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The Best Fishing Spots near Me | How to Find Hidden Gems

What are the best fishing spots near me? It’s a question that fishermen have pondered for ages in their quest for the perfect fishing spot. A spot that’s close to home, has plenty of fish, and isn’t crowded. We can’t help you find the perfect fishing spot, because if we found it, we wouldn’t tell you. Seriously, we would keep that gem a secret and pass it down as a family heirloom for generations. Young Yaks would only learn of the perfect fishing spot after passing an overly complicated trial. They would live to brag about the perfect spot, but never reveal its location.

So we can’t share that spot with you, largely because we haven’t found it (yet). We can, however, give you some pointers on how to find local fishing holes worth your while. Maybe not worth safeguarding for millennia, but you know, still good.

Tax Dollars at Work

Luckily for you somebody has already mapped out all of the best fishing spots in your state. Not only have they surveyed every body of water, they can also tell you what type of fish are there, and the best areas to catch them. Every state government has an agency dedicated to managing its natural resources. Their mission is to conserve and manage wildlife populations for the benefit of its citizens. Your respective Department of Natural Resources is one of the best resources at your disposal and should be the first source you check out.

State Fishing Departments perform a variety of valuable functions, but one of the most useful for kayakers is their mapping services. Imagine that your interested in visiting Lake Char­gogg­a­gogg­man­chaugg­a­gogg­chau­bun­a­gung­a­maugg (this is a real place) in Massachusetts. A quick visit to the MA Dept of Fish and Game will yield everything you need to plan your visit; just look at the detail provided by the survey below.

Map of Lake Webster
This lake has the longest name of any place in America.

Wildlife departments continually update their maps with important information regarding biological diversity and the ecosystem’s health. Biologists will regularly survey lakes and rivers via electroshock sampling to monitor and adjust ecosystems as needed. These biological reports are extremely detailed and can provide information about fish species population size, average size, health, and more. This information can be invaluable to you as a fisherman, especially if you are venturing into unknown waters.

The table below contains links to the respective authority responsible for managing aquatic resources for all 50 states.. You can purchase fishing licenses, look up regulations, or learn more about your intended fishing spot from here. Fun fact – Hawaii doesn’t require a fishing license for saltwater angling; regardless of your residency. Fishing is an integral part of their culture and requiring paperwork to go fishing doesn’t jive well; you still need one for freshwater though.

AlabamaDepartment of Conservation and Natural Resources
AlaskaDepartment of Fish and Game
ArizonaGame and Fish Department
ArkansasGame and Fish Commission
CaliforniaDepartment of Fish and Wildlife
ColoradoColorado Parks and Wildlife
ConnecticutDepartment of Energy and Environmental Protection
DelawareDivision of Fish and Wildlife
FloridaFish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
GeorgiaDepartment of Natural Resources
HawaiiDivision of Aquatic Resources
IdahoDepartment of Fish and Game
IllinoisDepartment of Natural Resources
IndianaDepartment of Natural Resources
IowaDepartment of Natural Resources
KansasDepartment of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
KentucyDepartment of Fish and Wildlife Resources
MaineDepartment of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
MarylandDepartment of Natural Resources
MassachusettsDepartment of Fish and Game
MichiganDepartment of Natural Resources
MinnesotaDepartment of Natural Resources
MIssissippiMississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
MissouriDepartment of Conservation
MontanaMontana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
NebraskaNebraska Games and Parks Commission
NevadaDepartment of Wildlife
New HampshireNew Hampshire Fish and Game Department
New JerseyDivision of Fish and Wildlife
New MexicoDepartment of Game and Fish
New YorkDepartment of Environmental Conservation
North CarolinaNorth Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
North DakotaNorth Dakota Game and Fish
OhioDepartment of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife
OregonDepartment of Fish and Wildlife
PennsylvaniaFish and Boat Commission
Rhode IslandDepartment of Environmental Management
South CarolinaDepartment of Natural Resources
South DakotaDepartment of Game, Fish and Parks
TennesseeWildlife Resources Agency
TexasTexas Parks and Wildlife Department
UtahDepartment of Wildlife Resources
VermontFish and Wildlife Department
VirginiaDepartment of Game and Inland Fisheries
WashingtonDepartment of Fish and Wildlife
West VirginiaDepartment of Natural Resources
WisconsinDepartment of Natural Resources
WyomingWyoming Game and Fish Department

State Parks

There are 8,565 state parks scattered across the U.S. Their heritage can be traced back to President Theodore Roosevelt’s national park initiatives and funding from the Civilian Conservation Corp. Most state parks are organized as a separate state government agency from Fish and Game; State Parks have a charter to service a wider range of customers than just hunters and fishermen. It’s a great idea to check your the state park website to see the amenities each park has to offer. Parks with lakes or rivers usually have boat launches and other supporting facilities for water recreation. There can be overlap between State Parks and Department of Wildlife; so it’s a great idea to check both to gather as much info as possible.

