10 Locations for the Best Trout Fishing in the US

Are you looking for the best trout fishing in US locations? You’ve come to the right place.

10 Locations for the Best Trout Fishing in the US

American anglers are blessed, and many don’t even know it. This country has some of the best trout fishing in the world.

It is nearly impossible to narrow down the best places to fish for trout in the United States to a list of only 10, but I will try and do my best.

Admittedly, identifying the best trout fishing in the US is a very subjective exercise. Most of the time, the best trout fishing is wherever you can do it, and people tend to favor their home streams, lakes, and rivers. Like politics, trout fishing is a local concern.

But it is no wonder why trout fishing is so popular, as these fish are readily available in the vast majority of water across the country. Trout taste great, put up a fight when caught, and are just downright pretty fish.

The three main species that anglers target are rainbow, brown, and brook trout.

Best Time of Year to Fish for Trout

In many places, you can target and catch trout at any time of the year. Many advanced anglers will say that the best time to catch them, however, is late spring. 

The warmer it gets, the more fishing pressure from other anglers, the thicker the grass and brush surrounding their habitats and the lower the water levels.

Although regarded as a myth by some, the trout could be more educated on avoiding lures and bait later in the season as well.

A good rule of thumb: If the air temperature is uncomfortable for you (below freezing or scorching hot), it will be uncomfortable for trout as well, since they are cold blooded and their body temperatures reflect the temperature of the water they swim in.

Best Locations for Trout Fishing in the US

Many of the following places differ in elevation, temperatures, and overall climate, so there is a wide variety of conditions suited to every angler.

With all that being said, let’s get started!

1. Colorado River, Colorado

The Colorado River extends from the state of Colorado all the way to Northern Mexico, spanning over 1400 miles.

No matter where on the Colorado River you choose to fish, you are going to land trout. Browns, brook trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and even rainbow/cutthroat hybrids can be found along the waters of Colorado from La Poudre Pass Lake all the way to Ruby Canyon and Fruita.

Colorado River - La Poudre Pass Lake
Colorado River – La Poudre Pass Lake area

The waters of the Colorado River have become a legend all across the Lower 48 States in terms of potential big catches for rainbow and cutthroat trout, and thousands of anglers from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Colorado every year.

Colorado River – Fruita Area

Not to worry, though, there’s plenty of river for everybody.

2. Green River, Utah

The Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir is one of the west’s premiere fly fishing destinations.

The Green flows through a scenic, steep-walled canyon. The rugged terrain allows access in only three areas: just below the dam, Little Hole and Browns Park.

You can drive to those locations and fish your way up or down the stream, or float the river in a drift boat or rubber raft. (The river is also a popular destination for recreational rafters and can be busy on summer weekends.)

The A and B Sections of the Green River, below the tiny hamlet of Dutch John, Utah, and the Flaming Gorge Dam, generate most of the press for this famous fishery.

And, sure, the fact that those sections are loaded with nearly 10,000 fish per mile and have absolutely stunning scenery makes them hard to skip.

But it’s the C Section that holds the really, really big fish. 

3. White River, Arkansas

The White River tailwaters have earned a reputation for their trophy brown trout fishing, producing some trout into the 20-40 pound range.

An easy drive from Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, and other neighboring states, the White River provides excellent drift boat fly-fishing opportunities for trout in the mid-south.

Four dams in Arkansas and one in Missouri make for about 150 miles of cold water environment for trout. Brown and rainbow trout are stocked below all five dams.

Three tailwaters in Arkansas also have cutthroat and brook trout.

I personally love this river as there are so many different places to fish from that can accommodate any angler depending on their skill level, species targeted, and fishing method.

4. Missouri River, Montana

Montana and trout fishing go together like peanut butter and jelly. It has some of the most beautiful and fish filled lakes, streams, and rivers than any other state.

From the Holter Dam to the city of Cascade runs the Missouri River, and this 40-mile stretch is home to approximately 3,500 to 5,500 fish per mile.

Rainbows and Browns aplenty, with many of them exceeding 16 inches, it is no wonder this section of Missouri has the reputation that it does.

