Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekend 10: Trips of a Lifetime

I'm headed to the International Sportsmen's Expo in Denver over the weekend, both to catch up with some folks for work, and to take in the show, which always inspires in me the desire to visit far-flung places where big fish lurk, awaiting a fly. Outfitters and guides from the world over convene every January in Denver, offering trips to places most of us only get to dream about... places like Bolivia to chase golden dorado, or Nunavit to cast to massive Arctic char. Africa and tigerfish. Bonefish on some newly discovered South Pacific pelagic paradise.

Honestly, is there only one "trip of a lifetime?" I hope not... I hope there's more adventure ahead of me than there is behind me. Time will tell.
So, in that vein, I thought I'd ask EMBT readers about their own dream adventures... their own fishy journeys to far-off piscatorial wonderlands. Here are their favorite fishy escapes--whether they've actually pulled the trigger on them, or not:

10) Reader Bennet Erbaugh was the first to chime in, and he has a fantastic idea... The Amazon. It does sound pretty cool, what with the chance to catch all kinds of critters that prowl the dark water of the world's most mysterious river. But then, there are critters that I suspect would be plenty happy taking a bite out of any old angler, too. Think mosquitos. Big ones. Might be worth it, though... just a quick little search revealed that my friend Jim Klug's Yellowdog Fly Fishing Adventures offers a lodge-based trip where anglers can catch all three subspecies of peackock bass. I didn't even know there were three subspecies. Very cool.

9) This one was a popular choice--both George Benevidez and Brian Kozminski said they'd head off to New Zealand if they had their druthers. Who can blame them? Crystal clear water and massive unmolested rainbows and browns, coupled with Lord of the Rings scenery. Tough to beat. On the list, for sure.

Nothing quite like Alaska.
8) Alaska made the list, of course, and likely for a number of reasons. First, there's the whole salmon thing--which is amazing. Then there are the massive rainbows that haunt the rivers of the southern half of the state--they get big, they fight hard and they'll hit a mouse fly. That's good enough for me. But Alaska is so big, so vast and so diverse. It might be the best place in the world to cast to Arctic grayling in moving water, and northern pike in the froggy sloughs and lakes of the interior. Then there are Arctic char and Dolly Varden, fish that might remind the average Lower 48 angler of brook trout, but brookies on a steady diet of Creatin. It's an amazing place, and it will always be on my list.

7) Steven Smith (aka, The Fly Fishing Bowhunter) has the right idea. Just drop him off on the banks of some previously unknown river that's never been fished and forget about him. That sounds heavenly.

6) Reader Merrill Hulse has an excellent plan--his trip of a lifetime would be a lot closer to home than some might suspect, but he's inadvertently given away a really great secret. He'd be happy to chase rainbows on the Lost River in Idaho with his dad. The Lost River, from top to bottom, might be the best fishery in Idaho. But don't tell anyone I said that.

5) Eric Rausch, too, has a domestic dream trip in mind. He says he'd be happy wandering the backcountry headwaters of West Virginia's Tygart River in pursuit of wild and native brook trout. Eric, I love brookies, especially where they belong, and I share your passion for the small waters in which they thrive. I won't ask twice ... but can I join you sometime on the Tygart?

Here you go, Chad Chorney... Hope it works out for you ;-)
4) Montana. This one's sort of bittersweet. Reader Michael Lister got to fish the Madison, the Jefferson and Gallatin recently, and he was actually a bit turned off by "all the people and litter on these rivers." It's proof that, if we're not careful, we screw up a perfectly good thing, including some of the legendary rivers of southwest Montana. The good news is, there's plenty of Montana to go around--but clean up after yourselves, folks. Please.

Yeah... that's what I'm talking about.
Thanks to High Arctic Lodge for
the photo.
3) Kamchatka. My buddy Todd Carter came through with a vivid post about an operation in Kamchatka that sends its staff in ahead of the anglers to set up camp. After a day on the water chasing massive rainbows, anglers head off to camp, which comes equipped with a sauna and all the comforts of home. It sounds great, but my friend Chad Chorney wasn't satisfied. He, too, recommended Kamchatka, but threw in the "hot, Russian mail-order bride."

2) The high Arctic around Hudson Bay. It's on my list, and has been since I saw some photos of fly fishers posing with 15-pound Arctic char and lake trout caught in shallow water. The char were a brilliant orange and looked absolutely deadly. I hope to get the chance to chase these big ocean-going char one day--it looks like an absolute blast.

Some day... thanks to Three Rivers Lodge for the photo.
1) Reader Zach Pittman recommended this one, and it's been a dream of mine since I was younger. As you know, I have an infatuation--some would say it borders on the inappropriate--with brook trout. I especially love brookies where they belong, in the cold, backcountry runs of Appalachia and the mountains of New England. But they also belong in the north-country waters of Labrador, and one day, I'll find the time and the resources to pay these fish--which grow large and virile--a visit. Some of these brookies even visit the salt and come back to the fresh waters of the tundra to spawn each fall. They can push 10 pounds. And they'll hit a dry fly. Some day ...


  1. Back to the Wind River range in's been over 30 years.

    1. Howard, that's a great choice... big fish, small water... perfect.

  2. One trip of a lifetime? Likely not. Go on one and you'll soon be plotting, scheming and dreaming about the next.

  3. I'd really like to just go back in time and fish all the same streams I do now, but hundreds of years ago. Hopefully the same patterns will work. I can Dream, Right, Hey, if we can put a man on the moon and sew a dick back on, time-travel isn't far off.