Best Salmon Fishing in the U.S.

Fishing the fresh waters scattered across the United States for salmon is a favorite past-time for many. The relaxation the calming waters bring as you fully immerse yourself in nature is unmatched. 

Some of the best places to fish for salmon in the U.S. are found in the northern states such as Alaska, New York, and Washington. Maine and New Hampshire are also states known for the salmon that fill the surrounding rivers. 

Whether you enjoy salmon fishing for the adrenaline rush it brings or you can’t get enough of its delicious taste, some of the best salmon fishing spots may be closer than you think

Best Spots to Catch Salmon in the U.S.

Salmon fishing in the U.S. doesn’t have to mean long plane rides to Alaska. While Alaska salmon fishing does offer some of the most noted spots in the U.S., you can also find popular salmon fishing locations in states like Maine, New York, and even South Dakota.

Here is our list of the top 10 destinations for salmon fishing in the U.S.

best spots to fish for salmon

Lake Oahe, South Dakota

Whether you believe it or not, salmon can be caught in some midwestern states. Lake Oahe in South Dakota offers a pristine body of water where you can try your hand at reeling in some fresh salmon. 

While the salmon is not native to the lake, it still proves a delicious catch. Salmon was introduced to the lake waters by the local government as a means to give fishermen a greater game fish selection. 

Lake Oahe is stocked with chinook salmon with winter being the best time to cast your line, although you can still catch them during the summer months. 

West Branch Penobscot River, Maine

One of the more popular salmon fishing areas is the West Branch Penobscot River in Maine. This fishing spot is so popular that it books up two years in advance. If you’re looking to fish in the area, start making preparations now!

Atlantic salmon is what fishers will find in the Penobscot River. Salmon are not nearly as plentiful in the area as they once were, but they still keep people coming back to fish the waters year after year. Because the salmon are scarce in the area, fishermen are only allowed to bring home one salmon, the rest of your catch must be released back into the water. 

If you’re looking to fly fish the river, check out the Ripogenus Dam to Abol bridge area. The fishing season at West Branch Penobscot River in Maine runs from April to August. 

Bristol Bay, Alaska

Salmon fishing in Alaska is an unforgettable experience not many can undertake. The Bristol Bay area in Alaska is home to the largest run of sockeye salmon in the world. While it is not easily accessible, the reward is well worth the trouble.

Bristol Bay, Alaska, rewards visiting fishermen with the option to fish the Kvichak, Naknek, and Togiak rivers. The plethora of freshwater rivers that flow through this area makes it a prime spot to catch wild salmon.

The best time to fish in Bristol Bay is June through September as you won’t have to deal with frigid temperatures and the salmon remain active. 

Lake Ontario, New York

Chinook and coho salmon are plentiful in the waters of Lake Ontario making Lake Ontario, New York, another top destination for salmon fishing in the U.S. Because it serves as the main waterway for the great lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Ontario doubles as a breeding ground for salmon.

With the vast numbers of salmon in this body of water, salmon fishermen swarm the area for the opportunity to catch a large number on a single fishing trip. The best time to fish Lake Ontario for salmon in New York is May through October. 

Kenai River, Alaska

Kenai River in Alaska is one of the best places to fish for salmon in the U.S. due to the size of the popular fish. Because the salmon get so large in Kenai River, the local government has a separate scoring system for salmon caught here.

For instance, scoring for Alaskan salmon trophy certificates for large salmon is awarded to anglers who catch a fish weighing at least 50 pounds. However, salmon caught in the Kenai River is so much larger that the minimum weight increases to 75 lbs. 

If you’re planning a salmon fishing trip to the Kenai River in Alaska, plan on going between May and August for prime fishing. There is also a Salmon Festival in Kodiak, Alaska every year in mid-July

Rapid River, Maine

Although the river is small, Rapid River in Maine is considered one of the best spots for salmon in northern New England. Restrictions for fishing the river consist of fly-fishing only with a limit of one salmon per day. 

The best time to fish Rapid River is from May through the end of summer, although the river stays high enough to fish throughout the year as it is fed by Umbagog Lake. 

Merrymeeting River, New Hampshire

Another salmon fishing destination that limits fishers to fly-fishing only is the Merrymeeting River in New Hampshire. This river runs slower than most salmon streams making it slightly tougher to find a consistent salmon fishing hole. 

Ensure you practice your catch and release skills before fishing the Merrymeeting River as the daily bag limit is two salmon. May is the best time to fish for large salmon on this New Hampshire river. 

Salmon River, New York

Known as offering some of the best sportfishing in the country, Salmon River in New York provides fishers with twelve miles of public fishing along its shoreline. You’re bound to catch King Salmon in the Salmon River as the fisheries provide plentiful fishing opportunities.

Both fly-fishing and conventional fishing are allowed on Salmon River, and the best time to fish this river is October through March through.

Wind River, Washington

The small fishing window for salmon on the Wind River rewards fishermen with abundant opportunities to catch salmon. The Wind River is just 30 miles long but is full of Chinook and steelhead salmon during the summer months.

Wind River is in Skamania County, Washington, and proves to be a popular salmon fishing destination. 

San Francisco Bay, California

You don’t have to travel as far north as New York or Washington to try your hand at salmon fishing in the U.S. The San Francisco Bay in California has proven to be one of the best places to fish for salmon.

Whether you fish for salmon on the San Francisco Bay via charter or along the shoreline, your fishing trip is bound to be successful as some state the area is comparable to Alaska’s Salmon fishery opportunities.

In summary, the top 10 destinations for salmon fishing in the U.S. are scattered all over the country, so you’re sure to find a great spot near you! And if you’re adventurous and like to travel, you can also find some amazing salmon fishing in Canada, and Europe, too!

4 thoughts on “Best Salmon Fishing in the U.S.”

  1. I lived in New York State and fished the Salmon River for 10 years before I stopped going there in the mid 1980’s.
    It became a cesspool with fish snagging, Russian criminals from NYC snagging fish to strip them of eggs in order to sell the eggs as caviar in Brighton Beach and people throwing trash everywhere. It was a pigsty! The last two years I fished there, I carried a handgun for protection because people became very hostile.
    There are many other tributaries on Lake Ontario that are less crowded.


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