Chinook salmon, or king salmon, caught in Alaska.
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Top 4 Fish to Catch in Their Native Range


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Anglers long for the fight of a fish, from the big behemoth yellowfin tuna all the way down to the diminutive sunfish. It is what we crave. But after you've fished for the same species in the same places for many years, you start to dream of different, bigger waters and of true trophy fish. I've started to dream of seeking out special fish from beautiful, unique places that are a part of that species's history. Pulling a fish from its native waters in its own regional backdrop is a trophy in itself. To truly appreciate everything that makes up a specific fish, you really need to catch one in its native range. Here's our list of the top four fish to target in their original neck of the woods.

Florida-Strain Largemouth Bass in Florida

Florida anglers land a largemouth bass boatside.

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Every avid bass angler knows about Florida-strain largemouths. They're notorious for getting very big (very quickly) and exhibiting a unique color pattern when compared to their northern counterparts. Florida-strain largemouth are commonly sought after, and have been stocked throughout various portions of the United States. It's great to catch them, but even greater if you do it in the Sunshine State. Popular fishing destinations in the state would include Lake Kissimmee, Lake Seminole, and the famous Lake Okeechobee. For those who haven't gotten the chance, bass fishing in Florida is different. Can you see yourself trolling around Okeechobee, pitching a big jig into the lily pad cover, and just waiting on a double digit bass to bite?

Chinook Salmon in Alaska

Roger Hutchings/Getty

They're called "Kings" for a reason. Chinook salmon are massive and are one of the hardest-fighting fish out there. Often seen as the pinnacle of North American trophy fishing, the places they can be found are truly wild. While Chinooks have been stocked in other bodies of water throughout the north, most notably the Great Lakes, there is no doubt the Kenai River in Alaska hails as the premier trophy salmon fishery. There's a bountiful population of salmon and some unbelievable trophy potential. Plus, fishing for Chinook in Alaska is like wade fishing in a Bob Ross painting. The Kenai is lined with dense green forests and surrounded by the gigantic Kenai Mountains. It's easy to get distracted by the scenery, but don't forget about the fish.

Lake Trout in Northwest Territories

A lake trout held by an angler with a lake in the background.

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Lake trout are big, aggressive, and a whole lot of fun to catch. Deep water lakes in the Northern United States and Canada are great for lake trout, but the native fisheries in the western half of Canada are where it's at. Prime spots like Kasba Lake, Great Bear Lake, and Great Slave Lake offer huge trophy potential. The Northwest Territories' lakes are massive, with several approaching the size of our great lakes. It's a part of the continent that's well worth traveling to, and fishing for lake trout when you get the chance.

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Arapaima in the Amazon River

An angler holds an arapaima caught in the Amazon rainforest.

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The Arapaima is one of the few freshwater fish species that actually has the physical stature to stand up to its legend. Arapaima can get massive massive, with some exceeding eight feet in length and weighing over three hundred pounds. The legend surrounding this giant fish and its ancient threat to humans has made it somewhat frightening, but definitely very intriguing. Native to the river systems of South America, Arapaima live in one of the most diverse ecosystems in the entire world. This trip would take most mainland fishermen out of their comfort zones, but one thing is for sure, the experience would be unlike any other.

READ MORE: THE BEST FLY FISHING WADERS UNDER $250, ACCORDING TO AN EXPERT

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