Are you tired of fishing in the same spots in your area? Do you find yourself asking “where are the good fishing spots near me?”
In this article, I’m going to give you 9 unique ways to find unpressured & hidden fishing spots in your area.
These are the exact methods I use, and they really do work!
How To Find Fishing Spots
There are numerous ways to find fishing spots in your area…it just takes a little creativity and research.
I will say, however, that none of these tools should take the place of actual testing and groundwork!
Consider keeping a telescopic rod in your vehicle, so that the next time you see a lake, pond, or river you can pull over and give it a try!
Some of my most productive and best fishing spots have come from areas I thought “there’s no fish in that pond“…but after I make a few casts I am pleasantly surprised…you never know unless you try!
Online Map Tools
First on the list is the interactive map by takemefishing.org.
Simply type in your zip code or explore the map to see what kind of fishing spots are in your area.
This Map has many features, including:
- Users can search the area and filter for certain species of fish to see what fellow anglers are catching in real-time.
- The new Map showcases recent catches, and fish species, as well as unprecedented intelligence sourced from experts and fellow anglers.
- Fishing forecasts now show users information on the exact best time to target a fish species.
- Anglers will be able to see exactly what species are being caught in a particular body of water and find out what methods other anglers are using to catch fish.
- In addition to the variety of points of interest available like boat ramps, and license vendors, the map includes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuges and Fish Hatcheries to broaden fishing opportunities for anglers.
*Managed bodies of water are those that have professional oversight. They may be stocked, have fish attractors, and facilities nearby to support anglers.
NOTE: This tool shows bodies of water that are managed by state and/or federal agencies. Managed bodies of water are monitored to maintain healthy fish populations and habitats, along with safe and accessible boat ramps.
Okay next on my list is using Google Earth to find fishing spots. Do not underestimate this free tool!
Here is the method I use:
- Open up Google Earth and type in your zip code or city. Get familiar with your area by zooming in and out (try and find where you live).
- Next, start to familiarize yourself with scaling. By this I mean, get an idea of the size and scope of certain bodies of water.
- Zoom in on a lake you are familiar with, a creek, or the local football field. The point here is to get an idea of the size so you can identify small, hard-to-reach, and hidden areas.
- Now start searching and scanning around for small ponds, lakes, rivers, or coastal areas in your area. If you see one you like, add a ‘pin’ to make the location and save it to your favorites.
- After you have a list of 5-10 favorites in your area, check for access. You want to look for roads, highways, bridges, parks, or even hiking trails that are nearby. These are usually publicly accessible which means you have a better chance of accessing the area.
- Narrow down your list to your top 3-5 locations and go for a drive! Yep, grab your fishing gear and hit the road to ‘scout’ these areas. Some you may find are not accessible, others may be dried up or posted private property….but you may get lucky and find a GEM!
I’ve lived in the same town my entire life, and I still use this method to find small hidden ponds and lakes in my area. When I say small, I mean less than an acre! (besides those are the ones that hold big fish).
Here is what I really like to look at when searching for fishing spots on Google Earth:
- Areas that are surrounded by vegetation or woods; The harder to reach the better!
- Areas with creeks, ditches, or canals that drain in or out. Any kind of water movement is a good sign.
- Visible structure in the water; by this, I mean things like fallen trees, logs, stumps, bluffs, rocks, etc.
- Boats! Yes, sometimes you can actually see boats on lakes on google earth. If there is a boater, chances are there is some decent fishing.
- Hiking trails or parking areas. These are good signs that public access is permitted in the area which makes fishing much easier.
State Fisheries & DNR Websites
Every state in the US, and almost every province or country in the world has some type of wildlife and fish managing authority.
This is usually a Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Wildlife, etc. They are a valuable source of information!
You can find a list of all governing wildlife agencies HERE.
Visit their website, and find the department or branch that manages fisheries in your area. In most cases, they have a ton of resources to encourage and help anglers.
You can usually find interactive maps, rules, regulations, fishing spots, fishing reports, etc.
You can even send an email to fisheries biologists who can answer your questions and provide very helpful ecological information.
Below is a sample email you can send to your local fisheries agency to get started:
Hello, my name is <insert name> and I am an angler in this area seeking more information. I am really interested in <type of fishing> and would love to catch a <insert type of fish>. I have tried fishing <insert lake/area> but haven’t had much luck so I am seeking help.
Can you tell me which local waterways in my area have the best habitat to catch <insert fish>, and what you would recommend for bait/lures? Any tips, helpful information, or resources you can pass along is much appreciated.
Thank you for your time,
Sincerely, <insert name>
Online Fishing Forums
There are a ton of online fishing forums, filled with members just like you. People who love to fish, and want to share pics, and information and network with fellow anglers.
Simply go to google and do a search for “Fishing (your area or state) + Forum)“. Chances are there is a fishing forum you can join.
Now, a word of advice: Don’t just join a forum and ask everyone for their favorite fishing spot. You will be met with snarky remarks or crickets.
