Go Fish! ... at a National Wildlife Refuge

Home / Articles / Go Fish! ... at a National Wildlife Refuge

Fishing is a favorite outdoor pastime for many people and a great way to support conservation. Start by learning more about fishing at a National Wildlife Refuge to inspire your next outdoor adventure story on public lands and waters. With more than 300 national wildlife refuges, 30 national fish hatcheries, and many other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters, virtually every type of sport fishing is represented, from remote fly fishing in Alaska, to saltwater fishing along the coasts, to largemouth bass fishing at more than 65 national wildlife refuges from Arkansas to the Carolinas to Florida.

Scenic views and spectacular fishing await on your National Wildlife Refuges

With careful planning and a bit of gear, getting hooked on fishing is easy! Before you go, take time to research your destination and learn about the area’s fishing regulations. Some locations may offer special events like a fishing derby to get you started; these events are a fun way to learn the regulations and ask a ranger your specific questions.

You’ll also want to check the forecast and avoid fishing during stressful water conditions. When flows are low or water temperatures are high, that could be a stressful time for fish. Reduce the stress on the fish and pack a picnic and enjoy the view instead – trying fishing when conditions have improved.

Most areas will require you to buy a fishing license. Buying a fishing license directly supports conservation. The money is used to fund species and habitat restoration, habitat protection, research, education and public access for fishing and boating. 

Some locations are now offering a variety of permits and passes on Recreation.gov – plan ahead and prepare by searching for your destination and checking for fishing permits

Child kisses a frozen fish caught while ice fishing.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

The style of fishing and what you’re trying to catch determines the type of gear you need. Freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, ice fishing and fly fishing each require different equipment and bait, but at its simplest, you can go fishing with just a rod, line, hook, and bait. 

New to fishing? You don’t need a lot of expensive gear to get started fishing. Many outdoor retailers sell kits that include everything you need:

An interactive map shows where to get licensed in all 50 states.

Explore Related Trips

Bring Home a Story