Best Fishing Spots in All 50 States

America's Best Fishing Spots


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America's Best Fishing Spots

Net Gain

If you like your trophies with a little squeeze of lemon, you must be an angler. From interior lakes and ponds to brackish channels and open ocean, America has a vast network of fishing spots along both coasts and every state in between. No matter where you live, hungry fish are nearby. Here are the choicest fishing spots in every state, determined by consulting online rankings, recommendations from pros, and reviews from visitors. 

Photos of Beautifully Serene Lakes Around the World

Alabama: Lake Guntersville

Alabama: Lake Guntersville

The largest lake in the state, Lake Guntersville spans 75 miles and 69,100 acres. Thanks to its national reputation as a home to giant fish, two out of three people fishing the lake pursue largemouth bass — topwater baits are especially reliable. But don't be surprised if you come up with catfish, sunfish, sauger, crappie, bluegill, or bream. 

Related: Under-The-Radar Boating Destinations Across the Country

Alaska: Kenai River-Moose River Confluence

Alaska: Kenai River-Moose River Confluence

At milepost 82.3 of the Izaak Walton Campground, you'll find the Kenai River-Moose River Confluence. Since the former is still as a lake and the latter rushes fairly swiftly, you'll have to be skilled with your tackle, but if you are, you can expect bites from king salmon, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden trout. The pinks are the real draw; a pink salmon that earned the state record was caught here.

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DSC_8842_3_4_tonemapped by Michael Wilson (CC BY-NC-ND)

Arizona: Verde River

The warm, muddy waters of the Verde River are so tight and thin that it's hard to even classify it as a river — but its reputation for massive bass and trout speaks for itself. Pick a spot south of the reservoirs to encounter the giants coming in from the Salt River.

Bull Shoals-White River State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas: Bull Shoals-White River State Park

One of the finest trout streams in Middle America runs through Bull Shoals-White River State Park, where the Bull Shoals Dam meets the White River and Bull Shoals Lake. Catfish, crappie, bream, and lunker bass keep anglers busy, but the area is best known for its record brown and rainbow trout.

Lake Berryessa, California

California: Lake Berryessa

Steep mountains paint the background of Lake Berryessa, which is about an hour outside Napa. Pick the right lures and you'll be in just the right spot to bring home dinner. Use chicken livers, nightcrawlers, salmon eggs or minnows for catfish, try silver spoons, salmon eggs, or needlefish lures for trout and salmon, and crankbaits, zara spooks, and plastic worms for bass.

Gore Creek
Gore Creek by Mike Myers (CC BY-NC)

Colorado: Gore Creek

Gore Creek runs through the world-famous ski community of Vail. The creek has earned the coveted Gold Medal designation from the state of Colorado, and even though it's right off Interstate 70, the classic Colorado angler's haven is one of the most picturesque in the state. The Gold Medal section extends from the Eagle River to the spot where Red Sandstone Creek meets the Gore. 

Related: Attractions to See While Driving Across the Country

Bantam Lake, Connecticut
Bantam Lake, Connecticut by John Phelan (CC BY)

Connecticut: Bantam Lake

The legend of the giant Bantam Bertha pike stirs the imagination of anglers who flock to Bantam Lake. While its true that northern pike populate the lake and Bertha is out there somewhere among them, you'd probably be satisfied with bites from the lake's many yellow and white perch, sunfish, bullhead, pickerel, calico, and smallmouth bass.

Killens Pond
Killens Pond by Mike Mahaffie (CC BY-NC-ND)

Delaware: Killens Pond

The 66-acre millpond known as Killens Pond is the centerpiece of the park that bears its name. Established at the end of the 18th century, the pond is home to pickerel, bluegills, carp, catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, and perch.

Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Florida: Fort Myers Beach

Florida is a shore-fishing state — and Fort Myers Beach has spots that rival any other. Residents can cast for free, and visitors can score a three-day license for $17. That will give you access to Fort Myers Beach Pier, Punta Rassa, the South End Bridge, Lovers Key State Park, or any of the best Fort Myers Beach spots. Also known for great freshwater fishing, Florida has numerous lakes filled with lunker bass, such as the massive Lake Okeechobee, where shiners, plastic worms, and rattling crankbaits are highly effective.

