How to Find the Best Freshwater Fishing Spots Near You

By Debbie Hanson

May 19, 2014

Convenience can be a key factor when it comes to spending more time on the water.

Convenience can be a key factor when it comes to spending more time on the water. It’s pretty simple, if you can find a good fishing spot that is close to home, chances are much greater that you will fish more often and gain more experience. So, aside from driving down every road in town looking for a place to wet your line, how do you find the best fishing spots close to where you live?


Finding a nearby fishing spot is easier than you might think since 90% of Americans live within just an hour of navigable water. Species like largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and channel catfish can be found in lakes, ponds and rivers across the United States — and there are many resources available to help you locate a good spot to catch them.

Here are a few suggested tips for finding the best freshwater fishing spots near you:

  1. Use the Take Me Fishing “Places to Boat and Fish” Map to make a list of fishing spots in your area (or anywhere else in the United States) that might be worth investigating.

  2. Find a topographical map or use Google Earth to get an indication of where there may be depth contours in these bodies of water (fish are often found near holes and drop-offs).

  3. Ask about these spots at your local bait and tackle shop or outdoor sporting goods store. While some anglers can be protective of their fishing spots, most don’t mind sharing a few general tips about local areas where the fish are biting.

  4. Read the online fishing reports for your city and state or listen to local fishing reports on the radio. You may notice that a few of the same spots or areas are mentioned more than once. These spots would merit further investigation.

  5. Once you have gathered the information and narrowed your options down, scout out the lake, pond or river for yourself. Just be sure that the spot is located on public land (you need to get permission to fish on private property). If the spot has plenty of shoreline structure such as rocks, weed beds, lily pads, docks or bridges, it’s probably a good place to try. These types of structure provide shelter, shade, and prey for fish.

  6. Cast your line out to test the waters. Many times, finding a good spot is a result of trial and error. If you have tried a number of baits and techniques in one area with no success, move on to the next location on your list.


Once you’ve found a good fishing spot, try experimenting with a variety of freshwater fishing techniques to see what works best given the species, time of day and conditions. In the morning or evening hours, for example, you might try a topwater surface popper for largemouth bass.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.