South's Hottest Summer Fishing Destinations

From crappie to giant sharks, take advantage of these southern hotspots to this catch more fish this summer.

South's Hottest Summer Fishing Destinations

Summer Fishing Playbook - South: Steven Felsher shows off a speckled trout he caught in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

Anglers can choose from a multitude of destinations to catch a variety of freshwater and salty species all across the South, but a few places habitually stand out as worthy of a road trip.

Toledo Bend Largemouth Bass

South Summer Playbook
Kevin VanDam, a four-time Bassmaster Classic champion, admires a bass he caught on a jerkbait while fishing at Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana-Texas line near Many, La. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

A lunker lake for decades, Toledo Bend comprises more than 181,000 acres of the Sabine River on the Louisiana-Texas border.

“Toledo Bend is a great bass lake. It has tons of habitat diversity,” says four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam. “Few lakes in the country produce as many 10-pound bass as Toledo Bend.”

Both Texas and Louisiana heavily stock the lake with Florida-strain bass. Like many lakes, the best trophy bass fishing occurs in early spring, but the Bend can deliver lunkers at any time. In fact, Eric Weems caught the lake record, a 15.32 pounder, in July 2000 while fishing a jig and craw in Six-Mile Creek.


“Toledo Bend has become one of those destination places for people who want to catch a 10-pound bass,” says Darold Gleason with South Toledo Bend Guide Services. “February to May is the best time to fish Toledo Bend, but on any cast, someone might catch the bass of a lifetime.”


For booking trips, call Gleason at 337-397-8860.

Norfolk Lake Striped Bass

South Summer Playbook
Valory Zortman shows off a striped bass that she caught while fishing Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service on Norfork Lake near Mountain Home, Ark. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

In the Ozark Mountains near Mountain Home, Arkansas, Norfork Lake runs about 47 miles along the North Fork of the White River. The lake plunges to more than 200 feet deep, making for outstanding conditions for giant striped bass and hybrids. Anglers frequently catch fish in the 20- to 40-pound range, with some topping 50 pounds.

During the summer many anglers fish clear waters at night with jerkbaits, large swimbaits or walk-the-dog topwaters. In the daylight, troll live shad through the depths.

“Stripers move up shallow at night to feed on shad,” says Steve Olomon with Steve’s Guide Service. “Shad move up on the banks at night. It’s a little tougher to catch stripers on artificial baits, but I like the challenge. We want to put the bait close to the shoreline, but not on it.”


For booking trips, contact Olomon at 870-421-5142 or see fishingwithsteve.com. Also call Tom Reynolds with STR Outfitters at 877-246-4896 or see stroutfitters.com. For lodging, visit Mockingbird Bay Resort.

Mississippi Coast Speckled Trout

South Summer Playbook
Ronnie Daniels of Fisher-Man Guide Services shows off a speckled trout he caught on a topwater bait while fishing in Mississippi Sound near Pass Christian, Miss. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

Separated from the Gulf of Mexico by several barrier islands, Mississippi Sound spreads along the entire Magnolia State coastline. In the summer, big speckled trout spawn in the salty sound.

Numerous artificial reefs placed by the state offer excellent places to look for trout. Some reefs sit very close to the beaches, making them easy to access in kayaks. Many trout run in the 4- to 7-pound range with some bigger ones.


“For big trout, I like throwing topwater baits,” says Ronnie Daniels of Fisher-Man Guide Services. “Topwater baits have larger profiles. Throwing topwater baits is not only a very effective way to fish for big trout, but, in my opinion, the most enjoyable way. Topwater fishing is the only form of fishing where missing a fish is just as exciting as catching one!”

For booking trips, call 228-323-1115 or visit msfisherman.com. For reef information, visit dmr.ms.gov/artificial-reef.

Alabama River Crappie

South Summer Playbook
Gerald Overstreet with Overstreet’s Guide Service in Gainestown, Ala., shows off a crappie he caught while fishing on the Alabama River near Prattville, Ala. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

The Alabama River flows more than 300 miles through the Cotton State. The entire system consistently produces many 1 1/2- to 2-pound-class crappie, with some topping three pounds, but the best fishing usually occurs near the state capital.

