There are 29.2 million registered anglers in the United States, with more than 52 million anglers of all ages taking to water bodies around the country in 2021, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2022 Special Report on Fishing.

In an effort to learn more about one of Americans’ favorite pastimes, Stacker compiled a list of the states with the most registered anglers using data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. States are ranked by per capita fishing license holders based on 2021 data and 2021 American Community Survey population estimates, with fishing licenses, tags, permits, and stamps per capita serving as a tiebreaker.

As schedules have become more crowded, Americans have increasingly sought out the quiet, slow activity of fishing. The sport has also proven to be a popular summer activity amid a new era of social distancing, allowing people to keep their space while enjoying the outdoors.

Nearly 13 million kids under 17 took to the line and sinker in 2021—14% more than did in 2019 pre-pandemic. Kids are not required to register as fishermen except in states requiring junior licenses. While fishing has traditionally been considered a male-centric activity, that assumption has proved to be an illusion—nearly 20 million women hit the water in 2021, and over 1.6 million of them did so for the first time, proving that the sport and leisure of fishing are “catching on” throughout American life.

Freshwater fishing has almost twice as many participants as saltwater and fly fishing combined, making freshwater the clear favorite of American fishing styles.

Read on to find out how your state stacks up and for more information about the best fishing holes and species in each state.

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#50. Hawaii

– Paid fishing license holders: 0.3 for every 100 people (4,437 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 0.3 for every 100 people (4,700 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $25,043

More than just an outdoorsman’s hobby, fishing is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. There are a variety of options for fishermen in the state: deep sea fishing, spearfishing, and flats fishing for more than 550 native species, as well as freshwater fishing for a half-dozen species introduced to the islands. Hawaii is the only ocean-bordering state that doesn’t require a marine license to cast a line—although there is a licensing requirement for freshwater fishing.

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#49. New Jersey

– Paid fishing license holders: 1.7 for every 100 people (158,834 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 2.8 for every 100 people (260,638 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $4,868,014

Fishing in New Jersey is a very seasonal affair. In the winter, anglers flock to Assunpink Lake and Hopatcong State Park for a little ice fishing, reeling in chain pickerel and yellow perch. In the summer, deep-sea charters for pollack and blackfish are popular—as are the 400-plus lakes, ponds, and reservoirs filled with trout.

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#48. Massachusetts

– Paid fishing license holders: 2.4 for every 100 people (169,435 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 5.4 for every 100 people (378,815 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $4,839,792

Massachusetts is known for its premier saltwater fishing. From April to November, striped bass, bluefin and yellowfin tuna, fluke, black sea bass, cod, and other varieties of fish are plentiful in the open ocean and can be caught & kept with proper licensure. Freshwater fishing is also a popular year-round activity in places like the Connecticut River, the Deerhead River, and the Wachusett and Quabbin Reservoirs.

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#47. Connecticut

– Paid fishing license holders: 4.0 for every 100 people (144,910 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 8.2 for every 100 people (296,062 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $4,555,083

Long Island Sound is an estuary, where saltwater and freshwater meet, making it an essential ecosystem for more than 1,200 species of invertebrates, 170 different kinds of fish, and dozens of migratory bird species. There are more than 100 kinds of fish inhabiting Long Island Sound, which makes for prime fishing all along the 332 miles of Connecticut coastline bordering the estuary. For inland fishing, check out the Farmington and Housatonic Rivers, or one of the 11 bodies of water that the state regularly stocks with trout from local hatcheries.

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#46. California

– Paid fishing license holders: 4.1 for every 100 people (1,610,505 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 6.3 for every 100 people (2,486,928 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $67,899,636

Fishing in California is as varied as the state is long. There’s plenty of opportunity for open ocean fishing, as well as fishing in inland lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Some of the most popular spots to cast a line are the San Francisco Bay area, Lake Tahoe, Lake Shasta, and, for families with young kids or true beginners, Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego County, which gets stocked regularly.

