The Best US Fishing States in 2024

Feb 13, 2024 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

It’s no secret that one of America’s favorite pastimes is fishing. Well, for some it’s a pastime, for others, it’s a way of life. And it’s easy to see why. Some of the most productive fisheries on the planet are right here. Still, when faced with that many fantastic choices, anglers wrestle with the same question: Where to begin?

A man sitting on a boat in a straw hat, with his back turned to the camera, looking at trolling fishing rods in front of him and the wake of a boat on a sunny day

To answer this question, FishingBooker went on a quest to find out which are the best US fishing states – for the second year in a row. And look out, there are some real changes compared to last year!

We made use of our own data and paired that information with other public fishing-related sources. This helped us better understand which states not only have the most prolific angling but also support and develop their fisheries. In this article, we’ll explain the methodology behind the research and share the ranking of the US states according to their fishing potential. Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let’s go through some key takeaways from our research:

  • Alaska moved into 1st place this year, up from 4th in 2023.
  • Last year’s shared winners, Florida and Michigan, ended in 2nd and 4th place (resp.).
  • Delaware is stable in 3rd place and South Carolina comes in 5th, up from 11th.
  • The states with the biggest ranking gains compared to 2023 are:
    • Vermont (up 14 spots, from 45th to 31st)
    • Nevada (up 10 spots, from 48 to 38)
    • Wyoming (up 9 spots, from 35 to 26)
    • Kentucky (up 7 spots, from 27 to 20)
    • South Carolina (up 6 spots, from 11 to 5)
  • The states with the biggest ranking drops compared to 2023 are:
    • Massachusetts (down 14 spots, from 13 to 27)
    • Pennsylvania (down 9 spots, from 24 to 33)
    • New Hampshire (down 8 spots, from 32 to 40)
    • Alabama (down 8 spots, from 35 to 43)
    • Indiana (down 8 spots, from 39 to 47)
    • South Dakota (down 7 spots, from 42 to 49)
    • Maryland (down 5 spots, from 6 to 11)
  • The top 10 is made up of:
    • 5 states on the Atlantic Coast
    • 2 states on the Pacific
    • 2 Gulf states (counting Florida as a Gulf state)
    • 1 Great Lakes state
  • Out of the 25 bottom states, 16 are landlocked*
    (*Great Lake states are counted as not landlocked)


Our extensive research of the US’s fishing opportunities was based on 17 different criteria. Out of these, five criteria were based on FishingBooker’s internal data from hundreds of thousands of fishing trips, reviews, and reports, as well as our industry research. The remaining 12 criteria come from publicly available data sources. 

Once the criteria were established, we grouped them into four separate categories – Community, Facilities, Financial, and Geography.

Using the accumulated data, each of the states received a score of between 1 and 10 for each of the 17 criteria. Some of the criteria were considered of special significance and were given additional weight in the calculations. The maximum possible score a state could get was 210 points. Once the scores were calculated, weighted, and summed up, we got the ultimate list of US states with their fishing potential ranked from best to worst.

Now we’ll cover the top 10 fishing states on the list, highlighting what makes them the best of the best, as well as the categories in which they stand out in our research. Without further ado, here they are – the best US states to fish in 2024!

Top 10 Fishing States in the US

  1. Alaska – 117 points
  2. Florida – 114 points
  3. Delaware – 108 points
  4. Michigan – 105.5 points
  5. South Carolina –102.5 points
  6. Maine – 102 points
  7. Louisiana – 101.5 points
  8. Hawaii – 101 points
  9. Georgia – 100 points
  10. North Carolina – 99 points

1. Alaska – 117 points

Up from fourth place in 2023, Alaska is the best state for fishing in 2024.

When a state has the longest coastline in the country (almost 33,900 miles), you know that fishing will be off the hook. Prefer freshwater fishing? No problem, you’ve got over 94,000 square miles of freshwater at your disposal. According to our research, nearly 60% of Alaskans hold a valid fishing license, which speaks volumes about the amazing fishing locals and visitors enjoy.

Two smiling anglers standing on a fishing boat, holding a huge Salmon, with a river and greenery in the background on a cloudy day

In order to claim the top spot, Alaska clearly did well in all four categories. It stood out most in the Geography category, getting 23 out of 35 points, the top score in this category (shared with Michigan, which also got 23 points). Its second best category was Facilities, ending third with 18 out of 45 points. Alaska also scored well in Community, with 39 out of 65 points, and in Financial (37 out of 65 points), making the Last Frontier quite an affordable fishing destination, despite its remoteness.

