Finding local water to fish can be hard. If you’re like me, fishing takes you to your happy place. However, it’s not often that we can regularly dedicate a full day or multi-day chunk of time to an extended fishing adventure due to the busy nature of our lives. But that doesn’t mean fishing is out of reach for a short reprieve from our daily obligations! Local fishing opportunities are accessible, even near major urban areas.
So next time you are daydreaming about that epic fishing adventure, remember that you don’t have to travel very far to experience the peace of casting a line, even if we only have an hour after work or two hours to sneak out on a weekend morning.
Here are some tips for finding local waters to fish that are close to home and accessible for shorter adventures that will help to satisfy your craving.
Fisheries managed by state Game and Fish agencies:
Fisheries in public waters are managed by your state Game and Fish agency. These agencies have amazing print and online resources for identifying waters in your community. Most will include stocking reports, access maps, wade-fishing recommendations, and writeups by fisheries management biologists to steer you in the right direction. This will help you identify local public fishing opportunities.
Local sporting goods stores, fly shops, or bait-and-tackle shops:
Local sporting goods stores, fly shops, or bait-and-tackle shops will often publish fishing reports for local streams, rivers, and lakes complete with a list of recommended fly patterns or lure types. These local reports are great resources to steer you to waters that are easily accessible and with a likelihood of success.
Good old-fashioned maps like your state road atlas can help you track down public access points, public water, and likely access points like bridge-crossings to access water near you. Maps can also be great for identifying ways to reach headwater stream resources and trails to get there.
If you’re a DIY-er like me and have access to onX, this app will help you confirm that you are in fact on public land (not private). It can help identify public access points to streams and rivers.
Expand your target species:
Consider expanding your target species to engage in more fishing opportunities nearby. For example, if you love to flyfish for trout, but don’t live near the mountains or coldwater streams, give bass-fishing on the fly a try! Learning the habits and feeding patterns of a new fish species can be extremely rewarding, and expose you to a whole new type of fishing adventure.
As always, be sure to have the proper fishing license when you go and to know water access laws in your state. If you’re going alone, be sure that someone knows your plan. This way, you can communicate when you’re safely off the water.
If you’ve identified private water that looks fishy or you need to cross private property to reach a new spot, be sure to have the proper permissions from the landowner. Often, written permission is required.
Making time to fish, even for a short period, does take some effort. But, at the end of the day, it will bring you that peaceful fishy feeling and hold you over until your next opportunity for a more extended trip. Tight lines!
I hope these tips for finding local water to fish close to home help you keep your passion for fishing within reach.
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