Sure, there are a lot of states in the West you could argue should be in top for fishing. But you can't waste your vacation days on a fine fishing hole.
Bar none, these five states offer the best of the best when it comes to both variety and adventure. Consider one of these western gems when you're planning your next fishing destination; whether you are seeking out saltwater or freshwater, using a nymph or a dry fly, fishing in these states is about as good as it gets.
We know its a bold claim, and that any discussion about the best of the best will create an argument. But we truly think these states represent the gems of fishing in the West. Whether you are talking about trout pulled from cold lakes, flounder taken off the coast, or snagging salmon as long as your leg, these states have it all.
With over 40,000 miles of rivers and 8,000 lakes, not to mention some of the world's most beautiful coastline, Washington has everything to keep any angler happy.
While the Skagit River and Sauk Rivers in northwest Washington are well known for their salmon and steelhead populations, the Olympic Peninsula, further south, also has renowned runs of steelhead and King salmon. There's also incredible trout fishing in Washington's alpine lakes, and with Washington being the heaviest glaciated state in the Lower 48, the high-country fishing scenery can't be beat.
If that's not enough, grab a charter out onto the Pacific waters off the coast to catch some Pacific cod, pollock, flounder, and even the odd Opah. Washington States has it all: ocean fishing, mountain lakes, and easily accessible streams for everyone.
Given that Idaho is land-locked, you won't find any open ocean fishing, but there are still plenty of freshwater fish to be had. Idaho's lakes and rivers are full of trophy-class rainbow trout, solid brown trout, kokanee, or land-locked, salmon, lake trout fisheries, and even largemouth and smallmouth bass. If that's not enough, the black crappie, northern pike, and walleye fishing is also tremendous.
As Idaho Fish & Game says, "Idaho is graced with 26,000 miles of streams and rivers, more than 3,000 natural lakes, and a quarter-million acres of ponds and reservoirs. Inhabiting those waters are 42 game fish species, from giant white sturgeon to wild trout, catfish to kokanee, and smallmouth bass to salmon and steelhead." With so many options, you'll still have trouble deciding where to go in the Gem State.
Is there a better steelhead fishing destination than the Beaver State? The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife doesn't think so: "Oregon's year-round fishing spans the state from native redband trout in eastern deserts to rockfish and halibut in ocean waters - with lots of salmon, steelhead, trout and warmwater fishing in between.".
From the inland rivers and streams to the open ocean, Oregon seems to have it all. The Willamette and Columbia Rivers are particularly good for steelhead, and anglers can find fishing spots to fly fish, for wading, float tube fishing, and one of the best rides that you can have: a float trip down one of her mighty rivers with an experienced guide leading you.
As a fly fishing destination, California has the resources to keep anglers coming back every year, fly rod in hand. You'll find brook trout, rainbow trout and native brown trout all waiting for you in the state's many streams. Fly fishermen certainly need to know the rules and regulations here since the list of species available reads like a scientific chart: large and smallmouth bass, brown trout, brook trout, bull trout, California golden trout, coastal cutthroat trout, coastal rainbow trout, Goose Lake redband trout, Little Kern golden trout, Paiute cutthroat trout, and more.
With such a long coastline, California also has so many offshore fishing possibilities that it's hard to list them all, let alone the pier and shore-based fishing opportunities in the Golden State. Long Beach is known for its tuna, rockfish, and halibut, while Bayside Park near San Diego has bonefish, salmon, and barracuda. Mahi-mahi, sturgeon, and yellow tail all can be caught too.
Alaska is known as the Last Frontier State for good reason. With only about 20 percent of the state accessible by roads, getting to your fishing hole is half the adventure, be it by boat or float-plane. The extra step is worth it though, as destinations like the Kenai River, Bristol Bay, and Kodiak are about as good as it gets for fishing.
The Kenai Peninsula, in particular, is world-renowned for its salmon runs, and if you hit the time of year right, you can pull king salmon as long as your arm out of the waters. Just be prepared to share the river with a few brown bears. There's also plenty of lakes stocked with grayling and trout if fly fishing is your thing. And with by far the longest coastline in the United States, the ocean fishing is unlimited. Head to Homer to catch massive halibut, rockfish, and lingcod.