And boy, is it worth making the trip. The list of game fish you can target at the Last Frontier is phenomenal. This is a Salmon mecca, where you can chase all five species of Pacific Salmon, along with “Barndoor” Halibut and some of the biggest Rockfish you’ll find anywhere. Trout fishing is just as good, especially when it comes to Rainbow Trout. Spend a few days in a fishing lodge in the Alaskan wilderness, and your fishing horizons will be widened forever.

2. Florida – 114 points

Last year, Florida tied with Michigan in first place. This year, it cedes the first spot to Alaska, but Florida is still synonymous with supreme saltwater fishing. The Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico hug over 8,400 miles of coastline, with more game fish in these crystal clear waters than we can count. 

A fisherman in a cap and sunglasses holding a King Mackerel and biting its dorsal fin, standing on a Florida fishing boat on a sunny day

The second spot is nothing to scoff at, and the Sunshine State performed better than any other state in the Facilities category, with 25 points out of 45. Its second best category was Geography, earning 17.5 points out of 35, which landed it a shared fourth place. Florida also had a strong showing in the Community category, coming in fifth with 47 out of 65 points.

Basically, if you want to go saltwater fishing on the US mainland, there’s no better place for it than Florida. Whether it’s inshore royalty like Redfish, Tarpon, and Snook, or offshore giants like King Mackerel, Grouper, Snapper, and Sailfish, Florida will blow your mind with its year-round action.

3. Delaware – 108 points

Delaware showed consistency and came in third in our research, just like last year. If you want to fish in a state that has equally good freshwater and saltwater action, Delaware might be the perfect fit. The thing is, when you think about fishing, Delaware isn’t necessarily the first place you think of. That’s a shame because the area is an angling gem.

A smiling angler in sunglasses standing on a offshore fishing boat, holding a Bluefin Tuna on a sunny day

That’s clearly mirrored in our rankings. In fact, when it comes to the Community category, Delaware is first in the nation. Despite the fact that the state has only around 380 miles of shoreline and about 20% of it is covered by freshwater, fishing is flourishing.

So, what makes fishing in Delaware so special? Whether you cast your line in one of the numerous inland watersheds, the productive Delaware Bay, or the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, you won’t be disappointed. Bass, Crappie, and Muskellunge are the most common freshwater catches. In the saltwater realm, Striped Bass, Flounder, Black Seabass, Sharks, and Bluefin Tuna are on the menu.

4. Michigan – 105.5 points

On our inaugural list last year, Michigan tied with Florida for first place. While it may have lost some ground this year, it still comes in at a respectable fourth place and can rightly be called the top freshwater fishing state in the US.

The Great Lake State boasts easy access to four of the five Great Lakes, which makes it the nation’s epicenter of freshwater fishing. In our rankings, Michigan takes the cake in the Geography category, with 23 out of 35 points (shared with Alaska). 

An angler holding a big Steelhead caught during the fall fishing season in Michigan.

Over 40% of the state is covered in water (more than 40,000 square miles) and those waters are well used. Where do we start with so many fishing opportunities? In case Lakes Michigan, Superior, Erie, and Huron aren’t enough, you can pick one of the other 11,000 lakes or 3,000 rivers. Another nickname for Michigan is “Water Winter Wonderland,” a hint at its excellent ice fishing scene. The state’s favorite catches are Walleye, Trout, Salmon, Bass, Northern Pike, and Muskellunge, among others.

5. South Carolina – 102.5 points

The biggest climber in this year’s ranking, South Carolina scored especially well in the Community category. Earning 51.5 out of 65 points, it came second only to Delaware. This earned the Palmetto State fifth spot on this year’s list – six up from last year.

South Carolina has 187 miles of coastline, with plenty of inshore fishing opportunities. The network of marshes, inlets, and flats make a great environment for testing your skills against Spotted Seatrout, Redfish, and Tarpon. Further offshore, you’ll find the Gulf Stream, which is a paradise for anglers chasing big game fish like Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Kingfish. In addition, there are also some world-class freshwater lakes to try your luck at.

