The US has some of the finest fly fishing destinations on the planet. In this article, we will look at some of the very finest the country has to offer.
Some of the best fly fishing destinations in the US are:
- Bozeman, Montana
- Bristol Bay, Alaska
- Jupiter Inlet, Florida
- Roscoe, New York
- Washington State
It is difficult to narrow the choice of best fly fishing destinations in the US down to just a few, and the diversity of the type of fly fishing available makes that choice even more difficult.
The list has been compiled to reflect diversity. So, if you’re a trout fan, there is something for you. Salmon or steelhead, we have you covered. If you are a fan of saltwater fly fishing, then it’s here too!
If you plan that fly fishing trip of a lifetime, then the places listed below are amongst the best fly fishing destinations, not just in the US but worldwide. There is something for everyone, from the mountains and salmon runs of Alaska to the sheer variety of saltwater angling in Florida. From novice to pro, every state in the US, almost without fail, has an experience that will leave the angler breathless.
Below are some of the highlights!
Montana is one of the most incredible fly fishing destinations. Every year, fly fishers from all over flock to this state to experience some of the finest trout fishing in the world.
Bozeman is a great destination to use as a base if you want to experience what Montana offers. Within easy traveling distance of Bozeman, you have some of the most iconic trout rivers in the world and many equally good streams and creeks that have somehow slipped under the radar.
What To Catch In Bozeman?
This is a trout anglers paradise. From Bozeman, you will be mainly targeting Rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout. Grayling can offer an alternative if you ever get tired of grappling with some of the monster trout the area has in abundance.
Where To Fish In And Around Bozeman?
The amount of fishing available around Bozeman is almost without limit. If you want to experience the best fishing in the area, we would highly recommend a guide to help you find the very best spots. In the list below, there are some of the highlights of the available fishing.
East Gallatin River
This spring-fed river runs right through the town, and the springs maintain a perfect temperature for trout all year-round. And the great thing is, there is fantastic fishing available less than five minutes from the town’s Main Street.
The river has an abundant population of wild brown and rainbow trout.
Hyalite Reservoir is another great close-by location that is only fifteen-minutes from the town center. It could be a world away though, in those fifteen minutes, you are transported from the town’s urban hustle to a stunning wilderness lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
The fishing can be successful by wading from the shore or by float, and the fish are mainly cutthroat trout up to 18” long. There is always the chance of hooking into grayling as well.
Just a short drive out of town, you will find the Cameron Bridge crossing the iconic Gallatin River. From here, you have miles of river to explore. It is a popular spot so expect to see many anglers out for the same experience. But if you put in a bit of effort and make your way downstream, then the crowds thin out, and you can find your own secluded spots to fish.
There is plenty of brown and rainbow trout to fish for, and trophy-sized fish are always lurking. From spring through fall, large hatches make this an excellent spot for getting the dry flies out.
Lower Madison River
A half-hour or so west of Bozeman is where the Lower Madison River flows through Beartrap Canyon. If you are looking for a real wilderness fishing experience, this is just on your doorstep during your stay in Bozeman.
The warning signs as you reach the trailhead let you know about the dangers that lurk. Swift running water, bears, and snakes will be your fishing companions here! But if you aren’t too faint-hearted, then the rewards can be phenomenal. A larger than average population of browns and rainbows will soon take your mind of the dangers.
Bristol Bay, Alaska
You cannot compile a list of the best fly fishing locations in the US without covering at least one Alaska location. Our northernmost most state offers some of the finest fishing and wilderness fishing anywhere in the world.
The Alagnak River, which claims to be the finest salmon fishing river in the world, is situated in the southwestern portion of the state.
What To Catch In Bristol Bay?
Bristol Bay is a game-fishers paradise. You can target all five Pacific Salmon species (coho, sockeye, pink salmon chum, and chinook). In fact, the Bristol Bay Sockeye fishery is the largest in the world, with nearly half the world’s population of Sockeye.
And we can’t forget the other 20-odd species of fish in the area. Based in the Bristol Bay area, you can cast a fly for the following species: arctic char, grayling, rainbow trout, steelheads, dolly varden, and lake trout.
This would be a trip of a lifetime for any angler, and a guide is highly recommended. Fish Alaska Magazine has a comprehensive list of guides that operate in the Bristol Bay area.
Where To Fish In Bristol Bay?
