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The Best Fishing States West of the Rockies

Best Fishing West Of The Rockies

With so many great western U.S. fishing locations, an angler could spend a lifetime exploring.

Curious about the best western U.S. fishing locations? With high or low elevation lakes and trout streams abound, not to mention ocean fishing, the western United States offers considerable opportunity.

Whether you are into dry fly fishing or using nymphs, trolling spoons from a boat, or getting your "fish-on" with an Ugly Stick and some Senko worms, there is some great fishing to be had west of the Rockies.

To gear up on fishing supplies, check out Bass Pro Shops.

Prepare your waders or drift boat. Here are some bucket-list-worthy, "Best in the West" fishing highlights.


No western U.S. fishing locations list would be complete without Alaska. The wildest place left in America has some of the best fishing you'll find in the world. Whether you are going for halibut in Homer, salmon in Bristol Bay's saltwater, or river fly fishing in Kodiak, you'll find an anglers' dream in Alaska.

You won't find much in the way of catfish or bass fishing there, but you'll find plenty of salmon (king, coho, pinks, chum, sockeye) steelhead, rainbow trout, halibut, cutthroat trout, and Dolly Varden.


Looking for killer high-altitude rainbow trout and brown trout fishing? Head to the White Mountains where you can fish for trout, flathead or channel catfish, bass, and more in a beautiful alpine setting. The West Fork of the Black River will get you into some Apache trout, which is the only place in the country you can find them.

The majority of fishing in the White Mountains is for trout. So, if it is largemouth bass you seek, head to Lake Pleasant or Roosevelt. These two lakes provide the best largemouth, crappie, and catfishing in the state.

Of course, I'd be remiss without mentioning the mighty Colorado River as a prime western fishing location. The deep desert of the northwest Colorado River region (Lake Havasu, Lake Powell, Lake Mead, and the Grand Canyon) offers exceptional fishing for striped bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, sunfish, and catfish.


San Joaquin Delta in California is an anglers bucket list destination. You can fish for striped, largemouth, and smallmouth bass, catfish, salmon, steelies, sturgeon, and more along its hundreds of miles of waters.

The McCloud River, coming off of Mt. Shasta, has an awesome trout fishery. In the Hat Creek and Burney Falls arms, you'll find brook, cut-bow, and native brown trout.

Lake Almanor, nestled in the Lassen National Forest of northern California, is another destination worth your time. Almanor is a manmade lake and is stocked with trout and smallmouth bass. Word on the street is that Lake Almanor smallmouth are big fighters!

And let's not forget the saltwater fishing that can be had in California. There's something for everyone!


There is a lot of varied fishing to be had in Oregon. Hundreds of Oregon lakes hold large springtime rainbow trout. Ocean fishing opportunities for halibut, salmon, and bottom fish are available when the conditions allow.

Anglers looking to fly fish for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass can do so when spring hits. Continue through the summer at fishing spots on rivers such as the Umpqua and John Day.

You'll find summertime steelhead fishing on the Columbia, Deschutes, John Day, and Snake Rivers. Don't forget about the walleye opportunities above Bonneville Dam!

Oregon gives you a lot of seasonal fishing opportunities throughout the year for a variety of species.


Lake Pend Oreille is the fifth deepest lake in the country and stretches 43 miles long and six miles wide. It is a whopping 1,158 feet at its deepest spot. Lake Pend Oreille is so big, the Navy is able to do submarine testing in it.

So, can you catch a fish here? Well, yeah! Take your pick from the trophy-class rainbow trout, brown trout, and lake trout fisheries, an exploding kokanee population, largemouth and smallmouth bass, black crappie, northern pike, and walleye.

Lake Pend Oreille is a western fishing location known for big fish and holds various state records. It produced the world record for the largest bull trout (which is no longer harvestable) and the former world record for rainbow trout.


At the south end of Ruby Valley lies Ruby Lake, a remote 40,000-acre refuge. It is renowned for its largemouth bass fishing and is popular with local anglers.

Ruby Lake isn't the only place either. The stunning Lake Tahoe is full of brook trout, rainbow trout, golden trout, and brown trout.

Make sure not to miss out on the Truckee River. Nevada's largest river is hopping with rainbow trout, brown trout, and Lahontan cutthroat trout. The Truckee River is open to fishing 24-7, 365 days a year.


The fiery red sandstone of Flaming Gorge contrasted against the evergreen Ashley National Forest looks like a painted Utah masterpiece. Extending into the Wyoming and Green River tailwaters that meander southeast, Flaming Gorge is a fishing mecca famous for its trophy trout. Catching fish over 30 pounds is fairly common, with a Utah record of 51 pounds, 8 ounces.

You can fish for rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon, and smallmouth bass.



Like Oregon, Washington offers a big variety of fisheries. As such, it can get quite crowded with fly fishers, drift boats, and people fishing from the shore in the most popular locations.

Lowland or high lakes, ocean, river, and stream fishing... What's your pleasure? You can hire an outfitter to fish for steelhead on the Klickitat River or hike to a remote subalpine lake with your fly rod and do battle with wild trout there.

Fish open marine waters for salmon or dozens of species of bottom fish including Pacific cod, lingcod, walleye pollock, flounder, and many more.

Skagit River and Sauk Rivers are renowned for their salmon and steelhead populations. Want a fly fishing destination in a stunning temperate rainforest? Check out the Hoh River on the Olympic Peninsula. You'll float through some of the last remaining moss-drenched old-growth forests, while you fish for silvers, king salmon, steelhead, and trout.

That's a good rundown of the best western U.S. fishing location destinations. Put these on your list and get to packin'!




The Best Fishing States West of the Rockies