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Many of our family vacations have either had fishing as their theme, or at least woven in as an integral part of the trip. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to offer up one vacation we have taken as a family where fishing did not occur somewhere along the way.

The reality is that we usually are trying to fit a vacation in during the summer motnhs and we have to do it on a budget.  Normally camping provides our accomodations for most of the trip.  We all have decided that the fishing is really just an activity we do while we absorb the beautiful landscapes that surround us.

It is with these thoughts in mind we bring you our "Addordable Family Fishing Trips" article.  We hope you find an idea that turns into a trip!


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With the tough economic times, finances are always an issue when you are considering a fishing trip. Sure, we would all love to go on a fly-out salmon fishing vacation in the bush of Alaska or a Bonefishing trip in the Carribeans, but for many of us that is not financially possible. However, there are many affordable fishing destinations right in the heart of America that rival any "exotic", and expensive fisheries. I'll highlight some of the best, and most wallet friendly fishing trips in America, with one pick for every major geographic region of the lower 48. For most of these waters you won't need a guide, you can find cheap camping or lodging nearby, and the fishing is easy enough for the whole family to enjoy.

Yellowstone National Park-Wyoming and Montana (Rocky Mountain West)


While some people choose to fly to far-out places such as Alaska or northern Canada for trout fishing trips, you need to look no further than our nation's greatest natural treasure, Yellowstone National Park. While Yellowstone may be best known for it's geysers, buffalo, and vistas, it is also home to some of the worlds premier trout fishing. Choice rivers that flow through the park include such famous streams as the Yellowstone, Madison, Gibbon, and Firehole. These rivers provide excellent fishing for Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat, but are heavily pressured by anglers and the fishing can be difficult. For better "family" fishing, we suggest the less known waters. Lesser known streams get less fishing pressure, and even novices can catch some nice fish. For this type of fishing, we suggest the Gardner River, Lamar River, Grayling Creek, and Soda Butte Creek. These streams offer good fishing for trout that are more eager and forgiving than the well known rivers. The fishing can be so good in Yellowstone that you forget to look at the scenery. Don't make this mistake, as the park offers many natural wonders that must be seen when you're in the area. There are ample camping opportunities in the park (make sure to reserve a sight before you go, as the campgrounds can fill up during the summer). There is also a full line of lodging and dining in nearby West Yellowstone. Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River

White River Country- Missouri and Arkansas (Lower Midwest)


The White River winds it's way through the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Southwestern Missouri and Northern Arkansas. The White River is a succession of free-flowing river and reservoirs, and combined, it provides some of the best and most affordable fishing in America's heartland. The White River begins deep in the Ozarks in northern Arkansas as a small free-flowing river. This upper portion has excellent smallmouth bass fishing, and also holds species such as bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish, and Crappie. The first reservoir is Beaver Lake, which is well known for largemouth and striped bass. The bottom-drop dam below the lake creates the first tailwater on the river, and an excellent trout fishery. The five mile portion of river below the dam is good for rainbow trout, brown trout, and an occasional cutthroat or brook trout. Soon, the river slows again into another lake, this one called Table Rock. Soon the attention turns back to bass, and Table Rock is one of the country's best bass fisheries. The lake holds great numbers of largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass. There are numerous cheap lodging opportunities along the lake, and several marinas will rent you a boat for a very reasonable fee. Below Table Rock Dam is Lake Taneycomo. Taneycomo is a small riverine impoundment, really more like a slow, wide river than a lake. This is some of the world's best trout water. Rainbow and brown trout inhabit this lake in great numbers, and there are many trophy fish thrown in for extra excitement. Finally the lake slows, and becomes Bull Shoals. Bull Shoals is very good for warm-water species such as bass and walleye, but also has a very respectable rainbow trout population. Below Bull Shoals Dam, the free-flowing White River re-emerges. This tailwater fishery is trophy trout water with a capital T. Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat Trout are the primary species on the river, but brook trout fishing can also be good especially near the dam. Many guides, lodges, and campgrounds have set up shop along this beautiful and productive trout river. There are affordable places to camp, rent boats, and some good restaraunts too. Coupled with the great fishing, what more could you ask for? White River of Arkansas

Adirondack Park, New York (Northeast)


