The USA is a vast country rich in diverse landscapes and waterways. Almost every state offers world-class outdoor recreation spots, from climbing to hiking, from whitewater rafting to mountain biking, and everything in between.
But sometimes, we’re just not in the mood to move. Perhaps we’re not getting any younger and don’t fancy a juiced-up, adrenaline-fueled vacation. And that’s where fishing comes in.
Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a keen beginner, the US is the ideal destination for fishing enthusiasts. From the rocky coastline of Maine to the wide-open plains of Texas, there are plenty of great spots to wet a line and try to reel in a big one.
In this article, we look at the best fishing spots in the US – with a particular eye on angling vacations, fishing trips, and last-minute getaways. If you need to go fishing to clear your head and escape the madness, you’re in the right place.
What We Cover
- The Best Fishing Spots in the US
- 1. Florida Keys, Florida
- 2. Outer Banks, North Carolina
- 3. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
- 4. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
- 5. Bighorn River, Montana
- 6. St Lawrence River, New York
- 7. Kobuk River, Alaska
- 8. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
- 9. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
- 10. Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
- 11. California Delta, California
- 12. Colorado River, Colorado
- 13. Lake Champlain, Vermont
- 14. Lake Austin, Texas
- 15. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
- 16. Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona
- 17. Snake River, Wyoming
- 18. The Great Lakes, Various
- Where in the US has the best fishing?
- Where is the best freshwater fishing in the US?
- Where is the best saltwater fishing in the US?
The Best Fishing Spots in the US
1. Florida Keys, Florida
Few can doubt the reputation the Florida Keys has in the angling world. It is recognized as one of the best places to fish on the planet, with year-round fine weather, beautiful beaches, warm Gulf Stream waters, and the only living coral reef in the United States.
The fishing opportunities to catch monsters attract amateurs and pros alike, with a tantalizingly wide variety of species on offer. The likes of bonefish, redfish, snook, blue marlin, swordfish, and snapper barely scratch the surface of what you can get on your hook in the Keys.
Boat tours and charters are readily available, while the Keys are a major tourist destination in their own right. Try this half-day fishing tour in Key West to get you started, and the Ocean Edge Resort is particularly popular with anglers for a play to stay.
See Related: The Best Resorts in the Florida Keys
2. Outer Banks, North Carolina
A byword for angling excellence, the Outer Banks are a chain of barrier islands off North Carolina on the east coast. Much like the Keys, it’s a popular tourist and a top fishing location, and they’re considered some of the best islands in the US – especially for families.
Fishing is a way of life in these parts, and local organizations will supply you with all the tackle and gear you need. Ocracoke Island is one of the fishing focal points, reachable by ferry and positively swimming with outstanding seafood restaurants and fishing opportunities.
Pier fishing and offshore fishing are some of the best things you can do in the Outer Banks, but the region offers so much it makes a great vacation regardless. Blackbeard’s Lodge is in the heart of Ocracoke and the staff will point you towards the best charters and fantastic fishing spots.
3. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
If you’re a fan of deep-sea fishing, Kona in Hawaii is the place for you. One of the best fishing spots in the US, the water depth plummets sharply off the islands and can reach up to 15,000 feet. With a touch of skill and a bit of luck, experienced anglers can land tuna, blue and striped marlin, mahi-mahi, and sharks.
A hugely popular fishing destination, angling is one of the best things to do in Hawaii. You’re spoilt for choice with all the charter boats and tours available, and it makes a great location for a fishing trip with the boys. Try this six-hour private fishing charter that is ideal for larger groups.
World-class accommodations are never too far away on these shores and this top fishing spot has everything you would want for any kind of vacation you desire. The Royal Kona Resort sits on the Pacific Ocean, and includes a private beach and lagoon. Perfect for relaxing after a long day battling some beasts.
4. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
There’s something magical about Martha’s Vineyard. With over 120 miles of stunning coastline, you’ll find windswept beaches, remote lighthouses, and quaint seaside towns. It makes for a wonderful summer vacation destination, particularly if you enjoy surf fishing.
One of New England’s best fishing spots, it’s accessible only by sea or air. Depending on the time of year, you can catch the likes of striped bass, sea bass, bonito, bluefish, summer flounder, tuna, shark, and squid in these waters, both in and offshore.
Head to Oak Bluffs for some of the best deep-sea charters and excellent fishing from the pier. The island also boasts the legendary Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, one of the longest-running fishing tournaments in the country. Visit in mid-September to throw your hat in the ring and line in the water.
5. Bighorn River, Montana
A tributary of Yellowstone, the Bighorn River is one of the best places in the world for fly fishing. It flows for 461 miles through Montana and Wyoming, although the most coveted section for wetting a line is before the Yellowtail Dam in Big Sky Country.
With a high population of brown and rainbow trout, this calm, cool tailwater is ripe for fly fishermen and women to practice their art. Float tubes and waders are popular strategies, but care must be taken if you are venturing out on foot, as the Bighorn can surprise you with currents and underwater hazards.
