Fishing Road Trip Itineraries: Catch a Moment With The Family

Amelia ArvesenFebruary 29, 2024

Fishing Road Trip Itineraries: Catch a Moment With The Family
Fishing road trip itineraries

Your fishing rod is rigged, your days off for the trip are approved. But you’re having a hard time making up your mind on where to go. Or maybe you’re the kind of angler who has your go-to spot and you want to try somewhere new for once. It’s an overwhelming decision considering the fishing opportunities in this country are endless. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best fishing road trip routes across the U.S. for your next multi-day angling adventure.

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Things To Know Before You Go

Gear and destinations aren’t the only key details of a fishing trip. You also want to check off these important steps before you head out.

1. Obtain a fishing license or permit: This is required in most, if not all, states. Check wherever you’re going for specifics. Stop by a fly shop or ranger station for the paperwork.

2. Check the rules and regulations: Every area has its own rules. This includes size and quantity limits, boat inspections, protected areas, and more.

3. Bring your own boat, charter one, or stay on the shore: Determine your mode of access, and plan in advance if you need to rent boats, load up your own, or hire a guide.

4. Be aware of the seasons: Not all fish are biting in every season. Decide what you want to catch, then plan around their peak seasons.

Fishing road trips: Pacific Coast Highway

1. California’s Pacific Coast Highway

All along the iconic Highway 1 are bodies of fishable water, from lakes and streams to the Pacific Ocean, where you can surf cast for stripers or delve into the deep sea for tuna. 

You can easily start a fishing trip itinerary for all the spots below from cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara.

Notable Spots

San Carpoforo Creek: North of San Simeon, this creek is considered one of the most significant spawning streams for steelhead trout in the area. Find camping within Hearst San Simeon State Park.

Oso Flaco Lake: Sitting at the base of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, this 75-acre small freshwater body is home to some big bass, perch, and striped mullet. Try dune camping only if you have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.

Cayucos: Drop your line off the historic pier for a chance at catching surfperch. Or venture to Whale Rock Reservoir’s shore for largemouth and spotted bass, steelhead, catfish, and bluegill. Morro Bay State Park isn’t too far, where you can find camping and more to do.

Lopez Lake: Edging the Santa Lucia Wilderness, this massive lake is a fishing spot all year round, teeming with giant catfish and stocked in the winter with rainbow trout.

Avila Beach: On the Avila Pier, cast near the pilings with fish-attracting organisms for a chance at long eye wallperch, speckled sanddab, and red snapper. Avila Beach even has a KOA.

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2. Alaska Marine Highway

Explore the rugged coastline of Alaska by ferry, stopping at remote fishing villages and pristine wilderness areas known for salmon, trout, and halibut fishing.

Anchorage or Juneau make great launch pads for the fishing circuit below.

Notable Spots

Soldotna Public Fish Walks: Cast into the turquoise waters of the Kenai River from one of the elevated fishing platforms. Or suit up in waders to get even closer to the prize.

Homer Spit: One of the rare spots you can catch halibut from the shore, the beach surrounds the Lands’ End Hotel. Low tide is the best time to fish this area, according to locals. Bonus: there’s a campground.

Ship Creek: For an easily accessible spot in downtown Anchorage, head to the lower part of the creek to sport fish for king salmon from late May to mid-July and silver salmon from early July to early September.

Bird Creek: Fishermen from all over the world come here for the silver salmon season from July through September. There are also 27 campsites here with water and toilets nearby. Or stay at the Bird Creek Campground in Chugach State Park.

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3. Southwest Colorado

You can’t go wrong fishing anywhere in Colorado, but the southwest is renowned for its rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs. Many spots are easily accessible, located right in town or near campgrounds.

Start the fishing road trip below from a spot like Durango or Denver for quick access.

Notable Spots

Outdoorsy Bayfield: Our very own campground has onsite fishing in the Pine River. Shhh! You don’t even need a permit. Rent an RV and stay in a campsite (or bring your own), or book a luxury tent. Either way, you’ll have views of the rugged San Juan Mountains.

