Man in fishing boat in center of lake

Best Fishing Lakes in the U.S.

Lakes with a wide variety of fish and high catch rates can be found in almost every corner of the country. You just need to know where to go. Here’s a closer look at some of the best places to fish in the U.S. As the many lakes listed below reveal, no matter where you live, catching a big one isn’t as far away as you might think!

The Northeast

Straddling the border of New York and Vermont, Lake Champlain is one of the top fishing destinations in the northeastern United States. The lake is best known for its bass fishing, though massive Walleye, Lake Trout, and Northern Pike have also been caught in its waters, setting state records for both Vermont and New York.

Lake Champlain contains over 70 islands, with the three largest islands being home to four towns. These quiet towns are the perfect place to relax and enjoy life at a slower pace after a full day out on the water, with many lodges located along the water’s edge.

Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake, is another great place to go fishing in this region. The lake gets up to 213 feet deep at its deepest point, giving its waters plenty of variety. Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, and Salmon are abundant in Lake Winnipesaukee, but those who know where to look can also find Yellow Perch and Bullhead Catfish.

Mid-Atlantic States

You don’t need a boat to enjoy some of the best fishing the Mid-Atlantic region has to offer! Lums Pond State Park in Delaware is known as one of the region’s most accessible fishing locations thanks to the 7-mile trail that loops around the lake. Anglers can also take advantage of the lake’s two piers, or use a boat to get onto the open water.

Largemouth Bass and Crappies are plentiful at Lums Pond. If your family is coming along, there are also plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained — the park has several playing fields and courts, and even a zip-lining course.

Of course, larger fishing lakes are also present in the Mid-Atlantic area. Lake Anna in central Virginia is an artificial reservoir with abundant populations of Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, and Striped Bass. The lake’s high catch rates for these fish makes Lake Anna one of the most popular fishing destinations in the region, especially for those coming from Washington, DC.

The Southeast

Chickamauga Lake in Tennessee is home to a booming bass population, and is also noteworthy for being the site where a state-record bass weighing over 15 pounds was caught. In 2017, anglers had to catch nearly 20 pounds of bass per day just to place in the top five of the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open event, which is held at the lake on an annual basis.

With over 36,000 acres of surface area to fish from, a quality stocking program, moving water and an abundance of ledges and vegetative cover, anglers have plenty of great opportunities to bring in a good haul.

Many of the best places to fish in the US can be found in the Southeast, and the Shearon Harris Reservoir in North Carolina is just another example of this. The lake made headlines in the fishing community when Shane Burns and Bonnie Kelly had two 40-pound five-fish limits in back-to-back tournaments. At 4,100 acres, this reservoir has plenty of space where you can find your own private fishing spot.

The Great Lakes Region

Michigan’s Lake St. Clair may be famous for its beaches, but it is also considered one of the best fishing destinations for anglers in the Great Lakes area. Though its 430 square mile area is minuscule compared to the Great Lakes, nearly 30% of all sport-fishing catches in the region take place at Lake St. Clair.

The lake is best known for its massive population of Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, and Yellow Perch. Thanks to a healthy spawning environment, artificial stocking of the lake is kept to a minimum, even though avid fishermen return time and time again in their efforts to bring in a record-breaking catch.

Of course, anyone who has ever visited this area can’t ignore the enticing allure of the Great Lakes themselves. Lake Erie is consistently rated as one of the best bass lakes in the entire country, though it is also home to Yellow Perch, Steelhead Trout, and Walleye. Ice fishing is a popular winter activity in the Great Lakes, giving fishing enthusiasts year-round opportunities to bring in a big catch.

The Midwest

Devil’s Lake in North Dakota offers a surprisingly unique fishing environment, as variations in runoff and precipitation can cause the lake’s depth and salinity to vary widely throughout the year.

Devil’s Lake is best known for its impressive numbers of Perch — in fact, it was dubbed the “Perch Capital of the World” in the 1980s. The lake is also home to Northern Pike, Walleye and White Bass. During the winter, most of the lake freezes over, making it a popular destination for ice fishing.

Wilson Lake in Kansas has waters so clear that in the summer, many anglers are able to determine where to cast their line by sight. The potential of catching a Striped Bass weighing over 30 pounds is one of the biggest draws to this reservoir, but Walleyes and Catfish can also be found with relative ease. Surrounded by native prairie, this picturesque fishing spot is also perfectly suited for camping trips and other outdoor activities.

The Mountain West

The Colorado River may get much of the attention when it comes to Mountain West fishing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great fishing lakes in the area, too! Colorado’s Stagecoach Reservoir is largely considered to be one of the region’s best fishing lakes, especially if you’re after Northern Pike.

Swimming lures and jigs have been known to bring in fish longer than 40 inches, though fly-fishing for trout is also popular. As part of Stagecoach State Park, the area also allows hiking, biking, and even snowmobiling, giving you plenty of extra opportunities for outdoor fun.

Central Utah’s Strawberry Reservoir is a popular choice for trout enthusiasts. Rainbow Trout and Bear Lake Cutthroat Trout are especially common in the lake, and it isn’t uncommon for anglers to catch trout bigger than 22 inches long. Thanks to the reservoir’s high elevation, the lake’s surface often freezes over between December and February, making ice fishing a popular winter activity.

The Pacific Coast

Lake Berryessa in California is an artificial reservoir that was formed by the construction of the Monticello Dam — and with 20,700 acres of surface area, there are a lot of fish to catch!

Lake Berryessa features a diverse range of species, ranging from Chinook Salmon and Largemouth Bass to Rainbow Trout and Sacramento Pikeminnow. Whether you prefer bait fishing or trolling, you’ll be sure to land a great catch. With campgrounds and hiking trails also surrounding the lake, this is a great place to get away from city living.

California’s Clear Lake is another prime freshwater fishing destination. As the state’s largest natural lake, Clear Lake is known for its flourishing populations of Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, and White Crappie. Shallow waters with plentiful plant life provide plenty of ideal habitats for these fish.

Alaska

Bristol Bay isn’t technically a lake — but this area is considered one of the best locations for freshwater fishing in a state already known for incredible angling. Bristol Bay features the world’s largest Sockeye Salmon fishery, but it is also home to King Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char and more.

Guide services offered through the Tikchik Narrows Lodge and the Bristol Bay Lodge ensure you’ll find the best fishing locations, while also providing luxury accommodations. Prime fishing season runs from June through September.

For a picturesque freshwater Alaskan fishing experience, you can’t go wrong with Kenai Lake. The world’s largest King Salmon caught with a rod and reel was pulled from this area, but the lake is also home to Rainbow Trout and Silver Salmon. Stream mouths provide plenty of great opportunities for successful fly fishing.

Where Will Your Fishing Adventure Take You?

No matter what type of catch you’re looking for, these lakes are sure to provide a worthwhile experience. While this list is far from comprehensive, it’s easy to see that great fishing opportunities can be found in almost any part of the country.

Whether you want to plan a trip to a place that’s thousands of miles away or stay closer to home, there are plenty of amazing places to try for yourself.

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Best Fishing Lakes