This post was written by Ralph Starks, a blogger and traveler who enjoys exploring the world by land in the best ways possible.
When it comes to planning a trip around fishing opportunities, travelers will prioritize different aspects. Some will build out an experience based on their ultimate fish wish-list; they may want to catch their own Mahi Mahi or might settle for a beautiful rainbow trout. Others may be motivated by destination; they’re interested in calm waters and a peaceful afternoon more than taking in an impressive or rare haul.
For hobbyist fishers, a simple vacation that stays on-theme might be enough for a quality trip. Given how popular fishing has become in places like North America and Australia, there are locations that cater specifically to fishers—from nautical-themed hotels to rod rentals that make travel easier.
There are also video games that let fans simulate the real thing. There’s Fishing Planet, as well as Fishing Tim World: Pro Tour, which are both ranked highly for gamers that know a thing or two about casting and baiting. Even casino games like slots focus on fishing themes; one title, Fishin’ Frenzy, includes symbols like pelicans and lifeboats to emulate fishing in an actual blue lagoon.
Clearly, there’s enough interest in fishing to keep travelers occupied whether they opt for a trip to the Great Barrier Reef or the rushing rivers of Colorado. But, given a traveler would need to choose one or the other, which location would provide unforgettable fishing opportunities on a dream trip of a lifetime?
North America: The Full-On Experience
There’s one huge caveat for fishers that will help them decide whether they build a trip to North America or Australia: freshwater fishing. Those interested in visiting lakes, rivers, and marshes will have nearly unlimited options for building a trip in North America.
But those looking for coastal fishing won’t be out of luck, either. Canada’s coasts around Novia Scotia and Prince Edward Island are home to the largest fish in the world—in fact, the all-tackle world record has yet to be beaten since a man caught a 1,496-pound tuna here in 1979.
Farther south, New York’s Montauk and Martha’s Vineyard regions are also popular for big coastal catches. Both regions in Canada and the US come with a pretty big price tag, so be wary of expensive trips—but keep in mind that freshwater fishing will be much more affordable… and there’s plenty of it.
In particular, shallow-water habitats like those found throughout the American South in Mississippi and Louisiana are popular for fly-rodders looking to land a tough catch—particularly red drum. Once again, the name of the game here is accessibility, affordability, and quality time spent in a beautiful environment.
Australia: Unlike Anywhere Else
Even those who can’t tell a starfish from a marlin are interested in visiting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Fishers will need to be careful when building a trip; fishing rules are quite limiting, while travel to and from Australia is a wallet-buster for many.
But those who manage the trip won’t be disappointed. The area is home to Lizard Island, the continent’s best fishing location. As with Cairns, covered below, many fishers head to Lizard Island with hopes of reeling in a huge Black Marlin, which is a challenge for even the most seasoned hobbyists.
Aside from the Great Barrier Reef’s fishing and tourist opportunities, Cairns is another top-tier destination in Australia. It is ideal for big game hunters, as the colder climate makes it a perfect spot for massive marlins. Just be sure to plan your trip when the fish will be migrating through the area.
Conclusion: Price, Value, & Diversity
As mentioned above, freshwater fishers will have no problem opting for a North American trip based on the region’s availability of lakes, rivers, marshes, and other bodies of water. However, Australia delivers on some of the world’s rarest and most breathtaking coastal destinations.
Given both regions will cost a fisher about the same for a well-rounded trip, the waters are even more muddied. One simple way to choose is to consider traveling partners. Those who are uninterested in fishing will be endlessly entertained by Australia’s other tourist opportunities, while those stuck navigating North America’s rural roads to find the perfect swamp are certain to feel less enthused with their trip.
Going solo or sticking with fishing buddies? Stick to North America. Building an itinerary with non-fishers? Head Down Under.