Fishing Across America: Revisited

By Andrew A. Cox

I recently made my annual trip to the western United States, fishing for trout. This time around, I went to a new locale, a fishing lodge on the North Platte River in Wyoming. Rather than taking air transportation with its hassle of airports and crowded flights, I like to drive via automobile. Traveling through seventeen states in making the round trip from Georgia to Wyoming requires several days driving time. In my travels, I have always been one to look over highway bridges that cross over on-route waterways. On this particular trip, I crossed over many waters within the continental United States.

The United States is a vast country with varied landscapes, terrain, and climate. Varied waters are found to include brooks, springs, streams, farm ponds, rivers and both natural and man-made lakes of multiple sizes. My thoughts are that it would be nice to sample these various waters and the fish species inhabiting them. Some of these waters have fish species not found in our local Southeastern waterways.

My son, his spouse, grandson, and a friend accompanied me on this trip and shared in the driving duties. To pass time in the automobile, as we traveled through a state or observed a particular body of water, I would look up fishing opportunities and descriptions for the state’s waterways. The internet still amazes me with the wealth of information available through this technological medium. There is much information describing fish species to target, fishing techniques, water access, and optimum time of the year for fishing bodies of water within each state.

Over the course of my travel to Wyoming, I was particularly impressed with Lake Barkley, Kentucky Lake, and the Land between the Lakes region of Tennessee and Kentucky. These are large lakes with good fishing for a variety of warm water species as well as other water and land based recreational opportunities. On several occasions, I crossed over the Missouri River as we traveled through Missouri and Nebraska. This waterway ranges from a large river surrounded by high limestone bluffs to a flat urban waterway. In Nebraska and Wyoming, we viewed various portions of the Platte River. This river has fish species ranging from high caliber trout fishing in Wyoming to warm water fishing throughout Nebraska. I was also intrigued with South Dakota’s fishing opportunities.

As I spent several days in Wyoming fishing, I was able to sample a variety of waters within this state. Wyoming with its varied terrain and climate has diverse waterways ranging from muddy to clear streams and rivers as well as lakes suitable for angling and other water sports. It is interesting to see small to large streams and rivers traversing through a desert landscape. Each state through which we traveled had multiple fishing opportunities. These included the rugged, flowing mountain streams, and alpine lakes of Wyoming’s Rocky Mountains, the large reservoirs of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and the lakes and rivers of Mississippi and Alabama. Even New Mexico has beautiful flowing streams with desert views interspersed among snowcapped mountains.

This trip through a large swath of south, middle, and western United States impressed me with the fact that fishing opportunities exist virtually everywhere in the United States. A review of maps and the Internet suggests that all states have reservoirs, streams, and rivers that are open and managed for angling. The angler has to decide the fish species and the type of water desired to wet a hook. There is obviously more water than one can visit and fish in a human lifetime within this great country. Though I like to sample new waters and catch fish species that I have never or rarely caught, this trip made me realize that I do not have enough years left to sample fishing opportunities available in even the seventeen states that I traveled. What about the fishing in all the other states? Good fishing and be safe.

Dr. Andrew Cox is a contributing writer to outdoor publications and newspapers. His writing interests specialize in angling and travel, human interest, and general fishing technique oriented topics. He is a member of the Georgia Outdoor Writer’s Association. He has been fishing the waters of Georgia, Alabama, and north Florida for over forty years. He has also fished the waters of most states within the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and several Caribbean islands. He enjoys fresh and saltwater fishing for bass, bream, crappie, trout, redfish, and speckled trout using fly, bait casting, and spinning equipment. Dr. Cox financially supports his fishing habits as Professor Emeritus at Troy University, Phenix City, Alabama. He may be contacted at