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12 Best Destinations for Trout Fishing in the U.S. [Plus Bonus Destinations Below]


Article Categories: Fishing
Article Tags: Fishing | Fly Fishing

One of the major draws to fly fishing is the beauty of the sport. The elegant sweep of a cast and the natural beauty that surrounds you create a magical experience in nature. When you find the combination of a perfectly timed hatch and a stunning backdrop, fly-fishing doesn’t get much better.

If you’re headed to the river and want to try someplace new, here are the best trout fishing spots in the United States– plus some notable mentions that might be a little closer to home!


The Best Trout Fishing In The United States

The United States is a vast country, made up of very distinctive climates and geographies. From the stunning red canyons of Colorado to the crystal-clear mountain lakes of the Wind Rivers to the beaver flows of New Hampshire, you can find lots of fly-fishing destinations that have excellent fish action. Trout are found in nearly every state in the US, but these destinations are the most spectacular for their beauty and the quality of the fishing.


Top Trout Destinations At A Glance: Standout Features

  • Frying Pan River, Colorado: Big trout, fishable year-round
  • Henry’s Fork, Idaho: Great rainbow trout, amazing dry-fly fishing
  • White River, Arkansas: Monster trout (30+ pounds brown trout is possible)
  • Bighorn River, Montana: Year-round insect hatches and abundant minnows, great for fishing streamers
  • Green River, Utah: Blue Ribbon fishery, abundant trout, incredible scenery
  • Deschutes River, Oregon: Native-only (no brown trout), powerful steelheads
  • Beaverkill River, New York: Home of American dry-fly fishing, cold water means a long trout season
  • Connecticut River, Vermont and New Hampshire: Beautiful scenery, great salmon and brook trout fishing
  • South Holston River, Tennessee: Huge sulfur hatch, challenging, picky fish that are fun to pursue
  • Au Sable River, Michigan: Steelhead and salmon runs, incredible natural vistas
  • North Platte River, Colorado and Wyoming: Fun wading, big brown trout and rainbow trout
  • Blackfoot River, Montana: Well-managed fishery, beautiful glacial landscape.



Frying Pan River, Colorado

Frying Pan River, Colorado

1. Frying Pan River, Colorado

A tributary of the Roaring Fork, Frying Pan River is located in west-central Colorado and meanders for about 14 miles. This river got its unique name from an alleged fur trapper in Frontier times who hung his frying pan in a tree to mark the place where his injured friend lay while he went for help.

This deservedly famous river holds big trout, some over 15 pounds, all year round. The tailwater doesn’t completely freeze over, so it’s a great winter trip. If you tired of the slopes in Aspen, you can swap out your skis for a fly rod.

Oh, and as we are sure you are aware, Colorado is home to so many other incredible fisheries, so don’t stop at just the Frying Pan. Be sure to check out some of our river guides to Cheesman Canyon, Big Thompson, Cache La Poudre, and more.


2. Henry’s Fork, Idaho

Located near Island Park in eastern Idaho, this river (also spelled Henrys Fork, without the apostrophe) is a tributary of the famed Snake River. Andrew Henry, a fur trapper, discovered the river in 1810 and named it after himself. Henry’s Fork is made up of shallow stretches and deep canyons and offers a lot of action for great trout. It is particularly well-known for its rainbow trout, and is one of the most important rainbow fisheries in Idaho. Henry’s Fork is also famous for the quality of its dry fly fishing opportunities.


3. White River, Arkansas

White River runs through the southern tip of Missouri and all through Arkansas. This river is physically gorgeous, and the various dams along the way create unbelievable fishing spots like Bull Shoals Lake. The tail waters of the famed White below Bull Shoals Dam are known for absolutely enormous trout; it’s not uncommon to find fish in the 30-plus-pound range for brown trout and around 18-19 pounds for rainbows. Those are some real big fish!


4. Bighorn River, Montana

Bighorn River, Montana

Bighorn River, Montana

Yellowtail Dam tamed this once-wild river when it was built 50 years ago. Now Bighorn is a stable environment for trout to flourish, making it an excellent place to fish. This part of the state boasts insect hatches all year long and streamers fish quite well, which implies that minnows abound, a favorite meal of the brown trout.

Montana has a lot of beautiful rivers to fish from, and with its vast expanses and never-ending blue sky, it is a perennial favorite of the angler. The Bighorn is in the eastern part of Montana, a few hours from Bozeman.


