The World Awaits
2017 Global Angling Guide
CONTENTS DESTINATIONS Alaska Alaskan Peninsula ................................................................. 5 Fly-out Lodges ......................................................................... 6 Base Camps ................................................................................... 8 Alaska West .............................................................................. 10 Fishing Bear Lodge .............................................................. 11 Southeast Alaska .................................................................. 13
New Zealand .................................................................... 18
Patagonia Chile .............................................................................................. Argentina .................................................................................. Las Pampas Lodge .................................................................. Jurassic Lake Lodge ............................................................. Kooi Noom ............................................................................... Los Plateados .......................................................................... Las Buitreras ........................................................................... Estancia Despedida ..............................................................
28 32 34 35 36 37 38 39
Saltwater Flats Cuba ............................................................................................... Christmas Island Outfitters ....................................... Andros South Lodge ......................................................... Bahamas ...................................................................................... Yucatan ....................................................................................... Yucatan Tarpon ..................................................................... Belize ............................................................................................. Indian Ocean ..........................................................................
42 44 45 46 48 50 52 54
Bolivia ...................................................................................... 62 Brazil ........................................................................................ 64 Iceland .................................................................................. 70
The World Awaits
On The Cover: Nass Base Camp angler Kris Hamrick on BC’s Bell Irving River. Photo: Ken Morrish ©2017 by Fly Water Travel, LLC. All rights reserved. Graphic design by CarterWorks of Ashland, Oregon, (541) 488-2391. Photo credits: Front & Back Covers, Ken Morrish. All other photos: Ken Morrish, Brian Gies, Charles Gehr, Dylan Rose, Kyle Kolodziejski, Matt Harris, Abe Blair, Bryan Gregson, Cpt. Jack Films, Brush Creek Ranch, Justi Campa, Val Atkinson, Walter Hodges, Bryan Huskey, Paul Imperia, Stephan Gian Dumbaj Jr., Craig Blackie, Barry & Cathy Beck, Craig Derby, Fly Castaway, Deneki Outdoors, Northern Patagonia Fishing Company, Nervous Waters, Kharlovka Company, Yokanga Company, Lax-á and others. PAGE 2 WWW.FLYWATERTRAVEL.COM
Pacific Northwest..................................................... 88
Kamchatka ................................................................................ 72 Kola Peninsula ....................................................................... 74
Mongolia ............................................................................. 78 British Columbia BC West ....................................................................................... Smithers & Upper Skeena Region ................................ Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge ................................... Skeena River Lodge & Nass Base Camp ..................... Terrace & Beyond .................................................................
79 80 82 83 84
Float Trips ................................................................................. Crane Meadow........................................................................ Montana .................................................................................... Idaho ............................................................................................ Colorado & Wyoming ....................................................... Canada ........................................................................................
90 91 93 94 96 98
FEATURES Rapids Camp Lodge
The Heart of Alaska by David Kalinowski ..................................................................14
Tarpon Cay Lodge Loco Sabalitos
by Dylan Rose.......................................................................... 56
Coyhaique River Lodge
Beyond the Circle
The Heart and Soul of Patagonia by Ken Morrish ........................................................................23
Plummer’s Arctic Lodge & the Remarkable Tree River by Ken Morrish ....................................................................... 66
Chile’s Incredible Coastal Chinook by Ken Morrish ........................................................................ 30
The Pursuit of India’s Ultimate Gamefish by Brian Gies............................................................................ 76
Jungle Tarpon Reserve
Speywater Lodge & Floats
Giants from Costa Rica’s Intimate Interior Rivers by Brian Gies............................................................................ 40
Scott O’Donnell’s Passion for the Ronde by Charles Gehr........................................................................ 86
Welcome to Fly Water Common Ground In the midst of an increasingly complicated and often divided modern world, it is reassuring to know that those of us who love wild places and the pursuit of wild fish can continue to celebrate all that we hold in common. As luck would have it, fishing transcends religion and politics because it is simple and pure and based in a shared primal passion that all of us rightly place on a pedestal. Our desire to fish is completely sincere, incorruptible and without an agenda other than time on the water. In a world where peace, purpose and hope come at a steep premium, fishing delivers
all that and more each and every time we make time for it. And while fishing may not heal the differences between us, it is good to know that even in years like this last one, it is here for all of us to enjoy and share in the spirit of fun and friendship. We hope that in 2017 you will take advantage of your time on the water and that our services and knowledge will help you make the most of it.
