The Best Family Fishing Vacations
There’s no better way to spend time with family than a peaceful day on the water enjoying the great outdoors. Not to mention the added excitement on your loved one’s faces when they feel the hard pull of a fish at the end of their line.
After many years in the industry and visiting numerous places around the United States, it has currently come down to Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas for offering the best family fishing vacation opportunities. The best family fishing vacation spots offer top-notch fishing opportunities and plenty for the family to do nearby while not on a fishing trip.
Family fishing vacations are a great way to escape the usual chaotic tourist attractions and spend quality time together while relaxing in the sun and hooking into some exciting catches.
This article will break down everything you need to know to plan the ultimate family vacation for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.
Florida Family Fishing Vacation
Florida is often one of the first spots that comes to mind when someone thinks of fishing or vacation. This tropical paradise and “fishing capital of the world” is undoubtedly at the top of the list of best family fishing destinations. Florida fishing is ideal for every style, age, and skill level because it has endless fishing opportunities available all year. Whether you want a shot at catching a monster trophy bass, a Florida tarpon, or a huge sailfish, there is a fishing charter available for you and your family.
Booking a family trip on the water is a refreshing change of pace compared to the hectic theme parks and other tourist spots.
The best part about Florida is it’s basically a fishing playground. You can choose almost any city in Florida, and there will be some kind of fishing trip available in that area, whether it be freshwater, inshore, or offshore.
Best FL Freshwater Family Fishing Spot
Targeted Species: Largemouth bass, Black Crappie
Lake Tohopekaliga, commonly known as Lake Toho, is a 22,700-acre lake in Kissimmee, Fl. It is among the most famous trophy bass lake in the country because of its consistency in size and numbers.
Lake Toho is an extremely scenic lake providing great wildlife spottings and birdwatching.
Lake Toho has hosted numerous bass tournaments, the most known being when Elite Bassmaster Pro, Dean Rokas, caught the record for heaviest five-bass limit ever right here on West Lake Toho. Largemouth bass are the most commonly targeted fish on this lake and attract anglers worldwide, but the black crappie fishing is a close second. Other panfish commonly targeted here are bluegill and redear sunfish.
Families Over 4 People
There another reason why Lake Toho is a unique destination for your family fishing vacation. Toho is one of the only bass fishing lakes in the area that provides private charters for larger groups. The average bass fishing charter can fit 3 or 4 passengers max, causing families over 4 to split into two or more boats. Bassonline now offers pontoon trips that allow you to comfortably fish with your family of over four people on a private boat catered just to you.
Another great thing about Florida is that it’s a year-round fishery! Anglers can catch excellent Florida bass all over the state during any month of the year, and Lake Toho is one of the most consistent lakes around with its year-round fishing. However, the best time will be during the spring months for those going after a giant trophy spawning bass. Central Florida is an exceptional bass fishing town where some locals swear the winter is an excellent time to go. Even during the peak of summer, anglers can catch bass here. Though it’s advised to book a morning fishing adventure in the summer due to the heat, and the bite may slow down as the temperature rises throughout the day.
The best time for black crappie on Toho is in February. Usually, the best time for bluegill, chain pickerel, and redear sunfish is from May and June during their spawn.
Area Things To Do
This fishery makes for a top-notch family fishing trip with constant excitement during the trip and an exciting surrounding area for in-between fishing adventures. Lake Toho park at the north end of the lake offers hiking trails, picnic areas, grills, restrooms, and a splash pad playground for children. Some popular attractions nearby the lake include Gatorland, Wild Florida safari Drive-Thru Park, Kissimmee Lakefront Park, and Airboat Tours.
The theme parks in Orlando are within 20 minutes from Toho, making it close enough to tie that into your trip if desired but far enough to experience a true outdoor adventure away from the crowds.
Inshore Targeted Species: Snook, Tarpon, Redfish, Spotted Seatrout
Cape Canaveral, located on the East coast of Florida about an hour from Lake Toho, is undoubtedly among the top on the list of best spots for a family fishing vacation in Florida if your goal is to include some saltwater action to your itinerary.
