Fishing is one of the most underappreciated pursuits of the modern man. It’s a hobby that can be pursued in almost any location, requires a minimum amount of skill, and only asks for a small amount of gear. It’s also a hobby that’s social, presents an excuse to travel to some of the most remote and beautiful locations in the country, and is nuanced enough to allow a newbie to work up to more technical pursuits.
In short, it’s time to book a fishing trip. Here are 10 of the best options for your next one.
The name says it all. Salmon is located in one of the most scenic and remote places in the lower 48 and sits along the picturesque Salmon River. Rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout round out the fish you can expect to catch, and Idaho is one of the only U.S. states with ocean-run salmon and steelhead.
Why You’re Going: Set in one of the most underrated states in the country, Idaho blends a charming amount of ruggedness with unique fishing and a breathtaking location. The ability to explore Boise (an underrated and up-and-coming city) makes the trip to Salmon a great destination for the urban and rural adventurer.
How to Get There: If you want to make the drive as short as possible, commercial flights are available into Idaho Falls (a two-hour drive from Salmon). Boise provides a larger airport and a longer drive (252 miles).
One of the best fishing meccas in North America, Homer not only provides a scenic location and an escape from the urban jungle, but it provides access to incredible salmon (including spawning runs in the local river). Nearby Kachemak Bay also provides plenty of halibut, ling-cod, and rockfish if you’re looking to diversify the haul.
Why You’re Going: Alaska is truly the last American frontier and the ultimate escape for the outdoorsman. Beautiful vistas, untouched nature, and a unique culture make Homer a worthwhile destination.
How to Get There: It’s a bit of a trek, but one that’s totally worth the effort. Homer is about a 5-hour drive from Anchorage, Alaska. If you prefer to fly, there are daily flights from Anchorage to Homer (the flight takes approximately 45 minutes).
Located on the mouth of the Mississippi, Venice offers one of the few locations where you’re guaranteed to catch fish. Bass, redfish, and speckled trout round out the fresh water varieties and will keep you busy for days. But if you enjoy a day out on the ocean, Venice also offers some larger saltwater opportunities including marlin, sail fish and tuna.
Why You’re Going: Louisiana, and subsequently Venice, offers one of the most unique cultural and topographical settings in the country. Proximity to New Orleans is an added bonus.
How to Get There: You’re flying into Louis Armstrong International Airport and driving 90 miles along the west bank of the Mississippi River.
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains, this beautiful location in Central California provides incredible scenery, a multitude of activities, and some of the best trout fishing on the West Coast.
Why You’re Going: Placid lakes framed by snowcapped mountains. Mammoth Lakes not only offers incredible fishing, but also mountain biking, hiking, and skiing. It’s also an accessible location that can be reached year round.
How to Get There: Mammoth Yosemite Airport is only a ten-minute drive from downtown Mammoth Lakes and accepts commercial flights year-round from LAX (Los Angeles).
Lake Fork, TX
Located 65 miles east of Dallas, in the Piney Woods region of Texas, Lake Fork offers some of the best bass fishing in the country. You’re going to Lake Fork for one reason and one reason only: to catch some bass. Large mouth and white bass keep the fishing and eating entertaining for your entire vacation.
Why You’re Going: The holy grail of fresh water fish is the bass, and Lake Fork is the mecca of bass fishing. The ability to spend some time in cowboy-centric Fort Worth is a nice bonus if looking to diversify the vacation.
How to Get There: You’re flying into DFW Airport and renting a car for the easy hour drive to bass fishing paradise.
Delaware beaches are consistently highly ranked for overall vacation quality, so you’re already starting with what’s almost a guarantee you’ll like the area. Lewes is a little farther north than the usual Delaware beach suspects, and should get you away from some of the larger crowds without sacrificing access to great ocean fishing locations.
Why You’re Going: Flounder, tuna, and marlin are all common catches in ocean fishing off Delaware’s coast. There are also freshwater and bay fishing locations nearby if that’s more your speed. Then you get to unwind in a relaxing small town when you come back to shore.
How to Get There: Delaware’s almost exactly halfway up the East Coast, which means if you can find I-95, you can find Delaware, though you’ll also need to switch to Route 1 to actually get to the town. If you’re looking to fly, Philly is a good airport, though New Castle County has a smaller one that sometimes has cheaper flights in and out.
Lake Champlain, NY and VT
We won’t say you stand a chance to catch Champ during your Lake Champlain fishing trip, but wouldn’t that be a hell of a story if you did. Other than an ancient sea monster, you’re looking at a species list that reads like an angling bucket list. Large and smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, chain pickerel, brown bullhead, channel catfish, yellow perch, lake trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon, rainbow (steelhead) trout, brown trout, and rainbow smelt are just the ones the Lake Champlain Basin Program lists.
Why You’re Going: If that list wasn’t enough, what about how easy it is to fish there? New York and Vermont have an agreement that means fishermen don’t have to go bending over backwards with two states worth of permits and licenses. One is plenty.
How to Get There: The lake is the Northeastern border for New York and the Northwestern one for Vermont. I-87 in New York will get you to the East, while I-89 in Vermont will get you to the West.
Pymatuning Lake, PA and OH
We’re finding states like to put their state borders through lakes. Pymatuning Lake runs through both Pennsylvania and Ohio, and both states’ fishing license will get you time on the water. Pennsylvania is definitely the state that takes more credit for this one though.
Why You’re Going: Maybe more than other trips, Pymatuning is more about relaxation and blending into nature than anything else. Gas powered motors are heavily frowned upon, if they’re not outright banned, so your trip’s not going to be interrupted by some jerk with a speed boat.
How to Get There: US 322, US 6, and PA 285 hit the south, north, and east shores of Pymatuning State Park, respectively. It all depends on where you want to base yourself.
Driftless Area, MN, WI, IA, and IL
Topographically, the Driftless Area is unique. It somehow escaped the unbelievable power of migrating glaciers, and a few different incursions at that. The surrounding area is among the flattest on the continent, while the region itself has mountains, peaks, and rivers that’d rival any of the most picturesque areas of Europe or Asia.
Why You’re Going: Trout fishing is huge in the Driftless Area. All four states have aggressive conservation programs in place, but they also work within those programs to provide sustainable trout fishing for casuals and professionals alike. As long as you work within them as well, you’ll be in for a great vacation.
How to Get There:
The Driftless Area spans a few states, so you’re working with a pretty large area. The coolest way to explore is getting yourself to the Driftless Area Scenic Byway. It meanders through Northeast Iowa for about 100 miles.
If modern trends are anything to judge by, no one needs to be convinced to make their way to Colorado. It’s a beautiful place with plenty to offer, not least of which is some great fishing. Meeker is one such place, with fishing around it in the White River Valley, as well as right there in the city limits.
Why You’re Going: Meeker offers a great mix of fishing in public and private waters. Both have their perks. Public is free but private can be a little more, well, private. Either way, you won’t be short on great catches.
How to Get There: Meerk has its own airport, so you can always look up flights there. If you’re less inclined to fly to those small places and want to use Denver as your hub, you can, but you’ll be in for a bit of a drive. You’ll head West on I-70 before turning North onto Colorado 13. In total, the ride’s about 4 hours.