Fishing in the United States is fun! The country is home to some of the best fishing spots in the world, both freshwater and saltwater.
From the Atlantic to the Pacific and everywhere in between, there are countless opportunities for anglers of all levels of experience to catch a variety of fish.
In this guide, I will walk you through what the industry is like, some of the requirements to pay attention to, as well the types of fish to expect.
I will also tell you about the top best states to go fishing!
Although this is tailored for travelers, it’s actually solid information for anyone seeking to fish in the United States, whether a traveler or an American.
Table of Contents
State of American Fishing
Fishing is a big business, a food source, and a hobby in the United States. The seafood industry makes over $5 billion a year from nearly 10 billion pounds of fish.
Fish is also popular as a food source here. The country is only second to China in terms of fish consumption. Americans, on average, eat around 20 pounds of fish per year.
Finally, fishing is one of the most popular hobbies. About 55 million Americans partake in recreational fishing every year.
As a result, fishing is highly regulated. Regulation is at both federal and local levels. NOAA Fisheries is the governmental body responsible for regulating the fishing industry at the federal level.
The acronym NOAA stands for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NOAA is part of the US Department of Commerce.
Now that you know a little bit more about the fishing industry let’s focus on what it means for you as an angler.
Fishing Requirements in the United States
If you are planning to fish in the United States, there are a few things you will need to do in order to be compliant with the law.
First and foremost, keep in mind that the country is composed of fifty states. Unlike regions in many countries, states have a lot of power here.
What does this mean for travelers? It means each state has the right to control who does what in its borders, and travelers must pay attention.
Some of the things to consider as an angler traveling through the United States include licenses, state regulations, and types of equipment.
Each of these has its own challenges, and I think it’s best to separate them for a more in-depth discussion.
State Fishing Licenses
First, you will need to obtain a fishing license. You can do this by visiting the website of the state in which you plan to fish or, in some states, by purchasing a license from a retail outlet that sells them.
Generally speaking, states require an annual license. However, there are some states where you can get daily or weekly licenses.
In most cases, you will need to provide your personal information and pay a fee in order to obtain a license.
Now the confusion part; there are some instances where you don’t need a license. For example, some popular national parks don’t require that.
National parks are actually federal territories within a particular state and may or may not need to deal with local regulations.
So, what does this mean for you? That leads us to our next step.
Familiarize with Regulations
You will need to be familiar with the fishing regulations in the state in which you plan to fish. Some states have their entire regulations on websites, making it easy to access the information you need.
Florida is the top state for anglers, and this is one of the states that publishes all of its regulations online.
These regulations vary from state to state, so it’s important that you take the time to read up on the specific regulations for the state in which you will be fishing.
Many states have different regulations for different bodies of water, so it’s also important that you check for any special regulations that may apply to the body of water where you plan to fish.
Likewise, make sure you are aware of the catch limits for the area where you plan to fish. These limits vary based on the type of fish and the body of water where they are found.
If I were to use Florida as an example once again, they have a “Daily Recreational Bag Limit.” You can only have 2 per person or 10 per vessel… per day. If you’re a couple, you can only have left 4 fish that day. But if you’re a group of 6, you don’t get 12.
So, be sure to read up on your destination’s fishing requirements about this.
Get the Right Equipment
Once you have a plan for a license and know your destination’s rules and regulations, the next step is to get gear. You will need to purchase any necessary equipment for fishing.
Your equipment may include a fishing rod, reel, bait, and tackle. You can usually find all of this equipment at a local sporting goods store or online.
Some anglers may require renting a boat, and, of course, the type of boat you need will depend on your needs.
Likewise, some fishing may require renting a car. Although a lot of freshwater fishing is outside of main roads, for example, they may not have good public transportation.
Finally, consider wearables, including sun protection, insect repellants, and more.
Freshwater in the United States
The United States is home to many freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. This abundance of fresh water is one of the country’s most valuable natural resources.
Most of the fresh water in the United States is found in the eastern half of the country. The Great Lakes region contains some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, including Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron. These lakes are fed by a network of smaller rivers and streams.
The western United States also has a large amount of fresh water, although it is more spread out than in the east. Major river systems in the west include the Colorado River, which flows through the Grand Canyon, and the Snake River, which winds through Idaho and Oregon.
Freshwater plays an important role in many aspects of life in the United States. It is used for drinking, cooking, irrigation, manufacturing, and recreation.
In recent years, there has been increasing concern about pollution and the depletion of freshwater resources. However, with proper management, these problems can be minimized, and the United States can continue to enjoy its plentiful supply of fresh water.
Freshwater is perfect for fishing in the United States. Bass, trout, catfish, walleye, and steelhead are all popular types of fish to catch in the freshwaters in the country.
There are a few reasons why anglers love to fish these. For one, these fish are all relatively easy to catch. They aren’t as shy as some other types of fish, so you don’t have to be as patient or skilled to reel them in.
Another reason is that these fish are all good to eat. They’re packed with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your health. In fact, studies have shown that eating fish can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
So if you’re looking for a fun and healthy activity during your trip across the United States, consider fishing for bass, trout, catfish, walleye, or steelhead.
You’re sure to have a great time – and you might just end up with a delicious meal!
Freshwater Fishes As Food
Bass, trout, catfish, walleye, and steelhead are all popular freshwater fish species in the country. Each has its own unique flavor and texture, making them a favorite among anglers and cooks alike.
