Where to Find Trout: Locating the Cherished Freshwater Fish

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Montana river.

Some of the best places to find trout include Alaska, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and numerous other states. The ideal water conditions, plentiful food sources, and miles of rivers give several types of trout ample places to live.

Thanks to diverse ecosystems and intense conservation efforts by local game and fish departments, trout are found all over the United States. You can catch trout on each coast and everywhere in between. Few trout anglers are outside of driving distance of trout. 

Best Places to Find and Fish for Trout 

Experienced trout anglers all have their favorite states to find trout. Since trout live in over 40 states, each offers its own unique taste and experience for the trout angler. Whether you want backcountry mountain streams or urban ponds, you’ll find the exact conditions you want in a state near you. 


Montana offers the trout fishing conditions anglers dream about. Crystal-clear waters, solitude, big fish, and diversity are all at angler’s fingertips. 

Trout Species

In Montana, you’ll find rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and bull trout. All have relatively healthy populations within the state, but check the local rules and regulations before you keep any of them. 


World-famous rivers like the Yellowstone, Madison, Gallatin, Bitterroot, Blackfoot, Missouri, and Bighorn hold various species of trout ranging in size. 

I spend many days throughout the summer exploring the waters of Montana. I venture as far back into the mountains as possible to find those holes rarely fished by the casual angler. While it takes dedication and patience, it’s provided some of the best fishing days of my entire life. 

Cities to Make Home Base

Make cities like Bozeman, Kalispell, Missoula, and Helena your home base when exploring the thousands of miles of rivers and streams for Montana when pursuing trout. There are ample guide services within these towns to hire if you want some local expertise. Otherwise, the DIY angler can have plenty of success with some trial and error. 


Wyoming will always be my favorite state to target trout. After spending several summers there throughout college, I learned the ins and outs of the Bighorn Mountains and the surrounding areas. The thousands of acres of national forest land, national parks, and state-managed territories give anglers a little bit of everything for trout fishing. 

Few places offer the trout fishing you’ll find in Wyoming. Solitude, healthy fish, and diverse fishing opportunities are around every bend. 

Trout Species

In Wyoming, you’ll find native cutthroat trout, brook trout, lake trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. The Yellowstone Cutthroat is a protected trout species, but the rest have healthy populations that are easy for anglers to find in most cold-water streams and rivers. 


Some of the best rivers in Wyoming to fish include Yellowstone, Bighorn, Madison, Green, Firehole, Snake, Green, Wind, North Tongue, Honack, and North Platte. You have countless mountain streams and feeder creeks around the state that allow anglers ample opportunity to find all the trout they want. 

My personal favorite is always going to be the North Tongue. The massive fish and tight fishing conditions are unlike anything else I’ve found across the state. 

Cities to Make Home Base

One of the best cities to make your home base is Jackson. It’s close to the waters of Grand Teton National Park and the entire Wind River Mountain Range. 

Other great cities include Sheridan, Laramie, and Thermopolis. Many of these cities are relatively remote but offer plenty of amenities. You have options whether to camp or stay in a lodge. 


Colorado river.
Fly Fishing Colorado

Living in Phoenix for the past four years has allowed me to visit Colorado more than ever. The seemingly endless peaks filled with cold water rivers and streams are a trout angler’s paradise. 

I spend most of my time in Southern Colorado, but I always take advantage of an opportunity to venture further north and check out what the state offers. 

It’s another state where you can find complete solitude if you know where to go. Even the most busy waters have down periods where you won’t feel overcrowded.

Trout Species

Colorado has native cutthroat, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, and brook trout swimming throughout its waters. The native cutthroat are getting more and more challenging to find, but recent Colorado Game and Fish efforts are slowly increasing the populations across the state. 


The South Platte, Animas, Gunnison, Blue, Frying Pan, Colorado, Arkansas, and Taylor Rivers are some of the best places to fish in the entire United States. Colorado rivers often have a mix of private and public water, so make sure you take the time to do your research on what areas you can and cannot access. 

