The 5 Best States for Fishing (and the 5 Worst)

There are incredible places to fish across America. But where is the very best spot?

Americans participated in almost 200 million fishing expeditions a year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the number of people fishing is thought to have increased since the start of the pandemic.

A new report by Lawn Love has ranked the 50 states to find out the best and worst for fishing in 2021.

To grade them, researchers looked at community interest, water sources, easy access to gear, and affordable fishing licenses, among other factors.

Best States for Fishing

1. Alaska

Alaska
King Salmon reigns supreme: Alaska came in first place for the best place to fish in the U.S. The photo shows a brown bear hunting for fish at Katmai National Park in King Salmon, Alaska, on August 14, 2020. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images/Getty Images

Alaska was named the top state "fishcation" destination. Due to the Alaska's cold climate, little farming occurs so fishing is crucial for jobs and economic activity.

Alaska is well known for its salmon, and Alaskan waters are swarming with 600 species of fish, including the king salmon (also known as Chinook).

It comes at a cost, however; Alaska charges the highest price for fishing licenses per holder, according to the study.

Experts say the best time to test Alaska's fishing waters is during summer: "The tail end of king salmon season and the peak time for catching Pink, Red, Silver, and Chum Salmon," the study said.

2. Michigan

Surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes (Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario) Michigan is at number two on the list.

The state has the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S., and almost 65,000 lakes and ponds. No surprise then that Michigan came first place in the "access" category.

Some of the best spots to fish in Michigan include Saginaw Bay, Union Lake (one of the deepest lakes in Michigan), and 275,000-acre Lake St. Clair.

3. Maine

Lobster fishing and climate change
Maine ranked the third best state for fishing. Lobstering contributes greatly to Maine's economy, but catches do diminish stock. Brian Snyder/Reuters

Maine boasts thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and hundreds of freshwater lakes. Lobstering and groundfishing play a significant part in the state's economy, and sport fishing is a major tourist attraction.

Cobbosseecontee Lake is a favorite spot for bass fishing.

4. Rhode Island

The smallest state in the union, Rhode Island is also filled with great ponds and lakes. The Ocean State also boasts impressive coastal shorelines.

Not to be missed is Ninigret Pond in Charlestown where you can fish in the largest coastal salt pond the state has to offer. Other top fishing spots include the Watchaug Pond.

5. Florida

Florida
Fishing for sailfish on April 18, 2013 in Key West, Florida. Subtropical Florida came fifth in the ranking of the best states for fishing in the U.S. Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images/Getty Images

Subtropical Florida is the self-proclaimed "Fishing Capital of the World," and is a major tourist destination in the U.S., where fishing is a billion-dollar industry.

Florida fell behind other states on "cost" (it ranks no. 27) and for "supplies" (no. 39), "meaning it's a bit pricier to get your fishing permits. Bait and tackle shops also are lacking throughout the state," according to the study.

Experts recommend to avoid Florida's coral reefs, "where the delicate but important ecosystem is threatened by overfishing".

Key West, or "Fisherman's Paradise" are more sustainable options where you can find plenty of fish swimming through the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.

Worst States for Fishing

46. Nebraska

Ranking 46 in the list is Nebraska; although the state does offer fishing options year-round.

The main fishing spots include Sandhills lakes where you can find big yellow bellies and more, lake McConaughy for trout, catfish, and walleye. Nebraska's Box Butte Reservoir, the Merritt Reservoir or the Wagon Train Lake.

47. Kansas

One of the most productive agricultural states and a leader in wheat, grain sorghum and beef production, when it comes to fishing Kansas ranks at 47.

The state boasts some great fishing lakes, such as Severy City Lake, Chase State Fishing Lake, and Scott State Lake.

In 2018, the channel catfish was named the official fish of the state.

48. New Mexico

The desert state is not a popular destination for fishing but it nevertheless remains one of the most popular activities at New Mexico State Parks. About two dozen parks have ponds, streams, rivers, or lakes offering good fishing opportunities in the Southwest.

49. Arizona

Arizona
Boats navigate the waters of Lake Powell on June 24, 2021 in Page, Arizona. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/Getty Images

Former President Theodore Roosevelt once said: "In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world."

But alas, the state can't have it all.

Still, it has some popular fishing destinations such as Lake Powell, Alamo Lake State Park, Roosevelt Lake, Lake Havasu State Park, or Patagonia Lake State Park.

50. Nevada

Nevada
A fisherman fishes for trout in the Truckee River as if flows through downtown on April 13, 2015, in Reno, Nevada. Photo by George Rose/Getty Images/Getty Images

Nevada placed at bottom of the study's "community" and "access" rankings.

Known as the driest state in America, it is still home to some great reservoirs, lakes, streams and rivers that do offer fishing opportunities. These include the Wild Horse Reservoir, Cave lake, and the Truckee river.

Both Arizona (49) and Nevada (50) ranked poorly on "Cost."