An integral part of the fun of kayak fishing is getting into the great outdoors and enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer.
But landing an impressive catch certainly doesn’t hurt, either!
So, come with us on a journey through just some of the best kayak fishing locations in the US – as there really is far too many to cover them all.
From coast to coast, sea to shining sea, we’ve tried to include an eclectic selection of winding rivers, lazy lakes, inlets, coves, and more – in no particular order.
Without further ado, let’s set off – and if your favorite isn’t here, you can take it up with our lawyers let us know in the comments section!
Table of Contents
- Best Kayak Fishing Locations in the US for 2023
- Shelter Cove – California
- Lake Estes – Colorado
- Pompano Beach – Florida
- Devil’s River – Texas
- Lake Erie
- Susquehanna River – Pennsylvania
- Potomac River – Maryland
- Clearwater River – Montana
- Chattooga River – North Carolina
- Lake Guntersville – Alabama
- Caney Fork River – Tennessee
- Kona Coast – Hawaii
- Boundary Waters Wilderness Area – Minnesota
- Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River – Missouri
- Prince William Sound – Alaska
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Best Kayak Fishing Locations in the US for 2023
Shelter Cove – California
Every May, this residential-resort community in Humboldt County becomes a kayak fishing regatta, with the annual “Gimmie Shelter” derby.
Organized by kayak anglers for kayak anglers, it attracts over 200 participants to an otherwise off-the-beaten-track fishing spot, all keen to try their hand at landing saltwater species like salmon, halibut, and rock cod.
It’s still a great location to go kayak-fishing throughout the rest of the year, especially if you want to avoid the “crowds,” and it’s a blissfully underrated spot in general. Just make sure you’re well-prepared, though, with a good-quality ocean fishing kayak and the skills to use it.
This is still the mighty Pacific after all – and in spite of the cove’s name – you will still need all your acumen when you’re out there.
Lake Estes – Colorado
You would expect one of the USA’s outdoor capitals to have an abundance of awesome kayak fishing locations, and you’d be correct. We’ve gone for Lake Estes in Colorado, located just over 60 miles from Denver and situated in the stunning Rocky Mountain’s National Park.
If you’re a brown or rainbow trout enthusiast, then this one is for you.
The town itself is beautiful and accommodating, and a popular spot for anglers of all types and skill levels – so long as you have the relevant license.
If you don’t happen to have a kayak yourself, there are plenty of renting opportunities – but you can always try one of these budget-friendly fishing kayaks, so you never have to hire again.
Pompano Beach – Florida
An excellent year-round kayak fishing location, the famous Pompano Beach in Florida has an abundance of other attractions, including dive wrecks, coral reefs, and marinas. It’s also home to the Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament, an offshore fishing competition that takes place every summer, which attracts anglers from far and wide aiming to make a name for themselves.
If you don’t fancy tangling with the world’s best kayak fishers, then you can visit at any time for easy access from the beach, and without the competition, you’ll probably have a better chance of hooking an absolute monster as a result.
Black fish tuna, king fish, mahi-mahi, and wahoo are all sought after in these parts, but do yourself a favor and use a kayak trolling motor if you want to stand the best chance of success.
Devil’s River – Texas
Located in the southwest of the Lone Star State, the Devil’s River is aptly named. Not for the faint of heart and recommended only for experienced kayak anglers, it’s as beautiful as it is challenging, known for crystal-clear waters, and peppy sections. But it can yield a seriously impressive catch for anyone with the confidence and skill to try – just make sure you’re wearing an accredited fishing PFD at all times!
While the upper portion isn’t suitable for recreational boating, the best part for fishing is still some 40 miles long from Baker’s Crossing to Lake Amistad. One of the most unspoiled regions in the whole country, its remote location is attractive to anyone who wants to get away from it all. You’re on your own out here – and you should plan accordingly in advance.
A vast expanse of freshwater, Lake Erie might seem daunting at first, especially when you see it for the first time.
The fourth largest of the great lakes in North America happens to be the one with the most fish, and there’s a wide variety on offer here to keep all anglers happy, including small and bigmouth bass, king salmon, perch, lake trout, and walleye.
Boat launches are plentiful, and you might want to try one of these solid pedal fishing kayaks for some extra help getting around such a vast body of water.
Species are well established, although sturgeon is regarded as an endangered fish and needs to be avoided or caught and released. Be advised that the weather can change in a heartbeat here, and both you and your fishing kayak should be highly visible to other water users. Again, kayaks with pedals or trolling motors are highly recommended for both safety and efficiency.
Susquehanna River – Pennsylvania
Waterways that are better suited to smaller craft will always attract kayak anglers, and the stunning Susquehanna river is one such place. The majority of it meanders through Pennsylvania, and it’s immensely popular for anyone who likes to hunt smallmouth bass, although several other attractive species are in plentiful supply, with the west branch a good option for trout.
While not the largest fish ever caught, smallmouth are known for their aggressive fight, and you’ll do well to land one when they’re up for it in these waters. But if you’re looking for more sizable trophy fish, check out our interactive maps and find the state fishing records for your neck of the woods.
Potomac River – Maryland
One of the best kayak fishing destinations in the US, the Potomac River in Maryland is home to an abundance of wildlife and makes for a memorable getaway for exploring the great outdoors. Smallmouth bass is the fish of choice in these waters, but you’ll also find largemouth, catfish, walleye, and carp – among many others. Check out these awesome bite alarms for when you’re hunting catfish and carp.
For recreational kayaking, the Potomac is hard to beat, with 405 miles to explore, all leading down to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia – which is a good kayak fishing spot in its own right. Take a tent and check out the iconic Paw Paw bends section – named after the pawpaw trees that are found in the area – for a memorable kayak-camp-fishing experience.