Rainbow trout average between 14-18 inches while the browns measure in a bit larger.

Given the dense trout populations and their size, this section of the river is not a destination for the angler seeking solitude.

5. San Juan River, New Mexico

Another river I have had the pleasure of fishing, the San Juan can be a little crowded at times, but that might be because many regard it as one of the best trout streams in the US.

Trout densities are insane, and the rainbows and browns here can grow to ridiculous sizes.

This desert stream doesn’t have the usual western mountain scenery (although it is beautiful in its own way.) This stream is all about big trout and lots of them. 

6. Bristol Bay, Alaska

Bristol Bay is famous for the number of fishing retreats in the area. From Mission Lodge to King Salmon Lodge, this place offers plenty of variety to fishermen of all styles.

You’ll find the area packed with beautiful vistas, gorgeous greenery and ample wilderness available to let the inner outdoorsmen within you go out and play.

Fly fishing is very common in this location, and you’ll find a large variety of fish but the real star here is the rainbow trout. They can grow to some amazing sizes this far north, and anglers from all over the world head here to try and catch one of these monster fish.

While not in great numbers, the cold water and lack of regular fishing pressure allow the rainbow trout that live here to reach mature sizes rarely seen in other parts of the country.

7. Manistee River, Michigan

Michigan’s Manistee River is one of the best in the world. It starts deep in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan as a small, spring-fed brook trout stream.

This isn’t the place to come for trophy trout, but the brookies are beautiful and jewel-like, always ready to provide a wonderful experience.

A few browns do make their way into this section, and they can grow surprisingly large. There are also a fair number of rainbow and tiger trout to be caught in certain parts of the river as well.

While most people here enjoy fly fishing, spin fishing is both legal and can be very productive.

Whether you want a small stream or a big river fishing experience, this body of water can provide whatever it is you are looking for!

8. Madison River, Montana

It is no surprise that Montana made the list again. The Madison River, perhaps the most famous of all the rivers in Montana, begins in Yellowstone National Park at the confluence of the Firehole River and Gibbon River.

From its origin, it flows for more than 140 miles through exceptionally beautiful scenery before it reaches the Missouri River near the town of Three Forks, Montana.

With its beautiful scenery and excellent fishing, a visit to the Madison River is a top priority for many anglers on a Montana fly fishing trip.

The Madison River offers exceptional fishing in a beautiful setting. All fishermen can enjoy the river, as the dry fly fisherman, the nymph fisherman and the streamer fisherman all enjoy success on the river.

Despite Madison’s run-in with whirling disease years ago, the river still provides some of the finest fishing in the state for wild rainbow trout and large brown trout.

9. Connecticut River, New England

Perhaps the best trout fishing found in New England (and maybe the Eastern United States as a whole) is the Connecticut River. Headwaters draw from southern Quebec, and flowing southward, it forms the border between New Hampshire and Vermont before passing through Massachusetts, Connecticut and into the Atlantic Ocean.

Here you can find a healthy mix of brown, brook, and rainbow trout. You can even find some landlocked salmon in certain parts of the river, but it is best known for its large rainbow and brown trout that can grow up to 10 pounds and many times even larger.

All of the state records have been caught out of this body of water, and it is no coincidence that many anglers catch their personal best here too.

This is the perfect little getaway for someone in the Northeastern part of the country and the trout fishing is second to none.

10. Lamar River, Wyoming

Last on the list but certainly not last in quality, the Lamar has some of the best trout fishing this country has to offer.

The Lamar River itself has miles of excellent trout water, but its two major tributaries, Soda Butte and Slough Creek, really steal the show.

These two streams have spring-creek like fishing for cutthroat that often top the 15-inch mark and sometimes grow as large as three or four pounds. These streams are no secret, but the angling remains very good for those who are good at sight-casting to visible trout and making presentations.

Final Thoughts

This list is entirely subjective, as great trout fishing can be found in just about every state in America. These places, however, all hold great reputations as not only having large numbers of trout but being able to produce trophy-sized specimens.

No matter where you choose to wet your line, there is no doubt some of the best trout fishing is right here in the US!

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