There is nothing better than fishing public waters, and the United States has a vast amount of public land and water. The federal government owns 640 million acres of land which is about 28 percent of the United States. Those acres make up some of the most beloved fishing spots in the world! Read below to learn more about the top six states for public land fishing access.
It is no surprise that the last frontier has the most public land in the United States. Alaska is comprised of 223,803,098 acres of federally owned land. That is more acres than the entire state of Texas! A fun fact about Alaska is that all of the water, yes all, is public. There is no doubt that Alaska is the largest fishable state in the USA. Head up north for humongous rainbow trout, giant king salmon, and the biggest brown bears you’ll ever see!
Nevada is the winner for the highest percentage of federally owned lands, coming in at a whopping 84.9%. Pyramid Lake is located in Nevada, and it is a world-class fishery that attracts thousands of anglers every year. Although Pyramid Lake is home to some gigantic Lahontan Cutthroat trout, there are also other great fisheries in Nevada. These rivers, lakes, and creeks are filled with all of the trout required for a Trout Royal Slam (Rainbow, Brown, Bull, Golden, Brook, Lahontan Cutthroat, and Mackinaw).
Almost half of California is federally owned, that is 45,864,800 acres. California is full of nature and there are nine national parks. Golden, rainbow, brown, and bull trout reside in many of California’s lakes and streams. The Smith River, Sacramento River, Hot Creek, and Mccloud River offer some of the best fly fishing. Winter Spey fishing on the Klamath and Smith for Steelhead is also an exhilarating way to use the public lands of California.
Utah has the second-highest percentage of federally owned lands, with 64.9% of the state under federal ownership. These lands are comprised of high alpine lakes, mountain streams, and roadside fishing spots. Utah offers a unique array of fishing locations for cutthroat trout, brown trout, muskie, kokanee salmon, and largemouth bass.
The Gem State has 32,621,631 acres of federal land. Idaho is well known for its spectacular cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing. Rivers such as the South Fork Boise River, Henry’s Fork, and Snake River are amongst the best fishing rivers. Idaho is renowned for dry fly fishing, large trout commonly devour salmon flies and hoppers.
The northwest state of Oregon is comprised of 52.9% federally owned land. This land is a place of love for Steelheaders. Fishing for steelhead in Oregon is no easy task, but those who layout a line can be rewarded with some beautiful fish. The public lands of Oregon offer more than just steelhead, there is also a healthy population of wild rainbows and bull trout.
The United States is comprised of millions of acres of federal land, and there is a multitude of public fisheries. Even if you don’t have a chance to fish in one of the top public-land access states, you should take advantage of the public lands in your own state. We encourage anglers to get out and support local public waters.