Every year, this is genuinely the best fly fishing river anywhere in the world for a few short months. The river is teeming with fish. Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Salmon, Grayling, and even northern pike are all there for the taking. You will also be fishing in one of the most breathtaking landscapes anywhere.
There are plenty of guided trips available, and on a river of this size, it is highly recommended you take advantage of them. There are even ‘fly-out’ trips available.
Said to be the best King Salmon river globally, the ‘Nush’ has runs of about 100,000 King Salmon each year. This is the largest river in the Bristol Bay area, and as well as its King Salmon runs, it also has substantial runs of every other native North American Salmon Species.
Unlike other Alaskan areas close to population hubs, you will find peace and solitude on the riverbank. Heading further upstream, you will also come across some of the finest trout fishing in the state.
Known as the best trophy rainbow river in the state of Alaska, this river is a must fish for all you ardent trout enthusiasts. This 35-mile-long river runs from Naknek Lake until it enters the Pacific at Kvichak Bay.
As well as hosting more specimen sized trout than just about any other river in the state, it also has large runs of Sockeye and other salmon. Great value guiding trips are available if you want to catch the best this river has to offer.
The Sockeye salmon begin their run towards the end of June and can comprise around 2-million fish! And if that isn’t mouthwatering enough, rainbow trout of 10-12lbs are abundant from July onwards.
Jupiter Inlet, Florida
This is one for the saltwater fly fishing enthusiast. Although there is some freshwater stuff available, if you are heading here, then the chances are you are heading to fish the 380 odd miles of fishable coastline that there is on offer.
Those who are willing to brave the choppier summer waters then the snook fishing in the Jupiter Inlet area is one of the highlights. While it is still possible for winter visitors to hook a snook, the main sport will be King Mackerel of up to 40lbs. Of course, there are many other species, some of which are seasonal and others available all year round.
What To Catch In Jupiter Inlet?
It is impossible to list all the species that you tug on your line in Jupiter Inlet, but some of the major species you would expect to catch include:
Caught throughout the year, these will give you the fight of your life.
Caught throughout the inlet, even from jetties and the shoreline, these fish are one of the most sought-after fish for fly-anglers. The season runs from 1st September until 15th December.
Check the season for this fish as it is only available at certain times of the year. These fish are mostly caught around the north of Jupiter Inlet.
Catchable all year round, tarpon is one of the favorite species for catching on the fly in Jupiter Inlet.
One of the best battles you will ever experience on a fly rod is the Blackfin Tuna.
Many more species will strike a fly in the Florida waters, which is part of the joy of saltwater flyfishing. You just don’t know what is going to be your next big fish!
Where To Fish In Jupiter Inlet?
The beauty of fishing here is that there will be eager fish anywhere you can access the ocean. You can fish from jetties, beaches, boats, inlets. Anywhere you can legally fish, there is likely to be something lurking just a cast away. It is better to employ a local guide’s services to catch the best of the fishing and get to the prime spots.
As the whole area is fishable, it is hard to be specific about hotspots, but a couple of local favorites are listed below.
If you want to catch a snook, then strolling along Jupiter beach with a fly rod on hand is as good a place as any. Any of the local beaches will give you an excellent chance of hooking one of these beauties. Just keep an eye on the season, though!
Docks and Jetties
Once again, it is hard to be specific, but that’s the very point. This whole area can provide you with some of the best saltwater fly fishing in the US! Older Docks and jetties are best as they tend to have more growth on them and hence more feeding for smaller fish, which attracts the larger fish to snaffle your fly!
The problem with picking a base in Wyoming to fly fish from is the whole state is a paradise for the fly fisher. It is the least populous state in the US, which means there is plenty of room for those seeking a fishing trip with lots of peace and solitude. Reason enough on its own, but then you add to the equation that Wyoming has over 27,000 miles of river and over 4000 lakes, you begin to understand why anglers flock here every year.
And we haven’t even touched on the variety of fishing available yet. Wyoming boasts over 20 species of fish that can be caught on the fly.
Wyoming Anglers is a tremendous guiding service that would help ensure you got the very best out of your fishing trip to this fly fishing mecca.
What To Catch In Wyoming?
For a landlocked state, the number of gamefish species that Wyoming can offer is staggering. In total, you can fish for 22-species. These include rainbow, brown, cutthroat, golden, and tiger trout. There is also walleye, smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, and northern pike.
Where To Fish In Wyoming?