Instead, introduce yourself. Contribute to the forum. Often times these members are filled with folks who’ve been participating for years.
Be kind, exchange information, post some pics and engage with other users. I’ve done this numerous times and made friends, fishing buddies, and even participated in events.
Check for a ‘fishing report‘ section where members post their recent catches. Here you can glean valuable information on what is biting, where, tides, temperature, baits, etc.
Social Media (#hashtags)
Ok, this one is probably the newest method I use to find fishing spots near me. If you are familiar with most social media platforms, they use the ‘hashtag’ or ‘#‘ symbol to designate a tag about a particular topic.
For example, on my Instagram page, I use the hashtag #Bassfishing if I post a picture of a bass.
Well, did you know you can search for hashtags other people post? Open Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and go to the search bar.
Type in a hashtag about a location or fish you are interested in.
If I wanted to see what was biting on Lake Okeechobee, I would search ‘#LakeOkeechobee‘. If I wanted to see salmon fishing content in Alaska, I would search for ‘#AlaskaSalmon“.
Scroll through the posts, sort by ‘newest’ or ‘most recent,’ and see what people are posting. Send them a friend request, leave a comment, give them a like, etc.
Use this to your advantage…many of these platforms have robust searching and filtering capabilities. The goal is to find other anglers in your area to see what they are catching, saying, reporting, etc.
Local Fishing Clubs
Long before social media, people actually got together to hang out and share pictures and stories, ha!
I’m talking about local fishing clubs. Believe it or not, they do still exist and they are an excellent way to meet other anglers in your area.
Contact your local Chamber of Commerce, or Community Center, or check the local paper, Craigslist, and even Facebook. These clubs usually are formed to share a common interest (fishing) and participate in the community.
Fishing Clubs may host local fishing tournaments, fundraisers, clean-ups, and other contests. If you live in an area where bass fishing is popular, I bet there is a club you can join.
Other club types include fly fishing clubs, fly-tying clubs, tournament clubs, hunting & fishing associations, etc.
Just do a little research and see what’s in your area and make some friends!
Bait & Tackle Shops In Your Area
This is probably my favorite way to find new fishing spots, and probably the most overlooked method.
Bait and Tackle shops are almost always locally owned, and the employees are usually anglers or have a history of fishing in their family/business.
I always try and support the local bait and tackle shops in my area, and you should too. But consider this: the main customers of a bait and tackle shop are anglers! People just like you and me who love to fish.
So those bait and tackle operators talk to fishermen ALL day. Their walls are often lined with photos and they hear about everything: what’s biting, the weather, best baits, trophy catches, etc.
If you show these businesses support, I find they will often support you back. Tell them you are new to fishing and looking for a new area to try. Ask them for a point in the right direction, or where you can catch yellow perch, pike, or monster shellcracker.
Give them a call on the phone, and ask them what bait they have in stock and what the local report is. These folks are always kind and generous, and willing to help a fellow angler.
The more you support them, the more likely you are to get support (and tips) in return.
In today’s digital age, it should be no surprise there are a number of fishing apps available to anglers.
These apps are available on smartphones and typically allow you to sign up create a profile and network with other anglers in the digital world.
Some of the most popular fishing apps today are:
I haven’t signed up for any of these Apps myself just yet, but I am thinking about giving Fishbrain a try as it seems to be pretty popular.
Networking With Anglers
Okay, last but not least is the good old-fashioned way to find fishing spots, and that is networking.
Yep- talking to people! Start with your co-workers, close friends, and neighbors. Maybe one of them has a boat in the driveway? Ask them about it.
Or next time you are at the grocery store, and you see someone wearing a fishing shirt, say hello and ask them if they like to fish.
In my experience, fishermen usually love to talk about fishing. It doesn’t take long and we’re breaking out our phones to show pictures of recent catches.
Now, don’t go and expect to get secret spots from strangers…the point is to be yourself and build rapport. Network, talk to folks, and be polite, interested, and engaging.
You never know, that person may live on a private lake or is looking for a fishing buddy for the next tournament. They may be selling a boat or looking for advice too.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you spot a fishing hole?
When looking for spots to fish, ask yourself: Is this the correct habitat for the species of fish I am targeting? Is there bait and forage nearby? Is it accessible?
If the answer is yes to the above questions… then the only way to know for sure is to give it a try! Oftentimes, finding good fishing spots is about eliminating or ruling out the bad spots first.
Is there an app to mark fishing spots?
There are lots of apps to mark fishing spots and record your fishing data. Fishbrain, FishIdy, and OnX are all very popular.
As anglers, we are always looking for that ‘secret spot‘ or that ‘best lure‘ to catch the next big fish. I get it, and I know what it’s like to fish in the same spots over and over.
Put your thinking cap on, and use some of the methods in this article to really analyze your area. I guarantee there are fishing spots you have overlooked.
I enjoy researching and exploring new areas. Are some of them a bust? Sure. But that’s part of the process.
Keep an open mind, engage, network, and use the technology available today and there is no reason you can’t find some great fishing spots in your area.
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