These places in the United States have no need to fish for any compliments — they’ve earned all of their praise purely on their own accord! These places, scattered across the nation, are quite a catch. After casting a wide net, we’ve come back with the best fishing spots in the entire country that we’re absolutely hooked on. Time to pack up your gear and prepare to get away from it all.
1. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
When a lake earns the title of “Walleye Capital of the World”, any avid fisher knows that this spot is one to add to any “must-visit” list. And since Lake of the Woods in Minnesota covers an astounding 65,000 miles of shoreline and stretches 70 miles long and wide, there is plenty of space to have a relaxing time alone.
In fact, Lake of the Woods is the sixth largest freshwater lake in all of the United States, just after the five Great Lakes. Although the fishing spot is renowned for its wintertime ice fishing, a visit in the summer is still worth the trip.
2. Bighorn River, Montana
For anyone who loves to fly fish, there’s no question about it; Bighorn River in Montana is the place to go. Located in the eastern part of the state, this tributary of the Yellowstone River stretches for 461 miles. And while most of the river is located on private property, the public-access areas are difficult to find, but totally worth the extra travel time.
Fishing here is an all-year activity, but the best times to go are said to be between the beginning of April and the end of November. With any luck, a committed fisher might catch a brown trout or the prized rainbows that can be found in Bighorn River.
3. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Besides being famed for generations as one of the most beautiful places in New England, Martha’s Vineyard isn’t just about the scenery. It is the host of the Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, one of the largest fishing competitions in the country. And there is a good reason why: some of the best fishing in the world can be found here.
Enjoy a day out fishing for the bonito, striped bass, and false albacore (known in this area as “albies”) that are known to be found in this area. And the best part? A fishing trip here comes with one of the most picturesque backdrops that New England has to offer.
4. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
The Gulf of Mexico is a fisherman’s dream, and there’s perhaps no better place in the United States to take advantage of it than from the shores of Alabama, specifically from neighboring Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The area is known for its plentiful bounty of fish and its wealth of fishing options.
Looking to do some deep sea fishing? There are tons of options to take a chartered boat far into the Gulf for a full day of fishing. Looking for a shorter excursion or something more low key? It is easy to fish from the piers, shorelines, or even the small lagoons nearby.
5. Montauk, New York
In the village of Montauk, located at the very end of New York’s Long Island, everything is surrounded by water. And we are not just talking about the land itself. It seems that all of life here revolves around its proximity to the vast expanses of the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound.
To say the fishing in Montauk is incredible would be an understatement. Cod, fluke, flounders, bluefish, and mackerel can all be found right off of Montauk’s shores. Take a boat out, and a lucky fisherman might end up spotting tuna, marlin, and even some sharks and dolphins deeper into the waters.
6. Devils Lake, North Dakota
Anywhere that has been declared the “Perch Capital of the United States” has earned itself a place on this list of the best fishing spots in the country. And the fact that Cabella’s Masters Walleye Circuit was held here also adds more credence to Devils Lake’s glowing reputation when it comes to its fishing.
Located in the northwest of North Dakota, Devils Lake is the largest body of water in the state. Beyond its size, Devils Lake is also known for its changes in water levels. Parts of the lake can be shallow one day, and then rise to a 60-foot depth the next. This means that no two days fishing on Devils Lake look the exact same.
7. Florida Keys, Florida
There truly is something for everyone in the Florida Keys, and there is no question why this area of Florida is called a fisherman’s paradise. For those looking to catch bonefish, permit, redfish, snook, or tarpon, the “back country” waters located between this island chain and Florida’s mainland are the place to go.
But for anyone looking for some bigger fish to fry should head out from the Keys into the Atlantic Ocean. It is there that fishers can find some of the most prized big fish in the world, including swordfish, sailfish, and marlin. And since the water is usually warm in this area, fishing conditions are ideal basically year-round.
8. Green River, Utah
The scenery alone should be enough to make anyone want to take a relaxing trip to Green River. Located in Utah, this tributary of the Colorado River known as “The Green” for its emerald-hued water is truly breathtaking, and cuts right through gorgeous red rock canyons.
And The Green does not just rest on its stunning looks. It delivers on its reputation as an incredible fishing spot as well. Fly fishing is truly king here, and the entire river is known to have a large trout population. Head closer to the dam for rainbow trout, or head downstream to catch some of The Green’s brown trout.
