Best Freshwater Fishing Trips (Best Destinations)

There are too many freshwater destinations to list on this page.  We feature well over 200 freshwater fishing vacation destinations on our website.  Below, you can click to view destinations by state or scroll down and see some of the very best that we highlight.


Some of the Best Freshwater Fishing Destinations Listed Below

Alaska

Kenai Peninsula – The Kenai Peninsula might be one of the most well-known vacation destinations in Alaska.  The Kenai River has been featured on fishing shows and talked about among fly fishermen as well as other anglers for years.  The salmon run is incredible on the Kenai River with 40 to 50 pound chinook salmon being common each year.

South Central Alaska – Home to AnchorageCopper Valley and Mat-Su Valley, this area of Alaska has some excellent river fishing for all 5 species of Pacific Salmon, rainbow trout, dolly varden, and grayling.  Some of the stocked lakes also have excellent northern pike fishing with some fish up to 30 pounds.

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Arkansas

Beaver Lake – Beaver Lake is known for its striped bass fishing.  There are numerous guides available and it is not uncommon to get your limit with a guide.  Many stripers will be over 10 pounds and there are fish caught in the 20 to 30 pound range all the time.  We have even seen pictures of striped bass over 40 pounds caught from Beaver Lake.

Bull Shoals Lake – The lake covers 45,400 acres with about 730 miles of shoreline consisting of rubble, limestone, ledges, gravel points, clay banks and silty areas at the upper ends of the creek arms.  The lake offers good fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, spotted bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, rainbow trout and white bass.

Norfork Lake – Fishing is very good here for a variety of species.  Most anglers target striped bass, hybrid bass, smallmouth and largemouth bass.  Walleye, crappie, bream and catfish are also available.  The nice thing about visiting Norfork lake is that you have the White and North Fork Rivers nearby if you want to go after rainbow trout and brown trout.  You can catch 1 lb. rainbow trout all day and there are some huge brown trout if you are looking for a trophy.

White River – Visitors come here for a chance at landing brown trout in the double digits.  15 – 20 pound brown trout are caught every year.  Rainbow trout fishing is fast and exciting with stocked fish averaging 12 inches.  Some bigger rainbow trout do exist with quite a few fish in the 2 to 5 pound range and some are even bigger.  Anglers that target rainbow trout can have 30 – 80 fish days because they are so abundant.

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Arizona

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California

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Canada

Canada offers some of the best fishing opportunities in North America for smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, muskie and lake trout.  There are other species of fish to target as well and there are plenty of fishing resorts, lodges, cabins & cottages that will accommodate you on your next Canadian fishing trip.

Ontario – If you want to experience some excellent fishing for walleye, northern pike, muskie, smallmouth bass, lake trout, perch and even crappie, you will be able to find plenty of places to fish in Ontario.  Some of the most popular drive-in fishing destinations are Lake of the WoodsLac SeulRed LakeEagle Lake and Lake Nipissing.  There are a number of boat-in and fly-in fishing destinations that offer some unbelievable fishing opportunities for numbers of fish and quality-sized fish.

Other Parts of Canada – Ontario gets most of the attention from anglers planning fishing vacations, but there are some unbelievable fishing destinations in the other provinces of Canada.  Take a look at AlbertaManitobaNewfoundland & LabradorNorthwest TerritoriesOntarioQuebec and Saskatchewan for more information.

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Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming

ColoradoIdahoMontanaUtah & Wyoming all offer some fantastic fly fishing destinations that attract people from across the country.  Some of the species that are available are trout, salmon and smallmouth bass.  known for its outstanding fly fishing destinations.  Some areas are well-known vacation destinations that offer excellent fishing to go along with tons of family activities. There are other areas that may not be popular vacation destinations, but there are a few places to stay, some fishing guides & outfitters and some excellent river fishing.

Connecticut

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Florida

Central Florida is home to some excellent bass fishing.  With KissimmeeLake County and the Orlando area, you have plenty of places to go fish for largemouth bass.  The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes get the most attention in this area, but there are so many lakes to fish within an hour drive or so from Walt Disney World.  It is not uncommon to catch bass up to and over 10 pounds in this area.

Lake Okeechobee offers some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the country.  It is possible to catch bass up to and over 10 pounds.  Most of the fishing guides target these real big bass with live shiners, but artificial lures are also very productive.

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Georgia

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Illinois

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Indiana

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Iowa

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Kentucky

Kentucky Lake is known for its tremendous crappie fishery.  Spring and fall are the best times to plan a trip for the crappie fishing.  During the spawn, 1 – 1.5 pound crappie are considered common.  Largemouth and smallmouth bass are also plentiful on Kentucky Lake.  Most people overlook the bass fishing, but if you know what you are doing, you can get into some excellent bass fishing.