5. Green River, Utah

Green River, Utah Float Trip

Drone shot from our Hiking And Fishing team’s recent float trip down the Green River.

With clear greenish waters and red canyons, the Green River is a stunning locale in northeast Utah. Some anglers argue that it has the best trout fishing in the whole country, especially the tailwater directly below Flaming Gorge Dam.

The best fishing on the Green River is in the early spring when the crowds are sparse. As the season wears down, the river becomes more congested in the late summer and early fall. You’re only allowed to use artificial lures and flies, and catch-and-release is strongly encouraged (like most places on this list). The trout here are truly abundant; the Green River has between 8,000 and 22,000 fish per mile between the dam and Red Creek rapids.

This river is most commonly floated, but anglers do have access to long trails along the shore. It is recommended to float a boat down with camping gear to reserve incredibly beautiful spots along the river.


6. Deschutes River, Oregon

This big river in the middle of Oregon sports gorgeous rainbows. You may be too distracted to notice them, however, by the large, fighting steelhead you have at the end of your line. Its native-fish-only designation makes this river a top spot in the United States.

The Deschutes is separated into Upper, Middle, and Lower regions, with the Lower Deschutes the most famous for wild trout and steelhead. Running through an ancient basalt canyon in the high desert of Oregon, this cold, clear river spans 100 miles (the Deschutes runs a total of 250) to its confluence with the mighty Columbia.

The weather in Oregon is notably finicky, so it pays to have the right equipment with you. Essential items, like waterproof rain gear, are crucial to your comfort in the cold waters that trout like best.


7. Beaverkill River, New York

On the other side of the country is Roscoe, nicknamed Trout Town, by the locals. It’s a top-rated destination for anglers because of the confluence of two great fishing rivers – the Willomec and the Beaverkill.

The Beaverkill begins way up in the Catskills mountains as a beaver flowage. Both brown and brook trout swim eagerly in these fast waters. The water stays colder here than in the lower regions, so it’s still possible to catch trout as late as July or August. Make sure to bring extra gear, as the fast waters and colder climes may warrant many layers.

This area’s claim to fame is its great rivers, but the Beaverkill was also the place in which dry fly-fishing was pioneered. Many come to fish the waters as much for the notoriety of the area as for the fish.


8. Connecticut River, Vermont & New Hampshire

This may be an eastern river, but it has a western feel to it. The upper parts run through a series of lakes, and in the fall and spring, landlocked salmon fight upstream from each of these lakes, making for some incredible fishing.

Rainbows, brooks, salmon, and browns all run in the Connecticut River, which has some of the most spectacular scenery, especially during peak foliage months.

The fishing along the New Hampshire-Vermont border is excellent to Hanover, home of Dartmouth College. Although there are some dammed-up sections of the stream, creating pools of warmer water, the trout are quick and abundant wherever there’s fast water. We also highly recommend the Androscoggin River, and the Saco River in New Hampshire.

This was one of the rivers where I grew up fishing every year because of the potential to land big trout in a beautiful part of my home state. I may be biased, but it holds a special place in my heart, but regardless, the fishing is world class.

Wading in Connecticut River

Wading in the “Trophy Stretch” of the upper Connecticut River, New Hampshire. This was from one of our yearly trips that resulted in lots of great fish!


9. South Holston River, Tennessee

The Holston River is a wide, meandering Appalachian river with popular bass and fly fishing action. Numerous hydroelectric dams mean that the river’s natural course has been changed, creating wide rills and deep pools that are home to an active, abundant fish population.

The tailwaters of the southern part of the river are home to one of the most abundant sulfur hatches in the eastern US, and the feeding frenzies caused by this early mayfly hatch are incredible. The abundance of sulfurs means that the trout can be quite selective, and it’s a fun challenge to pick the right patterns and give the perfect presentation to catch the best fish.


10. Au Sable River, Michigan

The beautiful Au Sable River in Michigan is the birthplace of the famed conservation organization Trout Unlimited. It’s a fly fishing paradise, home to brookies, brown trout, and rainbows– but these peaceful waters are also home to steelhead and salmon during their spawning runs from Lake Huron.

Both the upper and lower parts of the river, as well as its many tributaries, are home to diverse fisheries, and the river is situated in some of the most gorgeous scenery the upper Midwest has to offer. The crystal-clear waters and pristine forests will make you forget about the world for a little while and focus on nothing but catching fish.