The choice is staggering, it is home to some of the most iconic fly fishing rivers globally, and many of the lesser-known ones are equally good. The few choices we have listed below only really scratch the surface of what is available.
Yellowstone National Park
The number of streams, creeks, and rivers available in the park is incredible. If you have one stop to make in a Wyoming fishing trip, then this should be it. Not only are you surrounded by the grandeur of the park itself and the wildlife that surrounds you, but the fishing is also breathtaking.
Fishing in the park is available from Amy through to November, and you can fish for several species of trout, which can all grow to trophy size, but you can also fish for beautiful, silvery grayling.
The Big and Little Laramie Rivers
The Big Laramie river is one of the best spots in the state for catching large brown trout. It also has a large population of rainbow trout. The river is generally free from crowds even during the peak season, so you will have plenty of room to find a secluded spot. The layout and access of the Big Laramie River make it an ideal location for novice anglers too!
The Little Laramie river requires a little more work, it is harder to find public access areas and the fishing conditions are trickier. But the rewards can be stunning for those who put the work in. The river is home to many trout varieties, including cutthroat and brook and the brown and rainbow found in the Big Laramie.
If you are doing a spot of specimen hunting, this section of the North Platte River is the perfect spot. Situated close to Alcova, it is not uncommon to catch brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout up to 12lbs in size in this river section.
Colorado is another state included because of the sheer amount and scope of fishing available throughout the state! One great feature of fly fishing in this state is that Colorado has gone to the trouble of grading many of its fisheries as Gold Medal Waters. For a fishery to attain this status, it must have a trout population of at least 60lbs of fish per acre, of which at least a dozen must be over 14” in length.
This can help simplify the choice of where to fish, but it is by no means all that the state has to offer in fly fishing. Wherever you go in Colorado, you are no more than a few miles away from some spectacular fly fishing.
What To Catch In Colorado?
In Colorado, the main target species is all trout, but it is some of the best fishing to be found in any state. The main species of trout you will be fishing for including brown, cutthroat, brook, and rainbow trout.
While the gold medal waters offer some of the best fishing in the state, if you want to make the most of your trip and get taken to the very best spots, then taking advantage of a local guide will get you right to hotspots.
Where To Fish In Colorado?
The choice is almost endless, DIY fly fishing has an excellent list of all the best fishing available in this state.
It is impossible to list the fishing in Colorado without mentioning its namesake River. It is one of the state’s gold medal rivers, and as such, you know it contains a good head of high-quality trout. The river is one of the main rivers in the state and is fishable throughout its length.
As well as browns and rainbows, you can also hook cutthroats, and even occasionally cutthroat/rainbow hybrids are caught.
Spinney Mountain Reservoir
The moment the season opens in April, anglers are flocking to this body of water. And every season, the big fish that the reservoir is famous for seem eager to oblige. Large trout that have lain in the depths all winter rise to the surface to begin their summer feeding glut, and for the angler, this can provide some of the best fishing in the whole state.
If lake fishing is your thing, then the Gold Medal Water of Spinney Mountain Reservoir is a fantastic place to discover what Colorado has to offer.
In southern Colorado, one of the major rivers to fish is the Rio Grande, and it is another one of Colorado’s Gold Medal Waters. Although all the usual species of trout are found in the river, it is best known for its enormous brown trout population. There is easy public access to the river along much of its length, and although it is a popular destination, it is always possible to find a quiet spot to stalk those monster brown trout.
Roscoe, New York
If a town has the nickname of Trout Town, USA then you know you are on to a good thing. Located in the Catskills Mountains, it is an ideal town to base yourself for an angling trip of a lifetime. The scenery around the town is breathtaking, the rugged mountains of the Catskills are all around, and the lakes and rivers surrounding it are jammed with trout, making this one of the premier trout fisheries on the east coast.
What To Catch Around Roscoe?
Roscoe is mainly, but not exclusively, somewhere for the trout angler to visit. It has populations of rainbow, brook, and brown trout that are prevalent throughout the whole region. As well as trout, there are also populations of walleye, bass, shad, and chain pickerel.
The trout season in New York runs from 1St April through to the 15th October, and there is a great selection of guides operating in the area to help you make the most of your trip.
Where To Fish In Roscoe?
Once again, there is a vast choice of prime locations to choose from, and picking just a few is difficult, so this is by no means anything other than a mere taster of the available fishing.