Lake Barkley – Spring crappie fishing is a favorite for most anglers.  The crappie spawn is an excellent time to fish with fish all over the shallows from 4 to 6 feet deep.  In some areas, you can find them in as shallow as 1 foot of water or less.  Bass fishing is also excellent on this lake.  May and June are excellent times for catching trophy bass.

Lake Cumberland – Fishing is very popular for a variety of species, however, most people come here for the tremendous striped bass fishery.  Stripers from 5 to 15 pounds are common with many fish in the 20 to 30 pound class.  Many other species are also present such as brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, walleye, sauger, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, crappie and bluegill.

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Maine

In the state of Maine, there are some excellent freshwater fishing opportunities.  Whether you are targeting bass, panfish, northern pike or trout, you should be able to find some good places to fish.  Take a look at the following regions for more fishing informaton:  Belgrade Lakes RegionDown East MaineMoosehead Lake Region and the Rangeley Lakes Region.

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Michigan

Michigan has so many fishing destinations that we feature.  Some of the best are listed here, but you’re going to want to take a deeper look into this state.

Upper Peninsula

Bays de Noc (Escanaba – Gladstone Areas) – The Bays de Noc area covers over 200 miles of shoreline in the southwestern part of the Upper Peninsula.  There are beautiful sand beaches to go along with many places to stay, good food and excellent fishing.  The area is comprised of three cities and towns, all situated on the shores of Little Bay de Noc – Escanaba, Gladstone and Rapid River.  Little Bay de Noc is known best for its trophy walleye fishing during the fall, but you can catch a variety of fish throughout the year on these waters.  Anglers catch smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch and crappie to go along with the awesome walleye fishing.

Lake Gogebic is located in the Upper Peninsula and it is Michigan’s largest inland lake. This lake is very popular for fishing, boating and camping.  With over 13,000 acres of water, there is a lot of water here to fish, but with some good electronics and a fishing map, you should be able to narrow down some of the better fishing spots a lot faster.  Lake Gogebic is known as a very good walleye and perch lake, but you can also target northern pike, smallmouth bass and whitefish.

Manistique Lakes

Watersmeet – Land O’ Lakes & Watersmeet are located about 8.5 miles away from each other.  You will find dozens of lakes in this part of Northern Wisconsin and Lower Michigan.  There are so many lakes to fish to go along with some rivers and streams as well.  In this area, the most popular lakes to fish are part of the famous Cisco Chain of Lakes, which are 15 interconnected lakes with over 270 miles of scenic shoreline.  Walleye and muskie are targeted by most anglers in this area, but you can also catch northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and panfish.

Lower Peninsula

Lake Michigan offers so many opportunities for anglers looking to get in on some of the awesome salmon & trout fishing this lake has to offer.  Some areas also have good rivers to fish and the Grand Traverse Bay is known for some awesome smallmouth bass fishing too. There are so many ports that you can fish from.  These areas are some of the more popular areas to visit:  Benzie County, MIDouglas & Saugatuck, MIGlen Arbor, MIGrand Haven, MIGrand Traverse BayHolland, MIMackinaw City, MIManistee County, MIMuskegon, MISouth Haven, MI and St. Joseph, MI.

Lake Huron provides very good fishing for salmon, trout, walleye and other species of fish.
Saginaw Bay is famous for its amazing walleye fishery and you can also target some nice jumbo perch in the bay too.  Some of the popular areas to fish Lake Huron from Michigan are 
Alpena, MIMackinaw City, MI and Saginaw Bay.

Great Lakes System

Detroit River – More information coming soon (an excellent walleye fishery in the spring)

Lake Saint Clair is the smallest lake in the Great Lakes system.  It is not considered as one of the “Great Lakes,” however, it is part of the Lake Erie basin.  Lake St. Clair is shallow, with an average depth of around 10 feet and the maximum depth of 21 feet.  Lake St. Clair offers some excellent fishing.  You can catch trophy smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, perch and muskie.  This lake is unique in that so many different species are targeted by anglers.  There are many anglers that target smallmouth and largemouth bass, while others target the great-tasting walleye, and some anglers go crazy over the muskie in these waters.

Inland

Cadillac, MI – more information coming soon.

Houghton Lake, MI – more information coming soon.

