Ultimate Guide • Updated Mon, Jan 29, 2024
A peaceful day on the water enjoying the great outdoors – what could be better than seeing your loved ones hook their first big catch? Here, you’ll find a mix of world-class freshwater and saltwater fishing destinations that also offer great activities for non-anglers. These are ranked based on how family-friendly these destinations are, taking into effect world-class guided fishing experiences to enjoy as much fishing (or shoreside activities) as your family would like to enjoy.
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The Bighorn River in Montana is the perfect choice for a family-friendly fly fishing trip out West. Anglers of all ages can enjoy casting their lines and honing their fly fishing skills in this river’s pristine waters, surrounded by breathtaking mountain vistas.
The Bighorn is known to be one of the most productive trout fishing rivers in the U.S., holding thousands of fish per mile. Brown and rainbow trout are the main target species on this river, and offer great fishing opportunities from the shore and watercraft.
Aside from fishing, visiting families can explore nearby hiking trails, such as Hike Upper Layout Creek Trail, or camp on the Bighorn River at Grapevine Campground to enjoy the Montana landscape further. In Bighorn National Recreation Area, there is also a collection of preserved ranches that still exist in their original state that can be visited.
Traverse City, Michigan, is an ideal destination for a family-friendly freshwater fly fishing trip.
Traverse City sits on the shore of Lake Michigan, where the Great Lake offers excellent freshwater fishing opportunities. The lake is home to over 150 different species of fish — including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, king salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout. The coastal lake town with charming maritime vibes is also home to the Boardman River, a popular choice for local fly anglers of all skill levels. Here anglers can seasonally encounter large numbers of brown trout, brook trout, steelhead and salmon as they migrate up all the Great Lake tributary streams to spawn.
Apart from fishing, families can enjoy the lake beaches or travel west to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore or venture to one of the many inland lakes in the area that are perfect for water sports like kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and tubing.
For families seeking a fly fishing adventure, Charleston, South Carolina, is the ultimate destination, offering abundant fishing opportunities in freshwater and saltwater, ensuring a memorable experience for all.
Charleston boasts numerous excellent fishing opportunities, providing distinctive angling adventures in the scenic waterways of the Lowcountry. AnyCreek guides bring invaluable expertise, elevating the chances of success for both novice and seasoned anglers. Possessing a profound knowledge of local ecosystems, fishing methods, regulations, and licensing necessities, our guides play a crucial role in your excursion.
Charleston boasts a wealth of family-friendly activities against the backdrop of its charming historic charm. Families can stroll through the historic district, exploring cobblestone streets and iconic landmarks like Rainbow Row. Waterfront Park offers a picturesque setting for picnics and relaxation. Engage in wildlife watching at the South Carolina Aquarium or take a carriage tour to discover the city's rich history. Folly Beach provides a family-friendly coastal escape, and nearby plantations offer educational insights into the region's past. Enjoy boat tours, visit family-friendly museums, and savor the vibrant culinary scene. From the Battery to the historic market, Charleston provides a captivating blend of history, culture, and coastal allure for families to explore and enjoy.
The Kenai River in Alaska is a remote location for a fly fishing trip suitable for the whole family.
The pristine glacial waters make the Kenai River an excellent location for freshwater fly fishing and the chance to catch the iconic Alaskan salmon. The nearby Cook Inlet also provides an exciting saltwater fly fishing experience, where families can test their skills in a different environment targeting salmon, sea-run trout, and other nearshore species like cod and halibut.
Beyond fishing, the region surrounding the Kenai River offers other family activities, such as hiking in the majestic Chugach Mountains, guided rafting trips down the river, and wildlife viewing suitable for all ages.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spanning Tennessee and North Carolina, is an ideal family fishing spot. Known for misty mountains and clear streams, it offers diverse angling opportunities for all ages. With accessible locations and educational programs, it's family-friendly. No entrance fee, comfy lodgings, and a rich Appalachian heritage ensure a wholesome experience.
Numerous mountain-fed streams harbor sizable populations of brook, rainbow, and brown trout, along with smallmouth bass and rockbass. The Little Pigeon River, Abrams Creek, Oconaluftee River, and Deep Creek stand out as key fishing locales where enthusiasts can pursue these species using fly fishing gear or light tackle. Late summer through early fall offers optimal conditions, but anglers can enjoy moderate success throughout the year.
Explore scenic drives, hiking trails like Laurel Falls, and wildlife watching for black bears and bird species. Enroll kids in the Junior Ranger Program, enjoy picnics, and participate in ranger-led programs. Discover historical sites, engage in family-friendly fishing, biking, and stargazing. Visitor centers provide educational exhibits, while campfire programs and Appalachian cultural events add entertainment. Capture lasting memories through family photography in this cherished national treasure.
For families in search of an unforgettable saltwater fly fishing experience, Gulf Shores, Alabama is the perfect destination to consider. This splendid destination provides an ideal backdrop for a thrilling and enjoyable expedition.
