Spring is here and summer is right around the corner. Soon enough, people all over the country will be packing up their camping gear to join family and friends at their favorite outdoor destination.
There are countless wonderful ways to pass the time with people you care about while exploring different camping areas, but for some, no activity is better paired with camping than fishing. Simple, rewarding, and relatively affordable, fishing is the perfect way to make some memories while enjoying time on a spectacular lake or river.
There are so many beautiful waterways in North America that it doesn’t take much to choose a camping site with a stream, lake, or river included in its amenities. Once you find your campground, simply do a little research on the species of fish that can be found in the nearby waters, pack your fishing poles, purchase the requisite bait or flies and fishing license, and get ready to start making some lifelong memories with your friends and family.
Ready to get planning? Here are some of the best fishing campgrounds in the United States.
Magnolia Beach Camping, Texas
Located in Port Lavaca, Texas, Magnolia Beach is the perfect coastal camping location. While your van, tent, or RV sits comfortably on land, the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico lap at the shore just a stone’s throw away.
With ample camping spots available, you don’t have to worry about close and noisy neighbors. The amenities are basic—there are no sewer, water, or electric hookups—but the proximity to the ocean and its fishing opportunities is virtually unrivaled. Pack your fishing poles and see what you can pull out of the spectacular Matagorda Bay.
Tuttle Creek Campground, California
While the campsites at Tuttle Creek Campground are simple—again, no RV hookups—they provide anglers access to some of the most scenic river fishing in the Eastern Sierra Mountains of California. Nestled just outside the Sierra National Forest and spitting distance to Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park, the campground at Tuttle Creek boasts plentiful tent sites and spaces designated for campers and RVs.
When it comes to fishing, Tuttle Creek is home to some phenomenal trout fishing that your whole family can enjoy. This campground is on BLM land, and between the scenery, fishing, and hiking trails nearby there is plenty to rave about. This campground is truly a California gem.
Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico
The state of New Mexico isn’t particularly known for its world-class fishing, but Bottomless Lakes State Park provides anglers with a unique place to fish while staying at one of the park’s waterfront campsites (partial hookups available). The main attraction at Bottomless Lakes State Park is its sinkholes, which range from 17 to 90 feet deep and display an inspiring blueish-green color.
This park, located just southeast of Roswell, New Mexico, provides a little something for everyone with nonmotorized boating, SCUBA diving, swimming, and of course fishing for rainbow trout in Cottonwood or Devil’s Inkwell Lake.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Florida
Located in the heart of the Florida panhandle, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park offers comfortable camping in addition to a plethora of amenities and activities for the entire family. There is always an open picnic table to enjoy lunch, and the fifteen miles of hiking trails allow visitors to soak up this unique landscape and the wildlife that call it home.
From a fishing standpoint, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is hard to beat. The namesake sand dunes have created a coastal ecosystem dotted with freshwater lakes teeming with different species of fish. Walking distance from the lakes is the Gulf of Mexico. This means you can try your hand at both lake and ocean fishing while on vacation. Cast for largemouth bass, panfish, and catfish in the lakes or head to the ocean in search of redfish, mackerel, or whatever else happens to be cruising the shore!
Wahweap RV Park and Campground, Arizona
Wahweap RV Park and Campground is the ideal waterside getaway for those hoping to spend a considerable amount of time on the water. This comfortable campground with all the amenities—including wifi, fire rings, flush toilets, ADA accessibility, and plenty of campsites—also boasts arguably the best access to Lake Powell. You can easily rent a boat at the Wahweap Marina and spend a day, or many days, boating on this impressive reservoir.
If fishing is your ultimate objective, you’re in luck. Largemouth bass, striped bass, walleye, catfish, and panfish all call these waters home. Lake Powell straddles the Arizona-Utah border, so be sure to purchase a fishing license from both states to avoid getting in trouble with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
James Island County Park, South Carolina
If your summer vacation plans will take you on the Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia and North Carolina, consider pushing a bit further south to explore the beauty of South Carolina. Just outside of historic Charleston is James Island County Park, and the perfect place for campers of all levels to enjoy some rest and relaxation.
With both tent camping and RV camping options, all campers can enjoy a wide array of shared amenities. The seasonal waterpark and climbing wall are a hit with the kids, but the river fishing and lake access can’t be beaten. Anglers will enjoy casting a line in the small creek and the 16 acres of freshwater lakes within the park. Campers can also visit the nearby Stono River and the Atlantic Ocean for larger objectives. The world is your oyster at James Island County Park, and the fishing is what you make of it!
Camping is and always has been a favorite pastime, and now more than ever, it seems like visiting natural areas is critical to rejuvenate the soul. This summer, see if you can tie in the opportunity to fish while you camp. These two activities go together like peanut butter and jelly, and both will provide you and your family with the quietude, reflection, and quality time needed to fully escape the stress and pressure of everyday life.