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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 11, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Washington state ranks as one of the top boating places in the country

Washington state earns a spot in the U.S. Recreational Boating Industry’s Top Ten States For Boating.

To mark the start of summer travel and boating seasons, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced the top ten states for boating based on annual sales.

In conjunction, Discover Boating, the recreational boating industry’s nonprofit awareness program, offers some of the best on-the-water spots just in time for National Fishing & Boating Week on June 4-12.

Boating expenditures in the U.S. reached $30.4 billion in 2010, and an estimated 75 million Americans took to the water, an increase of 14 percent compared to the recessionary year of 2009.

Here are the top ten boating states, ranked by total annual expenditures for new powerboats, motors, trailers and accessories in 2010[1], including popular on-the-water destinations.

1: Florida ($1.1 billion)

Hot Spot: Cedar Key

Located on the Gulf of Mexico in a secluded section of Florida’s big bend coastline, the area attracts avid bird watchers, anglers and boaters. Fishing is Cedar Key’s top attraction, but visitors don’t need to be die-hard saltwater anglers to enjoy its miles of undeveloped backwaters and uninhabited islands with white-sand beaches.

2: Texas ($812 million)

Hot Spot: Corpus Christi

A coastal city located in South Texas is the perfect waterfront city for boaters with more than 300 square miles of water. Its marina–called the “T-Heads” by local residents–is an excellent base for visiting boaters to see it all. It’s also the place to buy Gulf shrimp right off the boat when the fleet returns. Enjoy sailing, cruising, fishing, watersports or a day trip to nearby islands.

3: New York ($401 million)

Hot Spot: Lake George

Located just three hours from New York City in the picturesque Adirondacks, Lake George is a boater’s paradise. It’s especially convenient for dock-and-dine options, with many lakeside restaurants offering boat slips for their patrons.

4: North Carolina ($361 million)

Hot Spot: Crystal Coast

North Carolina may be known for its mountainous retreats, but go east of the Smoky Mountains and you will find a treasure trove of diving and big game fishing opportunities. The Crystal Coast is the Cape Lookout region of the Outer Banks, including Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle and historic Beaufort. There are many ways for boaters to get their feet wet, including fishing, diving, watersports or just cruising–there’s a little something for everyone at the Crystal Coast.

5: Louisiana ($360 million)

Hot Spot: Caddo Lake

Louisiana’s largest natural freshwater lake covers more than 26,000 acres on the Texas and Louisiana border. In Louisiana, Caddo Lake is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast, with more than 70 species of fish, several recreation parks and extraordinary wildlife viewing. Whether interested in boating, fishing, photography, wildlife viewing, or just sightseeing, Caddo Lake has it all.

6: Michigan ($350 million)

Hot Spot: Harbor Springs

Located in a sheltered bay on the northern shore of Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan, Harbor Springs provides a scenic waterfront town perfect for recreational boating. Harbor Springs is an ideal setting for sailing, fishing, watersports or just Great Lakes cruising alongside a vibrant town offering beautiful beaches, sailing schools and marinas for the mariner and outdoor lover.

7: Delaware ($343 million)

Hot Spot: Indian River

Approximately 15 miles long in Sussex County in southern Delaware, the Indian River has everything needed to enjoy the boating lifestyle. Its “back bays” are popular with boating families and Burtons Island is a nature preserve just a few minutes by boat from Indian River Inlet Marina.

8: California ($310 million)

Hot Spot: Carlsbad

Just 35 miles north of San Diego is Carlsbad, a boater’s paradise with idyllic weather and access to a beautiful lagoon called Agua Hedionda. The lagoon is similar to a small lake with calm waters filled with slalom water skiers and watersports enthusiasts. Don’t own a boat? Boats and gear can be rented at one of the marinas in this waterfront town.

9: Washington ($298 million)

Hot Spot: Wynoochee Lake

Located 150 miles outside of Seattle in the Olympic National Forest, this 11,000 acre reservoir offers boaters an escape from crowds to a scenic backdrop where fishing, swimming and cruising opportunities are abundant. Another “can’t miss” for outdoor lovers is the Valley of the Rainforest Giants near Lake Quinault, where visitors can see the world’s largest Sitka spruce and a western red cedar that’s the biggest tree in Washington.

10: Wisconsin ($292 million)

Hot Spot: Fish Creek

Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula boasts 250 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan. Nestled in the heart of it all is Fish Creek, where visiting boaters can explore the shoreline, bluffs overlooking the lake, offshore islands and Peninsula State Park. Whether it’s fishing, cruising or sailing, Fish Creek is the perfect hub for a family boating vacation.

For more information on how to get off the dock and get started in boating, visit

the Discover Boating website.

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