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#45. Maryland

– Paid fishing license holders: 4.3 for every 100 people (264,757 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 6.5 for every 100 people (401,738 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $8,452,234

Maryland’s lakes, reservoirs, and rivers are popular fishing spots for shad, bass, catfish, and perch, among many others. While many states have free fishing days where one can fish without a license, Maryland also has free fishing areas in tidal portions of the Chesapeake Bay, where licenses are never required.

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#44. New York

– Paid fishing license holders: 4.4 for every 100 people (882,451 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 6.1 for every 100 people (1,209,421 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $21,819,309

New York is home to more than 165 species of fish swimming through the state’s 7,500 lakes and 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. Whether fly fishing in the Catskill and Adirondack state parks, ice fishing in the Thousand Islands, or deep sea fishing off the coast, New York is a veritable angler’s paradise.

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#43. Nevada

– Paid fishing license holders: 4.5 for every 100 people (140,338 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 4.8 for every 100 people (149,835 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $4,770,945

Nevada boasts nearly 400,000 acres of fishable lakes, rivers, streams, and reservoirs for sportsmen. The state’s ecological diversity means some bodies of water are high up in the mountains, while others are low in the desert, with the majority of fishable water comprised of man-made reservoirs. Each year, the state hosts a Free Fishing Day on the second Saturday in June, when fishermen cast lines without a license in pursuit of bluegill, kokanee, green sunfish, and a variety of trout.

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#42. Illinois

– Paid fishing license holders: 4.8 for every 100 people (601,949 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 5.6 for every 100 people (704,278 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $8,547,659

Those looking to land a sizable catfish in Illinois would be best served by casting a line in the portion of the Mississippi River that flows through the state. This section of the river is second only to Louisiana when it comes to jumbo trophy catches. Lake Michigan is a popular option for those seeking a wider variety of species; it holds the most diverse fish population out of any Illinois lake.

A red and white lighthouse on a small rocky island.
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#41. Rhode Island

– Paid fishing license holders: 5.1 for every 100 people (56,053 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 7.5 for every 100 people (81,816 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $962,291

While everyone is required to obtain a license for freshwater and saltwater fishing in Rhode Island, the state has different rules when it comes to shellfish, lobster, and crabs. No license is required for shellfish, but Rhode Island residents only are able to obtain licenses for harvesting lobster, blue crabs, and horseshoe crabs. Narragansett Bay, Block Island Sound, and Rhode Island Sound are the most popular spots for fishermen of all types to set up.

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A person casting a fishing line into water with mountains in the background.
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#40. Arizona

– Paid fishing license holders: 5.8 for every 100 people (418,579 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 5.9 for every 100 people (428,371 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $13,531,797

Arizona’s fish populations have dwindled due to invasive fish species and habitat destruction. One species of fish in the state has already gone extinct, leaving Arizona with 35 native species. Of those, 20 are listed as endangered or threatened, while 34 are marked as species of Greatest Conservation Need. Throughout the state, government agencies including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, volunteers, and various conservation and outdoor organizations have worked to bring those numbers back up through a variety of restoration projects. Those efforts are paying off: There are plenty of great spots to cast a line in the landlocked state, including the Colorado River (Lee’s Ferry at Glen Canyon is the most easily-accessible portion of the river) and Alamo Lake in Wenden.

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#39. Texas

– Paid fishing license holders: 6.2 for every 100 people (1,837,344 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 7.7 for every 100 people (2,287,436 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $63,717,480

Anglers can fish without a license in any of Texas’ 70-plus state parks. To encourage local communities to take advantage of this program, the state also often offers free learn-to-fish events. Profits from all fishing licenses in Texas go directly into conservation efforts, which include protecting the three dozen fish species classified as threatened or endangered.

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#38. Virginia

– Paid fishing license holders: 6.3 for every 100 people (540,554 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 10.1 for every 100 people (870,090 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $14,856,936

Virginia has more than 2,800 miles of trout streams, several of which are stocked annually by the state. Blue catfish, striped bass, flounder, and cobia are other popular types of fish that can be found in the state’s extensive tidal waters and in the Chesapeake Bay.