Fishing by Ralph Daily (CC BY)

Georgia: Golden Isles

The Golden Isles between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, on Georgia's Atlantic coast boast one of the most dynamic ecosystems in the state — and that diversity offers some of the finest fishing in Georgia. Fly fish the coastal marshes for skipjack and redfish or charter a boat to pull some cobia, snapper, or kingfish out of the water.

Ewa Beach Park, Hawaii
Luis R./Yelp

Hawaii: Ewa Beach Park

Ewa Beach Park in Honolulu is wild, rugged, and remote. The beach packs stunning views, even by the standards of Hawaii — and the fishing isn't bad, either. You can cast right from the shoreline, or, as was the case with one Yelp reviewer, even try your hand at spearfishing. 

Related: The Best of Hawaii on a Budget

Henry's Fork of the Snake River - Idaho
Henry's Fork of the Snake River - Idaho by Charles (Chuck) Peterson (CC BY-NC-ND)

Idaho: Henry’s Fork of the Snake River

When you visit Henry's Fork of the Snake River, you're likely to see moose, geese, muskrat, and blue heron — but it's what you don't see that will keep you coming back. Beneath the winding river, which traverses sprawling ranch land and timber-covered canyons, several species of hungry trout, including rainbows and browns, await your bait.

2015-06-06 Illinois Beach State Park 2
2015-06-06 Illinois Beach State Park 2 by JanetandPhil (CC BY-NC-ND)

Illinois: Sand Pond

Sand Pond is one of Illinois' great sleeper fishing holes. This 20-acre glacial lake, which is so small its shoreline covers less than a mile, is home to yellow perch, warmouth, northern pike, black crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass. It's shore fishing only here, as boats and wading are not allowed.

Project Healing Waters
Project Healing Waters by LouisvilleUSACE (CC BY)

Indiana: Brookville Tailwater

One of the most popular recreation areas in the state, Brookville Tailwater is teeming with panfish, bass, catfish, and walleye. The real treat, however, lies beyond the dam, where a 2-mile section of river bursts with brown and rainbow trout. The water released from that dam is cold enough to support them year-round, which makes it a trout lover's dream.

Lake Macbride State Park, Iowa
Lake Macbride State Park, Iowa by Tony Webster (CC BY-SA)

Iowa: Lake Macbride

More than 20 species of fish swim the waters of Lake Macbride, which spans 940 acres and extends to a depth of 45 feet at its deepest point. Shore fishing is excellent there, and among the beauties you can pluck from within are redear sunfish, bigmouth buffalo, flathead catfish, and yellow and black bullhead.

Kansas: Severy City Lake

Kansas: Severy City Lake

Created in the 1930s and located in Greenwood County, Severy City Lake is quiet and well maintained. You'll see some redear sunfish and bluegill — they're not big, but they're many. Largemouth bass and channel catfish are there for the taking, too, particularly for those who venture out in kayaks.

Lake Barkley
Lake Barkley by wstera2 (CC BY-NC-SA)

Kentucky: Lake Barkley

Kentucky is an angler's paradise, thanks to natural gems such as Lake Barkley. It spans 134 miles and is encircled by 1,004 miles of shoreline. Sauger, bass, catfish, bluegill, and crappie are all there for the taking, but the real payoff comes during spawning, when the shallow waters produce some of the largest catches in the state.

End of the road
End of the road by Brian (CC BY)

Louisiana: Venice

The saltwater-fishing mecca of Venice has made it onto several prominent best-of lists and continues to be the go-to location for anglers around the state. Brackish and freshwater options are also available in the channels nearby. Dozens of charter boat captains serve the town and the countless outdoorsmen and women who make the pilgrimage to Venice year after year.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway (Day 3-- Ledges to Inlet)
Allagash Wilderness Waterway (Day 3-- Ledges to Inlet) by Jack Heddon (CC BY-NC-ND)

Maine: Allagash River and Waterway

A tributary of the St. John's River, the Allagash River and Waterway is a genuine wilderness experience in the remote wilds of Maine, so plan well before you go. The Allagash's pristine waters aren't known for their diversity of fish species, but if you're okay with whitefish, brown trout, and lake trout, you'll be satisfied and then some. 

