Escaping the busy fishing crowds is easier than you think.
We're right in the thick of summer now and it seems like everyone is headed out fishing. In the case of the lake I fish, my dad and I also found ourselves dodging personal watercraft while we were out there bass fishing.
How does one get away from the crowds at fishing spots without sacrificing the quality of their angling?
We'll tell you exactly how you can find some great fishing hotspots where there is some real peace and quiet.
This is a great way to find some of the best fishing spots on the planet on your next fishing trip. Backcountry fishing is an entirely different kind of beast. This style is more common with trout fishing, but basically, you're going to be hiking to a remote lake or stream for some big fish.
Generally, the further you hike, the better the odds you'll find lower fishing pressure and a quieter setting.
This is a great option if you also love to camp. Pick your favorite state park and find the most remote trail/camping area you can. If you can find a spot that requires permits, that's even better because it means only a select few people will be allowed to go in at any given time, and weeds out the less-dedicated.
You might not have a lot of variety of fish on a trip like this. There might be one dynamite brook trout stream at the end of the trail and that's it. But it's a great option for fly fishers because some of the best fly fishing streams for brown trout and rainbow trout are already in extremely remote locations.
Be sure to ask at the local fly shop where you can find some peace and quiet. They'll generally be able to point you in the right direction.
It is totally worth expending a few vacation days during prime fishing season in order to get away from the crowds. Keep in mind some lakes are always going to be busy. Places like Lake Okeechobee, Lake Fork or Lake Castaic see fishermen all week long.
But smaller, lesser-known fishing holes are often all but empty during the week, especially on a Monday or Tuesday. I've found that the first day after a major holiday weekend (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day) tends to result in near-empty boat launches and roadside fishing locations.
This isn't a perfect solution by any means, but it is a simple one. And sometimes it's the only way you'll be able to get on the water and wet a line for some walleye or crappie without having to constantly keep looking over your shoulder for other boat traffic.
Canoe or kayak fishing
Some of the best fishing waters in the world are completely closed to all gas or electric traffic. Take, for instance, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. Areas that are closed to serious boat traffic often offer incredible, peaceful fishing opportunities.
In the case of Boundary Waters, permits are doled out to enter certain areas, limiting the human presence even more. You can literally go camping and fishing in there for days without ever seeing another soul!
Canoes and kayaks also allow you to reach remote locations other fishermen with big boats cannot. If you're fishing in a state like Michigan, if the water can be accessed by the public and is navigable, you can be on it and you can fish it.
This opens a lot of possibilities for lakes far off the beaten path that have no public access ramps. There may be a dynamite bass lake in the middle of a National Forest, but it's a 12-mile hike to get there. Sometimes you can reach spots like this much faster with a canoe or kayak.
The shallow draft also means you can get in nearly every little pocket and stream that is filtering into a larger body of water. Sometimes these streams can lead to lakes no one else can access. If you're lucky, you'll come across a hidden pocket where the fish have never seen a lure before.
My advice is to really get creative with a canoe or kayak. Don't discredit urban areas either. Sometimes there are bodies of water in cities or small towns that are accessible only by kayak or canoe, and have no other launch point for larger boats. Places like this can be a great spot, and can hold some real monsters.
Google Maps fishing
Sometimes the best way to find an under-fished location is to just start looking completely at random. Google Maps is an incredible fishing tool that is not utilized by many anglers. Google's satellite views will show you all sorts of hidden lakes and rivers you may not have known existed previously.
One way I find hidden spots is to simply follow rivers on Google Maps and note where the rivers cross roadways. Look for roads near bends and curves that create deep pockets that can hold largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, catfish. Sometimes they even hold northern pike and muskie if you're lucky.
Sometimes these spots have already been discovered by local anglers, but other times I find a spot that is completely devoid of any sign of angling activity. This method works well in a state like Michigan where you're never more than about three miles from a body of water at any given time.
I will warn you this method can be hit or miss. Some locations look good on satellite, but don't pan out when you get there. Make sure you check the Google Streetview of the spot if Streetview is available for that location. This can help you weed out some spots immediately.
I like to combine this method with taking along a kayak. Sometimes a roadside spot will be busy with bank anglers, but I can take the kayak a quarter mile downstream to where there's a small lake no one else is fishing. Get creative and you will find some new fishing locations!
Fly-in Fishing Trip
When all else fails, a fly-in fishing trip is almost 100% guaranteed to get you away from the crowds. This is an especially popular method of fishing in Canada where there are tons of remote lakes that can only be reached by pontoon airplane.
Most of these lakes have cabins or cottage accommodations and boats ready where you get there. All you need to bring is your gear.
Find the right outfitter, and you'll have an entire lake in the wilderness all to yourself!
The downside is that these trips can be a bit pricey. You're looking at around $700-2,000, depending on the trip length and the number of people going along. If you can wrangle 4-5 friends together, the costs go down significantly. These trips mostly target pike, muskie, walleye and bass. Don't forget about Alaskan fly-in trips, too, where salmon tends to be the species of choice.
This type of fishing trip is great if you are into catch and cooks. In fact, the whole point of most of these trips is just that, to catch your dinner every night and then sit back with friends and have some laughs over some cold ones around the campfire under the northern lights.
Sounds like a great method of getting away to us!