Between tranquil lakes, roaring rivers, deep oceans, and everything in between, the various places to catch fish around the world provide much more than an opportunity to reel something in. These spots are often beautiful and a nature lover’s paradise.
Fishing trips can take many forms – you can simply spend a few hours with a rod in the water, or plan an entire vacation around landing a trophy game fish. You can work a fly from river banks, drop a line into a hole in the ice, book a seat on a charter boat into the deep ocean, or get in the water with a spear. Even if you don’t manage to snag anything, a day on the water is usually still enjoyable for those who love fishing.
Whether you’re a total beginner or a quasi-professional, most anglers probably want to find the spots with the best fish populations to maximize their chances. Below, we’ve put together a list of some of the world’s best fishing spots – from the east coast to the west coast, the streams of the Rocky Mountains to the lakes of the plains, and in foreign countries around the world – these are some of the fisherman favorites.
Best Fishing Spots in the World
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is equivalent to a wonder of the world for people who love diving and snorkeling. It’s also home to some world-class fishing, specifically for giant species.
The reef stretches over 1,400 miles, and it’s not hard to find a spot to cast a line. Lizard Island is one spot that stands out. While you can hook trevally, mackerel, queenfish, grouper, coral trout, and much more here, it’s the giant black marlin that stands out – every September to December, catches of more than 1,000 pounds are reeled in.
Lizard Island is spectacular besides the fishing, too, thanks to its beautiful resort, but it can be expensive and too remote for some. An alternative is to stay in the mainland city of Cairns, which has an abundance of hotels and fun things to do. You can take a charter boat out to the Great Barrier Reef or have the exciting experience of catching the local barramundi species at a farm.
2. Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River
This is an admittedly very large fishing destination that spans two countries and contains dozens, if not hundreds, of individual fishing spots. The Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River that empties them into the Atlantic hold a sizeable amount of the world’s freshwater, as well as a ton of huge fish.
Lake Erie is a massive lake that borders New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario. From many spots on these shores or from a boat, you can go for yellow perch, trout, flathead catfish, and salmon. But, this massive lake is best known for its walleye, a prized game fish species that puts up a serious fight – many boat charters specialize in finding these guys.
Lake Ontario is another favorite easily accessed from cities like Toronto and Niagara Falls. Monsters like northern pike and lake trout can be accessed year-round if you don’t mind ice fishing, which can be a unique experience and a lot of fun.
3. Columbia River, Oregon
The Columbia River creates much of the border between Oregon and Washington before flowing into the Pacific and is one of the best coastal fishing grounds in the western US. While the river extends much further north, many experienced anglers from the region argue that the best places for fishing are below the Bonneville Dam, just east of Portland.
In the coastal estuaries and well upstream, huge populations of chum salmon, coho salmon, and king salmon thrive and put up a great fight on the line. Fall chinook salmon are a popular species as well. One of the greatest experiences you can have here is to hook a giant sturgeon of 10 feet or more in length – but note that this is a catch-and-release fish only.
Besides these giant fighters, the river and its estuaries are ripe with opportunities for hooking shad, smallmouth bass, and steelhead. There are many small towns along the river in which you can find a rental or hotel, while Portland has a ton of options, like the lovely Hyatt House Portland Downtown.
4. Key West, Florida
The southern coast of the US consists of thousands of miles of access to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean – both fish-rich areas of the sea. Key West is not only a great place to head out and cast a rod, but is also a world-class vacation destination.
Some of the region’s most desirable fish are the many species of snapper that live around the reefs off the coast. Triggerfish, porgies, amberjack, and wahoo are other fun tropical types to go after. While you can fish from the shore of Key West, you’ll probably have more luck on a short boat ride to deeper water.
Here, you can book a spot on a group fishing boat that will provide the bait and expertise for the whole group. Of course, there are many private charters that will take you to find the trophy you’re looking for. There are a ton of great places to stay around Key West, like the appropriately-named Blue Marlin Motel.
5. Prince Edward Island, Canada
Canada is a paradise of wilderness and wildlife, with many great spots to fish. One that stands out is Prince Edward Island, a small province off the coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, for its variety of fishing and relative ease of access while remaining slightly off the beaten path.
The inland waters of this island are great for catching rainbow and brook trout on flies. Ben’s Lake in its east is a stocked farm. A few great fly fishing tours can take you to the best spots and provide all the gear, no matter your experience with this type of fishing.
Plus, the island is surrounded by the fish-rich salt water of the Atlantic Ocean. Cod, herring, Atlantic salmon, and the prized striped bass are some of the prizes you can reel in here. You may want to bring a good windbreaker here, as the weather this far north can be a bit chilly.
6. Colorado River, USA
We aren’t specifying a state for the Colorado River because it’s massive and packed with great fishing spots. It starts high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado before flowing through Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico.
In the small Colorado town of Glenwood Springs, fly fishing enthusiasts are in heaven thanks to the abundance of hungry trout – brook, brown, cutthroat, and rainbow trout, to be exact. Just don’t forget some basic waders, as you’ll fish from the shallow banks, as well as a few flies.
