Fly fishing in Oregon, West Coast

5 Best West Coast Fishing Trips for the Catch of a Lifetime

This is your chance for the catch of a lifetime.

The fishing on the West Coast is some of the best in the United States, whether you're a saltwater or freshwater angler. From salmon and trout fly fishing in Alaska to tuna, sea bass, halibut, rockfish, or dorado Southern California, the West Coast is packed with world-class coastline, rivers, and lakes, offering angling adventures for everyone.

With this much variety available year-round, one thing is for certain: One of these western states should be your next fishing destination. We've rounded up five of the best West Coast fishing trips in the country, based on climate, charter options, types of fish, and more. Now, all you have to do is plan your getaway.

1. Alaska

Alaska halibut fishing.

Getty Images, DieterMeyrl

The entire state of Alaska is renowned for its fishing, and with good reason. For starters, it's famous for its salmon runs. Head to the Kenai Peninsula for the easiest access and best concentration of salmon throughout the spring and early summer. If salmon isn't your thing, you'll find plenty of grayling and trout in the lakes and rivers as well. Or head north to Bristol Bay to try your hand at Arctic char.

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Ocean fishing is also a good bet; catch a charter out of Homer to target massive halibut, lingcod, rockfish, and even king salmon. Charter captains taking clients out to deep-sea fishing areas also routinely see whales, sea otters, orcas, and other ocean creatures.

If you'd rather keep your feet on land, Alaska is home to some of the most exciting surf fishing anywhere in the world, all along the coastline from the Alaskan panhandle to the Alaskan peninsula.

While you may think of summer as the best time for an Alaska fishing trip, don't discount a fall fishing adventure to the far north. By going in the fall, you'll miss most of the busy tourist season, with plenty of places to stay and lower prices. Be aware that winter comes early that far north; it's not unheard of for people to start skiing in the mountains in October. Pack plenty of warm and waterproof clothes, and aim for an early-fall trip, unless you plan on ice fishing.

2. San Diego, California

California surf fishing.

Getty Images, piola666

If Alaska sounds too cold for you, head to the far south of the west coast for a San Diego fishing adventure. San Diego is home to the world's largest fishing fleet and has excellent fishing opportunities year-round in a mild climate.

For freshwater anglers, the city's lakes and reservoirs are filled with trout and largemouth bass. If you're looking for more variety, head to the coast. The ocean waters off Southern California have a dizzying number of fish species to try your hand at: dorado, albacore, marlin, yellowtail, wahoo, sand bass, barracuda, halibut, sea bass, rockfish, and bonito.

Many charters out of San Diego are of the long-range variety and can make amazingly long runs up and down the coastline, giving you an unparalleled array of fishing opportunities. Finally, if surf fishing is more your thing, check out some of the beaches, including Coronado Beach, Mission Beach, Blacks Beach, and Torrey Pines State Beach.

3. Puget Sound, Washington

Coho salmon in the puget sound.

Getty Images, MathewHayward

Puget Sound, at the far northern end of the lower 48, is often the last stop on many anglers' wish list, but it should be their first. Adjacent to beautiful Seattle, the sound offers excellent fishing opportunities year-round because of its proximity to both freshwater and saltwater fisheries.

Salmon abound in the sound, and fishermen can expect to catch coho, pink, chum, and king salmon. Make sure you double-check fishing regulations, because there are certain times when retaining salmon is not allowed. You can still catch and release salmon during these closures, or try your hand at flounder and lingcod. Crabs and sturgeon can also be found. 

If you prefer freshwater fishing, the nearby Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers are known for their steelhead and salmon; and lakes in the Seattle area have rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, kokanee, and largemouth bass.

Keep in mind that spring, fall, and winter are quite rainy in the Pacific Northwest. Make sure you have a good set of season-specific rain gear before heading out for a fishing trip there.

4. San Francisco Bay, California

San Francisco Fishing.

Getty Images, David Tran

The San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the Pacific coast of both South America and North America, and the shallow flats support one of the world's greatest fisheries.

The bay is a great year-round destination for targeting king salmon, striped bass, rockfish, halibut, or lingcod. San Francisco has numerous ocean charters to choose from, and charter captains routinely fill their boats with many of these species.

Surf-fishing enthusiasts can find great striper fishing on Ocean Beach by casting or by live-bait fishing, but be sure to check any fishing regulations for limits.

5. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Oregon sturgeon

Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, located just outside of Portland, is a spectacular designated National Scenic Area, the largest in the U.S. At 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep in some places, the gorge is renowned for its incredible vistas.

The gorge and the surrounding area are also famous for their fast-paced fishing. Both king (a.k.a. chinook) and coho salmon can be caught. Absolutely massive sturgeon can be found year-round, though particularly in the spring, and the steelhead fishing is excellent as well.

If you're looking for saltwater fishing, greenling, rockfish, lingcod, and perch can be caught from the jetties where the Columbia River meets the ocean. Crabbing and razor clamming are also phenomenal. If you're looking for a charter, boats along the northern Oregon coast will take you out for salmon, tuna, and halibut.

READ MORE: 5 East Coast Fishing Spots That Truly Honor Freshwater, Saltwater Traditions