Water enthusiasts the South over, from the open Atlantic to the bayous of Louisiana, know there are few things more satisfying than eating a fish you caught yourself. And the region is full of “catch-and-cook” spots to help you do just that, including hole-in-the-wall dockside restaurants and luxury resorts alike. We’ve rounded up seven worthy spots.
Some words of advice: Always call ahead to confirm that catch-and-cook is offered. Most places also prefer your catch be cleaned and filleted in advance. And of course, check the fishing regulations in each state before you go.
Duck Key, Florida
The Florida Keys are known for bountiful opportunities to land tarpon, redfish, grouper, and, if you go spearfishing with a dive operator, the invasive (but delicious) lionfish. At Angler and Ale, a restaurant at the Hawks Cay Resort marina that peers right out to unrivaled Keys sunsets, travelers can hop off the boat, clean their catch at one of the dockside stations, and bring it straight into the restaurant. Chefs cook fish blackened, grilled, or fried and serve it with two sides.
Charleston, South Carolina
What started as an Airbnb experience in 2017 has now become a full-blown business for Tia Clark. She takes visitors and locals alike out for a day on the water in search of the blue crabs that go into many local specialties, including she-crab soup. Guests learn to throw nets from Brittlebank Park downtown. After the tour, Tia and her team will show you how to break down crabs so you can cook them at home or bring them to Charleston Crab House. Just be sure to give the restaurant, which has a few locations, a heads up. You’ll also need a saltwater fishing license.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Open since 2004, Doc’s overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway and is an essential stopover on the way to Padre Island. It gets its name from the late “Doc” Bill Blankenship, a longtime island resident. The restaurant’s location makes it easy for fishermen to bring in their haul. After the cook prepares your catch and serves it alongside Doc’s rice and seasonal vegetables, don’t forget to ring the bell on your way out, a local tradition.
Orange Beach, Alabama
The Alabama Gulf Coast is studded with great seafood spots. Fresh Off The Boat in Orange Beach sits alongside SanRoc Cay Marina, sharing a building with a charter company. Guests clean their prizes onsite, then order a mojito or margarita while the kitchen prepares the catch and serves it family-style, with sides that include garlic cheddar mashed potatoes.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Located in the sportsman’s paradise of Lake Charles, Grosse Savanne Lodge dates back to the 1800s and celebrates all things hunting and fishing. Here, guests can hunt duck, geese, and dove and chase saltwater and freshwater fish, all of which can be brought back to the restaurant and prepared by the chef. A menu highlight you don’t have to work for? Bacon-wrapped Gulf shrimp with pimento cheese grits.
Nags Head, North Carolina
Pier fishing is a beloved pastime in Nags Head in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. You might catch drum, pompano, or grouper, depending on the time of year. Clean your catch and bring it over to the Pier House Restaurant, an old-school joint covered in shingles and signage, with views of the ocean. Available for lunch and dinner, the catch-and-cook special is fried, grilled, or blackened and comes with fries, coleslaw, and hushpuppies.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Lynnhaven oysters get their name from the river that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Pleasure House Oysters in Virginia Beach operates three tours along this river, including the Waterman Tour, which brings shellfish lovers out to an oyster farm. Guests pluck oysters from the underwater traps with provided gloves and tools. Okay, so it’s not technically catch and cook, but guests can then slurp cold and briny oysters right there on the boat, inches above the very setting where they grew.