Your family fishing trip in Cape Canaveral can mean exploring the shallow mangrove flats in the Banana River or the Indian River Lagoon targeting Florida’s top saltwater gamefish. There is a diverse amount of aquatic life in the coastal waters of Cape Canaveral, but the most commonly targeted fish include tarpon, snook, redfish, and spotted sea trout. The Banana River is a shallow waterway that provides optimal sight fishing conditions for an authentic inshore fishing experience. Your kids will never forget seeing a redfish tailing for the first time.
Another favorite for anglers on a family fishing adventure is the spotted seatrout which is often hooked in the Indian River Lagoon system throughout the year. Trout are often a favorite target for families because of the abundance of this fish and its good taste. Seatrout are typically a good starter fish for little anglers or novices.
The fish that often has the family reminiscing on at the dinner table are the hard-fighting snook and tarpon. These fish will always give you a run for your money, taking off as soon as they are hooked and doing everything they can to getaway. Tarpon especially are a fun sight as they make their extreme acrobatic leaps. Summer and Fall are generally prime times for tarpon in Cape Canaveral.
Offshore Targeted Species: Grouper, Snapper, Mahi Mahi
Head offshore a few miles, and you’ll reach the reefs and wrecks full of tasty fish such as grouper and snapper. Anglers can catch numerous different snapper species nearshore, including Mangrove, Lane, Mutton, and Yellowtail, all of which taste great and make for an exciting moment. Where you find snapper, you will likely find grouper, which grow to massive sizes here! You may encounter different grouper species, including Gag, Snowy, Scamp, and Red. Other nearshore species include Cobia, King Mackerel, Tilefish, and some sharks.
Travel further away from the coastline into the open ocean for a shot at a giant Florida pelagic. This area is a playground for huge game fish such as Mahi Mahi, Blackfin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Swordfish, Blue Marlin, White Marlin, and Sailfish.
Area Things To Do
Cape Canaveral offers tons of outdoor experiences, from fishing tours to dolphin cruises. However, Kennedy Space Center is usually the go-to thing for families to experience while visiting the Space Coast. Visitors will get behind-the-scenes access and plenty of interactive exhibits at the space center. Items on display at Kennedy Space Center include moon rocks, equipment, space suits, photos, and accounts from those who have worked in the program.
There’s also plenty more to see between fishing adventures, such as the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, the Exploration Tower, Manatee Sanctuary Park, Banana River Aquatic Preserve, and Brevard Zoo.
The area has many restaurants and cafes to check out, such as Cafe Monte Carlo, Tropic Ice Cream, and more in the Historic Cocoa Village.
Pennsylvania Family Fishing Vacation
Pennsylvania has more than 85,000 miles of streams and rivers, 4,000 inland lakes, and the world-famous Lake Erie, which covers 470,000 acres. One of the best parts of Pennsylvania is the wide variety of popular game fish it supports. The streams and creeks are home to rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout. The rivers are home to smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, catfish, pike, and bluegill. This means that Pennsylvania has something to offer every type of angler and is perfect for all skill levels to experience. There is also tons of fun stuff to do, making PA one of the best family fishing vacation spots around.
With the endless bodies of water across the state, it’s hard to find a place where you can’t fish. However, due to its variety of species and annual consistency, Lake Erie at Presque Isle Park has earned the number one spot for bass and walleye fishing in PA.
Best PA Freshwater Family Fishing Spot
Presque Isle Park, Lake Erie
Targeted Species: Smallmouth bass, Walleye, Largemouth bass, Steelhead, Yellow Perch, Lake Trout
Lake Erie, PA, supports various healthy fish populations, including smallmouth bass, walleye, steelhead, salmon, crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, sunfish, pike, muskie, and jumbo lake trout. All of these fish species thrive in both quality and quantity in Lake Erie.
Lake Erie is most known for its incredible smallmouth bass fishing charters. Giant smallmouth bass are attracted to Presque Isle Bay which has become their premier spawning grounds. The amount of panfish in these waters makes this a highly young kid-friendly fishery.
