Looking for the best trout fishing near you? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans will sign up for a freshwater fishing license to catch, clean and cook these beasts of the water this year. The fact is, you don’t have to wander very far to find a great trout stream. A simple search for “trout streams near me” will return dozens of first-class waterways where the trout are jumping to get caught.
Spots for Trout
Colorado River, Colorado and ArizonaThere are more than 49 species of native fish and the most notable is the brown trout.
Lake Ontario, NYLake Ontario has walleye fish, which are considered markers of clean water.
White River, ArkansasThe White River actually flows through Arkansas and Missouri and is a popular destination for trout fishing.
Deschutes River, OregonThe last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June are ideal for fishing, as this is the time when stoneflies are hatching.
San Juan River, Colorado and New MexicoThe number of rainbow and brown trout have increased in the headwaters of this river north of Navajo Lake.
Bighorn River, Wyoming and MontanaApproximately 461 miles long, the Bighorn River looks like a J-hook, stemming in Montana and joining Yellowstone River in Wyoming.
Green River, UtahThe majority of the Green River flows through Utah and Wyoming. However, about 40 miles run through Western Colorado.
Yampa River, ColoradoSometimes dubbed a “sleeper” by insiders, Yampa River is a steady source of large trout year-round, making it an excellent location for brown trout ice fishing for anglers with an interest.
Missouri River, MontanaHighly and reliably productive, the Missouri River is famed for enormous brown and rainbow trout.
Gunnison River, ColoradoRich in public access points for both wading and floating, the Gunnison offers anglers an unrivaled variety of terrain down its long length. Large trout can be found throughout, and interested anglers will find they can take a variety of other fish from its well-stocked depths.
However, if you’re a true trout enthusiast, you’ll want to pack up the poles, and hit the road for some of the best trout fishing across the United States. The jury’s still out on the best places for trout fishing, but many “best of” lists include a handful of well-known rivers and lakes to catch them.
1. Colorado River, Colorado and Arizona
I’m going to make a bold statement and say that the West’s most famous river has the best trout fishing in the world. The massive water body courses through 11 states, but the best fishing is found in Colorado and Arizona. Fly fishermen flock (try saying that one five times fast) to the river to land all types of trout, including brown, rainbow and brook.
2. Lake Ontario, NY
It’s as close to becoming Canadian as you’d want to get. Lake Ontario in upstate New York offers the best fishing for brown trout in the area. You might have to break out the parkas and scarves, but the chilly weather is well worth the enormous trout just waiting underneath the surface.
Fishermen can enjoy plentiful trout fishing throughout the fall and winter seasons. No boat? No problem – book a charter trip to enjoy the guidance of trout fishing experts.
3. White River, Arkansas
Arkansas – the Land of Opportunity and toddler-sized brown trout. Don’t believe us? Head to White River, which is marked by a succession of dams that play into the population’s size.
No matter your skill or experience, you can expect to land a good-sized trout throughout the entire fishing season. To prepare you for your voyage, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission publishes routine reports that outline what to expect on the White River.
4. Deschutes River, Oregon
If you’re just getting into fly fishing, it’s time to get comfortable with your body and selecting the right fishing gear. Waders don’t flatter anyone, but the rubber overalls are just a small price to pay for catching the mother of all trout in the Deschutes River. The Upper, Middle and Lower sections of the river are quite distinct in their characteristics so you may enjoy each fishing section for variety.
5. San Juan River, Colorado and New Mexico
The San Juan River is a gathering ground for brown trout. In fact, there are an estimated 15,000 fish per mile, virtually guaranteeing a good haul each time you fish. If you plan your visit during peak fishing season, expect some close neighbors and tight quarters.
6. Bighorn River, Wyoming and Montana
Warm days in Montana are about as sparse as the population itself. When they do come along, residents don’t take them for granted. As such, the most popular times for fishing in Bighorn River are during the summer season. If you can brave the weather, try your hand at off-season fishing. Pack a thermos with hot soup (or whiskey) and dress in layers.
7. Green River, Utah
If trout could talk, they’d tell you to stay away from the Green River. Think about it – if you were a trout living here, where each mile of water is home to 10,000 fish, would you want us to know?
Luckily, we’re already well aware of the amazing fishing it offers. Seasoned anglers can bypass the easier spots and head straight for Section C, which has fewer trout per mile but regularly boasts the largest browns.
8. Yampa River, Colorado
The only thing more fun than trout fishing at Yampa River is saying its name aloud. With plenty of public access sites and one-day passes available, the river is a welcoming spot for locals and out-of-state fishermen alike.
9. Missouri River, Montana
If you really want to be the cool guy around the water cooler, boast to your fishing buddies about catching trout while dry fly-fishing. Using this technique to land trout is a challenge anywhere, but it’s best done in the Missouri River between April and November.
10. Gunnison River, Colorado
Gunnison River is the place to be when size really matters. Trout size, that is. If you’re looking for gold metal water or wild trout water, visit the lower section of the river. 14-inch trout are just waiting to bite.
Download our Great Fishing Itineraries Guide for more information about great fishing spots to check out.
Other American Trout Fishing Hotspots
The trout fishing near me is great for a day trip, but I like to switch things up every now and again. If you’re an experienced and active angler (like me), you’ll enjoy traveling to trout fishing hotspots across the country and trying them out for yourself. Some of the best trout fishing can be found in the following destinations:
- Yellowstone River, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota
- South Platte River, Colorado
- North Platte River, Colorado and Wyoming
- Madison River, Montana
- Sacramento River, California
- Arkansas River, Colorado
- Roaring Fork River, Colorado
- Frying Pan River, Colorado
International Trout Fishing Hot Spots
Cue the patriotism – some of the best trout fishing in the world is located right here in the U.S. However, a handful of other countries offer stunning views and tremendous catches worth the effort and expense it takes to explore them. Chief among the list are below:
- New Zealand
A Word on Permits and Costs
Before casting your line into the Colorado River or fly fishing in Deschutes, you most likely need a permit. Most of the nation’s top trout fishing spots require fishermen to become licensed. Fishing license laws, availability and procedures vary from state to state. While some offer affordable day passes to out-of-state anglers, others may only provide seasonal or semi-permanent licenses.
The best way to get a bang for your buck is to combine your desired trout fishing trips. For example, both Colorado and Montana sport more than one must-see trout fishing site. If you decide to visit one, consider extending your trip by a few days so that you can hit a few other popular spots in the region. It maximizes your trout take while minimizing the money you’d spend on multiple licenses.
For more details about great fishing locations to check out, download our Great Fishing Itineraries Guide here.