Top 10 Trophy Fish Destinations in the United States

  • Jun 8, 2020

Looking for the best trophy fish destinations? Every good angler dreams of catching that monster trophy fish, it may be for boasting reasons or simply for the enjoyment of reeling in a quality fighter.

Each lake, river, and coastline brings its own records. However, sometimes you just have that urge to go find the biggest fish possible or catch a rare species found in few locations. If you’re just curious where you need to go to catch the biggest and most unique fish, there are 10 game species and the respective trophy destinations.

World’s Greatest Lakes by Square Miles

North America is filled with amazing fishing hotspots but here are the best trophy fish destinations on the continent.

Tarpon – Boca Grande, Florida

Tarpon - Boca Grande

Tarpons are the most exciting game fish out there. Nowhere can you catch as many big species as in Boca Grande, Florida. When you see a monster jump full-length out of the water it’s truly a sight to behold.

They can reach weights over 230 pounds and you’ll feel every ounce of reeling that one in. Boca Grande embraces fishing tradition and boasts seemingly countless amounts of guides, charters, and rental equipment.

Sheefish – Selawik Valley, Alaska

These fish are dubbed the “tarpon of the north” because they are similar-looking species that grow weights of 60 pounds in northwest Alaska. Getting to the big sheefish requires you to fly. A guide is completely recommended given the remoteness of the location.

The Sheefish are also called uncanny and can be caught almost year-round. Although, summer feeding periods offer the best results. This cold-water fish can be taken with spoons or even with a fly when they come to the surface to feed.

Largemouth Bass – Castaic Lake, California

The US contains many top-notch trophy bass fishing lakes and narrowing it down to one is impossible. This lake wins out for this list because of the sheer size of the large fish that have been caught here. No other lake in both the amount of 20+ pound fish that have been recorded in Castaic.

Catching a bass close to 20 pounds is a rare feat. However, anything in the 12 to 15-pound ranges isn’t. The Castaic Lake is located 25 miles north of Los Angeles and it’s a popular place for boaters and swimmers.

Red Drum - Pamlico

Red Drum – Pamlico, North Carolina

The pride of North Carolina saltwater fishing is its red drum also known as channel bass. Catching red drums in the 30 to 60-pound range is a common occurrence you can even catch a channel bass over 80 pounds.

The size of the fish may sound small compared to the likes of a shark or a tarpon. Don’t let that fool you as they fight well beyond their weight. Be aware that red drums are primarily a catch and release fishery along the North Carolina coast due to regulations.

Muskie – Lake St. Clair, Michigan

Lake St. Clair is one of North America’s best-kept secrets, especially for muskie. It is nestled between Lake Erie and Lake Huron along the Michigan Ontario border. Lake St. Clair boasts a tremendous fishery for many species, walleye, perch, crappie, and plenty of smallmouth bass.

All this despite having an average depth of only 11 feet. Often these muskies get overlooked. Few other lakes, however, produce frequent fish over 15 pounds. It isn’t out of the ordinary to catch a muskie over 30 pounds and close to 50 inches in length.

Mako Shark – Massachusetts Bay

Some of the best shark fishing in North America come straight out of Boston’s backyard. Massachusetts Bay contains several species of quality shark but the Mako is the prime target here due to its size and fighting prowess.

Catching a Mako shark over 1000 pounds is more than possible. Be careful when fishing for Mako’s because they been known to turn and attack anglers.

Walleye – Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

Walleye - Lake of the Woods

Another Lake the borders with Canada is Lake of the Woods, which sits on, the northern tip of Minnesota which borders Manitoba and Ontario. Trophy walleye is commonplace in this lake and a chance of nabbing a world record is very possible.

If you’re looking for the ultimate experience though the best time to go is wintertime. There are comfortable shanties you can find along the shoreline that are for rent. There are also dozens of quality resources as well. But with all the fish action out there you may find yourself staying in the hut.

Golden Rainbow Trout – Mahoning Creek, Pennsylvania

Who doesn’t enjoy river fly-fishing?

There are a few targets as wonderful as the Golden rainbow trout, which is found only in a few select locations in the eastern United States. It is not to be confused with the golden trout found in California. A golden rainbow trout is a rare form of rainbows that have developed a predominantly golden hue.

The best water system for these golden rainbows is the Mahoning Creek and is a tributary of the Allegheny River. These golden rainbow trout can grow to weigh over 13 pounds.

Striped Bass – Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

The Chesapeake Bay is as good of fishery as you can find the United States, especially for stripe bass. 70% of the stripers that migrate along the Atlantic coast bond in these waters in any of the hundred and 50 rivers that flow into the bay.

Stripers are also referred to as rockfish by locals due to their preference to congregate around Rocky Shoals and artificial reefs. Spring and late fall are the most popular seasons.

White Sturgeon – Sacramento River

The biggest freshwater fish in all of North America is the white sturgeon. Some of the largest are found in the Sacramento River in the San Francisco Bay area. As they can also swim in saltwater, these white sturgeons have been known to reach weights over 1500 pounds and lengths of over 20 feet.

Catching anything this size is rare. White sturgeon are governed under strict guidelines in California so be sure to follow all regulations.

Trophy Fish Destinations Conclusion

Did we miss any of your favorite trophy fish destinations? Let us know where you caught your biggest fish.

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