If you are trying to plan your fishing vacation around the smallmouth bass spawn, then late April through August would be the best time when the lake begins to warm. This is generally when the sport fishing season would occur, targeting the popular game fish such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, lake trout, steelhead, and walleye. Walleye trips are the next most popular after smallmouth trips. The best months for walleye sport fishing on Lake Erie are June, July, August, and September. Fishing for jumbo lake trout heats up in April but is best in May. Finally, steelhead fishing on Lake Erie is best during the fall months when they gather at the creek’s mouth when the water temperatures cool down.
Area Things To Do
Various attractions and waterfront dining surround Lake Erie, PA. In Erie, PA, Presque Isle Bay is one of the best spots for family fishing vacations because of its lively, fun atmosphere around the lake during the fishing season. Presque State Park is a 3,200-acre park with beautiful beaches, hiking trails, swimming, and marinas. Presque Park is also a great spot to take in the beautiful vibes of the natural world and is perfect for birdwatchers. Some popular attractions near Erie include the Erie Zoo, the Maritime Museum, Splash Lagoon, and Tom Ridge Environmental Center.
Oil Creek Trout Fishing Near Oil City
Erie won the title for best PA family fishing vacation spot overall. Still, it’s necessary to mention the incredible trout fishing spots in Pennsylvania that offer just as excellent fishing vacations. There are numerous creeks and streams to go trout fishing in the state, including Neshannock Creek, Slippery Rock Creek, and Youghiogheny River. But the best is Oil Creek, near Oil City. Trout fishing is unique because of the techniques used and the opportunity for wading trips.
Anglers can enjoy fishing this beautiful freshwater creek with the jaw-dropping mountain scenery surrounding them. According to experts, the best fishing happens below Pine Creek, downstream towards Allegheny River. The delayed harvest sections of the creek starting at the bridge of the Petroleum Center are open all year, but the spring and Fall are usually the best times for a family trip to Oil Creek.
Area Things To Do
Oil Creek State Park has a lot to explore within itself. The tranquil, scenic park is among the most historic state parks in PA. Some of the most popular things to do in the state park are the Petroleum Center, Miller Falls, Drake Well Museum, the Gerard Trail, Pioneer Falls, Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad, and Coal Oil Johnny House.
There are also numerous authentic places to eat and explore outside of the state park in Oil City. The nearby town is full of quaint shops, eateries, and places to learn about the area’s rich history in the oil industry. Oil City, Pa is a small but beautiful upcoming tourist attraction that is certainly worth a visit if you choose PA for your family vacation.
Texas Family Fishing Vacation
Texas is known for many things, and excellent bass fishing is undoubtedly high on the list. There are tons of fantastic bass fishing lakes to choose from in Texas, but the top of our list is Lake Fork.
Texas is also home to the Guadalupe River, the only year-round trout fishery in the state stocked with brown trout and rainbow trout.
This great state also offers top-notch saltwater fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages. The Texas Coast has coastal inlets, protected bays, nearshore reefs, and the deep Gulf of Mexico for your family to experience catching the most sought-after saltwater game fish in Texas.
Best TX Freshwater Family Fishing Spot
Targeted Species: Largemouth bass, White bass, Catfish, Crappie, and Sunfish.
Lake Fork is the most known reservoir in Texas and attracts many visiting anglers every year for a shot at its trophy bass. Lake Fork is most famous for its largemouth bass fishing, but anglers can also catch white bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish such as bluegill.
Over 65% of the Top 50 largest bass in Texas and over half of the fish entered in the Toyota ShareLunker Program came from Lake Fork. In addition, this fishery holds 15 of the top 20 state record bass ever caught, making this the perfect place for a shot at your next personal best trophy bass on the local charter boats.
Crappie fishing is the next most targeted species and is generally good, especially under the lake’s bridges and in standing timber. Lake Fork is one of the top family fishing destinations because of its endless fun fishing opportunities for all ages.