Dams divide the system into three main pools. Near Montgomery many people fish Swift Creek or Cooters Pond. People also fish the main channels and backwaters with spider rigs.

“The Alabama system is a river, but it’s also a series of lakes with a lot of tributaries and backwaters,” says Gerald Overstreet, Jr., a local guide. “Swift Creek is a big creek with a lot of deep water. Some places drop more than 25 feet deep with flats off the channel that run 6 to 12 feet deep.”

For booking trips, contact Overstreet at 251-589-3225.

Peach State Trout

South Summer Playbook
Bill Oyster shows off a rainbow trout he caught on a bamboo fly rod while fishing Noontootla Creek near Blue Ridge, Ga. Oyster specializes in making custom fly rods out of split bamboo and teaches a class where students can make their own rods. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

Fannin County bills itself as the “Trout Capital of Georgia,” which makes sense considering it’s located entirely within the Chattahoochee National Forest, which offers anglers more than 1,300 miles of trout streams. Streams at upper elevations contain mostly brook trout.

The Toccoa River flows near the town of Blue Ridge. One of the best places to find trophy trout, Noontootla Creek begins high in the national forest and flows into the Toccoa River. The system can produce brown and rainbow trout exceeding 15 pounds.

“The Toccoa River has a lot of trout,” says local trout expert Bill Oyster. “Noontootla Creek has some of the biggest brown trout I’ve ever seen. It’s a completely wild fishery.”

On Noontootla Creek, anglers can find both public and managed private waters. About 2.5 miles of the creek flows through Noontootla Creek Farms, one of the premier private trophy trout destinations in Georgia.

For information on Noontootla Creek Farms, visit ncfga.net. For area information visit blueridgemountains.com.

Florida Panhandle Tripletail and Sharks

South Summer Playbook
Capt. Dan Van Treese of Perfect Cast Charters assists Taylor Warren to hold a lemon shark she caught while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico near Port St. Joe, Fla. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

Florida’s “Forgotten Coast” attracts numerous summer visitors, and many come with fins. Each summer, tarpon and sharks migrate along the Florida Panhandle.

When not boating tarpon or sharks, anglers can look for another migrant—tripletail. About 23 miles east of Port St. Joe, the Apalachicola River delta feeds a huge estuary full of floating debris. Tripletail like to hang around floating objects in Indian Pass and throughout the system, making them excellent targets for sight fishing.

“The Apalachicola River delta is kind of like the Mississippi River delta, with a lot of oyster bars and creeks,” says Dan Van Treese with Perfect Cast Charters. “A bunch of finger streams dump into the bay. When we’re out fishing or running, we keep our eyes open for tripletails. If we see one, we’ll go after it.”

For the best success, drift a cork dangling a live shrimp close to structure holding a tripletail. Some tripletails exceed 35 pounds.

For booking trips, call Van Treese at 850-227-5149 or visit perfectcastcharters.com. For area information, visit visitgulf.com.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

MLF Pros: What

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record. Walleye

Record-Sized Walleye Was Foul-Hooked, Agency Says

G&F Online Staff

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record.

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the Garden State's hottest bass fishing. Destinations

7 Best Bets for New Jersey Bass

J.B. Kasper - October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the...

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

See More Trending Articles

More Playbook

Spring is the time of change. It's also a great time for catching crappies if you hit the right spots. Playbook

Minnesota Crappie Fishing Guide

Gary Korsgaden

Spring is the time of change. It's also a great time for catching crappies if you hit the...

From crappie to giant sharks, take advantage of these southern hotspots to this catch more fish this summer. Playbook

South's Hottest Summer Fishing Destinations

John N. Felsher

From crappie to giant sharks, take advantage of these southern hotspots to this catch more...

Outfit your 'yak for summertime angling in 6 easy steps. Playbook

How to Rig a Fishing Kayak (Video)

Game & Fish Staff - June 09, 2020

Outfit your 'yak for summertime angling in 6 easy steps.

Fishing can be on fire on waters throughout the Midwest in the summer months. Here are several top spots to try for some of the region's most popular species. Playbook

Midwest's Hottest Summer Fishing Destinations

Mike Pehanich

Fishing can be on fire on waters throughout the Midwest in the summer months. Here are several...

See More Playbook

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.