Fly fishing gear

Top 7 Fish to Catch in the United States

Due to its diverse geography, the United States is rich in hundreds of game fish species related to both types of fish, from freshwater crappie and panfish to marine speedsters like wahoo and tuna. In this article, we will tell you about the seven most popular fish in the United States. Since fish vary in size, feeding behavior and habitats, we also discuss the fishing gear and capture methods needed for each species.

Black bass

When anglers say freshwater fishing in the United States, they mean bass. Bass is the most sought after sport fish in North America for several reasons. Most importantly, you don’t need specialized bass fishing gear or an immense amount of skill, making them one of the most beginner-friendly species of freshwater fish. But while bass fishing is easy to get started, landing this aggressive predatory fish is quite a challenge.

The United States is home to several species of bass that fall into one of two categories: black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted) and temperate bass (striped, white, yellow).

Largemouth bass probably get the most attention from anglers – just look at how many bass fishing tournaments are held each year. This species inhabits lakes, streams, rivers, and vegetated ponds across the contiguous United States, except for the central region.

Although the bigmouth is considered a warm water species, it can tolerate a wide range of temperatures quite well – temperatures between 50 and 85ºF do not affect its behavior. In most cases, large mouths stay shallow and go no deeper than 12 to 15 feet. However, depth adjustments should always be made taking into account the season, the purity of the water and the depth of the body of water. Experts recommend adding several feet of depth when fishing in the winter or on a clear lake in warm weather.

The average weight of largemouth bass is between 1 and 5 pounds, but the world record bass was caught at 22 pounds.

To catch the best freshwater fish, you generally need a 6-7 foot long, fast action, medium spin or baitcasting rod.



Catfish are valued for their wide distribution, excellent fighting abilities, and relative simplicity to catch, and they are considered one of the best freshwater fish to eat. Like black bass, catfish are a great beginner fish, but you still need to know how and where to fish them.

In the United States, there are three main species of this whiskered predator – the blue, flathead, and catfish. All three are bottom dwellers, found in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, and can tolerate murky water due to their developed senses of smell and taste.

Weighing over 150 pounds, blue catfish present the greatest combat challenge and the greatest potential for a trophy catch. Most of the “blues” are found in the eastern, southeast, and south-central regions – key locations are the Mississippi River, the Red River in Minnesota, and the Rio Grande Basin. Generally, it likes deep water and flowing currents.

The best time to catch the “blues” is late March through early May or February through March in Texas, but anglers see its action year-round.

Flatheads weighing up to 100 pounds and river cats, the most numerous catfish in North America, are also popular with anglers.



Trout fishing holds great appeal for North American spin casters and fly anglers. It’s a small wonder because these magnificent fish are incredibly fun to catch and taste great.

The United States is home to a dozen species of trout, including native, invasive, and introduced. Rainbow trout are the most sought after trout in North America, in part because of their remarkable appearance. Fun fact: once rainbow trout leave freshwater streams after spawning and enter the ocean, they lose the light pink stripe on the side and become rainbow trout.

Although native to the northern Pacific coast and preferring cooler waters, rainbow trout have been introduced beyond this range and are stocked annually in the United States. Look for it in fast-flowing rivers and gear up with a 7-foot-long fast-acting ultralight rod, as most individuals weigh up to 8 pounds.

Other popular trout species include cutthroat trout found in abundance in the western half of the United States, lake trout residing in deep northern waters, and brook trout native to the northeastern region. is.



Salmon, a cousin of trout, is a family of game fish popular with fly anglers, but you can also use a spinning rod and reel.

All North American salmon species belong to two groups. Pacific salmon includes chinook, sockeye, coho, pink and chum salmon, while the Atlantic coast has only one species – Atlantic salmon. All salmon are anadromous. They live in the ocean until they are ready to spawn, then migrate to rivers and streams.

Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, are the largest species of the six, reaching 20 to 25 pounds on average. Although native to the deep waters of the Pacific, showing up from northern Alaska to southern California, it can also be found in the Great Lakes, where it was introduced.

red drum

red drum

Red drum, also known as rockfish, is one of the best saltwater fish known for its super flavorful meat and beautiful bronze-red skin. Found along the Gulf Coast from Massachusetts to Florida to Texas, it thrives in shallow water (1 to 4 feet deep) with all types of bottoms, preferring bays with submerged vegetation or soft mud and oyster reefs. Sometimes they navigate in water so shallow that their backs are exposed, and the so-called rockfish tail occurs while they are feeding. Yet you can also catch rockfish in deeper inshore waters (down to 130 feet).

Redfish grow rapidly, typically reaching 6 to 8 pounds by the age of three. The record red drum weighed 94 pounds.

Although a 6-7 foot medium action spinning rod is a common tool, red drum fly fishing is becoming increasingly popular. The species is also particular for its willingness to take artificial and natural baits.



Crappie is another fish suitable for beginners. It’s easy to snag and small, but don’t expect it to give up easily – whatever its size, bluegill have a reputation for fighting hard. It is also one of the tastiest freshwater fish.

There are two types of sunfish: black and white. Both are found in warm, still freshwater lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and streams with abundant aquatic vegetation for shoals and sandy or muddy bottoms. In winter, crappie are very active and prefer to congregate around deep woods, and as spring increases they move to shallow cover. The best time to catch these fish is early in the morning, when they start feeding, or in the evening. The native range extends from Virginia to Florida to Texas.

Crappie anglers typically use ultralight spinning rods, but the fly fishing technique is also popular.

Striped Bass

Striped Bass

Unlike the mentioned black bass, striped bass are generally a saltwater species found in coastal and estuarine areas along the eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico. However, being anadromous, like salmon and trout, it breeds in fresh water, in bodies of water like Lake Texoma, Colorado River, Lake Powell, Arkansas River, and others. In general, they prefer pools with rocky bottoms that are clear, warm (around 70°F/21°C) and deep.

Stripers live in small groups until their third year. When they become larger and more mature, they swim alone or with a partner and form schools only during migration.

Nighttime is considered the best time to catch striped bass, especially in the estuarine zone, when the sea worms come out. During the day, stripers spend time at the bottom, avoiding the strong rays of the sun.

Since this fish can get big and heavy, you need a rod for trolling, surf casting, or baitcasting, depending on your method of fishing.