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#37. Ohio

– Paid fishing license holders: 6.8 for every 100 people (804,777 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 7.1 for every 100 people (834,985 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $16,144,366

Ohio is home to more than 124,000 acres of inland water offering great year-round fishing opportunities throughout the state. Lake Erie, the Ohio River, Piedmont Lake (where a number of trophy-sized fish are caught each year), and the quieter Alum Creek are all popular spots for fishermen angling after everything from walleye and perch to northern pike and catfish.

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#36. Indiana

– Paid fishing license holders: 7.1 for every 100 people (486,240 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 6.3 for every 100 people (429,592 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $7,467,027

While not generally viewed as one of the best states for fishing, Indiana does boast a handful of hidden gems for fishing. Monroe, Patoka, and Worster Lakes are all popular spots, as is the Geist Reservoir. Throughout the state, bass and crappie are far and away the most popular fish for anglers.

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Several pelicans on a wooden dock with bright blue waters and small yachts in the background.
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#35. Florida

– Paid fishing license holders: 7.2 for every 100 people (1,566,816 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 10.1 for every 100 people (2,198,044 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $42,056,024

With over 1,300 miles of coastline (second only to Alaska), Florida provides the ultimate saltwater fishing experience in a warmer climate. In the Gulf Stream, you can find awesome sportfishing opportunities including battles with blue marlin, sailfish, swordfish, and even sharks. While this kind of fishing obviously requires access to a boat, those who prefer to stay on land can still cast from a pier or along the beach and reel in a variety of gamefish like snook and redfish.

The hand of an angler holding a small fish with the water in the background.
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#34. Pennsylvania

– Paid fishing license holders: 7.7 for every 100 people (995,241 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 10.5 for every 100 people (1,360,002 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $25,213,204

Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle Bay, the oldest harbor on the Great Lakes, provides a very family-friendly experience, with access to nearly a dozen varieties of fish. For more experienced fishermen, Slippery Rock Creek—while not easy to access—is a favorite for fly fishing.

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#33. Delaware

– Paid fishing license holders: 8.2 for every 100 people (81,796 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 9.8 for every 100 people (98,211 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $1,434,058

In this tiny state, saltwater fishing along the state’s 28 miles of coastline tends to be a more popular pastime than freshwater fishing. Along Delaware Bay, for example, you can catch a variety of fish, including trout, spot, kings, and croaker. If crabbing and clamming are more your speed, check out Holts Landing State Park, which has the only pier in the state built specifically for these purposes.

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#32. Washington

– Paid fishing license holders: 9.1 for every 100 people (705,809 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 21.3 for every 100 people (1,645,505 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $36,699,820

Washington state offers amazing fly fishing opportunities in the Cascade Mountains, crabbing in Puget Sound, and salmon fishing along the open coastline. Abundant salmon and steelhead populations in the state are co-managed by local and tribal governments; the two groups are working together to maintain population levels and restore natural habitats in an effort to combat overfishing.

Two people row in a red canoe on a calm river surrounded by forest and mountains.
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#31. Kansas

– Paid fishing license holders: 9.2 for every 100 people (268,599 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 8.5 for every 100 people (250,539 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $6,423,457

Despite the fact that it has only several hundred acres of fishable waters (many of which are on private land), Kansas still has more than 260,000 licensed anglers. The 84-acre Cowley State Fishing Lake is one of the most popular spots available to the public. Kansas also has the Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats (F.I.S.H.) program, which offers compensation to landowners who allow people to fish on their land. By 2019, that effort has made more than 1,900 acres of ponds and 70 miles of streams available to the public.

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#30. Georgia

– Paid fishing license holders: 10.3 for every 100 people (1,116,830 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 13.4 for every 100 people (1,444,041 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $13,907,379

Georgia is widely considered the “bass capital of the world.” Lake Walter F. George is the most popular spot to catch these fish, but several other state parks also offer solid opportunities for netting bass, crappie, and catfish. Lake Allatoona, Lake Lanier, and Lake Seminole are just a few of the other spots worth checking out next time you want to while away an afternoon in the Peach State.

