Top 9 Spring Fishing Destinations in the US for 2024

Mar 25, 2024 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Springtime is the season when life blooms. Nature begins to awaken and, with it, so do plenty of fish. Ravenous after a long winter, many species bite the best at this time of year. But where should you go to get in on the action? For that, check out our list of top spring fishing destinations in the US for 2024.

A pair of anglers fishing by a river's shore in Yosemite National Park, which is one of the best destinations to visit in spring.
Photo courtesy of Tight Line Therapy.

From ocean shores to pristine rivers and bountiful lakes, we’ve compiled a list of locations where you’re all but guaranteed to get a bite. Join us as we dive into these amazing fisheries and get inspired as you plan your next angling adventure!

Pacifica, CA

Nestled between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, Pacifica is a city known for its beautiful beachfront. It’s also a popular surfing destination and is a great spot for beginners to learn the ropes. And, just like the rest of California’s coast, Pacifica offers ample fishing opportunities, especially for anglers who enjoy fishing from shore.

A view from a hill looking towards the beachfront of Pacifica, California, with the city's famed fishing pier visible as it juts out into the ocean.

The city is home to its namesake pier, which stretches 1,140 feet into the ocean. From it, you’ll get to hook into the numerous coastal species that lurk in these waters. Anglers mainly hunt different species of Surfperch. However, there are also big Striped Bass swimming about, along with Sharks, and even Halibut

Meanwhile, if you’re keen on fishing aboard a charter, you’ll find plenty both in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay. Besides fishing, Pacifica boasts a lively downtown as well as different nature trails to explore around the city. The whale watching season begins in April, too, which means you might get to see these magnificent creatures right from the pier.

Yosemite National Park, CA

Tunneling valleys, crashing waterfalls, ancient sequoia trees, and monolithic granite rocks, Yosemite National Park boasts the kind of nature that stays with you forever. To describe it as beautiful would almost be doing it a disservice. “Sublime” would be more accurate. And what’s even better, the fishing along the park’s waters is incredible too.

A spectacular photo of the Yosemite National Park rock formations viewed from a shallow river's shore on a clear day.

The cold rivers and lakes that you’ll find throughout the park are abundant with some of the most impressive Trout you can come across. The typical species that swim through these waters include Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout. In spring, you’ll mainly fish the Merced River that flows through the spectacular Yosemite Valley.

To complement the fishing trip of a lifetime, there’s a variety of other activities you can enjoy in Yosemite. Gold panning, hiking, touring all the iconic locations such as El Capitan or Yosemite Falls… It’s all about enjoying the scenery to its utmost!

Cody, WY

Owing its name to the famous Buffalo Bill, Cody is a small city with cowboy culture in its veins. It’s located about 50 miles east of the entrance to Yellowstone National Park, serving as a gateway to its magnificent grounds. As you can imagine, the nature around these parts is absolutely breathtaking, with waters teeming with fish too.

A photo of the North Fork Shoshone River near Cody, Wyoming, with stunning rocky cliffs towering over the left side of the river.

Wyoming is home to some of the best Trout fishing in America, and Cody is no exception. The Shoshone River passes right by the city and, depending on which part of it you decide to fish, you could catch Rainbow, Brown, Brook, or Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. Buffalo Bill Reservoir is also a solid bet for fishing, where you’ll get to catch delicious Walleye in addition to Trout.

When you’re done fishing, it’s time to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the Wild West. Museums and galleries full of cowboy memorabilia will give you a fantastic glimpse into the local history. US Highway 14, which connects Cody to Yellowstone, typically opens in late May, so if you plan on exploring the national park from here, visit in late spring.

Loudon County, TN

Situated southwest of Knoxville, Loudon County is somewhat of a hidden gem when it comes to fishing in Tennessee. It sits right at the confluence of the Tennessee River and its tributary, Little Tennessee. Here, you’ll experience some of the finest angling in this part of the country.

A view of the Fort Loudoun Reservoir, one of the best spring fishing destinations in Tennessee, with a thick forest is visible along the lake's shore in the distance.

The most popular fishery around these parts is the Fort Loudoun Lake, an impounded reservoir on the Tennessee River. Its waters are famous for their trophy Bass fishing, with both Largemouth and Smallmouth roaming the lake. To get in on the action, head to Lenoir City near Fort Loudoun Dam. From here you’ll have easy access to the whole reservoir.

Another option is to head south of Lenoir City and explore Tellico Reservoir on the Little Tennessee River. There’s even more thrilling Bass fishing here, with Crappie, Walleye, and Trout in the mix too. Expect plenty of action if you make Loudon County your next angling destination!

Besides fishing, make sure to spend some time exploring Loudon and Lenoir City. They’re small, charming places where you can get in touch with local history and enjoy some of that Southern hospitality Tennessee is known for. Loudon County is also a solid starting point if you want to embark on the famous Tail of the Dragon motorcycling road.

Lake of the Ozarks, MO

If you’re an angler stricken with terminal Bass fever, you’re probably already acquainted with the “Missouri Dragon.” After all, Lake of the Ozarks is without a doubt one of the finest Bass fishing destinations in the US, especially in spring. Its waters are home to numerous tournaments every year, not to mention all the anglers who flock there for some recreational man-versus-fish action.

An aerial shot of Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, showcasing the unique shape of the lake, as well as numerous lake houses peppered along the shores.

While the lake offers good fishing throughout the year, it really catches fire come spring. As Bass prepare to spawn, they move to shallow, coastal waters, and bite with absolute fervor. The only time you can expect the fishing to be a bit slow is right after the spawn, but as long as you avoid that, you’re in for a blast. And don’t forget Crappie will be biting, too!

