Great fishing can be found almost everywhere, but some of our favorite destinations are in the central portion of the southern United States. This 6-state tour will have you fishing many lakes, the Mississippi river, and the Gulf of Mexico on an adventure any angler would envy.
Fishing isn’t for everybody, so we made sure this trip would be full of fun and surprises for anyone on your journey. The circular route allows you to hop on and off at any point along the way. Check out the map below and get the route directions by clicking through to our favorite trip planner, Roadtrippers.com.
1. Memphis, TN
We begin our journey on the mighty Mississippi, where you can cast a line for white bass, largemouths, bream, crappie and others, but really you are here for the catfish. Blue cats over 100 pounds have been caught on this stretch of the worlds widest river. Giant flatheads can be found here, too, and channel cats are a dime a dozen. Leave your boat on the trailer and fish from the shore, a dock, or a bridge. One of the most popular spots is where the Blue River dumps into the Mississippi. Plenty of lake fishing is also available in the area, as well as charter boats.
The non-anglers in your party can visit all of the sites of the city, from Graceland to Beale Street and everything in between. We recommend you park your RV at Tom Sawyer’s RV Park, which is right on the river (on the Arkansas side) and has its own lake and 2 stocked ponds. The river sites have your awning side facing the river for a stellar view. It’s a popular park, so book early. Gear up for the rest of the trip at the giant pyramid-shaped Bass Pro Shop on the river.
2. Guntersville, AL
Guntersville, surrounded by its namesake lake, is the Bass mecca of America. The fishing destination is riding a bit of a downturn, it’s not as easy as dropping your hook in the water and pulling up a big one anymore, but it’s still a great place to fish.
Stay at the excellent Lake Guntersville State Park, and make sure to visit the nearby Cathedral Caverns State Park, Noccalula Falls Park, and the Harmony Park Safari.
3. Demopolis, AL
The Warrior River and the Tombigbee River join about a mile above the Demopolis city launch on Lake Demopolis, created by an Army Corps of Engineers dam. Natural cover encourages bedding bass to take up residence in the spring along both of these major Alabama rivers. We love Demopolis for it’s excellent Army Corps of Engineers campground — Foscue Creek.
10,000 acres of government managed hunting land are also available, as well as a plethora of historic sites and some great golf courses.
4. Claiborne Lake, AL
Spotted Bass are on the menu on Claiborne Lake, which is really a 60-mile stretch of the Alabama River created by another Corps dam. The Isaac Creek Army Corps of Engineers campground is right on the lake, and is a perfect home base. This campground is remote – it’s a half hour drive to the nearest town with services, Monroeville, home of authors Truman Capote and Harper Lee. The sites are private and gigantic, and the bathhouses are large and clean. Isaac Creek is also an exceptional place for bird watching.
5. Gulf Shores, AL
It’s time to move away from the river fish and hit the game fish of the Gulf of Mexico. Take a charter or two from Gulf Shores for blue marlin, yellow fin tuna, amberjack, cobia, red snapper and more. Beaches and dolphin-spotting are also great activities here. Gulf State Park, if you can snag a reservation, is stellar, and right on the ocean.
6. Grand Isle, LA
Ever been kayak fishing? You won’t regret it. Book a guided kayak charter from Calmwater Charters and seek out redfish in the shallow marshes surrounding Grand Isle. If a kayak isn’t your thing, Calmwater offers an inshore charter. Cook your catch over the campfire at Grand Isle State Park, and consider a stop in New Orleans on your way towards or away from Grand Isle.
7. Galveston, TX
Our last stop on the Gulf Coast, Galveston is one of the best fishing towns in America. From the piers and jetties along the shore, the island offers croaker, perch, speckled trout, sheepshead, sand trout, gafftop and bull reds. Seawolf Park offers some stellar flounder fishing. In the water on the bay side, you can easily pilot a small boat for trout and redfish. Or, take a short charter into the Gulf for kingfish, snapper, dorado, and shark, or go a little farther for ling, amberjack, grouper, sailfish, and tuna. Head 100+ miles out for some challenging sportfishing — white and blue marlin weighing hundreds of pounds, along with large tuna, wahoo and dorado.
Arts and culture are world-class in historic Galveston. Make your home base the pristine Jamaica Beach RV Resort, which boasts an outdoor movie theater and a lazy river, and it’s right on the beach.
8. Jasper, TX
Moving back inland, we hit Jasper, Texas, which is a central location to hit Sam Rayburn Reservoir and Toledo Bend Reservoir, two of the best largemouth bass waters in the world. The Jasper town square features a historic courthouse, bed-and-breakfasts, art galleries, outdoor sculptures, antique shops, murals and the old county jail. We like the Brookeland / Lake Sam Rayburn KOA, but there are also a lot of public campgrounds nearby.
9. Lake Texoma, TX/OK
Hunt for striper, catfish, bass or crappie on Lake Texoma, which sits on the Texas/Oklahoma border. Plenty of guided fishing is available. Camp at the Cedar Mills Marina & Resort, and visit the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge while you’re in the area.
9. Tahlequah, OK
Eastern Oklahoma is an incredible, diverse fishing region. Near Tahlequah, you’ll find largemouth bass fishing in Lake Tenkiller and Fort Gibson Lake, and trout and smallmouth bass on the Illinois River, along with catfish, white bass, striped bass, crappie, and carp. Tenkiller is a stunning clear water lake not to be missed. The entire area is chock-full of gorgeous scenery. While your in the capital of the Cherokee Nation, check out the Cherokee Heritage Center. Stay at Sequoyah State Park or the Flat Rock Creek Corps of Engineers campground, both located on Fort Gibson Lake.
10. Hot Springs, AR
Near Hot Springs, Arkansas, are several fishing adventures. Lake Catherine is rich in bass, crappie, catfish, walleye, bream, and below the dam, rainbow trout. Lake Hamilton is one of Arkansas’s most popular lakes. It’s a bit more recreational, full of tubing, jet skiing, and waterskiing enthusiasts, but great fishing can be found. Finally, Lake Ouachita is Arkansas’s largest lake and one of the cleanest in the country. The non-angler can visit Hot Springs National Park, and take a soak in the historic natural hot springs bathhouses, or opt for a high-end hot spring spa treatment.
We like Treasure Isle RV Park on the Ouachita River, which offers a pool and free cable.
11. Mountain Home, AR
We saved the best for last. In Mountain Home, Arkansas, you can hit Norfork Lake and Bull Shoals Lake for largemouths, striper, and walleye, but you can also break out the flies for big trout on the White and Norfork Rivers. The area is well-considered a great fishing location without the tourism distractions. Still, for a little excitement, you’re not far from family fun in Branson, Missouri, or some great canoeing on the Buffalo National River.
Stay at the White Buffalo Resort, right on the White River.
Did we miss a spot? Let us know in the comments. Where are your top fishing destinations?