Fishing opportunities exist just about everywhere, no matter what your preferred style. The American landscape is one of numerous streams, rivers, lakes, and bays, all waiting to be explored with a line in hand. The merits of angling continue. Not only can it be done just about anywhere there’s water (salt, fresh, or some combination), it can be done and enjoyed with kids or all by your lonesome as you take in some solitude. It’s a meditative, connected-to-nature sport that’ll get you outside and may even set you up with a nice dinner.
Some fisheries offer more than others. If you’re looking for high catch counts, great scenery, and enough options to keep you busy for several weeks straight, these are your coordinates. A mix of National Parks, rivers, lakes, and towns, here are the 11 best fishing spots in the U.S.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Not only is fishing permitted year-round in this magical park, but the place boasts close to 3,000 miles of fishable streams. This is all the more important given the major developments that encompass the landscape. Still, a wild fish population persists here in this rugged bastion of the east.
Read more: Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains
Henry’s Fork River
A true blue-ribbon waterway, the Henry’s Fork runs close to 130 miles through Idaho. It’s considered to be one of the best fly-fishing rivers in the states, if not the planet. It’s particularly known for its dry-fly fishing, meaning you’re likely going to enjoy lots of action on the surface, throwing big bugs like stoneflies and hoppers. Access is good and while a good guide and a drift boat are recommended, good portions can be waded as well.
Yellowstone National Park
America’s first National Park has something for every kind of fisher. It’s famous for its namesake river, teeming with trout, but there are countless other tributaries and nearby rivers and creeks. Trophy waters like the Madison River enter the park and there are still water opportunities, too, from Lake Yellowstone to Lewis and Shoshone lakes. Most of the roads in the park parallel great fisheries and for the more adventurous, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path options where you’re likely to run into boatloads of cutthroat trout, whitefish, rainbow trout, even grayling.
Read more: Best National Parks
The Florida Keys
A flats fishing paradise, the Keys boast amazing weather and ample fishing options. You can go the deep-sea route or stick near shore and try for acrobatic bonefish and other species. With so many islands, bays, and water-filled corridors, one could spend an entire lifetime in this remote southern stretch of south Florida without fishing the same place twice.
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Upstate New York
Upstate New York generally means anything north of the city, but we mean the top half of the state. There, you’ll find excellent fishing rivers like the Delaware River, the Beaver Kill, the Battenkill, and more. Also, you’ll find a robust ice fishing community come winter, which hits rather hard in these scenic parts.
A major metropolitan area on the list? Of course, especially considering that more than 10,000 lakes dot the map of Minnesota. Even in a large metro area like Minneapolis, you’re just a short drive — and in some cases, walk or bike ride — from several worthwhile lakes, and a few rivers, too. Even those just getting into the sport can land walleye, northern pike, bass, bluegill, muskie, and more in and around this large Midwestern city.
If you like crisp, cold water, this mountain range is for you. High altitude lakes mean healthy fish and some remote angling opportunities free of crowds. You can follow John Muir’s footsteps, trusty rod in hand. Plus, this is the only place in America where you have a shot at catching the elusive golden trout.
Biscayne National Park
Get this, some 95% of this National Park is underwater. That means it’s a haven for fish species of all kinds. It’s heaven if you like fishing for sailfish, Mahi, and other tropical fish. Snapper, grouper, and permit reside here, too, among other species. It’s a maze-like environment exceptionally fun to navigate on a little skipper, with a few of your best rods and lures.
One of America’s prettiest lakes is also one of the best to fish. A variety of trout, salmon, and sculpin live in these waters. It’s easy to be distracted by the hue of the lake but focus on your lure as the fish do tend to bite in these parts. A boat is almost a necessity here, as bank fishing is tough. But once you get out in the depths, you can have a very productive day.
Port Aransas, Texas
Oh, the Gulf. Still chock-full of fish and beckoning. Port Aransas offers some of the best deep-sea charter options in the country. You’ll go for some real champs, like marlin, mahi-mahi, tuna, and amberjacks. They eat well and they can come in sizes so large you’ll want to mount them on your wall. Even better, you’re a short trek from Corpus Christi, where you can regale fellow barflies with your fishing tales.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Positioned so perfectly in the Rocky Mountains it’ll make you weep, Glenwood Springs is next-level special. The Colorado town has so much within striking distance. White River National Forest is nearby, along with amazing rivers like the Colorado and Roaring Fork. There are countless creeks that feed into the larger rivers, so if you like catching fish that have never been caught before (even if small), follow these tributaries. All in all, you can’t fail in this well-situated western town.
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