There’s something about choosing the perfect spot to cast your line. Something about the water’s movement around you as you feel the first fish nibble. It doesn’t matter if you’re solo or with your crew – if you’re doing it right, every fishing trip is unforgettable.
Assuming you have a killer lightweight rod, a plan for getting on the water (waders, pier, or boat?) and a 6-pack, you only have one decision left: where to go. Don’t worry, we’ve done the leg work to make your decision easier: from the breathtakingly stunning to the private and tucked away (read: hard to find), we’ve compiled a list of six of the very best spots to chase the fish till sunset.
Some are worthy of grabbing your buds for an epic road trip. Others are perfect for a quick weekend getaway. And if you’re lucky, some might be in your backyard, close enough to have you back at home base just after the sun sets. No matter how far they fall from your home base, we can promise you one thing: these six stops are worth the trip.
Colorado: Eleven Mile Canyon
The South Platte River runs about an hour West of Colorado Springs, on the North Side of the San Isabel National Forest. That translates to a gorgeous forest with mountain lakes, and some of the best trout fishing West of the Mississippi.
Eleven Mile Canyon is a part of the River that’s particularly well-known for sizable brown and rainbow trout. The canyon walls protect fishers from the wind, which means you can last a little longer on the water. It will be worth it for the 16-20-inch trout you’ll find – even some as big as 30 inches during the spawn.
As you’re making your way there on the dirt road, watch for the five Forest Service Campgrounds along the way.
Montana: Madison River
No trout fishing list would be complete without the angler’s mecca that is Montana. The whole state is full of amazing fishing, but The Madison River takes the cake in this part of the country as an exceptional fishing location with incredible scenery to match.
The River begins in our nation’s first National Park – Yellowstone – at the confluence of the Firehole River and Gibbon River. Big browns and rainbow trout are caught regularly in the Madison, by locals, guided tours and weekend warriors.
If you’re making the trek for the Madison River fishing, don’t miss the rest of Yellowstone. From the wildlife to the subtly changing landscape, there’s always something new to see in the park.
East Coast: Delaware River
The Delaware River rushes through a huge area across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. And while many rivers in upstate New York and surrounding areas claim to have the best trout fishing, the Delaware River is impressive in its own right.
The fish in this river are wild – wild in behavior and wild in color. Those who fish there say they have more gold than their West coast counterparts. The intense hatches of bugs in this stretch of the world means these fish are plenty and thriving.
The Upper Delaware is a great place to start if you’re heading East – we recommend talking to a guide or a local expert so you know you can hit the hotspots.
Minnesota: Whitewater River System
A lot of trout fishing attention is focused on the Western part of the country – and for good reason. But the North sometimes gets overlooked. If you’ve never been fishing in Minnesota, you’re missing some of the most peaceful and productive fishing you’ve ever seen.
With 680 miles of designated trout water, Southeastern Minnesota is home to a huge number of trout – and towering limestone bluffs and deep ravines. Many of the trout here grow to a solid size, thanks to the regular regional hatching of flies and midges to feed them.
The 2,700 acre Whitewater state park is a great home base, with hiking trails, a swimming beach, and camp sites for individuals and groups.
Alaska: Quartz Creek
100 miles down the Kenai Peninsula from Anchorage is Quartz Creek, a stream that flows into Kenai Lake. For years, the creek was nearly private, off the beaten path and secluded from tourists and fishing tours. It’s still fairly quiet, but sees more traffic these days thanks to a newly upgraded highway nearby.
Clear and fast, Quartz Creek is known for ites late July salmon spawn. By early fall, impressive rainbow trout – some that push 30 inches – can be found feeding on what’s left from the run. T
Quartz Creek Campground is the place to stay for this trip. On the edge of Cooper Landing, where towering mountains meet the Kenai River, it would be tough to find a more picturesque place to spend your nights after long days on the Creek.