Want to spend your days fishing and taking part in other activities on or near a lake? There are endless options to choose from across the United States, which can make it hard to decide where to go. These destinations from east to west are perfect for hooking that coveted catch and much more.
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Lake Texoma, Oklahoma/Texas
One of the largest reservoirs in the United States and a popular lake in Texas, Lake Texoma lies along the border with Oklahoma. It’s a hot spot for anglers with brackish waters thanks to the saltwater Red River that flows into it, making it an ideal habitat for a variety of fish species, particularly striped bass. In fact, the lake is one of just seven inland lakes in the country where they reproduce naturally with a population that’s considered one of the best in the entire nation. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, water skiing, or just relaxing on one of the many beaches. While there are a number of great communities to base your stay, the town of Denison in Texas is a great pick as a cultural arts center with antique shops, a historic theater, boutiques, a winery, craft brewery and more.
Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota
Sylvan Lake is the crown jewel of Custer State Park. If it looks familiar that may be because it was spotlighted in the 2007 film “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.” It offers an especially scenic place to fish for brown and rainbow trout, and it also has a swimming beach in addition to canoe and paddleboat rentals. There are lots of other things to do in the park too, with miles and miles of hiking trails, campgrounds and abundant wildlife, including bison, elk, pronghorn, deer, wild burro and wild turkey.
Mammoth Lakes, California
A popular vacation destination in California, Mammoth Lakes is surrounded by the dramatic Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, offering spectacular scenery and some of the best trout fishing in the West. The sparkling waters are regularly stocked, home to rainbow, brown and brook trout. Other activities on and around the lake can be enjoyed too, including paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, camping and golfing. After a day of play, Mammoth Brewing Company is a popular spot to relax and unwind with a cold pint.
Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Sometimes referred to as Florida’s inland sea, Lake Okeechobee offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the country, covering 730 square miles as Florida’s largest lake. In addition to being a popular weekend getaway in Florida, it’s also a premier destination for bass fishing with trophy-size largemouth bass regularly hooked here. Visitors can also hike the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail from the lake’s north end in the small town of Okeechobee and watch for wildlife with manatees, alligators, wild turkeys, bobcats, deer, wild hogs, egrets, osprey and more frequently spotted.
Lake Champlain, New York/Vermont
Lake Champlain isn’t just famous for the ancient sea monster known as Champ, its own version of Scotland’s Nessie, it’s a bucket list body of water for fishing with large and smallmouth bass, lake trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon, rainbow and brown trout, walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, brown bullhead and channel catfish. While it’s located in both New York and Vermont, all you need is one license from either state. Vermont’s charming towns provide an especially ideal base, including Burlington where you can enjoy the waterfront park and summer festivals like the Jazz Fest or the Brewers Fest and Art Hop.
Grand Lake, Colorado
Colorado’s largest natural lake is a fishing paradise, located in the heart of the Rockies just west of Rocky Mountain National Park, filled with brook, rainbow and brown trout, mackinaw and kokanee. You’ll also find beaches along the shore for relaxing and swimming, along with endless miles of trails in the park. The historic boardwalk in the village of Grand Lake is lined with more than 60 shops, eateries, bars and art galleries, and when it comes to accommodation you’ll find everything from camping and cabins to hotels.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Located in the foothills of Central Missouri, the 92-mile-long Lake of the Ozarks offers some of the best fishing in the country with opportunities to catch largemouth and white bass, catfish and crappie. Enjoy a wide range of other water sports, sandy beaches for swimming, shady picnic areas and more than 32 miles of trails in the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. The city of Camdenton, just a 15-minute drive from the park, makes an ideal base for enjoying it all.
Lake Superior, Michigan
Lake Superior is so vast that all the other Great Lakes could fit inside of it and there would still be room left over. The fish are thriving here and there many species that you can catch right from shore like steelhead, Kamloops rainbow trout or “loopers,” and coho salmon. In the port city of Ontonagon, in May and June you’ll have excellent odds of scoring a “Superior Super Slam” – lake and brown trout, coho, chinook and steelhead.
Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, Washington
If fly fishing for trout while surrounded by breathtakingly lush scenery sounds like your idea of a great trip, consider Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. It has a unique population of coastal cutthroat and rainbow trout along with kokanee. A variety of activities can be enjoyed on and around the lake too. There are kayak, rowboat and canoe rentals along with beautiful hiking trails that lead to waterfalls nearby. Accommodation options including everything from tent camping and rustic cabins to lodge rooms and lakeside chalets.
Redfish Lake, Stanley, Idaho
Tucked in the heart of Idaho’s spectacular Sawtooth Mountains, Redfish Lake was named for the sockeye salmon that were once so abundant here that the water had a red hue. While they’re now on the endangered species list, the lake is inhabited with landlocked salmon and kokanee as well as rainbow and Dolly Varden trout making for outstanding fly fishing and spin casting. Visitors can also enjoy swimming and boating as well as hiking and climbing in the surrounding granite cliffs.