My personal favorite is the Animas River. On a recent trip to Durango, I found a few stretches throughout town that produced beautiful rainbow trout. 

Cities to Make Home Base

When fishing in Colorado, numerous cities work perfectly for your home base. Crested Butte, Denver, Vail, Dillon, Gunnison, Steamboat Springs, and Durango are a few of the best cities in the state that work well for your home base. It’s a beautiful state with endless outdoor activities. 


Idaho river.
Fly Fishing Idaho

Idaho is a fly angler’s paradise. Since the state has no national parks, it doesn’t see the tourist numbers of neighboring states. 

The thousands of acres of national forest make accessing some of the best fisheries in Idaho fairly easy. Whether you want access to world-class water in town or hike to a remote river, you can take your pick. 

Trout Species

In Idaho, you’ll find native cutthroat trout, bull trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, redband trout, and brown trout. The Snake River Cutthroat trout are a personal favorite of mine. They’ve survived years of change and continue to reproduce in massive numbers. They’re beautiful fish with a rich history, 


The Blackfoot, Salmon, Teton, Big Lost Clearwater, Snake, Boise, Coeur d’Alene, and Owyhee Rivers are the best options you’ll find in Idaho. They’re heavily protected, so anglers must follow fishing regulations closely to keep the waters healthy year after year. You can wade and float these rivers depending on your preference.

Home Cities

Spend time in Boise, Sun Valley, Coeur d’Alene, and Island Park when going to Idaho. All of these cities have great access to the listed rivers as well as ample lodging options. Plus, you’ll find numerous fly shops that offer full guide service. 


Oregon gives anglers access to trout along the coast and the entire state. With thousands of miles of streams, rivers, and 1000 lakes, Oregon has no shortage of places for trout to live. 

The beautiful landscapes, rich vegetation, and incredible vistas make Oregon one of the country’s best states for fly fishing. 

Trout Species

Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, golden trout, brook trout, lake trout, redband trout, and brown trout fill most Oregon waters. The three types of cutthroat trout you can find in Oregon are well worth the effort. 

Lahontan Cutthroat, Coastal Cutthroat, and Sea-run Cutthroat should be your primary targets when fishing in Oregon. 


Fish the Deschutes, Ana, Rogue, Crooked, Umpqua, Klamath, Fall, Donner und Blitzen, Imnaha, Grande Ronde, John Day, and Malheur River when you’re fishing for trout in Oregon. 

All of these have great public access and give anglers access to the numerous trout species that swim through the Oregon waters. 

Cities to Make Home Base

Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, Florence, Medford, and Hood River are some of the best cities to make your home base when trout fishing in Oregon. All offer solid access to trout while still providing all of the food and lodging needs you would want on your trip. 


Washington river.
Fly Fishing Washington

Washington is another trout fishing haven. The closer you get to the coast, the more you’ll find beautiful rainforests with unique rivers and streams filled with trout. The further East you get, the more unique deserts that still provide access to trout fishing. It’s one of the most diverse states offering great trout fishing. 

Trout Species

In Washington, you’ll find rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, bull trout, and brown trout. Washington game and fish continue to put a strong effort toward keeping the local trout populations healthy. 

Regular stocking efforts and strict possession limits keep the fish accessible to everyone. 


The Yakima, Sol Duc, Klickitat, Skagit, Methow, Hoh, Grande Ronde, and Sauk are excellent trout fishing rivers in Washington. Whether you want steelhead or cutthroat, Washington has plenty of water options. The Washington Game and Fish Department website has great local information. 

Cities to Make Home Base

Seattle, Tacoma, Yakima, Kittitas, Wenatchee, Quincy, and Longview are some of the best places to make a home base when fishing for trout in Washington. All provide access to the coast and central Washington. Whatever lodging and food options you want, you’ll find. 


Michigan has over 20,000 miles of great trout streams and rivers. In my opinion, it’s the most underrated trout fishing state in the entire country. Many anglers head west or stick to the East Coast states, forgetting about all the phenomenal fishing throughout Michigan. Growing up in Minnesota, I went to Michigan as much as possible. 