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#29. Mississippi

– Paid fishing license holders: 10.5 for every 100 people (308,438 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 12.6 for every 100 people (370,925 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $5,869,882

The eponymous Mississippi River is one of the most popular places to fish in this southern state. Hundreds of species call this river home, but at the bottom of the river catfish are the most common. At Tunica Lake, anglers can reel in more catfish and crappie than they could ever dream of eating.

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#28. Iowa

– Paid fishing license holders: 10.5 for every 100 people (336,333 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 11.5 for every 100 people (368,258 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $8,085,609

Much of the fishing in Iowa—to the tune of more than 1.6 million trips—is done in small, often privately owned ponds that have higher-than-average fish populations compared to ponds throughout the rest of the U.S. Crayfish, bluegills, and bass are the most commonly caught fish in the state.

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#27. New Mexico

– Paid fishing license holders: 10.7 for every 100 people (225,766 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 31.0 for every 100 people (655,002 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $6,831,962

The state of New Mexico raises and stocks more than 2 million fish each year in an effort to increase opportunities for recreational fishing. These efforts have been especially impactful for Rio Grande cutthroats, Gila trout, Kokanee salmon, and tiger muskie, all native species that have seen an increase in numbers over recent years thanks to these conservation efforts. Popular spots for catching these species, as well as several others, include the upper Rio Grande, San Juan, and Pecos Rivers.

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#26. South Carolina

– Paid fishing license holders: 10.8 for every 100 people (558,374 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 13.3 for every 100 people (691,181 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $6,847,617

South Carolina offers the same varieties of river, lake, and open ocean fishing as many other coastal states, but it’s the unique fly fishing experience provided by the salt flats in the Lowcountry that draws many experienced anglers. The tidal currents in these salt flats increase the challenge of getting a bite from a redfish, sea trout, or Spanish mackerel. Additionally, another popular attraction for anglers takes place in April, May, and June, when cobia fish swim into the Broad River to spawn—one of only two places on the East Coast they do this.

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#25. Michigan

– Paid fishing license holders: 10.8 for every 100 people (1,083,093 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 11.3 for every 100 people (1,134,994 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $29,691,685

While states like Kansas offer relatively little in the way of fishing spots, states like Michigan—with more than 11,000 inland lakes and 3,000 rivers—offer plenty of variety. Try Saginaw Bay, one of the biggest lakes in the United States; Union Lake, which is best known for its walleye fishing; or Lake St. Clair, which offers plenty of charters and fishing guides for deep-water fishing.

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#24. New Hampshire

– Paid fishing license holders: 11.3 for every 100 people (156,481 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 12.9 for every 100 people (178,738 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $6,531,320

In New Hampshire, ice fishing is just as popular as fresh and saltwater fishing. Ice fishing season typically runs from December to April, although it can vary depending on temperature and ice safety. The most commonly caught species are perch, pickerel, black crappie, and bass. Salmon is not allowed to be pulled through the ice.

Aerial view of a small river winding through plains on one side and grass and trees on the other.,
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#23. Nebraska

– Paid fishing license holders: 11.4 for every 100 people (223,481 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 19.4 for every 100 people (380,889 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $7,591,684

Although it is now more easily identifiable as a Great Plains state, Nebraska was once loaded with streams and rivers. That water has largely been dammed into lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, creating a suitable environment for 78 breeds of native fish. Seven of these species—pallid sturgeon, lake sturgeon, sturgeon chub, northern redbelly dace, finescale dace, blacknose shiner, and Topeka shiner—are now at high risk for extinction, as their native habitats have been all but decimated.