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Minnesota

Minnesota has too many popular fishing destinations to name them all.  Some of the very best tourism destinations for fishing are featured below.  To view a full list of Minnesota fishing destinations, please visit our “Fish Minnesota“ page.

Bemidji, MN Area – The Bemidji area lakes provide many recreational opportunities.  With over 400 lakes in a 25 mile radius, there are plenty of options for boaters and fishermen. Most fishermen come here for the tremendous walleye fishing, but you can also target northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass, perch, crappie and other panfish.

Boundary Waters – If you love to fish, explore the outdoors and are ready for an adventure, this might be the perfect place for you to visit.  You will be able to fish for walleye, northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass, lake trout, stream trout, whitefish, perch, crappie and sunfish.  The area lakes, streams and rivers provide some of the finest smallmouth bass fishing in the country.

Brainerd Lakes – Numerous resorts and hotels are located in Brainerd giving you many options for either a family trip or a weekend fishing trip with friends. The fishing is good on most of the lakes in the area.  Most anglers target walleye, northern pike and bass.  There are good numbers of fish as well as some trophies in the Brainerd Lakes Area lakes.

Kabetogama Lake is part of Voyageurs National Park on the Minnesota, Ontario border. This lake has miles of pristine, undeveloped shorelines and 25,000 acres of water.  It is a popular vacation destination for people who love the outdoors.  There are many resorts waiting to accommodate you and most of them have boat rentals available at the resort. Lake Kabetogama has built a reputation for being one of the top walleye lakes in the state.  The lake offers some outstanding structure for walleye to thrive here.  Fishing is also very good for northern pike and perch.

Lake of the Woods – The Minnesota and Canada portions of this lake both provide some fantastic fishing as well as numerous fishing resorts and lodges.  Lake of the Woods is one of the most popular lakes to fish in Canada and Minnesota.  You can catch northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, perch, crappie and muskie.

Lake Vermilion is an excellent lake that has 40,000 acres of water, 365 islands and 1200 miles of shoreline.  If that wasn’t enough, it stretches 40 miles across the heart of Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region.  This lake is a great place for an outdoor getaway.  There are plenty of resorts along the lake to take care of your accommodations.  Because of the size of this lake, you should have no problem finding an area on the water all for yourself. Many trophy muskie and walleye are caught on Lake Vermilion every year.  Largemouth and Smallmouth bass are plentiful and they are underfished.  If you like northern pike, 10 to 15 pound fish have become common because of the slot limit.

Lake Winnibigoshish is one of the best, if not the best, walleye lakes in Minnesota.  Visitors love coming to Lake Winnie for the outdoor recreation.  Boating, fishing, hunting, swimming, hiking and biking are very popular in this area.  There are plenty of resorts around the lake to make your trip a comfortable one.  The fishing is remarkable.  If you are looking for a lake that has lots of walleye and northern pike, you might want to plan a trip to Lake Winnie.

Leech Lake is one of the most popular tourism destinations in all of Minnesota.  There are numerous recreational opportunities here such as fishing, boating, hunting, golfing, hiking, biking and much more.  You will find a variety of accommodations here to fit your needs. Leech Lake has been recognized as one of the most consistent walleye fisheries in the state. There are also good numbers of northern pike in the 5 to 10 pound range as well as many largemouth bass in the 3 to 5 pound range.  Perch, rock bass and sunfish are loaded in this lake making it a perfect place to introduce the kids to fishing.  Muskie and smallmouth bass can also be caught in Leech Lake.

Mille Lacs Lake is Minnesota’s second-largest lake and it covers 132,000 surface acres.  Mille Lacs is a great lake for outdoor recreation, but it is known for its outstanding walleye fishery.  The lake is a very fishable lake for first time visitors.  The lake’s maximum depth is right around 40 feet, but there are dozens of shallower mud flats on the north end of the lake.  The deep water fishing takes place on the southern deep gravel and rocks.  There is an excellent forage in the lake which helps support a fishery that includes walleye, northern pike, muskie, perch and smallmouth bass.

Rainy Lake is located along the border of Minnesota and Canada near International Falls.  A large portion of the lake surrounds Voyageurs National Park.  Rainy Lake is a popular vacation destination for people that enjoy the outdoors.  Resorts, cottages, hotels and houseboats are available to make your stay a memorable one. The lake is known for its incredible fishing.  The walleye and smallmouth bass fishery is outstanding with many trophy-sized fish.

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Missouri

Branson, Missouri – You have the option of fishing Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo or Bull Shoals Lake.  You can catch a variety of fish depending on what lake you decide to fish. Some of the species to catch are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, trout, white bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill.