What Drives Us
Fly Water Travel was born of angling passion. The drive to stalk fish, the curiosity to explore and (continued on page 4)
1-800 -552-27291-800 • WWW.FLYWATERTRAVEL.COM -552-2729
2017 Global Angling Guide a dedication to continSouth American specialual improvement are ist Kyle Kolodziejski did twisted deep into the a massive and compreDNA of our founders hensive tour of the finest and organization. From sea trout lodges in Tierra its inception, Fly Water del Fuego and then headed has been an inspired enslightly north to fish the deavor forged by a speGallegos at Las Buitreras, cial friendship, a shared the Route of the Spring sense of adventure and Creeks and Atlantic steela love of wild fisheries. head on massive Rio Fortunately for us (and Santa Cruz. Dylan Rose, our valued customers), our longstanding saltour passion goes beyond water specialist, hosted a the pleasures of our group to Cuba, visited a personal fishing, into a The Fly Water Team, 2017. From left to right: Kyle Kolodziejski, David wide range of fishing and service ethos in which Kalinowski, Brian Gies, Patrice Dean, Shannon Baily, Diane Knox, family-friendly venues in Noël Nordman, Charles Gehr, Ken Morrish and Dylan Rose. helping others access Belize and wreaked havoc and experience the wonders of the angling world prove more on Mexico’s juvenile tarpon while Castaway Films’ cameras were satisfying and meaningful than our personal catches. Creating rolling. Meanwhile our Alaska travel specialist David Kalinowski the West’s most respected, progressive and ethical fishing travel spent a week at Rapids Camp Lodge catching big rainbows and company has been a journey. The hardest and most exciting kings with noted photographer Abe Blair. Fly Water co-founder part has been realizing that the process is never complete and Brian Gies made his ninth trip to Christmas Island and his sixth that everything we hope to accomplish remains a work in trip to New Zealand in addition to checking out two exciting progress. Ask any of us today what drives Fly Water Travel new trophy tarpon destinations in the jungles of Costa Rica. and you won’t hear “seeing and fishing the world’s finest waLast but not least, Ken Morrish had a great trip to Chile’s excitters,” but rather, “creating the ultimate service company for ing new Austral Kings program, visited Plummer’s Lodge and anglers and outfitters alike.” While none of us feel we could the Tree River and hosted a couples’ trip to the world’s northernever spend enough time on the water, this commitment to most lodge on Somerset Island in Nunavut. He also revisited the making the service experience our highest priority is a choice remarkable Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge and checked out the we are proud of and something all of us at Fly Water could new Bulkley Basecamp. not take more seriously. To help us manage the ever-important details surround Our mission at Fly Water Travel has always been and ing our guests’ travels, we also welcomed two additional team remains to be above all else, trusted service providers for a members. Noël Nordman and Diane Knox have been a joy to vast and varied cast of passionate, well-informed travelers. work with and we have witnessed our services improve with the In keeping with this mission we have always maintained addition of their skills. This coming year will see more exciting that we care not where a particular client goes as long as we changes with new guest-friendly online booking systems and an have done our best to help them understand and select the increased focus on couples and family-friendly multi-activity trips options that best suit their specific needs and goals. Addiin which quality fishing may at times be outshined by a rich cast tionally, once a trip is decided upon we are committed to of varied and available experiences. Of course, as a company making the process of arranging all the details as straightborn of serious angling, we will continue to expand the depth forward and user-friendly as possible. and breadth of our angling offerings and expertise. Already 2017 is shaping up nicely with travel plans to Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Kamchatka, Cuba and the American West all 2016/2017 Highlights well underway. We appreciate your ongoing loyalty and support Once again we thank all of our customers, outfitters and fans and we feel privileged to serve such a kind, well-informed and for making 2016 the best and most dynamic year of our 17-year passionate tribe of travelers. history. Not only did we help a record number of anglers enjoy thoughtfully planned trips, but we, as a team, ventured forth to Sincerely, explore and revisit a great many fabulous places. Our veteran employee and Rockies specialist Charles Gehr spent time spring steelhead fishing around Terrace BC and visited promising new operations on Montana’s Missouri, Kootenai and Rock Creek. Brian Gies Ken Morrish
