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.
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.
If you’re headed to the river and want to try someplace new, here are eight of the best trout fishing spots in the United States. Plus, some notable mentions below!
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 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.
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.
4. 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
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).
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, like men’s fishing shirts, 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.
The Takeaway & Other Locations
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.
- Blackfoot River, Montana – One of America’s historic rivers with an incredible history, incredible scenery, and big cutthroat trout. This is on many angler’s bucket lists.
- Beaverkill River & Willowemoc Creek, New York – This is one of the top destination 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 the amazing fishing. Endless guiding and lodging opportunities, these both are on many fly fishermen’s bucket list rivers.
- 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 the 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.
We know….there is 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 is the creator of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and sharing his experiences. Max is a published author for various outdoor websites, and digital marketing websites. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about