Bull Shoals Lake – The lake covers 45,400 acres with about 730 miles of shoreline consisting of rubble, limestone, ledges, gravel points, clay banks and silty areas at the upper ends of the creek arms.  The lake offers good fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, spotted bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, rainbow trout and white bass.

Lake of the Ozarks is an extremely popular vacation destination in Missouri.  It is only about a 3 hour drive from St. Louis, making it a convenient getaway destination for those living in and around the city.  Bass fishing tournaments are common throughout the summer months.  Recreational anglers target largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, crappie, bluegill, rock bass and catfish.

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New Hampshire

Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in the state of New Hampshire and the 6th largest lake in the United States of the lakes that lie within the boundaries of one state.  You can fish for salmon, rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pickerel, yellow perch, sunfish and whitefish.  The lake offers endless opportunities for fishing.

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Nevada

Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada of the United States.  It is located along the border between Nevada and California.  This is a very popular tourist area that is known more for snow skiing and boating than fishing, although, fishing is very popular on this lake also.  Anglers target lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout and Kokanee salmon in this very deep, cold water lake.  Anglers catch lots of fish in the 4 to 5 pound range with fish in the 20 to 30 pound range being possible on Lake Tahoe.

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New York

Finger Lakes – The Finger Lakes are a group of linear-shaped lakes in the west-central part of Upstate New York.  With 11 lakes covering 14 different counties, this region is a major tourist destination.  Fishermen have many options with all of the water in this region.  Anglers can fish for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout and more.

Lake Champlain is a huge lake located mostly within the borders of Vermont and New York, but a portion of the lake is also located across the border into Canada.  It is a natural, freshwater lake and it is very popular among boaters and fishermen.  Lake Champlain is 100 miles long and 12 miles across at its widest point.  The maximum depth is about 400 feet.  The cool waters provide excellent fishing for salmon, lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass and perch.

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North Carolina

Asheville, NC is a very popular summer vacation destination.  The city is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Swannanoa River and the French Broad River. There are an abundance of things to do from river rafting adventures, hiking on mountain trails, taking in the beautiful scenery and experiencing some excellent fishing.  Fly fishing for trout is very good here in the nearby streams.  There is plenty of water to fish and there are numerous fishing guides that can help you find the local hot spots.

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North Dakota

Devils Lake –  There is a tremendous walleye fishery on this lake to go along with pike, perch and white bass.

Lake Sakakawea – This is a good lake for walleye.  Anglers also catch salmon, trout, pike, crappie and perch.

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Ohio

Lake Erie is one of the best lakes to fish in the entire United States.  It is one of the Great Lakes and it offers outstanding fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass and perch to go along with salmon and trout.

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Oklahoma

Lake Texoma (OK & TX) offers some of the best striped bass fishing in the entire country. Natural reproduction maintains a strong year-round striped bass fishery on this lake.  Many lakes that have striped bass must rely on stocking efforts, but on Texoma, they naturally reproduce, which allows for some fantastic fishing and liberal regulations.  Last we checked, each person is allowed to keep 10 fish with only 2 over 20 inches, but make sure to check the regulations before you head out onto the lake.  There are plenty of fishing guides available and this is one of the very few lakes that you can limit out consistently in a couple of hours or less with the right guide.

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Oregon

Bend, Oregon was ranked #8 out of the 20 best fishing towns in America by Field and Stream in 2008.  Bend is central Oregon’s largest city and it is now known as a gateway for many outdoor activities such as camping, rock climbing, white-water rafting, mountain biking, hiking and fishing.  Most anglers fish the Deschutes River for rainbow trout, brown trout, steelhead and even some smallmouth bass.

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South Carolina

Santee Cooper Lakes is home to both Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie.  Lake Marion is the largest lake in South Carolina, covering over 100,000 acres.  It is one of the Santee Cooper Lakes and it is known for its excellent catfish fishery.  The crappie fishing is also very good, but this lake really stands out for its catfish.  Fish in the 10 to 20 pound range are common and there are many fishing guides that can take you out for some incredible fishing.

Lake Moultrie is the third largest lake in South Carolina and it covers over 60,000 acres. There is plenty of public access on the lake and it is very popular among fishermen.  Lake Moultrie is one of the best lakes in the country for catfish.  Catfish anglers flock to this lake and channel cats in the 10 to 20 pound range are very common here.  There are some other species on the lake as well, but none get the attention that catfish do on Lake Moultrie.