A red kayak with a fishing pole makes its way down a calm river lined with trees.
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#22. Kentucky

– Paid fishing license holders: 11.4 for every 100 people (513,227 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 12.2 for every 100 people (549,144 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $10,488,236

Kentucky is home to some incredible fishing opportunities. From Cave Run Lake (the “Muskie Capital of the South”) to Dale Hollow Lake (home of the world-record smallmouth bass catch), there are plenty of trip-worthy fishing destinations. Overall, the state boasts more than 62,000 miles of fishable streams and 40 lakes 100 acres or bigger in size.

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#21. Alabama

– Paid fishing license holders: 11.7 for every 100 people (591,057 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 14.9 for every 100 people (752,923 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $15,305,732

Another state known for its bass fishing, Alabama is home to the Bass Trail Tournament Series, a fishing competition with a $50,000 grand prize. Eleven of the state’s lakes are included in the tournament (though 13 are part of the trail itself): Lake Guntersville, Wheeler Lake, Pickwick Lake, Lewis Smith Lake, Neely Henry Lake, Logan Martin Lake, Lay Lake, Lake Jordan, Alabama River, Lake Eufaula, and the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. Whether you’re enrolled in the competition or prefer a more laid-back fishing experience, these bodies of water provide excellent opportunities.

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#20. Missouri

– Paid fishing license holders: 11.9 for every 100 people (734,204 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 20.2 for every 100 people (1,245,327 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $13,088,312

Anglers in Missouri never have to worry about getting a bite, as the streams in Bennett Spring, Montauk, and Roaring River state parks are freshly stocked with trout each night. For those who prefer other types of fishing, Lake Wappapello State Park provides an excellent chance to catch largemouth bass, and Pomme de Terre State Park offers the only muskellunge fishing opportunity in the state.

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#19. Tennessee

– Paid fishing license holders: 12.5 for every 100 people (869,238 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 12.9 for every 100 people (902,441 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $18,162,840

As in many other southern states, bass fishing in Tennessee is a favorite pastime. The state shares Dale Hollow Lake, a bass hotspot, with Kentucky, and also boasts the Chickamauga Reservoir, which is known for its record-setting bass fish. Another popular fishing hole in Tennessee is Pickwick Lake, three lakes in one, which offers bass fishing year-round.

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#18. North Carolina

– Paid fishing license holders: 13.1 for every 100 people (1,384,372 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 8.7 for every 100 people (918,461 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $23,405,315

North Carolina is home to some of the best saltwater fishing in the world. From May to August, anglers can catch speckled trout on Bald Head Island, flounder on Wrightsville Beach, and Spanish mackerel from any of the state’s abundant piers. The most-patient fishermen can also try their luck at catching tarpon just off the shore.

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#17. West Virginia

– Paid fishing license holders: 13.7 for every 100 people (244,350 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 35.8 for every 100 people (638,046 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $5,683,139

The southern end of the Potomac River in West Virginia is legendary for the quality of fly fishing it provides. If you prefer fishing from a boat, Jennings Randolph Lake and Cheat Lake are known for their walleye and bass fishing, respectively. If you enjoy night fishing, North Bend Lake is filled with a variety of native fish and is one of the only lakes in the state to allow after-dark angling.

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#16. Colorado

– Paid fishing license holders: 14.4 for every 100 people (838,966 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 22.3 for every 100 people (1,297,070 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $20,554,317

Whether you’re a fly fisher, an ice fisher, or a classic rod-and-reel type of angler, Colorado is certain to have something for you. The state is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the premier fishing destinations in the world. Cast for trout in the Fryingpan River or Rocky Mountain National Park, or drop a line for a little bit of everything in the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area or Lake Meredith. There are 14 species of fish native to the Colorado River System; four of them—the humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow, and razorback sucker—are endangered and may not be caught by sportsmen.

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A man in waders fishes in a shallow body of water surrounded by mountains.
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#15. Oregon

– Paid fishing license holders: 14.8 for every 100 people (627,029 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 20.4 for every 100 people (865,874 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $28,014,348

Steelhead, salmon, and halibut are abundant in Oregon and provide year-round fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels and abilities. While open ocean fishing for salmon (particularly Oregon’s native chinook breed) is popular in the summer months, there are also frequent closures during the season in an effort to keep the population up. Inland, the McKenzie River, Klamath Falls, the Deschutes River, and lakes in Mount Hood National Forest offer unique and varied experiences for all types of fish.

