If you’re looking for the ultimate fishing experience, whether to instill the joy of fishing within your kids or for your own relaxing vacation, there are numerous lakes across the nation to choose from. If you hope to catch your own dinner and perhaps let the kids in on the fun, too, a look at these lakes and the types of fish you can expect to catch can help make that decision a bit easier.
Among the breathtakingly beautiful Central Cascades of Oregon, Crane Prairie Reservoir is one of the top-producing rainbow trout fisheries in Oregon, with rainbow trout averaging 2 inches of growth per month during the summer. The record rainbow pulled out of this lake weighed more than 19 pounds, and it’s filled with an abundance of the colorful fish in the 4- to 10-pound range. Crane Prairie is a great place for both fishing and camping, with numerous campgrounds located around the shoreline as well as several spots from which to launch boats. On the reservoir’s east side at Crane Prairie Resort, you can even rent a boat and fishing supplies.
Fishing at Crane Prairie has been excellent for other large trout as well, including brook trout. Wildlife and bird lovers will find a true paradise, as this is considered a prime viewing area with a fantastic array of waterfowl. Here you’re likely to spot sandhill cranes, bald eagles, golden eagles, hawks and osprey in addition to elk, deer, beaver and the occasional black bear.
The Rocky Mountain State is home to more than 2,000 lakes and some of the best, most abundant fishing anywhere around. Many Colorado lakes not only offer picturesque waters filled with fish, but gorgeous views of craggy peaks highlighted by ever-present sunshine and bright blue skies. Lake City and the surrounding region are filled with practically endless, magnificent vistas along with a multitude of fish-filled mountain lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
Lake San Cristobal is the second-largest natural lake in the entire state and home to a variety of trout that live in its cold waters. The waters thaw out by the middle of May, and fishermen can expect to catch 10- to 30-pound mackinaw or lake trout near the shore. The area also attracts a wide array of wildlife, including elk, moose, beaver and migratory birds. Camping is available on the east side of the lake, offering the chance to cook your catch at the site while enjoying outstanding lake views.
The Lakeland region of northern Wisconsin has long been heralded for its legendary fishing, as it’s home to more than 3,200 freshwater lakes. In the quaint cabin community of Minocqua, nearly everyone who lives here seems to have been born to fish. Just about every species you can think of can be caught within the 70-odd lakes in the area.
Lake Minocqua is one of the many idyllic fishing lakes here. Anglers can expect to catch all types of fish, including walleye, bluegill, largemouth bass, muskie, northern pike and smallmouth bass. There are numerous options for accommodations throughout the area, from campgrounds and cabin rentals to resorts, cottages and motels.
Traverse City, Michigan, is known as one of the best fishing towns in the U.S. In fact, according to FieldandStream.com, there is no consistently better place to fish in America between May and October. For the really big fish, anglers head to Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan to try their luck at catching lake trout, brown trout, steelhead and salmon. It’s also known for some of the best smallmouth pockets and carp flats in the country. While the rich waters of this freshwater fiord are deep, they are also close to shore and protected by land on three sides. This means that they’re generally immune from the heavy seas that can make fishing the open waters of the lake a less than ideal experience. You’ll find lots of great opportunities for camping in this area, too, from rustic wooded tent sites to cabin and cottage rentals, RV parks and more.
Down in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Lake Hamilton is considered one of the state’s diamond lakes, particularly good for crappie and striper fishing as well as trout and catfish. These waters are home to two previous striped bass record catches — most recently it gave up a 58-pound striper for a new lake record. Lake Hamilton is considered a major Arkansas tourist attraction, surrounded by resorts and campgrounds of all types.
Lake Gunthersville in Alabama was recently recognized by Fishhound.com as the No. 1 place to fish for bass in America. (Not to mention, the lake is often referred to as one of the very best places for bass fishing on the planet!) The website notes: “Not many waters offer a fat chance at both monster bass and 100-fish days, but this 69,100-acre bass factory has yielded many of both!”
Visitors can fish and camp at Lake Gunthersville State Park, with its main campground featuring 318 improved sites as well as a primitive camping area for tents, bathhouses, a playground and recreation area, plus a rustic country store. Cabins are also available for rent and nestled near the banks of the lake for peaceful views of the water.
The state of Florida is well-known for its saltwater fishing, but it’s also one of the best regions on the continent to fish for bass. The central part of the state contains dozens of some of the top bass fishing lakes, including Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in Florida and the second-largest body of fresh water in the contiguous United States. It’s internationally renowned for its largemouth bass, bluegill and speck fishing. Vacation rentals, cabins, resorts, motels, hotels and campgrounds can all be found within minutes of its shores.
Fishing is one of the most enjoyable, relaxing pastimes around. Give it a try this summer in some of the amazing freshwater regions in the U.S., and experience firsthand how these lakes teem with aquatic life. Even if you aren’t a great fisher, you can still have a wonderful day out enjoying nature. And no matter where you choose to go, as they say, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office!”