Bass is a versatile fish that can be prepared in many different ways. They are often baked, grilled, or fried, and their mild flavor pairs well with a variety of sauces and seasonings.
Trout is another popular freshwater fish that is often smoked or grilled. Its delicate flavor pairs well with lighter sauces and seasonings.
Catfish are hearty fish that are often fried or baked. Their robust flavor pairs well with bolder sauces and seasonings.
Walleye are delicate fish that are best cooked using methods that do not dry out the flesh. They are often baked, poached, or sauteed, and their mild flavor pairs well with light sauces and seasonings.
Steelheads are fatty fish that is often smoked or grilled. Their rich flavor pairs well with bolder sauces and seasonings.
As you can see, Americans are obsessed with these because they are delicious. Their diversity makes these fishes easy to pair with many popular American dishes.
Saltwater in the United States
Saltwater is one of the most important natural resources in the United States. It covers more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface and makes up about 97% of the world’s water supply. The United States has a long coastline and many inland waterways, so the saltwater is an important part of our economy and way of life.
Saltwater is used for many purposes, including transportation, recreation, industry, and agriculture. It is also a vital resource for wildlife and ecosystems. Saltwater is a major source of food and provides a habitat for many species of fish, shellfish, and other marine life.
The quality of saltwater in the United States is generally very good. However, it can be polluted by chemicals, sewage, oil spills, and other pollutants. When saltwater is polluted, it can harm people, animals, and plants. Polluted salt water can also damage beaches and other coastal areas.
There are many reasons why Americans absolutely love fishing for salmon, flatfish, bluefish, redfish, and weakfish.
For some, it’s a way to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Saltwater tends to be a bit farther than freshwater, especially when fishing for timid kinds.
For others, it’s a way to connect with nature and the natural world. Sailing for the weekend and fishing along the way? It’s an incredible feeling.
And for some, it’s a way to gather food for their families. Salmon, flatfish, bluefish, redfish, and weakfish are all important food sources for people around the world.
These fishes are all excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for human health. Salmon, in particular, is also a good source of vitamin D.
Fishing for these fish can be a challenging and rewarding experience. It can be a great way to spend time with family and friends, and it can be a great way to get exercise.
Best States to Fish
There are many great states to fish in the United States, including my own home state of Minnesota, but three stand out as particularly incredible options: Alaska, Michigan, and Florida.
Each of these states has something unique to offer anglers, whether it’s the chance to catch a trophy salmon in Alaska, the variety of fish available in Michigan, or the warm waters of Florida.
There are many reasons why people go fishing in these states. For some, it’s the challenge of trying to catch a big fish in hostile conditions.
For others, it’s the beauty of the scenery and the chance to commune with nature. And for some, it is simply the opportunity to relax and enjoy the quiet solitude of being out on the water.
No matter what the reason, there’s no doubt that fishing in these three states can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Let’s explore them a little.
Michigan for Freshwater Fishing
If you’re looking for a freshwater fishing destination that has it all, look no further than Michigan. Michigan is by far the best state for fishing in the United States.
The state is home to the largest lake in the country – Lake Michigan – as well as thousands of smaller lakes and rivers.
And with all that water comes an abundance of fish, including bass, trout, salmon, and more.
In addition to being a great place to fish, Michigan is also incredibly scenic. From the rocky shores of the Great Lakes to forests and wetlands, there’s plenty of beauty to take in.
Those of you into ice fishing will also really love Michigan in the winter. It gets super cold here and makes for a great place to dig through the ice for some beautiful fish.
So, whether you’re looking to catch a big one or just enjoy some time outdoors in a beautiful setting, Michigan is the perfect place for a traveling angler.
Alaska for Saltwater Fishing
Alaska is another fantastic spot for fishing in the United States. Alaska is the perfect place for saltwater fishing, with its long coastline and abundance of fish. The state has a wide variety of saltwater fish, including halibut, salmon, rockfish, cod, and pollock.
If you’re into freshwater angling, don’t worry. Alaska also has many freshwater lakes and rivers that are home to trout, char, and pike.
The best time to go saltwater fishing in Alaska is from May to September. During this time, the weather is milder, and the waters are teeming with fish.
There are many charter companies that offer guided fishing trips, so you can sit back and enjoy the ride while someone else does the work.
Like Michigan, Alaska is also great with ice fishing. The state gets pretty cold, allowing you to dig into its freshwater spaces.
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable fishing experience, Alaska is the place to be.
Florida for Fun Fishing
Florida is a great place to fish. With beautiful cities, beaches, and more, it’s a fun place to fish.
There are many different types of fishing in Florida. You can go saltwater fishing in the ocean or freshwater fishing in one of the many lakes or rivers.
You can fish from the shore or from a boat. Cities like Miami, Tampa, and Orlando have many options.
There are also many different types of fish to catch in Florida. Some of the most popular include bass, trout, redfish, snapper, and tarpon.
No matter what type of fishing you’re interested in, you’re sure to have a great time fishing in Florida.
Fishing in the United States – Final Thoughts
The United States is a beautiful country that attracts millions of travelers every year. Many Americans also travel from their home state to others, too.
When it comes to fishing, the country has plenty of options in both freshwater and saltwater fisheries.
As I said, you do need to pay attention to the rules and regulations. In fact, don’t book that flight until you know everything about your destination as it relates to this beautiful hobby!
Tom Larson is a traveler who writes about the outdoors.