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#14. Utah

– Paid fishing license holders: 14.9 for every 100 people (497,019 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 15.7 for every 100 people (525,191 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $15,314,202

Throughout Utah, fishing in almost all lakes and rivers is open year-round. Trout are abundant in the mountainous regions of the state, with trophy fish weighing in at more than 40 pounds. Ferocious tiger muskie, crappie, walleye, and channel catfish are also plentiful, and the various types of bass are so common that all limits have been removed for the species.

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#13. Louisiana

– Paid fishing license holders: 16.3 for every 100 people (753,954 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 21.1 for every 100 people (977,431 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $12,052,240

As is now true of many states, pollution in Louisiana has made it so that some native species of fish are inedible and can only be caught in select areas. Those looking for a little catch-and-release action, on the other hand, have far more places to cast a line for freshwater and saltwater fish. From large yellowfin and blackfin tuna early in the year, to cobia and red snapper during the hottest months of summer, to the smaller marsh species during the coldest months, there’s something to be caught there year-round.

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#12. Arkansas

– Paid fishing license holders: 17.3 for every 100 people (523,324 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 20.8 for every 100 people (628,133 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $12,868,092

Yet another ideal destination for bass fishermen, Arkansas is home to 10 different bass species. Some of the best spots in the state to snag a record-breaking fish include the Arkansas River, which stretches over 300 miles; Lake Ouachita, a 40,100-square-acre man-made lake; and Greers Ferry Lake, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundment.

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#11. Vermont

– Paid fishing license holders: 17.6 for every 100 people (113,881 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 18.3 for every 100 people (118,291 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $3,684,778

Bordered by Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River, Vermont has some world-class fishing opportunities for more than 90 species of fish. From the warm water panfish and chain pickerel to the cold water rainbow trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon, there’s something to be caught year-round. If you can stand the freezing temperatures, ice fishing in Vermont is among the best in the country, especially on Lake Champlain.

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Distant view of fisherman in waders in the water while a dog swims nearby.
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#10. Oklahoma

– Paid fishing license holders: 17.8 for every 100 people (709,093 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 15.4 for every 100 people (613,647 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $9,761,057

Paddlefish is a prehistoric fish species that can live up to 50 years. Native to Oklahoma, these fish had begun to disappear by the early ’90s; extensive conservation efforts were put in place to ensure they don’t become entirely extinct. Today, anglers in Oklahoma can obtain a free permit to catch the unique breed, but strict reporting measures remain in place to ensure that this incomparable experience can be enjoyed by generations to come.

A small blue tent on a frozen lake.
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#9. Wisconsin

– Paid fishing license holders: 22.0 for every 100 people (1,299,834 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 28.0 for every 100 people (1,648,830 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $35,396,466

In April 2020, a host of new fishing regulations were enacted in Wisconsin, affecting the way anglers interact with all 160 of the state’s breeds. Important changes include a decrease in the number of walleye fishers can keep each day (down to three from five), an extension of muskie fishing season, and a year-round approval of catch-and-release fishing for large and smallmouth bass. Moreover, in 2022, many county and lake-specific regs went into effect. Even if you’ve fished in the Badger State before, you’d do well to brush up on the new laws in order to ensure you’re following them correctly.

Lobsters being moved from crates to a steel tank.
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#8. Maine

– Paid fishing license holders: 24.5 for every 100 people (335,955 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 19.6 for every 100 people (268,464 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $8,630,255

Maine is home to a host of “gold medal” fish or rare breeds that are highly sought after by sportsmen around the country. The state’s purebred native brook trout are among the most prized fish in the U.S., and Maine contains 97% of the breed’s natural habitats on the East Coast. Other prize species include brown trout, arctic char, and landlocked salmon.

