrier Reef. Time your trip right, and you can take part in one of the most exciting offshore extravaganzas on the planet: heavy tackle Black Marlin season.

The waters off Cairns are spring break central for giant Black Marlin. From September through December, big game anglers pour into town in the hopes of landing a “Grander.” It’s no pipe dream, either. Fish well over 1,000 pounds are caught here every year. No wonder Cairns is one of the most popular bucket list fishing spots among avid deep sea fishers.

A topless male angler on a charter boat fighting a large Black Marlin which is jumping out of the water.

The great thing about heavy tackle season is the excitement and sense of adventure that comes with it. Head to a bar in the fishier parts of town and you can’t help but overhear people discussing the day’s catch. Stroll the harbor and the Billfish buzz is intoxicating. Never has one fish made a town so iconic.

See also  8 Small Hunting Dog Breeds (Highly Skilled Field Companions)

Prince Edward Island, Canada

An aerial view of Prince Edward Island in Canada, with green fields on the left, yellow beach in the middle, and dark green water on the right.

Prince Edward Island is a tale of two halves. In the winter, the island gets hit with vicious winds and blinding blizzards that bury the landscape under a thick blanket of snow. Come in the summer, though, and it’s a jolly seaside spot home to the hottest Tuna fishing imaginable.

Most anglers would like a shot at hooking a Bluefin Tuna. They’re huge, they’re tough, and boy are they tasty. From August through October, the waters around Prince Edward Island are full of Bluefin weighing well over 800 pounds. If you’re trying to imagine what that feels like, picture reeling in a racehorse.

Two anglers leaning over the side of a boat next to a giant Bluefin Tuna. One is holding a gaff hook attached to the Tuna

Catching Bluefin Tuna is a sensitive issue. The species is just too delicious for its own good, it seems, and global fish stocks are not looking healthy. Because of that, charters in PEI put a strong emphasis on tag and release. This gives scientists a chance to learn more about this incredible fish while anglers enjoy the fight of a lifetime. Win-win!

Watamu, Kenya

A view taken from the sea of traditional huts in Watamu, Kenya. There is shallow, clear water in the foreground and cloudy sky in the distance.

Kenya is best known for its open grasslands and wildlife safaris – hardly a place to look for fish. But lions and elephants aren’t the country’s only big game beasts. The Kenyan coast is growing a reputation as one of the best deep sea fishing grounds on the planet.

What makes Watamu so special? Simply put, you can reliably find more Billfish here than just about anywhere else. Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Shortbill Spearfish, to be precise. And it’s not unheard of to see them all in one day.

Three anglers on a charter fishing boat holding a large Swordfish with a fishing lure hanging out of its mouth

To those in the know, that’s called a Billfish Fantasy Slam. It’s the sportfishing equivalent of winning the lottery while also marrying your high school sweetheart and negotiating world peace. No one has pulled it off in Kenya yet (only one person has done it worldwide) but the country’s sportfishing scene is still coming into its own. Are you up to the challenge?

Freshwater Bucket List Fishing Spots

Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

The Kenai River in Alaska, with dense forest on either side and mountains in the distance.

Every angler worth their waders dreams of visiting Alaska. The state’s untamed beauty is worth crossing continents for. And that’s before you even wet a line. The Kenai River is a mecca for fly fishers and freshwater fanatics. Every summer, anglers arrive from around the world with one thing in mind: taking on the king of kings.

You only need to take one look at Kenai King Salmon to know how they earned their name. Chinooks weighing almost 100 pounds have been pulled from these waters in the past. Even a fish half that size has enough power to smoke your reel and pull your rod clean out of your hand. They’re not a catch to be taken lightly.

A happy angler on a boat holding a large Chinook Salmon on a fishing trip in Kenai, Alaska.

King Salmon get the headlines, but they’re not the only monsters living here. If Kenai is the Salmon capital of Alaska, nearby Homer is the heartland of its Halibut fishing. You can spend a month here and never stop catching huge fish – if you can still lift your arms, that is.

Amazon River, Brazil

A boat on the Amazon River at the meeting of the Rio Negro and the Amazon.

Taking a riverboat into the heart of Brazil is a bucket list adventure in its own right. The Amazon is the world’s largest and most unexplored river. We’re constantly finding out more about it and the things that live in it. What we do know is that it’s home to some seriously impressive game fish.

See also  What Tastes Better? Mule Deer vs. Whitetail Deer

Peacock Bass, Piranha, Payara, Piraiba – a day of fishing on the Amazon can land you all kinds of strange and incredible fish. The farther upstream you go, the greater your chance of hooking something nobody has ever seen before. There’s one species that outdoes them all though, and that’s the Arapaima.

Two men and a woman holding an Arapaima fish, one of the top targets on bucket list fishing trips.

Arapaima are huge, colorful, and aggressive. That pretty much guarantees them a spot in the hall of fame right off the bat. Throw in their incredible acrobatics and you have what many believe to be the perfect sport fish. Did we mention they can also breathe air? They seem custom-built to outdo all other fish.

Mongolian Highlands, Mongolia

A view of the Mongolian Highlands with water in the foreground and snow-topped mountains in the distance.

Who doesn’t want to go to Mongolia? It’s about as remote as you can get without boarding a spaceship. The highlands are out there even by local standards. Up near the Siberian border, grassy plains give way to jagged mountains and ice-cold rivers. It’s not an easy place to get to, but it’s a pilgrimage for freshwater anglers because of one fish that lives here.

These distant streams hold a species that was barely known to science until a few years ago: the Taimen. An entire tourist movement has sprung up around them, with exclusive camps and multi-day hike-out trips catering to the ever-growing groups who want a chance of catching one.

An angler holding a Taimen fish in a shallow mountain stream in Mongolia.

What makes Taimen special? They’re the ultimate salmonid. A 4-foot-long mega-Trout that can weigh nearly 100 pounds. Taimen are hard to find and even tougher to tempt onto the hook. And then the fight starts. All the miles and hours become well worth it when you see that angry red tail thrashing in the water.

Ebro River, Spain

The Ebro River in Spain, with green fields on either side and blue mountains in the distance.

The Ebro River isn’t that exciting at first glance. Cutting a slow course through northern Spain on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, it looks like a pretty place to drive along as part of a road trip, but hardly one of the bucket list fishing spots. Think again.

The Ebro is home to one of the largest and heaviest of all freshwater fish, the Wels Catfish. These guys are big enough to swallow you whole and still come back for seconds. They live all across Europe, but something in the Ebro makes them grow extra big and extra tough.

Three anglers posing with giant Wels Catfish, a frequent target on bucket list fishing trips.

Once you’ve had your fill of catfishing, you can move on to Ebro’s other sport fish. Zander grow big and happy here, as do Carp. Nothing can compete with the sight of a 200 lb Wels, though.

And So Much More!

There are so many spots almost demanding a place on our list. From the sheer variety of Thailand’s fishing lakes to single-species specialists like Southern Argentina, there are bucket list fishing trips all over the world. Even your local waters could hold monsters. So what are you waiting for? Book a charter near you and find out!

What’s your bucket list fishing trip? Which of ours would you most like to go on? Let us know in the comments below, we always love to hear your stories!

Next article20 Homemade Forge Plans & Tutorials For Every Skill Level
Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>