This is a river that could describe itself as the cradle of fly fishing in America. As long ago as 1819, it was noted as being a fantastic trout river by non-other than Washington Irving!
Known for its excellent Spring fishing, this river has large brown, brook, and rainbow trout populations. Access is pretty good along most of its length, but there is quite a lot of it bordered by private land.
Upper Delaware River
It is not as famous as the East and West branches of the Delaware, but that is possibly a good thing because anglers that miss out on this are missing some of the finest brown trout fishing in the US. Not only that, but you will be fishing amongst some of the most spectacular scenery in the state.
Access isn’t always easy as most of the land is privately owned, but public use of the river is permitted, so in some sections, this can lead to some great float fishing.
East Branch of the Delaware River
The East Branch of the Delaware has been a famous trout river for over 150-years. If you are lucky to find yourself fishing this river, you are fishing one of the states’ great heritage rivers. A river with such a pedigree only achieves such status by consistently offering excellent fishing, and this river does that in style.
Aim for the upper stretches in the summer, and you will be fishing for big browns and rainbows that are famed for their size and power. Access is once again limited as much of the river is bordered by private land. But there are plenty of areas where public access is possible.
For the sheer diversity of game angling available, then Washington State must make it into the list. If you make the trip to Washington, you will be rewarded by having a range of fishing available to leave the game angler frothing at the mouth.
Suppose you want to try some still water angling. In that case, Washington has droves of it available, rivers and creeks flow into the Pacific Ocean in abundance to keep the river enthusiast happy. And let’s not forget the Pacific itself. In Washington, there is something for everyone.
If you fancy a guided fishing trip in Washington, there are plenty of options available, including Orvis endorsed and organized trips.
What To Fish For In Washington State?
Most of the major trout species are resident in the rivers and lakes, including cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. There are also many rivers with large migratory salmon runs, including chinook, sockeye, and coho. And if that wasn’t enough, the state is also famous for its ferocious steelheads.
Where To Fish In Washington State?
The choice of fishing in this state is simply phenomenal, as is the variety. Of course, you have the whole Pacific Ocean to fish, and many of the tributaries and creeks that run into it are fantastic spots to cast at steelheads or salmon.
And of course, there are the rivers. It is impossible to present a definitive list due to the sheer numbers of quality rivers available but amongst the highlights are: –
The Skagit River
This is among the largest steelhead and salmon fisheries in the state and if you want to get your adrenaline pumping, then fishing the Skagit is a must! For steelhead, aim to visit in the summer or winter when the major runs occur. It also has runs of all Pacific Salmon species. Pink and Silver salmon are the prevalent salmon species, although there are smaller runs of other species and a healthy smattering of chinook.
As well as the major trout species, you can also hook Dolly Varden and Cutties. Fishing access can be quite restricted, so if you intend to fish here, then a boat is preferable.
The Hoh River
Perhaps one of the most beautiful fishing experiences you are ever likely to have, the Hoh River is situated amongst some of the most stunning landscapes in the whole US. Snow Capped mountains rise around the forest the river flows through, making for an authentic wilderness experience.
Winter is the time to visit this river. From November onwards, the steelhead runs are an angler’s dream. Native and natural fish are supplemented by hatchery fish introduced annually by both the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Hoh Indian tribe.
As with all Washington rivers, a healthy rainbow trout population, and for the salmon angler, there is a sizeable Silver Salmon run. And although the numbers are less than the silvers, there is also a King Salmon run, so if you want to hook a 50lb beauty, aim to be here in the Fall.
The Bogachiel River
Located in the Olympic National park, the Bogachiel River is one of the finest rivers to fish in the state. It is one of the few rivers in the state that isn’t fed by glacier run offs and this allows for a more extended fishing season as the water temperature is not as variable as with other rivers in the state.
Steelhead fishing is mainly in the steeper upper reaches of the river and can be simply stunning. Access can be difficult, and be prepared for a hike to get to some of the prime spots, but here a bit of effort can pay dividends,
The prime time for the steelhead runs is November through to January, but there is also a spring run, and this is when the real monsters are hooked. Fish of up to 30lbs are not unheard of.
There is also plenty of trout to be hooked and a run of chinook salmon too!
The amount of fly fishing available throughout the United States is incredible, and an article like this can, by necessity, only give you a taste of the highlights available.
If you are lucky enough to call the United States home, then you are living in the best fly fishing country in the world, both in terms of the number of species you can fish for and the quality of those fish!