9. California Delta, California
The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, better known as the California Delta, is a dream for anyone who is into fishing or angling. Located just east of the San Francisco Bay Area, this area is best known for its variety when it comes to fish species, and its mild summers mean that fishing here is possible basically year-round.
Bluegill, crappie, catfish, salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and even crustaceans like crawfish can all be found off the shores of the California Delta. But if anyone is after striped bass, the best time is to come in November or May, during the two times each year that these fish are known to travel through the area.
10. Lake Austin, Texas
Did somebody say night fishing? Anyone who is interested in getting a little fishing done after the sun goes down should head over to Lake Austin in Austin, Texas. By day, the area is usually overwhelmed with boaters and other recreational activities relaxing on the water situated right next to some jaw-dropping riverside homes.
But at night in the summer months, it becomes the perfect playground for fishers. The lake provides excellent conditions for largemouth bass, some of which grow up to ten pounds in size. Anyone fishing might also have some luck catching catfish or sunfish, as both species are known to lurk in these waters.
11. Lake Shelbyville, Illinois
Lake Shelbyville in Illinois is said to be one of the best lakes for bass fishing in the United States. And if that does not get a fisherman out to this massive 11,100-acre reservoir hook, line, and sinker, we’re not sure what will.
But that’s not the only draw that makes fishers swarm to Lake Shelbyville. These waters are also home to walleye, catfish, crappie, muskie, carp, and bluegill, among others. Spend a day at the lake, or trail off to some of the more secluded coves and creek channels. Either way, there’s sure to be plenty of fish for the taking.
12. Bristol Bay, Alaska
Bristol Bay is way up there near the southeast tip of Alaska, and should be high up on anyone’s list of must-see places to fish. The bay is said to experience some of the highest tides in the world, making it a really unique place to spend at least a full day fishing.
There are a wide variety of fish that can be found in this area, including trophy rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, and Arctic char. However, none of these are as coveted as the salmon that Bristol Bay has become renowned for. An astounding 42 percent of the entire world’s wild salmon harvest come from Alaskan waters. So we are going to guess that chances are pretty high that a visitor might catch a fish or two.
13. Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada
At over 122,000,000 acre-feet, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and the second-deepest lake in the United States. That’s a lot of water and, incidentally, a whole lot of fish. At Lake Tahoe, the most prominent fish is the mackinaw (otherwise known as the lake trout), but rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and silver trout can also be found in these waters.
But there’s one thing to know before anyone casts a line in Lake Tahoe. Anyone is welcome to fish as much as they want, but they are limited to catching only 5 fish per person each day. This way, everyone can help ensure that Lake Tahoe keeps its place as a sustainable fisherman’s paradise.
14. Charlotte Harbor, Florida
Charlotte Harbor on the west coast of Florida has been called “one of the most fertile fishing grounds that can be found anywhere in Florida”. For that reason, Florida’s second-largest bay has attracted fishers from all over the world hoping to catch snook, redfish, spotted sea trout, tarpon, grouper, and more.
Anyone visiting for a quiet day in the summer will find that barracuda, tarpon, snapper (both mutton and yellowtail), tripletail, and ladyfish are all in season. Because this harbor is a popular spot during the summer months, it may be difficult to find a quiet place, but the search is well worth it.
15. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
This place takes the meaning of Southern comfort to a whole other level. Situated on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, with Pamlico Sound to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Cape Hatteras is one of the best fishing spots in the entire country all year round.
Cape Hatteras is also the perfect place for the indecisive fisher or for a big group. That’s because there are options for everyone, whether someone enjoys fly fishing, pier fishing, fishing from the shore, or taking a large headboat out with a group to catch larger fish. Regardless, fishermen and women will find the area to be full of trout, sea bass, flounder, and other species.
16. Kona, Hawaii
On the western side of Hawaii’s largest island, Kona is the best of both worlds for anyone who loves to fish. The water on this side of the island is known for being as calm as a lake, while the species that live there offer the kind of variety found in a ocean or deep sea fishing trip.
Kona is known for its deep sea fishing, where anglers can find mahi-mahi, ono, ahi, marlin, and more. If anyone would rather stick to the coast, they can fish for tropical fish like angelfish and snapper right from the comfort of Kona’s piers.
17. Thousand Islands, New York
If anyone is up for an epic day of fishing, then they might want to travel all the way up to the northwestern tip of New York state. It is there, in the Saint Lawrence River that visitors can find a place called Thousand Islands — an area which features 1,800 tiny islands, and plenty more fish.