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Nearing takeoff on the peninsula’s prolific Sapsuck. Photo: Hoodoo Sportsfishing Lodge
The Alaskan Peninsula J
utting westward from the mainland towards the Aleutian Islands, the wild volcanic expanse of the Alaskan Peninsula is arguably the wildest and least-traveled refuge of sea-bright salmon and steelhead in the state. Bordered on the north by Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea and on the south by the Gulf of Alaska, the peninsula remains one of the least spoiled and hardest-to-reach places in North America. With easy wading and rich returns, few places hold more appeal for serious anadromous anglers. Sandy River Lodge This longstanding operation has a rich history of showing diehard anadromous anglers what many consider the best king salmon and steelhead fishing in the world. This truly unique and productive system has remained rich and free of commercial fishing pressure, enabling their loyal repeat guests the type of fishing most can only imagine. With a June king season and a fall steelhead season, this is a must-see lodge for serious spey anglers. Rate: $7,600 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Hoodoo’s Sandy River Lodge Rod Schuh’s new facility on the lower Sandy River will enable six lucky anglers access to this incredibly special system. Located on the lower reach of the river, this camp offers strategic access to some of the most productive king water as well as the ability to jetboat upstream to the Sandy’s best steelhead waters. Rate: $5,850 per person for a 7 night/6 day package plus $1,200 RT charter flight
Hoodoo Sport Fishing Lodge Widely recognized as the most comfortable and organized operation on the Alaska Peninsula, owner Rod Schuh’s Hoodoo Lodge is a testament to what vision and hard work can accomplish in an exceedingly remote location. As the original operation on the Sapsuk, Rod and his crew know this river and the surrounding region better than anyone. With several jetboats waiting at the dock, a fantastic guide staff and a highly competent leader, this operation continues to show anglers the best king salmon, chum and silver fishing in Alaska. Rate: $5,850 per person for a 7 night/6 day or a 6 night/ 5 day package plus $1,200 RT charter flight. Aleutian Rivers Angling Camp This small six-person tent camp on the Sapsuk River is an ideal no-frills base for small groups in search of the peninsula’s best salmon fishing. Anglers fish three per guide and are strategically located to pursue sea-bright kings, chums and silvers. Rate: $3,800-$3,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package EPIC Alaska Wilderness Safari EPIC is a truly remote wilderness camp located on the south side of the Alaskan Peninsula. Few places offer a more pictur esque backdrop or a more interesting and varied salmon fishing program. Here anglers can fish beaches, tidal bays, rivers and creeks in total solitude. These fish are as bright as they come and you can always mix things up with some incredible hikes or light tackle halibut fishing. Rate: $5,550-$6,850 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Kris Hamrick plucks a rainbow from the spawning sockeyes. Photo: Ken Morrish
he argument could be made that the float plane made the ultimate Alaskan angling experience possible and continues to define it. The roar of the radial engine, the crushing beauty of soaring above water-woven landscapes bathed in dappled light and the unbridled freedom to go
