10 Epic Fishing Trips in the West
From fly-fishing in Jackson Hole to deep-sea fishing in Baja or salmon fishing in Alaska, these Western spots are an angler’s dream
1 / 10
Kona, on the Big Island, has the most charters and the biggest fishing tournaments for good reason: Deep-sea thrills start less than three miles from the harbor. There, the ocean is filled with Pacific blue marlin, tuna, mahi-mahi, and spearfish. Prefer to cast out from the shore? Ke’ei Beach, just south of famed Kealakekua Bay, is considered a gem among local anglers, as well as snorkelers and surfers.
2 / 10
Yellowstone River, MT
The longest free-flowing river in the continental U.S. and the last undammed one in the West, Yellowstone offers a myriad of fishing opportunities and epic scenery as it meanders for 692 miles. Several outfitters, including Sweetwater Fly Shop and Montana Fly Fishing Guides, have stations in Livingston, where the stretch of river is known to be particularly rich in rainbow trout.
3 / 10
Clear Lake, CA
Many confidently argue that the world’s prime largemouth spot is Clear Lake, where a steady supply of crawfish, perch, and other little swimmers grow a plump stock of bass (five-and six pounders are common; eight-to-10 pounders are possible). California’s largest natural, freshwater lake is also a hotbed for catfish, crappies, and bluegills.
4 / 10
Green River, Utah
Walk along the canyon to find the perfect spot to cast in along this Blue Ribbon fishery, where anglers frequently reel in brown and rainbow trout, whitefish, and some cutthroats. For solitude, try the stretch between Little Hole and Indian Crossing Campground in Brown’s Park.
5 / 10
Salmon River, ID
The name doesn’t mislead. Plenty of Chinook as well as trophy steelhead are found here, about 800 miles from the sea. Salmon return to the river in the fall to spawn and complete their life cycle, so you easily find 15- to 30-pound Chinook then. While spring brings the migratory steelheads, summer bites with plenty of generously sized rainbow and cutthroat trout.
6 / 10
Jackson Hole, WY
With more than 27,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, Wyoming ranks high on anglers’ lists. Rhett Bain of Reel Deal Anglers says Jackson Hole’s Snake River can’t really be beat for the scenery and stock of spotted cutthroats, which are indigenous to the area. “It’s one of the last little spots where you can catch native fish,” he says.
7 / 10
Wild and unspoiled, Kodiak has excellent saltwater and freshwater digs. Go the deep sea route for king salmon, halibut, rockfish, and cod; or stick to the rivers and streams for sockeye, silver and pink salmon, Dolly Varden, and steelhead. Got deep pockets? Spring for a package at one of the fishing resorts, like Expedition Kodiak, which covers just about everything except flights and fishing licenses.
8 / 10
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Deep sea enthusiasts flock down here for marlin, snapper, wahoo, and tuna--many weighing in at well over 100 pounds. But lately inshore waterways are getting attention too for their plethora of Pacific roosterfish, Sierra mackerel, and jack crevalle, known as “The Bull” among local circles for its ability to put up a fight.
9 / 10
San Juan River, NM
The tailwater below the Navajo Dam remains a steady 38- to 40 degrees year-round, which means all-season fishing, according to Andy McKinley of Duranglers, a 35-year-old outfitter. The Juan’s variance and bite-friendly rainbow and brown trout make the river particularly suited for beginners and seasoned anglers looking to work on their skills. “It’s in the high desert, so it’s really pretty up here too,” he says.
10 / 10
North Platte River, WY
Trophy rainbow and brown trout distinguish this fly-fishing haven’s standout waters. Most people opt to fish off drift boats, but there are stellar options for waders too. Your best bet is to partner with an outfit like Brush Creek Ranch; the guides have access to privately owned stretches along the North Platte, as well as two creeks, another river, and stillwaters on the property. You’re guaranteed a good catch no matter what.