The sport of fishing offers a wealth of opportunity for every angler, no matter where they may call home. Hot fishing action awaits New Mexico to New Jersey if only one knows where to look. Each state is home to several wonderful fisheries that are distinct and noteworthy in their own right.
What follows is a comprehensive guide to some of the most noteworthy fisheries in the United States for angling pursuits of every type, from saltwater fishing to fly fishing. A visit to any destinations to follow is sure to yield opportunities beyond your wildest dreams and leave you with beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.
10 Year-Round Fishing Holes for Anglers
California offers excellent fishing spots for every angler and has served as the proverbial promise land for catching bass of epic size. California’s Castaic Lake has produced several of the world’s biggest largemouth bass over the past 30-plus years and is a trophy angler’s paradise. The winter and spring months are typically the most productive periods on Castaic, and rainbow trout-colored swimbaits tend to be among the most popular lures for catching a trophy bass.
California is also home to excellent saltwater fishing and features over 800-miles of coastline. This promotes diverse fishing and allows anglers to pursue many different fish species without ever leaving the state’s boundaries. Halibut, rockfish, lingcod, and white seabass are all plentiful in California’s coastal waters. In addition, saltwater excursions on a charter boat off of California’s southern coast offer phenomenal tuna fish, amberjack, and Mahi Mahi fishing. A trip to this region also often yields some of the country’s best trophy marlin fishing.
When most hear the word Hawaii, they think of lavish vacations and time spent sunbathing on the beach. However, for the avid angler, the state is a paradise on earth for a whole other reason entirely. Hawaii is home to some of the best saltwater fishing in the entire nation and is the perfect destination for a fishing trip that you will not soon forget. As a result, many anglers strike out for the Big Island when planning an angling excursion to The Aloha State. The water surrounding this state portion is home to blue marlin, black marlin, sailfish, tuna fish, and Mahi Mahi.
Unbeknownst to many, several of the island’s freshwater impoundments also offer excellent freshwater fishing. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, peacock bass, and catfish can all be found in Hawaiian waters in relative abundance. This offers yet another opportunity for those who wish to experience the best of both worlds when fishing.
Texas, much like California, carries a reputation for offering some of the best fishing for trophy largemouth bass in the nation. Relatively warm year-round temperatures promote rapid growth in bass and numerous other fish species. One of the state’s most renowned fisheries is Toledo Bend Reservoir. Toledo Bend is a hotspot for bass fishing action and has hosted numerous B.A.S.S. and M.L.F. series tournaments throughout the years. The lake is also home to first-class bluegill and research sunfish action.
Lake Texoma is another Lone Star state’s top fishing destinations. Much like Toledo Bend, Lake Texoma serves as a world-class bass fishery and is one of only a few lakes in the nation to host two separate Bassmaster Classic tournaments. The reservoir is also home to the current blue catfish, black buffalo carp, and goldeneye state records.
While many envision dry, arid deserts when they think of Arizona, the state is also home to some wonderful fisheries. The state’s long warm season provides excellent potential for growth among fish of nearly every freshwater species. This provides the perfect environment for plenty of fish to grow to sizable proportions. The state’s lakes have been known to produce trophy largemouth reasonably frequently. One such body of water is Lake Havasu. This lake is a consistent producer of 4-5 pound largemouths and is considered a premier smallmouth fishery.
For avid trout anglers, few better destinations exist than Arizona’s Big Lake. This lake is often cited by anglers as one of the best lake trout fisheries worldwide and is home to sizeable cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout in abundance. In addition, several campsites are within proximity to the lake, making it an ideal spot to camp underneath the stars.
Florida is an angler’s paradise, offering some of the United States’ best fresh and saltwater fishing action. However, few destinations within the state are as iconic as Lake Okeechobee. This lake is massive in proportion, yet relatively shallow water in most areas, and sports a healthy population of many different fish species. Trophy caliber bass fishing is a top draw to Lake Okeechobee, though many also flock to these waters to experience some of the nation’s hottest crappie fishing. Due to the lake’s average depth of only 9-feet, crappie can be found throughout its expanse and are easily caught when fishing with live minnows.