11. North Platte River, Wyoming and Colorado

The majestic North Platte River carves its way through several states, flowing through Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. It twists and turns through deep, dramatic canyons and gorges, flowing through mountains and valleys, winding its way from the Rockies to the semi-deserts. This mighty river moves fast; in some places, only small craft can traverse it due to the rapids and rocks. The wild North Platte is perfect for trout, and they can be fished in abundance in the upper reaches of Wyoming and Colorado.

This fishery has some of the most densely populated waters for trout. There are simply tons of fishable water that contains high volumes, and trophy-sized fish. Aside from the fishing, you also get an incredible experience in nature.

The North Platte is best known for its brown trout and rainbow trout, and also for its calmer sections that offer great wading. To access most of this river, you’ll want to float– so plan for some phenomenal rafting or kayaking, as well as great fly fishing.


12. Blackfoot River, Montana

The Blackfoot River is one of the most famous, picturesque trout rivers in North America. Its feature as the setting of A River Runs Through It brought more activity to the river– but interestingly enough, not as much fly fishing as other rivers in Montana. Instead, the heavy est uses are other types of recreation, including boating, kayaking, and more. This has created an excellent management strategy where recreational maintenance and reduced pressure on fish populations combine to create an excellent fly fishing experience.

The steep incline and active, ruffling tailwaters of the Blackfoot are ideal for stoneflies. The river’s glacial past mean that there are enormous, ancient boulders and steel ledges that create deep plunge pools and giant swirling eddies, along with seams of active water that seem to stretch forever. It’s the perfect environment for trout– and one of the most picturesque trout streams in the US.


Honorable Mentions

Rivers are our country’s lifeblood, tumbling down rocky tors and threading through vast canyons. If you are looking for some exciting new places to fish trout, you won’t go wrong with any of these top-tier destinations.There are thousands of other great rivers in the U.S. but here are some notable ones that feature amazing fishing, stunning views, or both!

  • Gunnison River, Colorado: This river has some of the most stunning views in all of the country with towering cliffs. On top of this, it happens to be one of the most productive fisheries in the U.S.
  • Beaverkill River & Willowemoc Creek, New York: Up near Trout Town, this confluence is one of the top destinations on the east coast. An incredible fishery. Some areas you’ll want to avoid in the hottest parts of summer.
  • Gallatin River & Yellowstone River, Montana: These are both world-class rivers, famous for their amazing fishing. Endless guiding and lodging opportunities, these both are on many fly fishermen’s bucket list rivers. (Also, the Gallatin was the movie stand-in for the Blackfoot in A River Runs Through It– it offers a similarly amazing experience, but with a little less crowding at peak season!)
  • Penn’s Creek, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania has so many small streams filled with stunningly beautiful brook trout. For those that love brookies and beautiful green terrain, many of the PA rivers are must-visits.
  • Davidson River, North Carolina: An easily accessible river that has an absolute ton of great trout fishing on the southeastern part of the U.S. This is one of the best trout fisheries in this region. Even North Carolina has a lot to offer.
  • Provo River, Utah: This river boasts big fish, a ridiculous amount of easy to access water, and tons of fish per mile. With waters located between reservoirs as well, the tailwater sections can be incredible only a short walk from free public parking. Read our guide to the Provo here.


Honorable Mentions: Alaska

There are some amazing fisheries in the frigid waters of Alaska. Even though the 49th state is harder to get to, and the fishing is much more remote than anywhere else in the United States, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out some of the top contenders in The Last Frontier.

  • American Creek: Shallow enough to wade in, and remote enough you may need to fly in, American Creek is home to char, trout, salmon, and plenty of bears and bald eagles. The view is to die for.
  • Aniak River: Packed with big, predatory fish like pike and grayling, as well as salmon and trout, this river is known for mousing– using huge flies that simulate a swimming rodent. Yes, the salmon here eat mice!
  • Kenai River: The meandering Lower Kenai River is home to a massive king salmon run, and is the best place to find these monsters.
  • Kvichak River: The Kvichak is home to the world’s largest salmon run. Enough said.
  • Nushagak River: This river is home to all five species of Pacific salmon, plus rainbow trout, arctic grayling, and Dolly Varden trout– it’s one of the most prolific fisheries in the world.


We know….there are so many more amazing destinations. Have any you want to add? Send us a message, tell us why, and we will add it. This is by no means a complete list, but we are sure that none of these here will disappoint you!

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about