This seaway that is tucked away between New York and Canada is frequented by experienced fishers and anglers. Its mild summers mean that anyone can spend an entire day comfortably fishing for bass, salmon, walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge. And watch out: some of these fish in these waters can become pretty massive. Prepare your equipment accordingly!
18. Boise River, Idaho
Fly fishing is the name of the game along the Boise River in Idaho. This 102-mile-long river has been called one of the best places for fly fishing in the area, and attracts thousands of visitors every year hoping to catch some of its plentiful bass, salmon, trout, whitefish, catfish, and steelhead.
But this river is really known for its ability to produce some pretty massive rainbow and bull trout, and plenty of them. To find the best of the best, reports recommend that fishermen ought to head to the South Fork portion of the river. But because they are so sought after, authorities have limited fishermen to catching only two trouts during each fishing trip.
19. Colorado River, Colorado
The Colorado River is truly one of the most beautiful rivers in the United States. This most ancient body of water even carved out the entire Grand Canyon — so we knew we needed to carve out a place for it on this list of the best fishing spots in the country.
Because of this river’s size and power, there’s no question why some fishing enthusiasts call this 1,450-mile-long marvel “The Big One.” Head to the Colorado River for a day of catching largemouth bass, rainbow trout, channel catfish, black crappie, walleye, and striped bass. Once you’ve caught to your heart’s delight, just relax and check out the view.
20. Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
The conditions in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay make for some of the best fishing in the world. There are so many striped bass alone that live in these waters, that over 70 percent of all the striped bass on the United States’ East Coast comes from this area of Maryland. But there is something even more famous that comes from the Chesapeake Bay.
For those who want a little bit of variety to their fishing or simply want a break from casting lines, try a day of crabbing in this world-famous spot. The Maryland crabs that are so beloved across the country originate in these brackish waters.
21. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach is in a prime location. There’s the Chesapeake Bay to the north, and then over to the east there is the Atlantic Ocean, and if neither of those options suit one’s mood, there are even a few smaller bodies of water for more quiet, local fishing.
One of the perks of this place is that there is really no off-season at this popular fishing destination, meaning anyone can visit and score all year round. And the best part? The fish here are huge. And we really mean huge: for example, the largest marlin ever caught here was a staggering 1,093 pounds. That should be reason enough for anyone to want to add this spot to their list.
22. Columbia River, Oregon & Washington
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, snaking its way across the border into Canada. And with all of that real estate it takes up, anyone can bet that there are definitely plenty of fish in this “sea” to go around, and plenty of ways to find oneself a quiet spot for a relaxing day of fishing.
So rent a fishing boat, stick to the shores, or even hire a chartered boat and spend a few days fishing on the Columbia River. There, you might be so lucky as to nab yourself some big catches, such as smallmouth bass, salmon, sturgeons, and steelheads, depending on the season and conditions.
23. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
While many of the lakes and rivers on this list come with a long trip away from the city, Lake St. Clair is different. This 430-square-mile lake is literally right next to Detroit, Michigan, just six miles from the city’s downtown area. It also lies right on the border between Michigan and Canada. It’s hard to get more convenient than that.
And luckily for any fishers in the area, not only is this lake easy to get to, it also happens to be one of the best fishing spots in the entire United States, especially for smallmouth bass, perch, walleye, and crappie.
24. Lake Fork Reservoir, Texas
Ninety miles east of Dallas, Texas, sport fishing enthusiasts are sure to find some of the best bass fishing in the whole of the Lone Star State at Lake Fork Reservoir. In fact, this reservoir has been called “the premier trophy largemouth bass lake in Texas”.
Some of the bass in this area have even weighed in at over 13 pounds, and Lake Fork has produced the most record-holding fish in the state. While the bass here certainly get the most attention, there are also plenty of other fish to choose from. If bass isn’t what a fisher is after, the lake also holds black and white crappie, as well as catfish and sunfish.
25. Kobuk River, Alaska
Getting all the way up to Kobuk River, Alaska, is a trek to say the least. This 200-mile-long river is over 500 miles north of Alaska’s most populous city, Anchorage. But for any fisher that is willing to take a bit of a trip, this fishing spot is well worth it.
Not only does Kobuk River have some gorgeous views that only Alaska’s unspoiled natural beauty can offer, but it also is home to some of the the most rare and sought-after fish, including Arctic grayling, lake trout, Arctic char, chum salmon, northern pike, and sheepish. A trip up to Kobuk River is sure to be a trip of a lifetime for anyone who loves fishing.
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