Map of Virginia State Parks
Map of Virginia State Parks

County Parks

Your local County Parks and Recreation Department, or Parish if you’re in Louisiana, is a great way to answer the question, what are the best fishing spots near me? The county Parks and Rec Department is like the little brother of the State Parks department. It has largely the same responsibilities but on a smaller scale. You’re unlikely to get the depth of information you would find at the state level. And county parks are liable to be much smaller in size. You should however be able to quickly ascertain what parks have water features and boat launches pretty easily. Independent cities and towns may also have a dedicated parks department, or just personnel, depending on its size. Just remember not to spend too long on any government website because time is money, money is power, power is fishing. Grab a pole and go fishing!

Local Yokels

If you’ve ever planned a vacation you likely spent some time familiarizing yourself with your destination before departure. You probably looked up restaurants to visit, sites to see, and read up on local customs. Despite all these preparations though you were still a stranger in a strange land. And probably didn’t grok everything you could. It’s extraordinarily difficult, if not downright impossible, to truly know a place by viewing it remotely; the U.S. military found this out the hard way in Afghanistan. Maps and reports can get you most of the way there. But only a native can key you in on the intangibles that make a place unique, its, how you say, je ne sais quoi.

One of the easiest ways to find fishing spots is by asking fishermen. It may sound too easy; and that’s because it is. Most anglers, in my experience, are generally amenable people who are happy to share the location of their favorite honey holes. If you haven’t mastered the art of conversation then start with the most common question asked over water: catch anything?

I’m not the best fishermen out there, but I am passionate about fishing, especially kayak fishing (if you hadn’t figured that out yet). And I’m always willing to spin a yarn about the one that got away, or the absolute monstah I reeled in, to anybody who’s willing to listen. The fishermen at your local lake have a wealth of knowledge that you can easily tap into. Be friendly and overcome your overbearing sense of stranger danger to get the scoop and broaden your horizons. After you’ve reeled in the legend of the lake and a friendly wayfarer asks you where to go fish make sure you pay it forward.


Some people fish to get away from it all, or just to get away from their kids (looking at you Dad). If you’re one of these people then the idea of chit chatting during your fishing trip might set off a few mild heart palpitations. As we said before there’s only so much you can garner from a map, so any of the following options are going to require some extra legwork.

Google Maps

Google Maps is an incredibly powerful and useful piece of software. Aside from guiding you from A to B it can also help locate lakes and ponds near and far. Since the world’s been pretty much mapped out you’re not likely going to find any undiscovered rivers or oceans (if you do please let us know). However, you are apt to come across smaller ponds and streams that might not be actively managed by state or county authorities. You’re probably not going to find anywhere big enough to warrant a motorized kayak, but it is possible. What’s far more likely is you’ll discover smaller ponds in neighborhoods and farmlands near you.

Small ponds can be awesome fishing spots. If they’re remote enough then fishing pressure is probably low to non-existent. It’ll be hit or miss on what you can find, but don’t be surprised if you find out the phrase “big fish in a little pond” isn’t just a saying. Before gearing up for a trip you should determine if there are any fishing restrictions, and whether the pond is public or private. Many home-owner associations (HOA’s) have a communal fishing pond for residents and if you happen to be friends with a member they can be amazing spots close to home.

Heron in the water
Herons eat big fish, ducks eat small fish. Both are good indicators of fish in the water.

If you’re wondering whether a body of water has fish always keep an eye out for birds, herons and ducks in particular, and vegetation. Fish eggs can cling to animal fur and bird’s legs which makes it easy for fish populations to migrate from pond to pond. Vegetation in and around the pond is a great sign. It serves as a food source for smaller critters (think micro-organisms, insects, etc.) which in turn serves as food for frogs and insects, two favorite foods of largemouth bass. Aquatic plants also absorb nutrients out of the water which will assist in maintaining a healthy ecosystem; and finally serve as structure to support fish egg deposits and provide cover to hatchlings.


In 2010 some really smart Swedish anglers thought it would be a great idea to provide a social network for fishing enthusiasts. Today Fishbrain is a really cool app with over 9 million users and 7 million fish photos tagged across the U.S. Combine those numbers with the fact that they’ve raised over $25 million in venture funding and it’s a safe bet to say they’ve got something special on their hands.

Fishbrain users tag their location when they catch a fish which makes it easy to see where fish are hitting hard. The app is free to use but does have premium content available for an annual subscription. You can check out Fishbrain here, and use the map below.

Overview on the Best Fishing Spots

Hopefully the methods we’ve described here will serve you well in your quest for the El Dorado of fishing spots. If you’ve been so lucky as to find a local Shangri-La please tell us how you came upon it., and maybe share the gps coordinates. We swear we’ll keep it a secret 😉

Once you’ve found the perfect spot you’ll need some good kicks to get there and back. Check out our guide to the best kayaking shoes for guys and gals.