6. Maine – 102 points

Just like last year, Maine took sixth place on 2024’s list, an impressive achievement. The Pine Tree State performed strongest in the Financial category. With 21.5 out of 45 points, it’s second only to Florida in this category.

Two kids and a man in a cap, each holding a Striped Bass on a sunny day in Maine

Get a taste of Maine’s fisheries and it will be clear why it’s one of the best US fishing states. On the saltwater front, anything from massive Striped Bass, Pollock, Haddock, and Sharks to magnificent Bluefin Tuna is in the cards. And don’t forget about the amazing Maine Lobster! Freshwater aficionados will have plenty of fun going after Bass, Trout, Perch, and Pike, too. You can also go ice fishing for these species for a change of pace, so the sky’s the limit!

7. Louisiana – 101.5 points

Louisiana came in seventh this year, two places up from 2023. A strong overall performer, the Pelican State did best in the Geography and Financial categories. In other words, going fishing here will be amazing but won’t break the bank! With endless marshes and uniquely rich inshore waters, it makes sense that the Bayou State is on this list. 

A group of fishermen standing on a Louisiana fishing boat, holding a big Yellowfin Tuna they caught on a cloudy day with blood on the deck of the boat

Louisiana has some of the best shallow water angling you’ll find in the South. The numbers of Redfish, Black Drum, Speckled Trout, and Flounder are astounding, and large specimens are almost always available. Go out into the Gulf, and you’ll come across Red Snapper, massive Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Billfish. All the A-listers in one place!

8. Hawaii – 101 points

Coming in eighth on our list of the best US fishing States is paradise – aka Hawaii. Presenting deep sea action in all its glory, the Islands of Aloha are absolutely beautiful and have some of the most exciting fishing in the country.

A smiling man in sunglasses and a bandana on his head standing on a fishing boat, holding a Mahi Mahi, with surf behind him

While it dropped three spots compared to last year, the state’s high scores in the Financial and Geography categories still got it into the top 10. Despite the introduction of saltwater fishing licenses for visiting anglers, fishing here is still incredibly affordable.

And what do you get out on the water? There’s a slew of Billfish species in these waters year-round, and a Yellowfin Tuna bite that’s easily one of the best in the whole US. Mahi Mahi is the official state fish and is a staple both when it comes to angling and the local cuisine. Want to stay closer to land? You’ll find plenty of hard-fighting Bonefish, Trevally, Barracuda, and that’s just to name a few.

9. Georgia – 100 points

Rising two places compared to last year, Georgia comes in ninth. What’s mostly to thank for this success is the Peach State’s shared third place in the Community category.

Not as popular among out-of-state anglers as its neighbor, Florida, Georgia allows you to explore its amazing fishing opportunities in relative peace and quiet. And the fishing here is varied. You can chase Kingfish or Red Snapper in the Atlantic, go after Redfish in the amazing inshore channels and swamps, or explore lakes filled with Bass and mountain streams full of Trout.

10. North Carolina – 99 points

Another newcomer in the top 10, North Carolina rose four places compared to last year. The Tar Heel State scored best in the Community category, sharing third place with Georgia.

It’s understandable why people love fishing in North Carolina so much. Its most famous fishery is undoubtedly the Outer Banks, a 200-mile-long string of barrier islands that provide access to both world-class big game fishing and outstanding inshore fishing. Here, you can catch anything from Blue Marlin and Bluefin Tuna to Redfish and Spanish Mackerel. However, freshwater fishing in North Carolina is also great, with some of the best lakes in the country that allow you to reel in different species of Bass, Crappie, Catfish, and more.

The Full Ranking

Finding the very best states to fish in the US is no small feat, and there’s a significant amount of research that went into this ranking. Now that you’ve got this list to inspire you, which state is your first bucket list destination?

Sources: FishingBooker, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Outdoor Foundation / Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Statista, World Population View,, Bait Shops Near Me, Wikipedia, Hooked in Fishing, American Sportfishing Association, Hey It’s Free, United States Geological Survey (USGS).

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Andriana has been in love with nature since before she could walk, and she lives to explore the great outdoors whenever she has the chance. Be it traveling to far-off lands, hiking, or mountain climbing, Andriana loves discovering new places and writing about them. The first time she went fishing with her dad she insisted on returning all the catch into the water. Dad was not pleased. Her curiosity about fishing only grew from there, and she’s been writing and learning about it for years. Andriana’s favorite fish to catch is Mahi Mahi.

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