No matter what your favorite kind of fishing is, most anglers will agree that the best part about the entire experience is the experience itself. Just getting into the great outdoors and enjoying the solitude is why so many of us do it - the catching of fish is typically just a great added bonus.

With all the different opportunities for so many different species right here in the US, it's totally worth checking out a few non-local options and experiencing a whole new fishery right here in our home country. We've put together a list of must-do fishing trips for all different kinds of anglers, no passport required.

The Best Fishing Vacations For Your Bucket List: Our Top 12 in the U.S.

No matter what kind of surroundings you're looking for, how far you want to travel, your favorite type of fish, or your preferred fishing style, there's an unbelievable diversity of top-tier fishing spots around the country. They also vary in their best time to go fishing seasonally, meaning one of these spots will be waiting, regardless of when you can take your vacation.

1. Alaska

Man and woman on a  fishing trip in Alaska

Types of Fish: Salmon, trout, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, etc.

Best Season: Summer

The first stop on our bucket list fishing destinations: The Last Frontier. Alaska is a treasure trove of fishing adventures, boasting an amazing variety of saltwater, river, and lake fishing opportunities. It's no secret that Alaska's salmon fishing is world-renowned, with several species offering some of the most rewarding catches you'll ever experience. But don't overlook the abundance of other fish species awaiting those who venture northward.

Whether you're a seasoned angler or new to the game, the best way to explore Alaska's fishing scene is by embarking on a guided trip. Choose from excursions on the water or backcountry adventures that take you to the heart of Alaska's wilderness. No matter your choice, you're in for an unforgettable experience in the Last Frontier.

2. The Florida Keys

Group on a fishing trip in Key West, Florida

Types of Fish: Tarpon, mahi-mahi, tuna, permit, bonefish, marlin, etc.

Best Season: Spring/Early Summer

If you're dreaming of a warm, tropical paradise for your ultimate fishing adventure, look no further than the Gulf of Mexico and the enchanting Florida Keys. These islands, set amidst the Florida Straits, are easily accessible via the remarkable Overseas Highway

Key West might be the most famous, especially for deep-sea fishing, but don't miss out on other gems like Islamorada, dubbed the "Sport Fishing Capital of the World." Key Largo and Marathon boast exceptional reef fishing opportunities too. 

With a diverse array of fishing spots and an impressive variety of flats and offshore fish, you can tailor your experience to create an unforgettable fishing vacation. Whether you charter a guide or plan on taking your own boat , the Florida Keys promise a fishing trip like no other.

3. Chesapeake Bay, Maryland/Virginia

Types of Fish: Striped bass (rockfish), bluefish, drum, croaker, etc.

Best Season: Late Spring/Summer/Fall

It should come as no surprise that a region known for its seafood is home to a top bucket list fishing location. While crabs may be the aquatic life most associated with the bay, it's also a top spot for striped bass and numerous other types of fish. It's also one of the most accessible top fishing trips for many Americans, with millions of people located just a few hours or less from the bay, including major metro areas like Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York City. 

Many different fishing spots can be found on both sides of the Bay, along with opportunities for offshore fishing on a variety of tours and excursions from the charming waterfront towns that still define the region.

4. Bighorn River, Montana

Group on a fishing trip in Montana

Types of Fish: Trout, walleye, whitefish

Best Season: Late Spring/Summer/Early Fall

For fly fishing enthusiasts, southern Montana's picturesque Bighorn River is like a dream come true. Undeniably one of the nation's premier trout and fly fishing destinations, the Bighorn offers anglers the opportunity for  rainbow, brown, brook, and cutthroat trout varieties.

With several public access points, you can easily reach the river, or choose to float or wade to other spots along this public waterway. Plus, the Bighorn is a tailwater fishery, created by the Yellowtail Dam, ensuring consistent and top-quality water flow throughout the season – a major advantage over some less predictable rivers.

5. Salmon River, Idaho

Types of Fish: Salmon, trout, whitefish

Best Season: Late Summer/Fall/Winter/Early Spring

For an unforgettable fishing adventure with a touch of wilderness, make your way to the Salmon River, also known as "The River of No Return." Being the longest undammed river in the continental United States, its flow can be less predictable compared to other controlled waterways. But the awe-inspiring scenery and pristine wilderness more than compensate for it.

There are numerous popular fishing spots along the river's 425-mile length, including the charming gateway town of Salmon don't forget to indulge in other outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, and more. The Salmon River promises to deliver one of the best fishing and outdoor adventure trips you'll ever experience.

6. Kona, Hawaii

Types of Fish: Marlin, tuna, mahi-mahi, ono, etc.