The best fly fishing locations are generally a little too far for day trips, but there are plenty of world-class lodge options for making a weekend of it. Try the Bighorn Valley Ranch which has a professional fly shop on-site, and premium fishing spots nearby.
6. St Lawrence River, New York
The St. Lawrence River’s headwaters begin from Lake Ontario and pass through upstate New York before entering the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Eventually emptying into the Atlantic Ocean, it offers a myriad of top fishing trip options.
Here you can catch striped bass, small and largemouth bass, musky, sturgeon, brook trout, yellow perch, and more. Head to the Thousand Islands region which offers many places to stay, and is ideal if you’re looking for a secluded weekend getaway.
Cape Vincent, Clayton, and Wellesley Island are popular fishing hot spots, but you’ll get results just about anywhere along the St. Lawrence River’s banks. These waterfront cottages at Cape Vincent are perfectly located and even feature a private fishing pier.
7. Kobuk River, Alaska
Alaska, one of the most beautiful US vacation destinations, is a wild wilderness that offers much if you enjoy fishing. And for a remote location that will get you away from it all, it doesn’t get much better than The Kobuk River in the arctic region of The Last Frontier.
With a high population of lake trout, Arctic char, northern pike, burbot, Dolly Varden, sheerfish, and chum salmon, this region is perfect for sport fishing. It’s a great place to fly fish and the isolation and vast scenery will be particularly enticing for fly-fishing enthusiasts.
Just remember that you’re not in Kansas anymore. The Kobuk is difficult to get to, with floatplane the best option.
It’s not a place to fish if you’re inexperienced at being in the great outdoors. And when you’re this deep in the Alaskan wilderness, there’s a serious emphasis on the word “great.”
8. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
Fishing might not be the first thing you think of when Detroit comes up in the conversation, but sitting on the banks of Lake St. Clair, Motor City is a surprisingly good fishing spot. The lake straddles the US/Canadian border, but since this is an article about the best fishing locations in the US for a vacation, we’re approaching it from the Michigan side.
Lake sturgeon, musky, rainbow trout, perch, walleye, and crappie are just some of the fish that occupy these waters. There’s also a high population of smallmouth bass that makes Lake St. Clair one of the best smallmouth fishing spots in the US.
Ice fishing, charter fishing, kayak fishing, and shore fishing are all available here, which makes it the perfect destination for year-round angling. Just remember if you do cross into Canadian waters to fish, you’ll need a Canadian fishing license to do so.
9. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
Several towns are attempting to trademark themselves as the walleye capital of the world. But with a giant “Willie the Walleye” statue greeting you as you enter, Baudette must surely be in with a chance of the title.
Located a stone’s throw from the Lake of Woods in Northern Minnesota, Baudette is the gateway for angling in this corner of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Just down the road, you’ll find the appropriately named Angler’s Paradise vacation home, situated right on the Rainey River which flows into the lake.
In winter, the ice fishing here is unparalleled, and you can find species such as northern pike, largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, and trout. But make no mistake – walleye is the main attraction for most anglers in these parts -and boy is it delicious in the Midwest’s famous Friday-night fish fry.
See Related: The Best Lakes in Minnesota
10. Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
The largest estuary in the United States, Chesapeake Bay is bordered by Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula, it offers prime fishing opportunities with several world-class locations.
Famous for its variety of striped bass, you can also find rockfish, bluefish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and flounder in these waters. Shore fishing, kayak fishing, pier fishing, and charter fishing are all on offer here, so you can take your pick depending on which method you prefer. Typical angling hotspots include Baltimore (don’t miss their famous crabcakes), the Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park on the Choptank River, and Virginia Beach at the mouth of the bay is the place for the best charters.
11. California Delta, California
With just under one thousand miles of waterways, the California Delta is a top US fishing location. The area offers plenty of sheltered coves, backwaters, and sloughs, and the west coast’s largest estuary is a rich breeding ground for life aquatic.
You’ll find a wide variety of fish species here, including bass, channel catfish, crappie, striped bass, sturgeon, catfish, black bass, and chinook salmon. Popular fishing tournaments are held in spring and fall, with eye-watering prize money attracting top angling talent.
Sandwiched between San Francisco, Sacramento, and Stockton, you’re never too far away from big city life if you’re looking for a change of scene. This ensures recreational facilities are in abundance, so the family can keep themselves entertained if they’re not joining you on the water.
12. Colorado River, Colorado
The Colorado River has a length of more than 1,450 kilometers and runs through the states of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Arguably the finest fishing is located in its namesake state, and the stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains sweetens the deal.
Key locations include Glenwood Springs, Grizzly Creek, and the stretch between Byers Canyon and Kremmling. June is the ideal time to visit when you can experience some of the best fly fishing in the country. Trophy rainbow and brown trout are not unheard of.