For those that prefer a saltwater fishing experience, there are few better destinations than the gulf coast, around the Florida panhandle. Many anglers combine a family vacation with a deep-sea fishing trip by charter boat for the ages by venturing to Panama City Beach or Destin for the weekend. You can find top-notch red snapper, amberjack fish, and mackerel fishing in this area.
Georgia is yet another state that offers a wealth of opportunities for anglers. With a diverse array of fisheries located within its bounds, The Peach State is ripe with adventure, no matter your preferred angling pursuit. For die-hard bass anglers, few bodies of water can rival Lake Hartwell. This lake has a rich tradition of excellent bass fishing and regularly produces trophy-sized bass. Lake Hartwell has hosted the Bassmaster Classic in 2008, 2015, and 2018. The lake is also known as a prized striped bass fishery.
If trout fishing is more your speed, then a trip to the Chattahoochee River is in store. Trout were introduced to these waters in the 1950s and have since thrived far beyond expectation. The Georgia state record brown trout was caught on the Chattahoochee River in 2014 by an angler fishing from a kayak. Anglers can fish the river from the bank, or by boat, to a great degree of success.
North Carolina is a state that offers many adventures for the eager angler. The state offers something special for every angler, no matter their preferred pursuit. Those searching for hot trout fishing action will find special favor in the Smoky Mountains along the far western portion of the state. The Smoky Mountains are home to numerous cool-running creeks, abundant in trout in the spring and fall. These waters are primarily known for their abundance of brown trout. Deep Creek tends to be a top producer of trophy-sized brown trout and is a favorite destination of many during the annual spawn in October.
Toward the state’s central portion, you can find excellent largemouth bass fishing on High Rock Lake. This lake is known for excellent year-round bass fishing but tends to be at its peak during the warm summer months when the resident largemouth move to deeper waters. When bass suspends off of deeper points, many who fish High Rock turn to the Carolina Rig as their method for success.
The state of South Carolina is widely renowned for its excellent fishing and has gained quite the reputation as one of the top destinations for die-hard crappie anglers. When crappie fishing is the order of the day, few fisheries are as valued as that of the Santee Cooper Lake System. This fishery is divided into two separate lakes, Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.
The first of these two lakes, Lake Moultrie, is home to an abundance of white and black crappie and harbors excellent fishing for several additional species. Lake Moultrie is the current home to the state’s record black crappie, blue catfish, and channel catfish.
Lake Marion, the state’s largest reservoir, also offers you a world-class fishing experience on multiple fronts. Not only is the lake known as one of the nation’s premier crappie fishing destinations, but Marion Lake is also highly regarded for its excellent bass fishing. A largemouth bass caught in Lake Marion holds a tie for the largest ever caught in South Carolina.
Delaware is perhaps best known for its excellent coastal fishing, though some productive freshwater fisheries are available to anglers visiting this East Coast state as well. One of the most sought-after fish species in Delaware is the striped bass, and for a good reason.
The state is home to an abundant expanse of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, where you can catch striped bass in significant numbers during the fall run. 3R’s Beach is a hotspot for striper fishing in the state and is best fished using a 10-12 foot surf rod.
If a relaxing afternoon of freshwater fishing is more what you had in mind, then a trip to Lums Pond should fit the bill. This lake is the largest in the state, at 189-acres, and is rich in largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and pickerel.
Louisiana offers some of the most diverse fishing in the entire nation. Anglers can enjoy both fresh and saltwater fishing excursions and pursue many different fish species during a single trip. One of the state’s most prized fisheries is Caddo Lake, widely known for its excellent crappie fishing. Crappie fishing during the late winter months can be a fast-paced affair on Caddo Lake. Crappie is often found congregating around submerged brush piles in 10-12 feet of water and is caught on various jigs.
Many anglers also find a significant degree of success when venturing to Lake Pontchartrain. The lake itself is technically an estuary, directly connecting to the Gulf of Mexico. Due to the variable salinity of the waters in Lake Pontchartrain, it is possible to catch both fresh and saltwater species during various times of the year. At any given time, speckled trout and redfish tend to be among the most sought after of all species on Lake Pontchartrain.