Best Season: Late Spring/Summer

If you're after exotic or sportfish, Hawaii is your top domestic spot. Kona, on the Big Island, provides the best opportunities, though guided excursions and dock or surf fishing, spots can be found just about everywhere on these islands. Off the coast, anglers can target massive blue and striped marlin, several types of tuna, and many other species.  

Apart from the fantastic fishing, Hawaii offers a truly unique blend of nature and culture unlike any other place in the United States. So, even when you're taking a break from the water, you'll be surrounded by unforgettable experiences 

7. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Types of Fish: Red drum, bass, bluefish, tuna, flounder, etc.

Best Season: Late Summer/Fall

The Outer Banks in North Carolina, a unique series of barrier islands off the mainland coast, is among the top fishing trip destinations on our list. 

Catering to all types of anglers, the Outer Banks offer everything from surf fishing on pristine beaches to fly fishing, charters, and countless pier fishing spots. The small size of these islands means you're always close to the water. Plus, their central location on the east coast makes them easily accessible for millions of anglers from New York to Jacksonville.

8. Lake Tahoe, California

Types of Fish: Trout, salmon

Best Season: Late Spring/Summer/Early Fall

For those who believe bigger is better when it comes to fishing vacations, look no further than Lake Tahoe on the California/Nevada border, where you can catch some of the country's largest trout. This stunning, deep lake is home to the famous Mackinaw trout and many other species, like the highly sought-after Kokanee salmon. It's perfect for anglers who love spending a few hours fishing from a canoe or kayak. Plus, nestled in the breathtaking Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe offers a unique and picturesque landscape compared to other top fishing destinations.

9. California Delta

Types of Fish: Bass, catfish, sturgeon, salmon, etc.

Best Season: Late Spring/Summer/Fall/Early Winter

The California Delta, an often-overlooked yet amazing fishing spot, is located where the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers converge before flowing into the San Francisco Bay. Boasting ideal fishing conditions nearly year-round, it's an excellent choice for a vacation anytime, and it's just a short drive for millions in the Bay Area and Northern California, as well as other West Coast residents. With a diverse range of fishing spots, the California Delta caters to fly fishing, trolling, baitcasting, and various other fishing styles.

10. Columbia River, Oregon

Types of Fish: Salmon, walleye, steelhead, bass, steelhead, sturgeon, etc.

Best Season: Late Spring/Summer/Early Fall

While the headwaters of the Columbia start far north in Canada, the most famous parts of the river are located in the state of Oregon, close to its northern border with Washington. It's home to a diverse group of fish, though many come specifically for the area's famous salmon runs. It also offers some of the country's most gorgeous fishing scenery, like the Columbia River Gorge.

In addition, the importance of the river from an economic, cultural, and historical perspective has led to aggressive efforts to preserve the fishery for current and future anglers. The Columbia River also scores points for accessibility from major Pacific Northwest cities like Portland and Seattle and even the California Bay Area.

11. Thousand Islands, New York

Types of Fish: Bass, walleye, muskie, northern pike, etc.

Best Season: Late Spring/Summer

This underrated region straddles the border with Canada in far upstate New York, along the St. Lawrence River. The name is actually an understatement, with official counts sitting closer to 1,800 islands, each of which provides incredible habitats for seemingly limitless numbers of freshwater fish. 

While guided tours are popular, the area's many hidden hideaways can also provide some of the most solitude-filled fishing spots in the eastern half of the country. It combines unique access to both the U.S. and Canada for those looking to pop across the border to check out this underrated part of Ontario.

12. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Types of Fish: Cod, striped bass, bluefish, fluke, tuna, etc

Best Season: Summer/Fall

There are few places in America where fishing is more a part of life and culture than on Cape Cod. After all, it's named for a fish—one of the most abundant in the region. 

Full of quaint fishing villages, the Cape offers ample opportunity to experience some of New England's iconic seaside towns while enjoying some of the east coast's best saltwater fishing. It's also a history lover's ideal fishing spot, with many early American historic sites within a short drive.

Get Hooked on the Ultimate Fishing Adventures Awaiting You

These twelve top-notch destinations cater to all skill levels, fishing styles, and preferences, making them some of the best fishing vacations in the nation. But before you dive into those dream catches, be sure to check local regulations and limits and have all the licenses you need. After all, nothing spoils a fishing trip more than unexpected fines or penalties.

Soon enough, you'll be all set to gather your gear and book your trip. The fish are eagerly waiting for your bucket list adventures! And as you embark on these unforgettable fishing expeditions, gear up with Free Fly's breathable, quick-dry men's and women's fishing apparel. Designed for the angler's lifestyle, our fishing clothing for men and women ensures comfort and protection while reeling in your dream catch.

So, call your friends (or book that solo-ticket, we get it), gear up and get out on the water.