Top Spring Fishing Spots in the US for 2022

Mar 4, 2022 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Spring breathes new life, and that’s true of the fishing season, too. Anglers all over the world get excited for that first spring dawn when the ice has gone and they can dig out their gear. Not only is this the start of the traditional fishing season in many places but, in some places, it’s actually the best time to cast your line.

A lone angler casts into a lake from a small fishing pier on a spring day

In this article, we’ll give you a rundown of some of the top spring fishing spots in the US for 2022. From freshwater havens bursting with spawning fish to offshore extravaganzas – this list has it all. Read on and uncover your next angling destination…

Portsmouth, NH

We’ll start our journey on the East Coast. The historical town of Portsmouth is a great place to start any journey of the US, offering an insight into the country’s history since before the War of Independence. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.

An aerial view of Portsmouth, NH, with the river in the background

As with most places on the Northern Atlantic coast, Portsmouth is known for its Striped Bass. And, come May, oversized varieties move into the Piscataqua River waterways. They’re joined by Flounder and Bluefish not long after that, with Bluefin Tuna even showing up offshore for the prospect of a monster battle. 

All of this means that there’s fishing for everyone come spring in Portsmouth. Follow a charter to the bays or offshore, or cast a line from the numerous parks, islands, and fishing piers. You’ll have the added benefit of avoiding the crowds that swarm come summer! And, after landing a tasty treat, you can hit up some of the cool shops, bars, and restaurants that dot the city. If you’re staying longer, don’t forget to take in some history, too! 

Cape Henlopen, DE

Further south along the coast and the spring fishing opportunities just get better and better. Cape Henlopen is a peninsula sticking out into the Delaware Bay just as it meets the Atlantic Ocean next to Lewes. Before even having to tell you anything else, you already know that this means prime angling action. 

Waves crash against the beach with a lighthouse in the distant background at Cape Henlopen

As the waters warm up, delicious Black Drum and Flounder come out hunting for food. And that means bait, too! You may even spot the occasional Striper – known locally as “Rockfish.” Cape Henlopen boasts a state park, full of pristine beaches perfect for surf fishing, with a fishing pier also there to give you the edge over your target species.

While the point itself is closed for fishing in spring to allow birds to nest, there are plenty of spots for you to cast your line. Set up camp among the dunes, underneath the observation points, or under the lighthouse, and you’re in for a treat. Just beware that drive-on licenses are sold out for this spring already, so you’ll want a walk-on license. Or, come on the first weekend of June where Delaware’s Free Fishing Days mean you can cast without a permit!

Virginia Beach, VA

Continuing our journey along the East Coast, Virginia Beach is a must-visit for anglers throughout the year. It’s a place designed for kicking back and unwinding – along with casting a line, of course.

An aerial view of the Virginia Beach oceanfront

In spring, “VB” – as it’s known to the locals – is teeming with fish. Head up the brackish creeks and streams towards freshwater, explore the riches of the Chesapeake Bay, or head offshore with a charter captain. Everything is possible. From Bull Redfish, Bluefish, and oversized Stripers to Kingfish, Cobia, and even Billfish come June, there’s no fish you don’t want to catch. 

After testing your muscles against these A-list creatures, it’s time to unwind. Where better than on the boardwalk? Hit up the numerous bars and restaurants – some of who will even cook your catch. And stay a few days extra and learn all about the nation’s history. After all, this is where some of the first colonists landed.

The Great Smoky Mountains, NC

Our next stop is a full 180 when it comes to casting your line. We’re heading inland to the North Carolina border with Tennessee. Here, the Great Smoky Mountains provide a natural barrier between the two states and, while fishing is great on both sides, we’re zooming in on the Tar Heel State’s jewel in its freshwater fishing crown. 

A train rides along a river in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina

Start your spring angling adventure in Bryson City, NC, and you’ll be on the doorstep of one of the country’s best freshwater fisheries. The mighty Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers pass by, opening out onto the stunning Fontana Lake. Here you’ll find dedicated Trout streams, along with plenty of Bass, Crappie, Walleye, and Muskies. Bring your fly fishing gear or rent from one of the numerous outfitters in town and it’s fish on.

Back in the charming town, you can take a trip on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad or unwind in local restaurants, bars, galleries, and more. Just beware that no Trout can be harvested before the first Saturday in June in the 2.2-mile body of water that passes through the center. From then on in, everything is fair game!

Hammock Coast, SC

From one Carolina to another, as we head to the Palmetto State for our next spring fishing spot. The Hammock Coast is really a place that has everything to offer. From freshwater ponds to creeks and rivers, bays, and access to the Atlantic Ocean, there’s nothing you can’t do here.

An aerial view of the flats inshore out of Georgetown, SC

Whether you’re in Pawleys Island, Georgetown, Murrels Inlet, or anywhere in between, you’re set to wet your line. And in spring, some real big hitters visit this strip of South Carolina’s coastline. We’re talking Redfish, Flounder, and even Tarpon inshore. Then, nearshore, you’ll have Seabass, Mackerel, Amberjack, and Cobia. Fancy a trip offshore? Find a local charter and it’s all about Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, and maybe even the odd Billfish!

Come the end of spring, the temperatures will have warmed up so much that you’ll get to see why this slice of heaven earned the nickname “Hammock Coast.” Why not make a vacation of it and taste your way along the coast at the numerous prized seafood restaurants? Don’t just take our word for it, let award-winning chef, Adam Kirby, tell you all about it.

