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The Lure of Fishing in National Parks

by Hollis Hughes
Three people sit on a riverbank and fish
iStock / monkeybusinessimages

Each October, we celebrate the passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which preserves America’s free-flowing rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The National Park Service helps manage many of these protected rivers, and what better way to get lured into a national park than fishing?

Fishing is a celebrated American pastime and beloved national park tradition. Parks offer all kinds of angling opportunities, from fly fishing to spin casting to trolling. With so many options, we’ve teamed up with our partner and fishing expert L.L.Bean to help you get started.

Get Schooled in Fishing

Fishing is a great family activity: it teaches conservation and patience, encourages getting outdoors in nature, and—most importantly—brings you together for quality time. Introducing kids to a new sport can be tough. Luckily, NPS created the Junior Angler Let’s Go Fishing booklet with them in mind. It’s a free downloadable workbook with fun tips and lessons to inspire the next generation of anglers. The best part? Every kid who completes the booklet earns their own Junior Ranger Angler badge!

Fishing in Parks

With so many national parks offering fishing, how can you decide where to begin? It might be easier to think about what type of fishing you’d like to try. We’ve shared some of our favorite places below to cast a line based on your preferred angling method. Looking for more? Check out this handy interactive NPS map of parks with fishing opportunities.

Spin Fishing

A visitor fishes at Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River (NPS Photo)

Perhaps the most iconic form of fishing, spin fishing can be done just about anywhere and by just about everyone. Most people get started fishing with a spin rod, not just because it’s the simplest way to fish, but because it’s also one of the most versatile and exciting. Does this mean it’s the most perfect form of fishing around? You’ll have to be the one to decide! Interested in spin fishing? Try visiting Blue Stone National Scenic River or Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River.

Fly Fishing

An angler at Shenandoah National Park (NPS Photo)

When you go fly fishing, be prepared to do more than just fish—it can also involve walking or hiking to your fishing spot, which can sometimes be deep into the backcountry. The good news is that it can be done almost anywhere from the seashore to streams and everywhere in between. However, fly fishing requires specific equipment—a long, thin, flexible rod, a fly reel, fly fishing line, a leader, and handmade artificial flies—which means it takes more practice, patience, and time to master. Interested in fly fishing? Try visiting Ozark National Scenic Riverways or Canaveral National Seashore.


iStock (gradyreese)

This is an easy, fun, and popular type of fishing that derives its name from some of the equipment used—a weighted fishhook, or jig, often tipped with an artificial bait. Jigging is fun and accessible for all ages and skill levels. It can even be used for all types of fish from salmon to carp! Jigging is most easily done from docks, piers, and boats. Interested in jigging? Try visiting Isle Royale National Park or Voyageurs National Park.


Boats in a reservoir at Curecanti National Recreation Area (NPS Photo / Victoria Stauffenberg)

Done from a boat, canoe, or other type of watercraft, trolling involves towing a lure or artificial fly through the water behind you. The depth and speed at which you drag the lure depends on the type of fish you’re after. Since a watercraft is required, always make sure to check park boating regulations before heading out and obey laws regarding usage of personal flotation devices. Interested in trolling? Try visiting Curecanti National Recreation Area or Everglades National Park.

Fishing in national parks is for everyone, and it’s so much more than just throwing a line! Check out our interview with Sue Daignault, a fly fishing instructor with the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Program, to learn more about how fishing is a practice in mindfulness, which has benefits for all of us.

Ready to get hooked on fishing? A great place to start is a visit to your local L.L.Bean store to get outfitted for all your fishing needs. Tell us all about your favorite place to fish, the biggest fish you’ve ever caught, and your favorite fishing tips in the comments. Make sure to share your pictures with us using the hashtags #FindYourPark and #EncuentraTuParque on social media.