Related: The Most Beautiful River in Every State

Maryland: Youghiogheny River Reservoir

Maryland: Youghiogheny River Reservoir

The Youghiogheny River Reservoir, which is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, spans 2,800 acres. Flowing along the Pennsylvania border, the reservoir is known for its smallmouths, but largemouth bass live there, too, albeit in smaller numbers. Tournaments are held there thanks to the trophy-size northern pike and crappie, but don't be surprised to pull out a bluegill, yellow perch, rock bass, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, or chain pickerel.

Quabbin Reservoir Massachusetts
Quabbin Reservoir Massachusetts by Discover Central Mass (CC BY-NC-ND)

Massachusetts: Quabbin Reservoir

You can fish by boat or from the shore at the Quabbin Reservoir, but no matter which method you prefer, you're likely to go home a winner. The reservoir is one of just two in the state that's home to trophy-sized landlocked Atlantic salmon.

Southern Lake Michigan, Michigan

Michigan: Southern Lake Michigan

Home to five of America's top 50 bass lakes, four of the five Great Lakes, and arguably the best fly fishing in the country, Michigan just might be the best state in America for anglers. Seawall fishing on southern Lake Michigan, however, is arguably the best experience you'll have with a rod and reel in the state. There you'll be able to catch your fill of Chinook salmon, brown trout, steelhead, freshwater drum, coho salmon, perch, and more.

Minnesota: Whitefish Chain of Lakes
Minnesota: Whitefish Chain of Lakes by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

Minnesota: Whitefish Chain of Lakes

The Whitefish Chain of Lakes in Northern Minnesota is not so much a great fishing spot as it is a series of great fishing spots. Located in the picture-perfect Brainerd Lakes region, the chain is a network of 14 lakes with names such as Whitefish and Big Trout. Depending on where you settle in, you'll take in some of the most picturesque landscape on Earth while waiting for bites from bluegill, bass, crappie, walleye, and northern pike.

The Best Lakes in All 50 States

Jimmy Rutherford Pier, Mississippi
Amanda S./Yelp

Mississippi: Jimmy Rutherford Pier

At least 200 species of fish roam the warm, serene waters of Mississippi's Gulf Coast, and anglers from around the world flock there knowing it will be one of the greatest fishing experience of their lives. What better place than to have that experience than at Jimmy Rutherford Fishing Pier? The 1,100-linear-foot pier provides covered platforms for protection from the elements, a fish-cleaning table, and some of the best angling in the state. Unlike many other piers, this one is free and open to the public.

Lake Taneycomo
Lake Taneycomo by Ann W (CC BY-NC)

Missouri: Barren Fork Creek

In Missouri, trout is the name of the game, and while there's no shortage of blue ribbon trout lakes, Barren Fork Creek is a gem among gems thanks to the smaller streams that support the natural reproduction of rainbow trout.

Gallatin River Big Sky Montana
Gallatin River Big Sky Montana by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

Montana: Gallatin River

Known for world-class river fly fishing, Montana offers anglers no shortage of great spots, but the Gallatin River is so spectacular in scenery and production that it deserves a mention even in a state known for stellar fishing. Spanning the gap between Gallatin Lake in the mountains of Yellowstone to the Missouri River, the river is perfect for dry fly fishing for those on the hunt for smaller but plentiful trout that are not picky eaters.

Nebraska: Medicine Creek

Nebraska: Medicine Creek

Medicine Creek State Recreation Area is home to the body of water that bears its name. There you'll find walleye nibbling in the shallows in early spring and really start biting in the summer. There are also plenty of panfish, including king-size crappie.

Hoover Dam / Lake Mead, November 2009
Hoover Dam / Lake Mead, November 2009 by Mispahn (CC BY)

Nevada: Lake Mead

Close to Las Vegas, Lake Mead straddles the border between Arizona and Nevada. Anglers will find the massive lake teeming with smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill, tilapia, channel catfish, stripers, green sunfish, and black crappie.

Contoocook River, New Hampshire

New Hampshire: Contoocook River

Of all the great fishing spots in the New England state of New Hampshire, the Contoocook River stands out for supporting both cold- and warm-water habitats. While Atlantic salmon nibble below the surface of the water, keep an eye out above for one of the most impressive collections of birds in the region, including nighthawks, osprey, great blue herons, and bald eagles.