Further downriver, the Colorado and its dams form large lakes like Lake Mohave and Lake Mead. Striped bass can grow to be over 40 pounds here, and there’s an abundance of catfish and more trout. If you aren’t traveling with gear, book a boat with a local expert to find the biggest bass on Lake Mohave.
7. Lake Austin, Texas
Actually, there’s another Colorado River – in Texas. Part of it, near the state’s capital, is referred to as Lake Austin and happens to be a favorite fishing spot for city locals and visitors alike.
This part of the river is considered a lake because it’s a section between two dams. Within it, the three main catches are largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish. While these aren’t the giants you might find elsewhere in the country, they are very fun fish to snag and put up a great fight.
Boat and kayak rentals can be found along the banks, and you might want to bring your own compact set of gear for fishing trips here. It’s easy enough to stay in Austin, where there’s an abundance of great hotels, like the Element Austin at the Domain.
8. Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
This next one is well off the beaten path and a bucket list destination for travelers in general. Tierra del Fuego is the Argentinian side of Patagonia, the southern tip of South America – a region shared by Chile and Argentina. While both sides are spectacular, the latter is great for fishing for a very special reason.
This is one of the few places in the world where sea trout run from the inland waters to the open sea to hunt, specifically around the town of Rio Grande. It makes them larger and stronger, leading to a much more lively fight than most species of trout. The majority of people coming to Tierra del Fuego to fish are in search of these.
Note that a fishing excursion here can be expensive – as is a trip to Tierra del Fuego in general. However, you can still find budget accommodations in the small town of Rio Grande, like the Status Hotel, and build your trip yourself rather than using an expensive travel agent.
9. Bighorn River, Montana
The waters of Montana are renowned as some of the best freshwater fishing spots in the United States. The Bighorn River is one to single out because of its remoteness and difficult access, leading to pristine conditions and tons of fish.
The main draw here is trout fishing. Rainbow and brown trout are very prevalent and can be caught by fly fishermen from the banks or on a boat. The river runs through the Crow Indian Reservation, which is private land, and there are only three public access points to the river.
Because of this, most people choose to rent or bring a boat and float down the river, stopping at fishing holes along the way. However, as long as you stay below the high water line, you can walk the banks and wade fish, too. Billings is the nearest city, and the Big Horn Resort is a great place to spend your vacation.
10. Cabo San Lucas & San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
The Baja California Peninsula is a beloved destination for all-inclusive resorts, exotic beaches, and beautiful golf courses, but it’s also home to some of the best saltwater fishing in North America. Charter boats from cities like Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo into the deep waters of the Pacific create the opportunity to catch some of the sea’s most iconic fish.
This area is known as the Marlin Capital of the World, as the summer months are known for population booms in black, blue, and striped marlin. Other super-fun fish to reel in include sailfish, wahoo, dorado, tuna, and much more.
Clearly, this is a place to catch some big fish – you’ll have the best time heading out with an expert here. Pick a charter like this one that includes lunch, drinks, and all the equipment and expertise you’ll need.
11. Kona, Hawaii
There are few places in the world like the islands of Hawaii. Active volcanos, pristine beaches, and the welcoming culture aren’t the only reasons to go – these waters are the sports fishing capital of the world.
Specifically, the Big Island of Hawaii and its west side city of Kona (or Kailua-Kona) offer excellent deep-sea fishing. Just offshore, the sea floor dramatically drops thousands of feet. This creates the ideal habitat for blue marlin, mahi mahi, wahoo, and a ton of other trophy fish, many of them present year-round.
While you’ll see locals casting lines from the sand, this is the place to go big with a deep-sea charter. There are a ton of charter boats in the harbors around Kona, and it’s just a matter of deciding what you want to fish for. Plus, you’ll get to see these beautiful islands from a different perspective out on the water.
12. Outer Banks, North Carolina
These barrier islands off the coast are known as a summertime paradise for vacationers on the East Coast and present a huge variety of fishing opportunities. Plus, the season runs for the entire year, and it rarely gets horribly cold outside.
Islands like Hatteras and Ocracoke offer long, sandy beaches from which surf fishing is easy, as long as the waves aren’t huge. Several piers extend far past the breaks, and pier fishing is another favorite in the Outer Banks. Boat charters from the marinas of these islands go further into the backwater bays and open ocean.
Fish that are sought-after here include the rare and hard-to-catch red drum, sea bass, and hard-fighting bluefish. You can also go for flounder and some species of shark here. Consider renting or bringing a long surf rod for most of this type of fishing.
13. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Largemouth and smallmouth bass are some of the most prized freshwater fish you can go after, thanks to the strong fight they put up and the relative ease of finding them. One of the best bass fishing lakes in the United States is the famous Lake of the Ozarks, a giant reservoir in Missouri.
A ton of submerged trees and other obstacles provide lots of the coverage that bass love to hide under. Keep near these, which aren’t usually far from shore, to have the most luck. I have had a ton of luck pulling spoon lures across the surface – the bass see the shininess and race up for it. Rubber worms are like candy for them, too, and you just have to dance them around in front of the shelters bass are hiding under.
You can also snag walleye, channel catfish, and many other species at the Lake of the Ozarks. Stay somewhere directly on the lake and with a dock, like the Margaritaville Lake Resort, for the best time.