Vallecito Reservoir: Located near Durango, this spot is a popular destination for families. With scenic surroundings, a lake full of fish, and campgrounds nearby, you have everything you need.

Lake San Cristobal: This picturesque lake is framed by majestic mountains, and there are spots along the shoreline for picnicking and trout fishing. Boating and camping facilities are also available.

Ridgway State Park: This park near Ouray offers fishing opportunities on Ridgway Reservoir, where families can catch trout, kokanee salmon, and more. Amenities include campgrounds, playgrounds, and hiking trails.

4. Florida Keys Overseas Highway

This scenic drive through the Florida Keys offers access to some of the best flats fishing in the world, as well as opportunities for offshore angling for species like marlin, sailfish, and tarpon.

Miami and Ft. Meyers are two spots that’ll put you well in range of the road trip below.

Notable Spots

Key West: To find the best spots, charter a guided boat and scout the flats for bonefish, snook, and tarpon. These waters are calm and clear, but don’t expect fishing to be easy. Discover more in the area while you’re at it.

Sugarloaf Key Islands: Navigate the maze of mangrove cuts among these islands in a skiff, kayak, or canoe. The fish will bite quickly for squid and pinfish.

Key Largo: Known best for diving, this area is also a premier spot for fishing among shipwrecks. A local guide will know the best spots for peace, quiet, and success. Stay at these RV parks and campgrounds nearby.

Lake Surprise: Saltwater is the norm in these parts, but you can find freshwater fishing in this unassuming slice along U.S. Route 1. The northeastern part is designated for manatees. 

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Grandpa and grandson fishing

5. Great Lakes Circle Tour 

Travel around the Great Lakes region, stopping at various ports and fishing hotspots for walleye, perch, trout, and salmon. Each lake offers its own unique angling experience.

Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Buffalo are a few popular sites to start the itinerary below.

Notable Spots

Manistee, Lake Michigan: Fish from a boat, pier or shore on the Manistee River, home to Chinook salmon, northern pike, and larger and smallmouth bass. August is king salmon season.

Rogers City, Lake Huron: Either charter a boat or bring your own to cruise around the waters for walleye, Atlantic salmon, steelhead, and more. Adams Point or Swan Bay are good bets.

Chicago, Lake Michigan: Step out of the city into a harbor along 22 miles of shoreline dotted with piers, beaches, and amenities. Every season brings something different to your line. There are plenty of RV parks and campgrounds nearby to stay at.

Marquette, Lake Superior: Fishing is a year-round sport here except in December and January. Brown trout, Chinook, coho, and lake trout are pretty much always biting.

Buffalo, Lake Erie: Fish in the morning, dine on the waterfront in the evening. Spend one weekend here to comb the waters of Niagara River, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. Check out campgrounds and other accommodations near the lake.

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6. Montana Fly Fishing Road Trip

Explore the legendary waterways of Montana, such as the Madison, Yellowstone, and Missouri Rivers, for world-class trout fishing amidst breathtaking mountain scenery.

Billings and Bozeman are two possible launchpads for the journey below.

Notable Spots

Madison River: Winding for 183 miles through Montana and Wyoming with an estimated 5,000 trout per mile, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to hook a lunker.

Yellowstone River: This free-flowing river is one of North America’s most active wild trout fisheries. Hotspots include the Black Canyon and Paradise Valley. And of course, it’s a good excuse to venture into Yellowstone National Park.

Bighorn River: Trophy-winning fish come from these clear and gentle waters, accessible at three different points along the upper 13 miles. Stay below the high water mark if you’re wading. Here’s everything you need to know about camping in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

Lake Hebgen: Covering 6,500 acres and stretching 4 miles wide at its widest point, this large lake is best navigated by motorized boat. Brown trout average 18 inches, while rainbows average 16 inches.

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Fishing lures

As a reminder, always research fishing regulations and obtain any necessary permits or licenses before embarking on your road trip. And don’t forget to pack your fishing gear, camera, and sense of adventure!

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Amelia Arvesen, Outdoorsy Author

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