Brigantine Beach, New Jersey

New Jersey: Brigantine Beach

The coast of the quaint South Jersey beach town of Brigantine is one of the East Coast's premier surf fishing destinations. That's thanks to the fact that the beach isn't crowded even during peak season — as well as the abundance of flounder, weakfish, kingfish, and bluefish. 

Related: The Best Beaches on the East Coast

Rio Chama, aka Chama River
Rio Chama, aka Chama River by Larry Lamsa (CC BY)

New Mexico: Chama River

Anglers are drawn to Chama River not just for the brown trout, rainbow trout, and Rio Grande cutthroat that call it home, but for the stunning Southwestern scenery they enjoy while waiting for bites. If you go there, plan well — the best time to fish is mid-morning, and weekend launch dates are managed by lottery.

Waddington by Zhu (CC BY-NC)

New York: St. Lawrence River

Don't be surprised if you pull a largemouth bass from the St. Lawrence River, but smallmouth are certainly more common. Walleye, northern pike, muskie, yellow perch, and bullhead are also all there for the taking. The river, which is the sole natural outlet for the Great Lakes System, is truly magnificent, measuring an average of 2 miles wide and dropping to a depth of 200 feet at its deepest point.

High Rock Lake, North Carolina
Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina: High Rock Lake

Spanning 10 miles with 350 miles of shoreline, High Rock Lake was the site of the BASS Master's Classic tournament in 1994, 1995, and 1998 — and for good reason: Largemouths bite reliably from the spring through the summer all the way through November, and the postcard scenery alone is worth the trip.

S.S. Ruby Boat Tours in Fargo Moorhead
S.S. Ruby Boat Tours in Fargo Moorhead by Fargo-Moorhead CVB (CC BY-SA)

North Dakota: Red River of the North

There are giants in the Red River of the North, where it's not uncommon to reel in a catfish weighing 30 pounds, 45-inch northern pike, and 13-pound walleye. Those are just a few of the possibilities — the river is packed with more than 70 species of fish.

Lake Erie, Ohio

Ohio: Lake Erie

Lake Erie should be on bucket lists not just for Ohio-based fishing enthusiasts, but for any angler who can make the trip. Ice fishing is available in the winter, when walleye, smallmouth bass, white bass, steelhead trout, and yellow perch are plentiful from countless access points across dozens of towns and cities.

Oklahoma: Lake of the Arbuckles

Oklahoma: Lake of the Arbuckles

Although it was built by people in 1966, the Lake of the Arbuckles is now the sole domain of animals — fish, in particular. Located at the confluence of the Guy Sandy, Rock, and Buckhorn creeks, the lake offers a bounty of crappie, catfish, bass, and perch. 

Related: The Best Remote Vacation Spot in Every State

Salmon on Nehalem 2014-10-18 13
Salmon on Nehalem 2014-10-18 13 by Sam Beebe (CC BY)

Oregon: North Fork Nehalem River

Winter steelheads congregate where the mainstem Nehalem River meets the North Fork. Boating can be tricky and access is limited, but for those who tame the river, catch rates are as high as they are in the state's much larger, much more crowded spots.

Sailboats on Lake Arthur
Sailboats on Lake Arthur by Jon Dawson (CC BY-ND)

Pennsylvania: Lake Arthur

You can fish from shore or by boat on Lake Arthur, provided your motor is 20 horsepower or less. Either way, a tug on your line could be coming from any one of at least a dozen primary species of fish swimming below, including striped bass, muskies, black crappie, channel catfish, and bluegills.

Wood River, Woodville, Rhode Island, autumn
Wood River, Woodville, Rhode Island, autumn by Peter Rintels (CC BY-ND)

Rhode Island: Wood River

A regional fly fishing destination, Wood River has enough icy cold pockets that trout can always find a place to call home, even in the most scorching summers. The upper reaches of the river and all its tributaries conceal wild brook trout, but be warned: Part of the river is catch-and-release only.

Lake Murray, Columbia, South Carolina
Lake Murray, Columbia, South Carolina by jay8085 (CC BY)

South Carolina: Lake Murray

The 50,000-acre, human-made fishing hole known as Lake Murray is known throughout the state for its striped bass. It has produced record-setting white bass, white perch, white crappie, and white catfish. Not only is it productive for anglers, but it's a beautiful gathering ground for birds. More than a million purple martins flock every year to their seasonal roost at Bomb Island in the middle of the lake. 