Glenwood Springs is also a great place for other outdoor activities, and ideal if you enjoy hiking, biking, and whitewater rafting, which is one of the best things to do in Colorado. Try this delightful log cabin vacation home which offers fishing right on your doorstep.
13. Lake Champlain, Vermont
Consistently voted one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country, Lake Champlain also happens to be one of the world’s best spots for a family vacation. If that doesn’t convince your other half to take the trip, we don’t know what will!
There are over 90 species of fish in these waters – including landlocked Atlantic salmon. You’ll find plenty of fishing charters available across the length and breadth of the lake’s banks. Shore fishing is also available if you don’t want to get out on the water, with the Burlington Fishing Pier a particularly popular spot.
The whole area is teeming with recreational opportunities, from paddleboarding to camping, sunbathing on beaches to skiing in winter. Check out this article on the best things to do in Burlington for more information.
14. Lake Austin, Texas
The beauty of angling is that anyone can catch a trophy fish at any time. For a chance to catch a giant largemouth bass, try throwing a line in Lake Austin, Texas. Part of the Colorado River, it’s a manmade reservoir and recreational hot spot to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life.
Lake Austin stocks the likes of crappie, catfish, sunfish, and bluegill. But for seasoned and amateur anglers, the possibility of landing a monster largemouth is the main draw.
Watersports are also popular here, and boat rentals are readily available for recreation. Whether you’re fishing or not, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Austin. This vacation rental is right on the waterfront and includes kayaks and fishing rods if you don’t fancy bringing your own.
15. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Lake Tahoe straddles the California-Nevada border and offers an eccentric array of activities to the visitor. As such, keen anglers can fish until their hearts are content, and the rest of the family won’t complain of boredom.
A wide variety of fish call Lake Tahoe home, but it’s famous for being a premium kokanee salmon location. This prized landlocked fish provides anglers with a terrific challenge and is just one of the many species in the lake’s brilliant blue freshwater.
A popular spot for beaches in the summer and skiing in the winter, this Sierra Nevada Mountain destination has all the accommodation options you can think of. Try the Fireside Lodge as a cozy base for year-round outdoor adventures.
See Related: The Best Beaches to Visit on Lake Tahoe
16. Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona
Angling is one of the best things to do at Lake Mead. A fisherman’s paradise, this massive lake was formed by the Hoover Dam and is the largest reservoir in the US in terms of water capacity. And lots of water usually equals lots of fish!
Lurking under 290 square miles of water surface, you’ll find smallmouth and largemouth bass, flathead catfish, sunfish, and crappie – among others. Head to Willow Beach Fishing Pier for the best chance of catching rainbow trout.
Lake Mead offers more than just fishing, as it was the first designated National Recreation Area in the country. Hiking, biking, camping, and boating are all popular here, and with Las Vegas not too far away, you can switch your luck on the water for luck at the tables.
17. Snake River, Wyoming
The largest tributary of the Columbia River, Snake River is an outdoor enthusiast’s Mecca. Existing in three states, the Wyoming section offers some of the region’s best fishing and has the bonus of being part of the stunning Grand Teton National Park.
Fly fishing is king here, with cutthroat trout being the prized species. One of the best things about fishing here is the stunning beauty of the natural surroundings and wildlife-spotting opportunities. And hey, if it’s good enough for black bears and grizzlies, it’s good enough for us!
Jackson Hole is one of the premier outdoor capitals of the US, and a family vacation in this part of the world is time well spent. Take a look at this article when deciding where to stay in Jackson Hole.
18. The Great Lakes, Various
Alright, so this might be a bit of a cop-out, but I’m lumping the Great Lakes together as one enormous fishing trip destination. It’s my article and I have a word count to adhere to.
Lake Erie is the most productive, famous for its abundance of walleye. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, with plenty of fishing charters to match.
Lake Michigan is well-stocked and offers some beautiful scenery. Lake Ontario boasts excellent brown trout fishing and head to Lake Huron for game fish and trophy hunting.
The best US fishing vacations include Buffalo on Lake Erie, Mackinac Island on Lake Huron, Ludington which serves Lake Michigan, and the 1000 Islands region on Lake Ontario. I took an excellent charter boat out of Washburn on Superior, but Duluth is arguably the more popular spot.
Where in the US has the best fishing?
Some of the best fishing in the US can be found in Alaska, Michigan, Maine, Rhode Island, and Florida. Wherever you’re going, just remember to get yourself covered with travel insurance. Fishing is not without its risks.
Where is the best freshwater fishing in the US?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as different people have different opinions on what makes the best freshwater fishing spot. Some may prefer lakes, others prefer reservoirs, and others prefer rivers or other bodies of water. Minnesota, California, Texas, Montana, and Alaska are our top US freshwater fishing places.
Where is the best saltwater fishing in the US?
There are many great saltwater fishing destinations in America. Key West, Florida, is world-renowned for catching tarpon and bonefish, while the Outer Banks of North Carolina is known as one of the best spots to catch a trout.