As for what else there is to do near Lake of the Ozarks, the answer is – plenty. Tour the local wineries, visit the epic Ha Ha Tonka State Park, and explore some local restaurants. Or, forgo all that and simply spend a day or two enjoying the lake and its wonderful nature.

Blowing Rock, NC

Tucked away off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock is a small mountain village surrounded by stunning nature. The untouched wilderness, coldwater streams, and pristine lakes shape a setting that’ll take anyone’s breath away. Of course, you’ll enjoy it even more if you reel in a few fish while you’re at it.

A scenic view of Julian Price Lake near Blowing Rock, NC, the lake's waters are calm and the shoreline forest trees are reflecting off the surface in a beautiful way.

There are several rivers and lakes where you can fish around Blowing Rock. These include Price Lake, New River, Trout Lake, and Watauga River, to name a few. Among other species, these waters hold plenty of Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout. In early April, Blowing Rock even hosts its own Trout derby, offering anglers a chance at earning prizes and prestige.

If you’re still eager to spend time in nature after you’re done fishing, there’s a lot to explore in Blowing Rock. Hike through Pisgah National Forest on its numerous trails, tour the Moses Cone Estate on horseback, or just stay in the village and enjoy its various amenities. All in all, Blowing Rock is both an excellent spring fishing destination and a place where one can relax and enjoy themselves to the fullest.

Lake Guntersville, AL

Ranked frequently among the best Bass fishing lakes in America, Lake Guntersville is Alabama’s most iconic freshwater destination. It’s located in the north of the state, resting along the banks of the Tennessee River it was created from. Many anglers come here to experience the best Bass fishing of their lives.

An angler in sunglasses and a hat holding a sizeable Largemouth Bass he caught fishing on Lake Guntersville, one of the best spring fishing destinations in the US.
Photo courtesy of Alabama Elite Fishing Guide Jason Whitehead.

The main target species in Lake Guntersville is Largemouth Bass. When it comes to these fish, the lake offers quality angling both in terms of numbers and size, making it a frequent site for numerous tournaments. In addition to Largies, Smallmouth Bass also inhabit the lake, along with Crappie and Bluegill. In spring, all of these fish will be biting like there’s no tomorrow, making it the best time to fish these waters.

When you’ve caught a lunker or two, there’ll be plenty of other things to enjoy around the lake. Go hiking, relax at a resort, or play golf at one of the courses you’ll find nearby. The area is also a popular destination for eagle watching, with many of these magnificent birds inhabiting the lake’s surroundings.

The Highlands, ME

Home to more than 200 waterfalls, countless mountain peaks, and thousands of acres of untouched nature, the Maine Highlands is a region of incredible beauty. It’s made up of Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties, encompassing most of the state’s central area. And along the region’s rivers and lakes, you’ll have the opportunity to reel in all kinds of freshwater prizes.

A scenic view of Mount Kineo taken from Moosehead Lake located in the heart of the Maine Highlands, with the calm lake waters and some clouds in the sky visible.

Maine’s largest lake, Moosehead, takes center stage when it comes to fishing in the Highlands. In it, anglers can catch Lake and Brook Trout, landlocked Salmon, as well as Smallmouth Bass. Another popular spot is the Penobscot River, especially if you’re looking for Smallies. The Lincoln Lakes Region is also an excellent choice as it features over 25 lakes and ponds to cast your line in.

In early spring, you might still find the Highlands’ lakes frozen over, so if the ice is thick enough, you can fish through it. Ice-out begins in April and by May the open-water fishing season will be in full swing across the region. Time your trip for April 8 this year, and you’ll get to witness a total solar eclipse over Maine. Pretty cool, huh?

Chicago, IL

Sitting on the southern shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago combines fantastic angling with all the excitement of a big city. Embark on a fishing trip, and you’ll experience the Great Lakes in their full glory. Explore the city, and you’ll get to enjoy its unique architecture, culture, and history.

An aerial view of the city of Chicago, its skyline, as well as Lake Michigan and its many shoreline docks. The lake is one of the best fishing destinations you can visit in the US during spring.

When it comes to fishing, Chicago is truly a prime destination to visit during spring. In early April, Coho Salmon tend to make an early run, giving anglers a shot at catching some of these silvery beauties. There’ll also be plenty of Yellow Perch to reel in, as well as Lake and Brown Trout which love the cold spring waters.

Once you’re back on land, visit the famous Millennium Park or tour the city’s epic museums, such as the Field Museum or the Art Institute of Chicago. You’ll probably get hungry at some point during the day, and that’ll be your cue to grab a slice of the iconic deep-dish pizza.

Spring Fishing: The Season to Hit the Waters

An angler with his head out of view leaning forward for a photo as he holds a Brown Trout a few inches above water, ready to release the fish.

Mild temperatures, warm sunshine, and blooming nature – spring is the perfect time to reconnect with the great outdoors and reel in some fish. After the cold winter, you can bet that the fish will be hungry wherever you go. We’ve highlighted some of the spring fishing destinations we consider worthy of visiting, but don’t let the list limit your imagination. After all, there’s potential for adventure wherever you end up fishing. So head out and enjoy springtime to your heart’s content!

If you’re looking for more inspiration, make sure to check out our previous year’s list.

What’s your favorite spring fishing destination in the US? How did you like our list? Hit the comment section below and let us know!

Author profile picture

From a young age, Marko has been a nature buff. His first contact with fishing came through his dad who’d take him to the Danube River. It’s where Marko got his basic angling education, landed his first catch (an Ide), and learned how to cook a mean fish stew. Marko also enjoys hiking, running, traveling, and writing about it all.

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