Related: Bird Watchers Flock to These Prime Spots Across America

Lake Oahe, South Dakota

South Dakota: Lake Oahe

The Missouri River's first stop in South Dakota is Lake Oahe, which is the largest of the four Missouri River reservoirs — it spans 231 miles. Deep and clear, it's a haven for walleye anglers, although perch, northern pike, and white and smallmouth bass are on the prowl as well.

Chickamauga Lake
Chickamauga Lake by riverharbor (CC BY)

Tennessee: Chickamauga Lake

If you're in the Chattanooga area and love bass fishing, you're in luck — no travel is necessary. Chickamauga Lake, created in 1940 with the building of the Chickamauga Dam, is known as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country. The 15-pound, 3-ounce largemouth hauled from the lake in 2015 still holds the state record.

Texas: Aquilla Lake
Wikimedia Commons

Texas: Aquilla Lake

Anglers who cast a line at Aquilla Lake have an advantage. Submerged at strategic locations throughout the water are human-made fish attractors and fish-hiding structures. Teeming with fish just waiting to be caught, these hideouts include "crappie condos" made of bamboo. Anglers can use GPS to find them.

Logan River in Autumn
Logan River in Autumn by Devin Stein (CC BY)

Utah: Logan River

You'll hear the rushing Logan River before you see it, thanks to cascading pocket water, seam lines, eddies, and western freestones. Numerous insect hatches and even-temperature waters keep fish populations plentiful for catches such as brook trout, cutthroat, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Anglers have a wide selection of fishing spots to pick from.

Lake St. Catherine State Park, Vermont

Vermont: Lake St. Catherine State Park

Fishermen and women of all skill levels can enjoy fishing at the 116-acre Lake St. Catherine State Park. While you're fishing for the northern pike, yellow perch, and largemouth and smallmouth bass that roam the lake, keep an eye out for the white-tailed deer and moose that make regular appearances in the park.

Boating on the water at Occoneechee State Park John H Kerr Buggs Island Lake
Boating on the water at Occoneechee State Park John H Kerr Buggs Island Lake by Virginia State Parks (CC BY)

Virginia: Buggs Island Lake

Also known as John H. Kerr Reservoir, Buggs Island Lake is a 50,000-acre freshwater paradise. Family friendly, pet friendly and friendly to anyone who loves great scenery, Buggs Island was crowned the country's No. 1 crappie fishing lake not long ago by a major fishing magazine.

Break Water
Break Water by Travis (CC BY-NC)

Washington: Strait of Juan De Fuca

Salmon flood into the Strait of Juan de Fuca every year from midsummer to early fall. Made famous as a home to werewolves in the "Twilight" movies, the spot is bursting with crabs, salmon, and an abundance of other wildlife that makes it worth a visit even if you don't have any luck with the rod. Roosevelt elk, sea lions, black bears, blacktail deer, eagles, whales, porpoises, seals, and river otters will all be your fishing companions.

Little Kanawha River
Little Kanawha River by Jimmy Emerson, DVM (CC BY-NC-ND)

West Virginia: Little Kanawha River

Little Kanawha River is filled with nearly as much history as it is fish. Winding through six counties, the river represents the heart of some of the most rural areas of the state and country. A tributary of the Ohio River, Little Kanawha has history dating back to West Virginia's timber and mining industries. Locals and tourists alike know that the muskies there are as giant as they are plentiful.

Wisconsin Petenwell Lake
Wisconsin Petenwell Lake by tomanouc (CC BY-NC-ND)

Wisconsin: Petenwell Lake

Petenwell Lake spans more than 23,000 acres and reaches 44 feet at its deepest point. The lake's murky waters hide a bonanza of muskie, catfish, sturgeon, smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, and northern pike. You'll have access to a beach and boat landings if you want to make a day of it.

The North Platte River
The North Platte River by Kent Kanouse (CC BY-NC)

Wyoming: North Platte River

Wyoming is as close to a mecca as fly fishing enthusiasts have, and of the seemingly limitless options for spots that are both picturesque and productive, North Platte is regarded by many as the best. From the North Platte River to the 6 Mile Gap is 150 miles of the finest trout fishing in America, thanks to consistent temperatures, a diverse ecosystem, plenty of bugs, and some of the most captivating scenery in the world. 

Related: The Best Hidden Gem in Every State