If you’re a true trout nut, then you should pack your bags and visit—or even move to—one of these places. We chose these five locations for the quality of their local rivers, as well as your ability to access a variety of trout fishing without traveling far from a central location. In all of these places, you can fish for trout all year round and buy flies and lures at the many local fly shops in town. These are the main trout towns in America.
With the exception of the eastern plains, the entire state of Colorado is a trout angler’s dream. Even so, it’s hard to beat the Durango. Located in the southwestern part of the state, the small town is filled with primo fishing opportunities. The Animas River, which runs through the city, is a Gold Medal freestone river. Public access throughout the city is plentiful, and the river is home to big browns and rainbows. Durango is also within easy driving distance of one of the country’s best fisheries – the San Juan River, which is less than an hour from Durango. It used to be relatively untechnical to tailwater — after all, the San Juan worm got its name — but the fishing has gotten more technical in recent years (think: small flies). If that’s not your thing, you have hundreds of miles of alpine streams in the area where you can target rainbow trout and cutthroat trout that will shock you at how big they are despite the small water they inhabit.
Bozeman is one of America’s most popular fly fishing destinations for a reason. It is close to some of southern Montana’s most famous rivers and the Gallatin, the river featured in the A river runs through it, the edges of the city. Gallatin River trout are not known to be particularly large, but they are willing to take dry and stripers and put up a hard fight. In addition to the Gallatin, you have access to a number of good navigable and navigable rivers – the Yellowstone, Madison and Missouri, as well as several productive spring streams. And if you want to target Yellowstone cutthroat trout, the drive to the famous national park—and its countless fishing opportunities—is less than 3 hours from the city.
Redding is the only true trout town in the Golden State – and it’s a good one, located close to some high-quality fishing. The Lower Sacramento River runs through town, offering great rides year-round. The Pit River offers nymphs for big fish despite challenging jumping conditions. Hat Creek is a spring creek known for technical dry fly fishing. Then, to the north, you have the Fall River and the famous McCloud River, which has steep banks and plenty of brush to hang on to—and some of the best rainbow trout fishing in the Lower 48. That’s not to mention a few of high-quality area stillwater fishing or alpine streams and lakes in the Trinity Alps.
Roscoe, New York
Roscoe, New York, has more butterfly shops than bars. It’s a small town, but it’s the place to be if you want to regularly try your hand at the Catskill’s world-famous trout streams. The Beaverkill and Willowemoc both flow through town, and the East and West Branches of the Delaware River are just a drive away. Dry fly fishing in the area is extremely difficult – perfect presentations down and away are a must for fly anglers – but the fish are big and the hatches can be spectacular.
Read more: 9 ways to find unknown fishing spots
Grayling is a small trout town in Northern Michigan located on a prime stretch of the Au Sable River. That’s where Trout Unlimited was founded. Today, Au Sable offers anglers a chance to catch a big brown trout either by wading or fishing from boats or canoes. Its most famous key is Hexageny in late June, which can make for an incredible night fishing experience. If you tire of Au Sable, you can hit the nearby Manistee River, which has fishing opportunities for trout, steelhead and salmon. If you’re willing to drive a few hours, you can also visit the same rivers where Ernest Hemingway learned to fish in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – the Two-Hearted and Fox Rivers.