Located within just a couple hours of millions of Americans is a great wild area known as Adirondack Park. More than twice the size of Yellowstone National Park, Adirondack State Park encompasses the Adirondack Mountain Range, as well as some of the North Woods boreal forest that surrounds it. Affordable lodging can be had in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Wilmington, and Keene. Camping is available in too many areas to list. The fishing is simply world class for bass, trout, walleye, and pike in the park. The premier trout river in the area is the West Branch of the Ausable, which flows through Wilmington and Lake Placid. This river provides excellent fishing for brown and brook trout May through November every year. It is an excellent dry fly river, with good camping and lodging opportunities all along it, mostly for a reasonable price. The beautiful High Peaks Mountain region is nearby, provided beautiful scenery. Lakes such as Champlain, Saranac, Long, and Tupper provide excellent fishing for species such as smallmouth bass, pike, walleye, lake trout, and Atlantic Salmon. There are almost unlimitted fishing opportunities in the Adirondacks- if it has water year-round, and it doesn't freeze solid during the winter, you can bet there will be fish to catch. West Branch Ausable River-Near Wilmington, NY
West Branch of the Ausable River near Wilmington in the Adirondacks

Grayling, Michigan (Upper Midwest)


Grayling, Michigan is located in the beautiful North Woods of the Ausable River country. The Ausable River flows right through town, and provides some of the world's best fishing for rainbow and brown trout. The wild country it flows through is some of the most beautiful one earth, and quite importantly, lodging and camping are easy to find and inexpensive. For the family members that may not be into fishing, there are excellent hiking, canoeing, and just plain exploring opportunities in the area. But the trout fishing is the main draw here. Grayling, Michigan is located near the headwaters region of the Ausable. Above town, anglers target small but numerous brook trout in a small stream environment. You won't catch a trophy, but the gullible brook trout are perfect for teaching younger ones to enjoy trout fishing. Below town, it is fly-fishing only water, and trophy sized brown trout are the target species. These trophy browns inhabit the nastiest, stickiest, hardest to reach rootwads on the river, and you have to be an excellent fisherman to consisently do well for the big trout. Still, there are enough smaller brookies and browns in this part of the river to provide some fish to the less than expert angler. As you move further downstream, the browns are mixed in with rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, steelhead, and even salmon near it's mouth. This is a true fishing paradise for the whole family.

Smoky Mountain National Park- Tennesee and North Carolina (Southeast)


Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the most attractive outdoor family vacation areas in the nation. These forested mountains are home to many species of wildlife, scenic overlooks, beautiful campgrounds, and most importantly, trout and smallmouth bass streams. Two streams are most popular in the park- Abrams Creek and the Little River. Abrams Creek is an awesome rainbow trout stream throughout most of it's length, with some brook trout in the headwaters and smallmouth bass in the lower end. The Little River has several headwater prongs, all of which provide excellent brook trout fishing along with some browns. The main stem of the Little River is excellent brown trout water with some smallmouth bass in the slower pools. Countless other creeks throughout the park provide excellent fishing for small but plentiful rainbow and brook trout. All permanent flowing streams in the park hold trout, it's just a matter of finding unoccupied water. The smaller, less fished streams are best for those looking to catch a few easy fish, while the larger ones are better for experienced fly fisherman looking for a challenge and large trout.

Smoky Mountain National Park- Tennesee and North Carolina (Southeast)


Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the most attractive outdoor family vacation areas in the nation. These forested mountains are home to many species of wildlife, scenic overlooks, beautiful campgrounds, and most importantly, trout and smallmouth bass streams. Two streams are most popular in the park- Abrams Creek and the Little River. Abrams Creek is an awesome rainbow trout stream throughout most of it's length, with some brook trout in the headwaters and smallmouth bass in the lower end. The Little River has several headwater prongs, all of which provide excellent brook trout fishing along with some browns. The main stem of the Little River is excellent brown trout water with some smallmouth bass in the slower pools. Countless other creeks throughout the park provide excellent fishing for small but plentiful rainbow and brook trout. All permanent flowing streams in the park hold trout, it's just a matter of finding unoccupied water. The smaller, less fished streams are best for those looking to catch a few easy fish, while the larger ones are better for experienced fly fisherman looking for a challenge and large trout.

Olympic National Park, Washington (Pacific Northwest)


Olympic National Park is a national treasure in the Northwest corner of the country. This park has great diversity, including large mountains, temperate rain-forests, and the Pacific Coast. It just doesn't get any wilder or more beautiful than Olympic National Park. The fishing is great too. The Sol Duc River is the best fishery in the park, providing great fishing for Steelhead (Sea-Run Rainbow trout), and Cutthroat trout. Many other mountain lakes and streams also provide world class fishing for trout and steelhead. Camping is easily available throughout the park.

As you can see, there are some great family fishing vacation areas throughout the United States. But this list is just a start. Get on the website of your local fish and wildlife department, and you will find many state parks, conservation areas, and other wild areas where good fishing and camping is available. Choose one of these spots and plan a trip. Our families need to spend more time outdoors, and there is no better way than through a family fishing vacation!


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