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Tennessee

Dale Hollow Lake is a beautiful lake located on the Kentucky / Tennessee border.  The lake is surrounded by beautiful scenery and miles of shoreline.  It is a wonderful tourism area with plenty of accommodations, houseboats, warm weather, tons of water and some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the country.  Dale Hollow Lake is home of the world record smallmouth bass that weighed 11 pounds and 15 ounces. Largemouth bass, crappie, muskellunge, walleye, catfish, gar, and trout are also available.  The majority of the fishermen come here for the world class smallmouth bass fishery.

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Texas

Lake Fork is 27,690 surface acres and it is located in Wood and Rains County of northeast Texas.  With 315 miles of shoreline, there is plenty of water to fish.  Lake Fork has gained the reputation of being one of the best, if not the best bass lake in the country.  There are so many huge bass caught here every year that many of the fishing guides consider 5 pound bass “dinks.”  Of the top 20 State Record Largemouth Bass of Texas, the majority of them were caught from Lake Fork.  Fishing is also excellent for crappie and catfish, however, most anglers do not even think about fishing for these species.

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Utah

Bear Lake is located on the Idaho – Utah border.  The lake is known for its turquoise blue water.  It is a popular summer vacation destination.  Many people come here to enjoy boating on the lake or to fish for cutthroat, mackinaw and whitefish.

Heber Valley, located in the mountains of Utah, gives anglers a variety of options for planning a fishing vacation.  There are several reservoirs, rivers and streams where anglers can target a variety of fish, but the fly fishing for brown trout and rainbow trout is most what people come here to do.  Heber Valley is beautiful and there are enough area businesses to make your trip enjoyable.

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Vermont

Lake Champlain is a huge lake located mostly within the borders of Vermont and New York, but a portion of the lake is also located across the border into Canada.  It is a natural, freshwater lake and it is very popular among boaters and fishermen.  The maximum depth is about 400 feet. The cool waters provide excellent fishing for salmon, lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and northern pike.

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Virginia

Smith Mountain Lake is a very large artificial lake that is located southeast of Roanoke, Virginia.  With over 20,000 acres of water and more than 500 miles of shoreline, this lake is a water lover’s paradise.  Boating and fishing are very popular on the lake.  Fishermen target many species, but many of the anglers come here for the striped bass.

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Wisconsin

Door County, WI – Rated as one of the top ten vacation destinations in America, Door County has so much to offer.  Door County is known for having a great salmon and trout fishery as well as being one of the top smallmouth bass destinations in the country.  Walleye, northern pike and perch are also plentiful making this area an unbelievable place for fishing. With all of the different opportunities, you might catch your personal record for a variety of species all in one vacation.

The Northwoods of Wisconsin offer some excellent fishing opportunities for a variety of fish such as walleye, muskie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike and panfish such as perch and crappie.  There are so many different lakes to fish throughout the Northwoods that it may be difficult to pick just one or two to fish on your trip.  This area is known for its excellent walleye and muskie fishing.  Trophy muskie over 48 inches are caught here every year.  Fall is typically the best time if you’re looking to catch a big muskie. Some of the popular towns of the Northwoods, WI are: Boulder JunctionEagle RiverMinocquaSt. Germain and Three Lakes.

Hayward, WI is located in northwestern Wisconsin.  Its small hometown atmosphere and unique setting make it a great vacation destination.  The recreational opportunities are endless with over 55,000 acres of lakes.  Fishing is good for muskie, northern pike, walleye, bass, crappie, perch and other panfish.  Hayward is home to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, where world record catches are registered.

The Turtle Flambeau Flowage is located in Iron County Wisconsin, near the towns of Mercer and Butternut.  The Flowage consists of nine lakes, three rivers and several creeks.  The flowage offers some beautiful surroundings and plenty of water for the outdoor enthusiasts.  Boating and fishing are very popular on the flowage.  Water skiing and jet skiing are permitted in some areas, but very limited, which makes it nice for the fisherman looking to find some peaceful surroundings.   The Flowage supports a diversity of fish species including walleye, muskie, northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass, sturgeon, and a variety of panfish.

Chequamegon Bay is a popular fishing destination in Wisconsin, although, this area doesn’t draw nearly as many visitors as some of the other popular destinations in Wisconsin.  This is definitely an area worth visiting.  The fishing is outstanding for huge smallmouth bass, lake trout, walleye, salmon and brown trout.

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Wyoming

Jackson Hole – The area rivers and streams provide some excellent fly fishing opportunities for trout and Jackson Lake has some very good fishing for lake trout and you catch other species such as cutthroat trout, brook trout and brown trout.

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Tell us what you think.  Feel free to leave a comment about a great destination that we may have overlooked.

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