Trout fishing is a great American pastime. The United States is home to several different species of trout including brown, brook, rainbow, cutthroat, lake, and bull. There are also plenty of subspecies and hybrids to catch such as tiger, splake, and golden trout.
In this article, we will review the best trout fishing spots in America including what types of trout they offer, what the best method of fishing is, specific locations to fish, and more. Additionally, we will let you know what state has the most trout to offer so you know where to plan your next fishing trip.
Top Ten Trout Streams in America
Of all the trout waters in the United States, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten places to go. From the White River in Arkansas to Beaver Kill in New York, the waters are spread across the country for unique and unforgettable fishing experiences.
So gear up and pull out your map to see where you want to go angling or fly fishing for your next trout catch.
White River (Arkansas)
From the middle of Arkansas’ northern border to the middle of its eastern border, the White River extends over 700 miles across the state. Some of the best trout fishing here is near the Bull Shoals Dam. You can find trout hiding in the eddies, riffles, deep pools, and tailouts of the river.
Fishing with spinners and fly fishing are the most popular methods for catching trout in this river. It offers four great species to catch including brown, brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. The White River holds the state record for both cutthroat and rainbow trout weighing in at 10 lbs. 2 oz. and 19 lbs. 1 oz., respectively.
Check out our post for an in-depth guide on fishing the White River.
Yellowstone River (Montana)
The Yellowstone River is almost 700 miles long and stretches across the state of Montana from the northeastern corner crossing into the northwestern corner of Wyoming. The best place to fish for cutthroat trout is between Black Canyon and Grand Canyon. In early to mid-summer, the river here is packed with cutthroat trout and the odd rainbow or brown trout too.
From the falls to Yellowstone Lake, you can also catch some trophy-sized cutthroat trout. But, lake trout are the species in abundance in this section of the river. Fly fishing is unarguably the most popular method of fishing for trout in the Yellowstone River. Just be sure to match your flies with the seasonal hatches.
Connecticut River (New Hampshire/Vermont)
The Connecticut River begins in Canada and runs over 400 miles south through Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The best portions for trout fishing are in the northern part of the river that resides in New Hampshire and Vermont. The open season for trout fishing begins in January and ends in mid-October.
Fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout is a rewarding experience with a mix of stocked and wild species. The tailwaters below Murphy Dam are a popular place to find trout that can weigh over fifteen pounds. With the water temperature staying cold all year long, there is never a bad time to fish for trout here.
Henry’s Fork (Idaho)
Henry’s Fork may be a small 120-mile tributary of the Snake River located in southeastern Idaho, but it offers a big opportunity for trout fishing. The dry fly fishing in this river is spectacular and there are some great places to wade in at the lower sections of the river. October is usually the best to fish here if you are looking to land a monster brown trout.
The Box Canyon section of Henry’s Fork offers ample opportunity to hook a rainbow trout with more than five thousand individuals per mile of the river. Cutthroat trout and the hybrid offspring of cutthroat and rainbow trout are also commonly landed here.
Deschutes River (Oregon)
The Deschutes River is a tributary of the Columbia River that runs parallel to the corridor between Portland and Eugene about 100 miles to the east. The lower portion of the river, especially just below the Pelton Dam, is famous for its abundance of steelhead trout. Fly fishermen flock to this river every summer for a chance to catch a monster steelhead.
Caddisflies are the most popular to fish with and trout fishing remains open all year round here. Native bull trout and redband rainbow trout are also found here and offer a great opportunity to land a decent-sized catch, especially in the late spring and early summer when they are the most abundant.
Green River (Utah)
The Green River begins in Wyoming and snakes down into the eastern half of the state of Utah. The section of the river below the Flaming Gorge dam is known worldwide as one of the best places to flyfish for trout. Brown and rainbow trout are found in abundance and cutthroat trout can also be caught here.
The river’s record brown trout weighed 29 lbs. You can only fish with artificial lures and flies in the Green River. Although you can harvest the trout, catch-and-release fishing is strongly encouraged. Fly fishing is the main method for trout fishing here. However, anglers are also partial to rapalas and spinners in this river.
Manistee River (Michigan)
Located on the western side of Michigan, the Manistee River abuts Lake Michigan and runs through the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Spring and summer are the best times to fish the Manistee River. It offers an abundance of brown, brook, rainbow, and steelhead trout. Fly fishing with nymphs and streamers is the most popular way to hook a winner.
In the fall, the landed steelhead average larger size than the spring and summer runs so get ready for a fight on your line if you want to tackle fishing when the leaves change color.
Steelhead aren’t the only prize fish you’ll find here though – the brown trout can be massive. In 2009, the world record brown trout was caught in the Manistee River weighing 41 pounds and 7 ounces. If you want a trophy, you don’t need to look much farther than the Manistee.
Madison River (Montana)
The Madison River lies between the towns of Bozeman and White Hall. It’s in the southwestern portion of Montana and runs just over 180 miles long. It is known as a blue-ribbon trout river and boasts varying waters from still and calm to raging rapids. Drift boat fishing and dry fly fishing are the most popular methods of catching trout here.
There are sections of the river that are wade only, but lots of opportunities to land the perfect catch. You can find an abundance of rainbow and brown trout in the Madison River. You never know when you are going to land a huge fish here. One of the biggest brown trout caught in the Madison Rive weighed ten pounds and measured thirty-two inches long.
Colorado River (Colorado)
The Colorado River extends almost 1500 miles from Wyoming to Mexico. It has some of the best trout fishing found in the Colorado state portion of the river. Drift boat fishing with streamers and nymphs is a surefire way to catch one of the many rainbow and brown trout that inhabit these waters.
Fly fishing the upper section of the river offers a great way to access these trout waters without a boat. Cutthroat and rainbow/cutthroat hybrids are also abundant in this western river.
Beaver Kill (New York)
The Beaver Kill River located in upstate New York between Poughkeepsie and Albany is only about 40 miles long. While it may be short, it boasts some great trout fishing. Fly fishing is very popular here. The best place to find trout is in the middle section near Beaverkill River State Campground. Spring is the best time to fish for trout because the water level is optimal for finding them.
The lower sections of the river are catch-and-release only. Make sure you know which portion of the river you are in if you plan to keep your catch. Rainbow and brown trout are the species to target in Beaver Kill, so plan accordingly with bait and rigging to optimize your chance of landing a good catch.
The State with the Most Trout
Montana is the number one state in America for trout fishing. With some amazing trout rivers including the Missouri, Beaverhead, Gallatin, Yellowstone, Bighorn, and Madison Rivers, Montana boasts the most trout in the United States. The large area of the state itself along with the pristine northern region in which it is located makes for very productive waters.
Montana has all of the trout species the country has to offer including brown, lake, cutthroat, bull, brook, and rainbow. It also has some hybrid species although those may not be as commonly found.
If you are looking for a great place to go trout fishing that offers an abundance of fish, beautiful scenery, and a variety of rivers to fish, Montana is where you need to go.