Clearwater River – Montana
Anyone who has ever been to Montana will know that it has so many incredible fishing spots it could cover this entire article. The “Big Sky Country” offers some truly outstanding angling locations set in pristine countryside, and it was hard to choose a favorite. But after the first snow melt in the spring, the Clearwater River is well named, and it makes for a perfect fishing adventure.
Take a loved one in a tandem fishing kayak, and hunt brown trout, large and smallmouth bass, as well as northern pike, and yellow perch. There are over two dozen lakes in the valley, with plenty of meandering routes you can explore and fish until your heart’s content.
Seeley Lake also comes highly recommended for kayak anglers, and is a gateway to the Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. You might not need to go anywhere else.
Chattooga River – North Carolina
Beginning in Jackson County, North Carolina, the Chattooga is known for its peppy rivers and untamed stretches, ideal for beginner whitewater kayakers or those seeking something a little more adventurous.
But that’s certainly not to say it offers some excellent kayak fishing as well, with trout being the catch of the day.
Be aware of the “wild and scenic” section, however, as there are class IV rapids that should only be attempted by experienced kayakers. Still, this is the perfect spot if you’re one of those kayak anglers that likes to add a bit more adrenaline to the proceedings.
Check out this article on the best sit-in kayaks for fishing – which are more suitable on rivers with a bit of chop.
Lake Guntersville – Alabama
Created by the Guntersville Dam on the Tennessee River, Alabama’s largest lake is a kayaking and boating dream. With free boat ramps around the whole lake, you can be sure to find the best put-in spot for your day on the water, and 75 miles of lake to fish and several tournaments on offer throughout the year.
Topwater baits will see largemouth bass regularly caught, but there are plenty of other species on offer, including bream, bluegill, and catfish. Regularly voted a top kayak fishing spot, Lake Guntersville is the ideal angling holiday. And if you are going on a fishing vacation, try one of these travel fishing rods to help save on packing space, or a good telescopic version can help when it comes to those last-minute angling getaways.
Caney Fork River – Tennessee
Flowing through Tennessee, the Caney Fork River offers miles of meandering waterways that are ripe for brown and rainbow trout fishing, while its creeks are packed with the likes of muskie, blue gills, and bass.
Further upstream, the Cumberland River was the location for catching the state record blue catfish, weighing a whopping 112 lbs. One of the best kayak fishing brands in the world – Jackson Kayak – hails from Tennessee, so you’ll be in good company when kayaking in these waters.
A popular spot for kayaks and canoes, the 28-mile run from Carthage to the Center Hill Lake dam is a delight for anglers and recreational water users and is an easy run for all skill levels and abilities.
The downside of that is that it’s extremely popular, and you should arrive early – especially at the weekend – if you want to make sure of a good space for your vehicle and gear.
Kona Coast – Hawaii
There are multiple reasons to visit the Hawaiian islands, with some of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes on earth, golden sands, and exciting activities. That, and the fact that it’s a top fishing destination that attracts the very best anglers across the globe to try and score some serious trophy catches – with monster tuna and billfish being the species of choice.
It’s along the Kona Coast where you’ll find the best action, located off the big island, noted for steep drop-offs that can have you in very deep water within striking distance of the shore, while the sea is a special kind of blue you won’t find anywhere else. Just make sure you’ve got a good kayak tackle box to keep all the gear you’re going to need when you’re out there.
Boundary Waters Wilderness Area – Minnesota
A must for kayak and canoe enthusiasts, you just need to take a look at one aerial shot of this region to understand why. With more than 1,200 dedicated routes set in the Superior National Forest, it’s a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts and anglers alike.
Only a few lakes and rivers allow motorized craft, and with calm waters perfect for beginners, it makes a great place to try out some of the best stand-up fishing kayaks on the market – just to find your sea legs.
Permits are available for year-round fishing, and lake trout, northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, black crappie and smallmouth bass are all up for grabs.
Take a look at this Boundary Waters FAQ from Bending Branches – the Midwest (and world’s) premier kayak and canoe paddle manufacturer. They make some of the finest paddles for kayak fishing in the business.
Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River – Missouri
Offering 44 miles of unspoiled natural beauty, this popular recreational boating spot in Missouri is not to be missed for keen kayak anglers. Pan fishing is king here, in calm waterways that are ideal for beginners to both kayaking and fishing alike, with trout to be found at the confluence of the Greer Spring branch.
The Eleven Point River itself is actually 138 miles long, but this section has been left to return to nature, found between Thomasville and highway bridge 142.
Bear in mind that a lot of the land along the banks is private property, so make sure you’re asking permission or finding a suitable spot before putting in. And don’t forget a good kayak fishing net to help you land a nice rock bass.
Prince William Sound – Alaska
With tens of thousands of protected waterways and glaciers, leaving out an Alaskan entry would be a crime. Located on the south coast of the state, the Prince William Sound is a Mecca for sea fishing enthusiasts, in a remote wilderness that will give you an unforgettable kayaking adventure.
There are a number of local companies that do guided kayak fishing tours, but so long as you’re competent in your craft, and you have some coastal kayaking experience you can be free to explore this stunning seascape yourself.
And what will you be hunting in these icy-cold depths? Salmon – the king of fish – obviously.
The US is home to some of the best kayak fishing locations in the world, and if you’re lucky enough to live there, you have an abundance of choices on your doorstep.
Of course, it’s impossible to list them all, so feel free to let us know about your favorite spot for kayak fishing in the comments below – especially if nobody else knows about it!
Stay safe out there – and happy kayak fishing!