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#7. South Dakota

– Paid fishing license holders: 24.8 for every 100 people (221,699 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 25.2 for every 100 people (225,792 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $7,285,064

Nearly 98% of the bodies of water in South Dakota are open to the public and available for fishing. In the summer and fall, fly fishing in the streams of the Black Hills is popular with residents and tourists alike. During the long, cold winter months, the glacier lakes freeze over, turning into perfect playgrounds for ice fishermen.

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#6. Minnesota

– Paid fishing license holders: 24.8 for every 100 people (1,417,788 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 27.7 for every 100 people (1,578,806 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $38,493,070

This northern state contains 11,842 different lakes that provide homes for dozens of different species of fish. The most popular species are walleye and bass, which can be caught in legendary destinations like Lake Minnetonka, Mille Lacs Lake, and Leech Lake. Whether you want to employ the services of one of Minnesota’s 155 fishing guides and charters or strike out on your own, you’re sure to bring in at least one fish on the hottest days of summer or the coldest winter nights.

You may also like: Can you answer these real ‘Jeopardy!’ clues about your state?

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#5. North Dakota

– Paid fishing license holders: 26.8 for every 100 people (207,806 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 27.6 for every 100 people (213,568 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $4,245,682

Anglers come to North Dakota for one reason: walleye. For the past several seasons, there has been an unprecedented number of the species in the state’s lakes and streams, meaning that there aren’t restrictions on the number or size of the fish you can catch. Lake Sakakawea, in the northwestern part of the state, is one of the most popular destinations for walleye fishermen.

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#4. Idaho

– Paid fishing license holders: 26.9 for every 100 people (510,593 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 78.0 for every 100 people (1,483,472 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $15,390,763

Idaho has 3,100 miles of rivers, more than any other state in the country, all of which provide unique fishing opportunities. From the hallowed fly fishing grounds of eastern Idaho to the wild fishing in the middle fork of the Snake River (which rests in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48), you can catch species like sockeye and Chinook salmon, rainbow and cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish. Ernest Hemingway waxed poetic about the fishing in Silver Creek in several of his published works.

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#3. Montana

– Paid fishing license holders: 37.9 for every 100 people (418,642 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 118.2 for every 100 people (1,304,698 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $21,875,592

Fishing in Big Sky Country is unlike fishing anywhere else on the continent. One of the most unique experiences an angler can have in the state is fly fishing in Yellowstone National Park. While there are strict limits on what types and how many fish each person can catch, fishing is an important part of the conservation efforts in the park, as it helps to eliminate numbers of non-native fish that threaten the existence of native species, like the cutthroat trout.

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#2. Wyoming

– Paid fishing license holders: 42.0 for every 100 people (243,367 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 56.3 for every 100 people (325,746 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $7,785,250

Neighboring Montana, Wyoming is also known for its fly fishing opportunities. Anglers can cast for 22 native species of fish in the Snake River, North Platte River, and Green River, as well as in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Those who catch a native cutthroat trout, as well as all four native subspecies (brook, brown, lake, and rainbow trout) in a single season, earn a Cutt-Slam certificate from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

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#1. Alaska

– Paid fishing license holders: 59.1 for every 100 people (432,758 total)
– Fishing license, tags, permits & stamps: 85.8 for every 100 people (628,739 total)
– Cost of fishing licenses, tags, permits & stamps: $25,118,704

Alaska is widely viewed by anglers as offering one of the best fishing experiences in the United States. The mostly wild state boasts 3 million lakes, 12,000 rivers, and thousands of streams that are home to more than 627 separate species of fish. From fly fishing to open ocean fishing to ice fishing, a journey to the 48th state often results in individuals catching their fill of salmon, trout, halibut, arctic char, pike, grayling, and Dolly Varden.

You may also like: Most and least educated states in America

This story was written by Stacker and has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

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Stacker

This story was written by Stacker and has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License. Founded in 2017, Stacker combines data analysis with rich editorial context, drawing on authoritative...