Five Wintry Fishing Hotspots in the United States

The weather has turned cold in many places throughout the country, but that doesn’t mean the fishing action has to slow down. And you don’t always have to drill through thick ice or seek out a sandy saltwater flat to scratch that fishing itch (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with either approach).

Here are a five premier fishing hotspots to consider visiting between now and spring:

Kayak fishing the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the best striped bass fishing on the Atlantic Seaboard happens in the winter months, when these migratory fish are on the move and chasing baitfish. One of the best striper experiences of all can be had in the Chesapeake Bay, especially when you’re fishing from a kayak. Bundle up, and watch the birds… they’ll often tell you where the fish are moving. You can throw bait, lures, even flies, and if you put your cast in the right spot, you have a good chance of hooking a striper.

The Grand Lakes Region of Maine. If ice fishing is your thing, try the Grand Lakes area in Maine, where you never know for sure what might be tugging the end of your line—anything from landlocked salmon, to perch, to trout, or even pickerel. The best approach is usually jigging live baits or bright lures.

The Texas Gulf Coast. As is often the case, some of the best fishing action in saltwater flats happens at the time of year when most of the seasonal tourists are far away. That’s especially true in Texas, where, if you want to catch a trophy sized sea trout, the winter months are the best time to do it. Coastal Texas is another kayak fisher’s paradise, with more islands and bays than anyone can explore in one lifetime. The key to finding trout at this time of year is fishing over muddy bottoms.

Any Western Tailwater River. A tailwater is a river that’s sourced from a bottom-release hydroelectric dam. Some of the best trout fisheries in the country—places like the Green River in Utah, Colorado’s Frying Pan, New Mexico’s San Juan, or the Colorado River upstream from Lees Ferry, Arizona, are prolific because they maintain near-constant water temperatures year round. But remember that winter time is midge season, so bring plenty of tiny, dark nymph flies.

Oregon’s Rogue River. The Rogue (and the rest of southern Oregon) is worth visiting just to see it, but fishing, especially in the winter, is a special thrill. If you time it right, later in winter and early spring, you might just encounter some wild “winter-run” steelhead. Swinging flies in the traditional style, or even center-pin fishing for native fish is top of the game.

Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream, and he co-wrote The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing with the late Charlie Meyers.