Panama City Beach, FL

We could have written a whole article dedicated to spring fishing in Florida, but we resisted the temptation and brought you one spot. Spring fishing in PCB is so good, it’s actually the only spot that made the list last year and this year! Located at the heart of the Panhandle, Panama City Beach lives and breathes fishing. 

A view of downtown Panama City Beach at night with the ocean on the right-hand side

The city boasts access to freshwater rivers, brackish bays, and the Gulf of Mexico, it’s the perfect place to make your angling dreams come true. Speckled Trout fill the flats, Redfish hunt the bays, while Sheepshead come out to play just that little bit further out. Try casting from shore, a boat or one of the city’s two piers, and you won’t go far wrong. Meanwhile, a trip out into the Gulf will see you target anything from Mackerel and Cobia to Red Snapper and Billfish. 

Book early to avoid disappointment, especially for June, as that’s when Red Snapper Season kicks off. When you come, you’ll be wondering what to try first! PCB is alive with tourist attractions for all ages. Try watersports, nature trails, adventure parks, or simply kick back on the beach. But don’t forget to try the fishing!

Texas Hill Country, TX

If PCB is all about non-stop action and family entertainment, the next spot on our list is exactly the opposite. A spring fishing trip to the Texas Hill Country is really about getting away from it all. Spend time perusing productive Trout streams and forget about all of life’s troubles. Whether alone or with a small group of friends, it’s the ideal getaway.

Crystal clear waters flow between rolling hills in the Texas Hill Country in spring

Spanning basically every hilly region north of San Antonio and southwest of Austin, it’s a vast area, perfect for losing yourself in. The Blanco and Guadelupe Rivers, along with Canyon Lake, are top bodies of water to explore. Here, you’ll want to try fly fishing for Rainbow Trout, four types of Bass (including the elusive Guadelupe Bass), and much more. 

You can choose to get back to reality with a bang and stay in one of the nearby metropolises. Or there are plenty of lodges and camping opportunities, especially around bigger lakes. You can even choose to stay at a traditional Texan ranch! Come and see what southern hospitality is all about, and you won’t be disappointed. 

Dunton, CO

If you thought that the Hill Country was off the beaten track, wait until you see what we’ve got in store next. Dunton, CO, is a ghost town. Left behind in 1990, it’s been revamped as a tourist site, making the most of the hot springs in town and the incredible wilderness nearby. 

The Dolores River winds between two mountains near Dunston, CO

Recently, entrepreneurial angling aficionados have got in on the game, realizing the potential of the West Fork of the Dolores River for fly fishing for four types of Trout. Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat, and Brook varieties could all find their way to the end of your line if you’ve got enough skill. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned angler, there’s definitely something in store!

And back in town? Well, you’ll have the choice of anything from luxury cabins to tents under the stars. You’ll be quite high up – 8,873 feet, to be precise – so don’t forget to bring an extra layer or two. Other than that, don’t forget about a Colorado fishing license, and a magical getaway awaits!

Coeur d’Alene, ID

Back to civilization, and the third-largest city in Idaho is next on our list of where to go fishing this spring. Coeur d’Alene is a charming, vibrant city on the lake of the same name. It’s no surprise, then, that fishing is a favorite local pastime.

An aerial view of the Coeur d'Alene with a park and pier in the foreground

Come March, local anglers get back out on the water as the fish come out to play. The Coeur d’Alene Lake offers up monster Northern Pike who are feeding just before they spawn. Nearby Hayden and Fernan Lakes are also prime for fishing, with Kokanee, Rainbow Trout, and a whole range of Panfish available. Whether trolling from a boat or casting from shore, everything is possible.

We mentioned that the city is vibrant and its growing arts scene provides plenty in the way of culture. Explore galleries, museums, or the local theatres after a day’s fishing. With accommodation ranging from budget to high end and a range of dining options available, there’s really something for everyone. 

Catalina Island, CA

We complete our journey of the top spring fishing spots across the US by heading offshore from the West Coast. 22 miles, to be precise, to the stunning Catalina Island. Head out with a charter from Los Angeles, or spend a few days on the island by taking the Catalina Express from San Pedro, Long Beach, or Dana Point. 

An aerial view looking down on a harbor in Catalina Island with the ocean on the right-hand side

Out in the Pacific, the island is surrounded by fish-filled waters. Come spring, it’s high season for delicious specimens such as White Seabass, Calico Bass, and California Sheephead. Hit the local reefs just a stone’s throw from shore, or even cast from the surf or pier and you could be in luck. As we move towards summer, it’s all about Yellowtail, with Tuna possible offshore, too. 

Staying a few days is recommended to get to appreciate the beauty of this island. Hit the pristine beaches, try snorkeling, or even go hiking and marvel at some of the bison that have made the island home since being introduced in the 1920s. Then there are restaurants, bars, and casinos for some RnR. Make a vacation of it – after all, there aren’t many places this exotic so close to the US mainland. 

A kayak angler works her way across a river in spring

Spring fishing: What better way to start the season? 

Trying to come up with just ten spots across the whole US wasn’t easy, but we definitely think you should check these spots out. Wherever you are, though, there’s probably a fishery opening up this spring. So dust off your gear or find a guide near you, and start as you mean to go on this fishing season!

Have you ever tried fishing in any of the spots we mentioned? Have any other recommendations? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Every year, we look at some of the best spots for spring fishing, so why not check out the places that made the cut last year?

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