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May 6, 2021

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Guidesly’s 2021 Bucket List for Sportfishing Challenge

Guidesly’s 2021 Bucket List for Sportfishing Challenge

Up for a challenge the next time you go sportfishing this year? Well, look no further! We have made a sportfishing bucket list for anglers who are setting targets this year. Here are the top seven fish - three saltwater and four freshwater ones - that you should keep an eye out for and catch this year. You can add this to your already pre-existing bucket list should you choose to accept the challenge. 

Here is a motivation for you to set your goals a bit higher and provide you with something to look forward to the next time you set your next fishing trip.   


Saltwater Sport Fishing Targets

We’ll start with the top saltwater sportfishing targets. These targets are the blue marlin, tuna, and chinook salmon. These game fish are mostly found in the Atlantic ocean and areas close to it, like the Gulf coast. The exception to this is the chinook salmon, which can be found in freshwater lakes and rivers close to the ocean as well. 


1. Blue marlin

We should start this bucket list with a bang. The blue marlin is a fish that should be on every angler’s bucket list, and with good reason. This fish is ridiculously fast in the water, intelligent, and delicious that all kinds of anglers have sought it since the 1920s. This fish is a true challenge for those brave enough to hunt it and testify to the skills, dedication, and perseverance of anglers who can catch them. This fish attracts a multi-million dollar industry just for catching them. That is how prized this fish is. 

Located in areas like Port Mansfield, Texas, and other fishing destinations in the Gulf of Mexico, this migratory fish is a must-have for those who are angling in these areas. Blue marlin can reach up to 1,400 pounds and some, even more, making it a tough challenge to those who would catch it. Baits and lures that wiggle or skip work best when you wish to catch this magnificent fish. 


2. Tuna

Yellowfin, bluefin, take your pick. Tuna is prized by anglers and commercial anglers alike for its delicious meat. Tuna is a worthy trophy for those who wish to catch them as they offer a great challenge and their size makes reeling them difficult. But because they are so prized, the number of tuna as of late has started to dwindle, and even the places where they used to appear in large numbers may yield only a few to anglers seeking for them. 

Located in the western and eastern parts of the Atlantic, the tuna is another migratory fish commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico. So if you’re planning to catch these fish, your best bet on catching them is by going to the fishing spots near the Gulf, such as Port Mansfield, Texas. Tuna can also be found in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in places such as Provincetown and Sandwich. 


3. Chinook salmon

Chinook salmon is another fish that you definitely shouldn’t miss when planning your next fishing trip up north in Anchorage, Alaska, Lake Ontario, or Lake Oahe, South Dakota. The chinook salmon is the biggest salmon species, weighing in at about 7-15 pounds, and can grow from 12 to 39 inches. 

But more than its size, this fish is especially prized for its delicious meat, which is more than enough to attract anglers and commercial anglers from all over the country. These fish stay in deeper waters as they’re sensitive to light, so it is recommended to use a weighted bait when fishing for them. And since they’re averse to too much light, it is best to catch them during the early morning and the evening when they are most active. 


Freshwater Sport Fishing Targets

Now that we’ve talked about the saltwater fish that need to be on your sportfishing bucket list let us now talk about the freshwater ones. The most sought-after freshwater game fish are the bass, snook, catfish, and salmon. These fish are commonly located at rivers, ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. 


1. Bass

The most popular freshwater game fish in the US, the largemouth bass, is also the state fish of many States, such as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida. This fish is located in most freshwater bodies of water such as creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes. They are common in the eastern and southern US, but they can also be found throughout all the other states, except Alaska and Hawaii. Largemouth bass are easily identified by their enormous mouths. Anglers prize them for the fight that they offer after they’re reeled out of the water. Largemouth bass are commonly found in areas where they can easily hide, so if you’re looking to catch them, try searching at thick weeds and sunken places. 


2. Snook 

The common snook is another popular freshwater fish found in the western Atlantic Ocean’s warm waters. Its range is from North Carolina to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Catching this fish is similar to catching largemouth bass, to the point where some snook lures originated as lures meant for bass. They’re commonly found on estuaries and lagoons, and shallow coastal waters.


3. Catfish

The catfish’s inclusion in this list may raise some eyebrows, but it is a popular game fish for many anglers. They grow big, some reaching up to 143 pounds, especially in the case of the blue catfish. They offer a great fight to anglers seeking them. The most popular catfish for American anglers is the blue catfish, although they are also considered pests in some states, like Virginia. This is because their populations could easily grow to become uncontrollable, and the fact that they eat blue crabs, which is detrimental to Virginia’s fisheries. If you want to catch a lot of them with no limits, Virginia is the place to go. This fish is usually located in rivers and lakes near tidal creeks, as they follow the tides. Catfish also prefer to sleep in the deep and muddy bottoms of channels, so if you’re looking for them, that’s where they’ll be found. Another tip when fishing them is it is best to fish for them at night as that is when they’ll show up in shallower waters. 


4. Salmon

All salmon are anadromous, meaning that they spend a part of their lives in freshwater, specifically to breed and grow, but mostly remain in saltwater. This means that you can catch this fish both in freshwater and onshore. But there are cases of salmon being “landlocked” and are unable to return to the ocean like the Atlantic salmon. Instead of returning to the ocean, they instead move to lakes and other large freshwater bodies and remain there until they need to breed again. They will return to the rivers where they spawned to breed and then go back to their usual location when finished. 

Another Salmon species that anglers love to catch is the coho salmon. This fish is just as prized as the chinook salmon because of their meat and the challenge they offer to anglers catching them. Although not as big as their saltwater cousins, coho salmon can still grow to large sizes, from 12 to 30 inches long, and weigh 8-12 pounds. The silver coho caught in the Great Lakes weighed 33 pounds and 4 ounces, making them the biggest in the world record. Some places to fish for salmon include Lake Ontario, Maine, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. 


The Sea is Always Abundant

This bucket list mentions only a few of the trophy fish that you can catch while angling, but in the end, it all depends on you. Angling is a sport of patience and dedication, so if you travel at one fishing spot hoping to catch a trophy fish and end up getting no bites or just a small one, don’t be discouraged. It’s all part of the angling experience, and there will be days that you will get no bites, but there are days where you will catch the biggest or the most challenging fish in the area. And this bucket list is here to provide you with a guide, as well as a challenge, to catch these fish and add them to your list of achievements.