Trout Species

You’ll find rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout, and brook trout in Michigan. The brown trout in Michigan are the most famous due to their size and significant numbers. Since brown trout are so hearty, they don’t need the perfect conditions to survive year-round. 

Michigan gets warm in the summer, so some rivers and streams see a rise in water temperature above 65 degrees. 


Some of the most famous rivers include the Manistee, Rifle, Jordan, Pere Marquette, Fox, Boardman, Huron, Au Sable, Black, and Muskegon. All offer ample trout-catching opportunities. You can find solitude if you’re willing to wade or float down these. 

Michigan is always worth exploring, and local knowledge is necessary. 

Cities to Call Home Base 

Traverse City, Lansing, and Grand Rapids are a few towns you should focus on making your home base when fishing for trout in Michigan. Whenever I visit, I spend most of my time in Traverse City due to the countless trout fishing options close to town. 

New York

New York is a massive part of America’s fly fishing history. The pristine fly fishing rivers act as testing waters for world-famous fly fishing brands like Orvis. The trout fishing opportunities are almost endless across the state. After living in New York City, I had the chance to explore the rest of the state and see the phenomenal trout fishing it offers. 

Trout Species

Within New York, you’ll find brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, and lake trout spread throughout its lakes and rivers. Most anglers prefer to catch brook and brown trout when they can. The brook trout in New York are larger than you’d find in many other states nationwide. 


The Au Sable, Beaverkill, Chateauguay, Delaware, Salmon, Neversink, and Saranac Rivers are some of the favorites for trout anglers across New York. These are great fly fishing rivers with ample dry fly and nymphing opportunities. However, some of them allow for live bait fishing in certain areas. 

Cities to Make Home Base

Cities like Albany, Syracuse, Ithica, and Oswego are great places to make your home base when fishing for trout in New York. You won’t find much solitude in New York, but you can get alone when needed. 


Wisconsin is where I cut my teeth with trout fishing. The Driftless Region in the Southeast portion of the state has dozens of spring-fed trout streams. The limestone cliffs and unique towns throughout the Driftless remind me of the fly fishing along the East Coast. It’s technical and a ton of fun. 

Trout Species

In Wisconsin, you’ll find brook, rainbow, lake, and brown trout. Most streams, lakes, and rivers have populations of at least two of the three. The Driftless Region browns are beautiful and healthy. Depending on where you’re fishing, they can grow over 20-25 inches. 


The Kinnickinnic, Kickapoo, Namekagon, Bois Brule, Pike, Wolf, Rush, and several other rivers hold nice trout populations. Wisconsin has over 13,000 miles of trout streams, with over 5,000 of those miles classified as high-quality class I streams. 

Cities to Make Home Base

River Falls, Milwaukee, and Gleason are my favorite towns to go trout fishing within. They’re easy to access and provide all the necessary amenities you would want. 


Alaska river.
Fly Fishing Alaska

Any trout angler would be remiss not to visit Alaska in their lifetime. There are more miles of rivers and streams than you could fish in multiple lifetimes. Combine these with all of Alaska’s amazing trout fishing lakes, and you’re in trout fishing paradise. My one trip to Alaska will always be the best trout fishing I’ve ever experienced. 

Trout Species

Rainbow, lake, dolly varden, and cutthroat are Alaska’s most popular trout species. They have extremely healthy populations and many receptive trout, so anglers can land as many as they want. 


Rivers like the Kenai, Naknek, Copper, Togiak, Kvichak, and Chena are some of your best options for trout fishing in Alaska. You could fish dozens of others and find some of the best trout fishing of your life. 

Cities to Make Home Base

Kenai, Anchorage, Baranof Island, and many other towns work well for home bases when fishing in Alaska. Since it’s such a large state with countless fishing opportunities, take extra time to do your research and determine the best places to fish. 


The United States has phenomenal trout fishing. Wherever you are in the country, you shouldn’t struggle to find access to trout fishing. You can catch trout if the water you’re fishing has temperatures below 65 degrees and healthy insect life. Pay attention to your state’s game and fish department website to get the best idea of where to catch trout. 

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