In general, Texas is a year-round bass fishing destination, but December through February is often the slowest time due to cold water temperatures. Largemouths are easier to catch early in the year in Texas when spawning brings them to the shallow waters—making spring the best time of year for your annual fishing trip in Texas. March is usually the best month for anglers to catch a trophy-size largemouth bass while on Texas bass fishing charters. Mid to late Fall will still offer excellent bass fishing, too. But come June, most of the bass will have started moving into deeper water. However, the summertime doesn’t mean the fishing season is over; in fact, it’s considered an excellent time by any experts. The warm water conditions increase the fish’s metabolism causing them to feed more often. Local charter boats are certainly still catching fish during the summer, but they usually have to fish deeper water areas.
Area Things To Do
Lake Fork is a well-maintained reservoir offering four public boat ramps for anybody who brings their boat or uses local boat rentals. Local lake accommodations include motels, cabins, RV sites, and tent camping. Also, there are local tackle shops, gas pumps, convenience stores, and restaurants all nearby. The area also has fishing piers to enjoy the endless fishing opportunities all day, every day.
Other local attractions include the Texas Zoo and Gator Park, Grand Saline Salt Palace, Mineola Historical Museum, and Coleman Park.
Best Saltwater Fishing Spot
Inshore Targeted Species: Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder
The Texas Coast is among the best inshore fishing spots in the country, with its numerous bays and jetties. Specifically, among the best family fishing vacation spots to enjoy Texan saltwater fishing is Galveston, Texas. This area is full of salt marshes holding Speckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, and much more of your favorite fresh gulf seafood. As the Texas temperatures start to drop in the Fall, most popular inshore fish species begin to school up along the Texas coast. East Bay and Trinity Bay are two areas north of Galveston that offer incredible inshore fishing all year, but especially in the Fall. Anglers can have a shot at Speckled Trout and Redfish during any time of the year here.
Offshore Targeted Species: Cobia, Kingfish, Mahi Mahi, Sharks, Blackfin Tuna
Galveston is also one of the best spots to launch big sport fishing boats heading out for a nearshore or offshore fishing trip. Nearshore fishing adventures usually take you several miles into the Gulf with land still in sight. While on a nearshore fishing trip, you and your family can catch fish species such as Cobia, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo, Sharks, and Mahi Mahi near artificial reefs and shipwrecks.
Offshore fishing generally takes you between 60 and 100 miles out at sea to go after the largest sea predators. While on an offshore fishing trip, anglers can catch fish species such as Blackfin Tuna, Ling, giant Jacks, and Mahi Mahi.
Area Things To Do
Galveston, Texas, is covered with beautiful beaches and has a historic downtown that’s fun to explore. Galveston offers tons of sightseeing, fishing, birdwatching, water sports, excellent food, and interesting museums. Some popular attractions include Bishops Palace, Moody Gardens and Aquarium Pyramid, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, Texas Seaport Museum, and The Bryan Museum. The Moody Mansion is another “must-see” that is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a 28,000-square foot home built in 1895 with incredible interior features and a host to many local events and programs.
Planning A Fishing Vacation
Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas all offer multiple spots that would make for an excellent family vacation that involves incredible fishing and tons of other fun activities. When planning the fishing portion of your vacation, it’s best to consider the ages and interests of kids and others to help decide which trip is best.
Freshwater fishing is fun for all ages and skill levels. It’s a great place for kids and beginners to start, and it’s an excellent place for experienced anglers to catch their personal best or experience a new area. Inshore fishing is still suitable for all ages and skill levels who want to experience a saltwater trip. Inshore fishing offers plenty of action to keep most non-avid anglers interested but usually not as much as a bass fishing trip. Offshore fishing is usually best for more experienced anglers and not always best for kids since it involves longer trips and less action. Though, it could be an excellent trip for those who simply want to relax and spend time on the water. Offshore trips are not recommended for those prone to seasickness either.
Overall, there are plenty of options in each of these states, and every Bassonline trip can be catered to your wants and needs. Your local fishing expert will be able to take you to all the best spots and tailor your trip to your interests. Most importantly, a vacation that involves fishing with your loved ones is a great bonding experience that will create lifetime memories for everyone