Nestled in the Gulf of Mexico, the warm, clear blue waters present exciting opportunities for saltwater fly fishing. Anglers can cast their lines for various species, such as yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, and sailfish, redfish, and giant jack crevalle. Shore fishing can be great along any of the area’s beaches and jetties, especially during the early morning and late evening.
Families can also engage in other beach activities on the area’s beautiful sandy coastline. Alternatively, take a trip to The Wharf in Orange Beach, where your group can ride on the Ferris Wheel, play mini golf, and enjoy the SPECTRA Laser Light Show.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a perfect choice for a fly fishing adventure suitable for the whole family, providing one of the best opportunities for saltwater fishing.
On the Cape, those interested in light tackle fishing for striped bass, bluefish and false albacore can find great fishing from both shore and boats. Check out the Bass River, the Monomoy Flats, Cape Cod Canal, or jetties and breakwalls along the coast for consistent action throughout the season. These spots can be extremely productive and can offer non-stop excitement for the whole family.
Alternatively, tag along with one of the area’s top offshore captains for shots at tuna, mahi mahi, shark, and white marlin during summer months. These trips often provide great viewing opportunities of whales, seals, porpoises, and other marine wildlife.
Apart from fishing, Cape Cod offers charming seaside communities with charming downtowns, with boutique shopping and delicious dining options. Consider checking out Sandwich or Hyannis, or take the family to visit Heritage Museums & Gardens or the Woods Hole Climate Research Center.
Asheville, North Carolina, has fantastic opportunities for families of fly fishing enthusiasts. This unique spot lies nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and offers amazing angling opportunities along with a range of other activities for all ages.
The area has several great rivers and streams to fish, including the Davidson River and Wilson's Creek — designated as Wild Trout Waters. These rivers are very scenic and home to exquisitely colorful rainbow, brown, and brook trout. These are great trout fishing spots for all skill levels.
For a change of scenery, a day's drive to the Atlantic Ocean allows for an exciting angling adventure, offering a unique saltwater experience. On the Carolina coast, fly anglers can fish the tidal swings of the inshore marshes and oyster bars for tailing redfish, black drum, sheepshead, and other inshore species of gamefish. This area can offer amazing sight fishing opportunities that are exciting for novice and expert anglers alike. Here are some of the best fishing guides in North Carolina.
Beyond fishing, other activities in Asheville include exploring the vibrant downtown area, visiting the Biltmore Estate, and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A truly memorable option for a family-friendly fly fishing trip is at Yellowstone National Park. Located primarily in Wyoming, this picturesque land is protected and home to a flourishing local wildlife population. Not only does this region boast breathtaking landscapes and wildlife, but it also hosts a myriad of waterways that offer excellent fishing accessible by rafts, hiking, and even horseback.
One of the highlights of Yellowstone National Park is the Yellowstone River, where families can enjoy fishing for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Yellowstone Lake also provides an excellent opportunity to fish for lake trout on its vast expanse.
In addition to the fly fishing in the park, there are other opportunities to get outside with the whole family, such as scenic hikes like the Wraith Falls Trail, kayaking on Yellowstone Lake, and sightseeing at the park’s natural wonders.
The Florida Keys is the best choice for a family-friendly fishing trip. With amazing saltwater fishing opportunities, beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and a unique history, this region offers more for anglers than any listed above. This tropical archipelago off the southern tip of Florida is a destination for the whole family to enjoy.
The Keys and their surrounding flats yield great opportunities to target various inshore species — such as snook, redfish, tarpon, bonefish, permit, and snapper. A multitude of inshore habitats are in the Keys, providing a haven for these species to thrive.
There is also fantastic offshore fishing for tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi, grouper, sailfish, and a host of other amazing pelagic fish species — some of which are easily targeted on the fly. Billfish fishing is a true art form in the Florida Keys as well. Be sure to book with a guide for an experience your family will remember for years to come.
For freshwater fly fishing options, Everglades National Park is just a few hours north of The Keys on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The park is home to various freshwater sloughs and creeks, offering families the chance to target species like the endemic Florida largemouth bass, gar, bowfin, and a few non-native exotic species like cichlids and peacock bass. Here are some of the best guides in the Florida Keys.
Aside from fishing activities, consider visiting the Florida Keys’ picturesque, white sand beaches, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, and The Turtle Hospital. These are great attractions to visit as a family and have something to keep everyone entertained. Another great day trip option is to take the 2-hour ferry southwest to Dry Tortugas National Park.
Whether you prefer freshwater or saltwater fly fishing, there are plenty of family-friendly destinations in the U.S. that offer both options. These 10 destinations are just the tip of the iceberg, but they're a great place to start planning your next family fly fishing adventure. If you have any questions or need assistance finding a world-class guided experience, you can contact us HERE and one of our AnyCreek team members will be happy to help you find the perfect guide.
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