14. Boulder Creek, Colorado
You don’t always need to go deep into the wilderness for great fishing. One of the best spots near a major city is Boulder Creek, running straight through the city of Boulder and just north of Denver.
The best fishing on this creek is in any of its tributaries to the west of the city. However, even those to the east and in the waters running through downtown, you can still catch fish. Brown trout and cutthroat trout thrive here, and while these are smaller fish than you might be able to catch at other places on our list, they still put up a fun fight that doesn’t require anything fancy.
You have the luxury of being able to stay in a great city hotel here, like the Boulder Marriott, with its indoor pool and upscale amenities. Pack a simple light rod, and you could be fishing every morning if you please.
15. Costa Rica
The Central American paradise that is Costa Rica is an obvious choice for fishing enthusiasts, thanks to its two coasts along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Flights from North America are cheap and plentiful, and the beaches and jungles make for plenty to do and see.
The Pacific coast of Costa Rica is where most visitors base their trips and do most of the sport fishing. Blue marlin in the deep water can exceed 10 feet in length and reach hundreds of pounds, resulting in the fight of a lifetime for the lucky fisherman who manages to hook one. Other iconic giants include sailfish and yellowfin tuna – book a charter boat to go after these.
On the Caribbean side, the area where the Rio Colorado empties is known for its snook and tarpon populations, while dorado and tuna are also present further out. This can be a very remote place to go, so pack a quality backpack with more than the basic essentials, even for a short fishing experience.
16. Quintana Roo, Mexico
On Mexico’s Caribbean coast, fishing in the crystal-clear water is one of the most popular activities for vacationers. Healthy populations of species like bonefish and barracuda keep fishermen coming back here just to put lines in the water.
The lively and resort-packed city of Cancun is a good place to start. You’ll find a lot of charters here that search specifically for barracuda, as the fight they put up is one of the most exciting in the region, while you can also go after sailfish, marlin, tuna, wahoo, and more.
Go off the beaten path for even more fun. To the north, you can charter a boat from Holbox to see parts of Quintana Roo that few visitors do and catch fish to make into your own ceviche. Further south, the salt flats around Ascension Bay host bonefish and tarpon populations among the best in the hemisphere, and you can get into the water to catch them.
17. Montauk, New York
Located at the eastern tip of Long Island and around three hours from New York City, Montauk is a special place and considers itself the fishing capital of the eastern seaboard. Several record-size fish have been reeled in from the beautiful beaches and from boats offshore here.
From the beach or in the surf, fishermen target several species, like flounder, porgie, bluefish, blackfish, and striped bass, all of which put up fun fights. What locals refer to as party boats – medium-sized fishing boats that sell daily spots and provide bait and gear – head out every day in search of these in deeper waters, too.
For an offshore catch, you can expect to encounter mahi-mahi, marlin, bluefin tuna, and shark. Stay close to the main marinas of Montauk at a hotel like Kenny’s Tipperary Inn for the easiest access to the boats.
18. Martha’s Vineyard
Another northeastern favorite is Martha’s Vineyard, one of the best fishing destinations for any surf fisherman. The prized varieties here include striped bass, bluefish, bonito, and false albacore.
The summertime tourist season is also the best for fishing in Martha’s Vineyard. The season runs between May and October for bluefish and striped bass, while for bonito, mid-August is the best season. False albacore can be found in plenty between August to early September.
The island is situated in the middle of a migratory route, and natural bait is abundant here, which is also fun to catch. Experienced local fishermen mostly use casting poppers and parachute jigs to snag one of these ocean giants.
19. Kiritimati (Christmas Island), Kiribati
Most people have never heard of this tiny island in the Pacific, but it’s actually the world’s largest coral atoll. Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is located a few hours south of Hawaii, and there are few reasons people travel here besides to fish.
That’s because its vast lagoon and its countless sand flats are home to some of the richest bonefishing grounds in the world. While you can fish from a boat, the lagoon is shallow and constantly shifting, and most people wade in the flats. Bonefish are everywhere and provide a great saltwater fly fishing experience, and giant trevally are very prevalent, too.
Kiritimati can only be reached by the once-weekly hopper flight connecting it with Honolulu and Fiji, and this is a very, very remote place; this makes it all the more beautiful. Fishing guides can provide you with gear and take you to the right spots, but it’s probably a good idea to bring along some bonefish flies. Keep in mind that Kiritimati is pronounced ki-ris-mas, hence the name Christmas Island.
20. Bristol Bay, Alaska
Some of the best fishing spots in North America can be found in Alaska – its rugged remoteness and abundance of rivers and streams emptying into the cold sea create the perfect conditions for many species. This is the most productive salmon habitat on the continent.
Fly fishing for sockeye, chum, coho, chinook, pink, and other salmon species is unreal in this bay and the rivers that feed it – they number in the tens of millions each year. Arctic grayling and rainbow trout are also plentiful if you get bored of the hoards of running salmon.
If you can manage to get to this extremely remote fishing spot southwest of Anchorage, you surely won’t be disappointed. Bring a good jacket to fish in Alaska.