where one pleases are just a few of the gifts that the float plane has given us. Today there are many fine lodges that offer anglers the opportunity to get into an aircraft with an experienced pilot so you can in turn experience all that a given region has to offer. The following are a cross section of some of the finest. No See Um Lodge Few operations enjoy the reputation for quality, comfort and hospitality that No See Um Lodge and the Holman family have earned over the past 25 years. No See Um Lodge is one of the few lodges that provide pilot-guides, ensuring that their handsome de Havilland Beaver float planes stay with the anglers all day, every day. These folks know the rainbow and salmon waters of the greater Iliamna/Katmai region like the backs of their hands and enjoy one of the highest return rates in the state. Rate: $9,500 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Royal Wolf Lodge When asked where to go to focus on hunting big rainbows, Royal Wolf Lodge is always at the top of the list. With a strategic location in the heart of Katmai’s most prolific waters and some of the most gifted and experienced guides in the state, Chris and Linda Branham’s Royal Wolf Lodge is in a class by itself. When it comes to short flying times and incredible walk and wade fisheries, this is the place. Rate: $8,450-$9,650 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Rainbow King Lodge Located on the shores of Lake Iliamna, Rainbow King Lodge has gone above and beyond to ensure that their guests get the most exclusive fishing experience that Alaska has to offer. With private leases on fabled waters including the Copper, Dream Creek, Gilbraltor and Upper Talarik, competition is minimal and rewards are maximized. Rainbow King also offers one of the longest silver seasons in the region, a huge flying range and an ocean program for halibut. Rate: $8,350 per person for a 6 night/6 day package Royal Coachman Lodge Of the three primary fishing regions in Southwest Alaska, the Wood-Tikchik is the least traveled, and in the eyes of many, the most beautiful. It is also the home of Royal Coachman Lodge and one of the friendliest and most diverse fly-out operations in the state. From their base overlooking the Nuyakuk River, Royal Coachman targets all of the state’s freshwater species and enjoys an incredible fly-friendly private water lease with prolific runs of sea-bright salmon. Rate: $8,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Igiugig Lodge With 30 years of guiding the region, Brad Waitman has created one of the most unique and intimate operations in the state. Catering to only six guests per week, his program allows for two anglers to fly out with him each day and four anglers to focus on the trophy home waters of the Kvichak. This is not only one of the greatest values in Alaska, but also a shining example of what a hands-on owner-operated lodge can be. Rate: $6,500 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Enchanted Lake Lodge Nestled on a private bluff within the Katmai National Park, this luxurious facility is a benchmark fly fishing experience. Short flights in their two immaculate de Havilland Beavers bring anglers to some of the most fabled waters in all of Alaska including Moraine, Big and Little Ku, Funnel, Battle and Kulik. With seasoned guides, top-shelf cuisine and a remarkable facility, Enchanted Lake Lodge is widely considered the most deluxe fly-out lodge in the state. Rate: $9,800 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Intricate Bay Lodge Overlooking the serene waters of Lake Iliamna’s Intricate Bay, this comfortable and completely rebuilt facility allows anglers easy boat access to the trophy trout water of the Copper River as well as a wide range of fly-outs to many of Bristol Bay’s most productive systems. Additionally Intricate Bay Lodge offers guests a wide range of price point packages to choose from. Rate: $8,000 per person for a 6 night/7 day package
In June, July and again in September, fishing rainbows with streamers is particularly effective. Photo: Ken Morrish
hile the majority of these operations will be reached by small aircraft, their fishing programs are not reliant on them. Once you are on-site these operations will employ boats to reach their fishing grounds, keeping the price down and ensuring that their anglers are on the water irrespective of weather conditions. Big Ku Lodge Big Ku is a small, strategically located six-person lodge in the heart of the Katmai region’s most famous rainbow waters. Guests enjoy jetboat access to the fabled waters of Moraine Creek, Battle Creek, Little Ku and Big Ku. The lodge is open from June through September with August dates filling most quickly. To top it off, PAGE 8
just steps from the cabins all guests can take part in unlimited after-hours access to the trophy home waters of Big Ku. Rate: $6,350 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Aniak River Lodge Aniak River Lodge offers a remote, diverse and species-rich fishing program. Combining a fully outfitted tent camp with an on-river lodge, their program enables anglers to see many miles of river and offers the ability to target everything from rainbow trout to sheefish. The Aniak’s rainbows are known as gluttons for furry rodents, making this one of the very best rivers in the state for “mousing.” Rate: $5,895 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Copper River Lodge Flowing into Lake Iliamna, the Copper is known as one of Alaska’s most beautiful and productive rainbow systems. With a completely rebuilt lodge, this classic operation is entering a new era of comfort and service. For serious rainbow hunters, this operation remains one of the most inviting values in the state. Rate: $5,500 per person for a 6 night/7 day package Western Alaska Sportfishing If remote Alaskan rainbows and Dollies are on your list, this rustic tent camp on the upper reaches of the Nushagak River might just be your place. This is a truly wild region, and
with 20 years of experience, their crew can show you what few others can. Rate: $5,495 per person for a 7 night/6 ½ day package Kenai Riverside Lodge Located on the banks of the mighty Kenai, this is a great destination for groups with a range of outdoor interests and hardcore trophy rainbow hunters alike. This operation wel comes stays of varying lengths and a wide range of angling and ecotourism activities. It is also a perfect add-on to longer stays in the state. Rate: $1,800 plus tax per person for a 3 night/2 day package
Alaska West’s guides and clients wrote the book on spey fishing for kings in Alaska. Photo: Alaska West
all standards a remarkably diverse fishery, ong considered the gold standard of Alaska’s most influential perfectly suited to both single-hand and tent camps, Alaska West offers anglers and productive spey rod anglers. Their early season is the best of the Kanektok River — legend multispecies tent camp dominated by spey fishing for big kings, ary main-stem fishing for sea-bright kings, then shifts to phenomenal multispecies fishing mid-season and chum and silvers and willow-lined side channels teeming with finishes strong with hordes of fresh silvers. High catch rates, wild leopard bows, char, and grayling. The Kanektok is by easy wading and open backcasts are the norm. Alaska West is a large, comfortable tent camp set in the heart of the lower river’s finest water. Guests sleep in pairs in comfortable wall tents with carpeted floors, quality mattresses, heat and lighting. Hot showers, a large dining tent, a recreation tent and a drying tent complete the scene. Anglers fish two per guide and move about the system in 18-foot jetboats. For those interested in getting a great taste of all that Alaska has to offer without footing the bill for a fly-out lodge, this is a proven crowd-pleaser that keeps anglers coming back year after year. Rate: $6,395 per person for a 7 night/6 day package plus $850 RT charter flight PAGE 10
Fishing Bear Lodge
An intimate, family-run operation, escribing a place as unique and wilderness adventure and a rewardperfect for fathers and sons or special as Fishing Bear Lodge ing introduction to the wonders of groups wanting to step into the is anything but easy. At its core, this wilderness fly fishing, this is a place Alaskan Wilderness with both feet modest and endearing family-run you will want to visit more than once. Rate: $4,250 per person for a 6 night/6 day package lodge offers its guests just the right amount of “roughing it” and an opportunity to experience a remarkable diversity of true wilderness fly fishing. Backing up against the surreal spires of the Wind River Range in the heart of southwest Alaska’s 1.6 million acre Wood-Tikchik State Park, Fishing Bear employs jetboats to fish a host of seldom-seen small streams for hearty rainbows, abundant arctic char and large surface-oriented grayling. In addition to these smaller “under the radar” systems, guests can enjoy late-night trophy rainbow sessions on the renowned Agulapak. For dry fly enthusiasts, lovers of solitude and exceptional scenery or families in search of a memorable
Sight fishing the amazing Kulik Creek drainage. Photo: Ken Morrish
Mia Morrish searches for rolling silvers near Whale Pass Lodge. Photo: Ken Morrish
outheast Alaska could be a state unto itself where the exceedingly rich and scenic marine environment often steals the show. Here couples and families find an endless array of activities to enjoy together including saltwater fishing, whale watching, ocean kayaking, hiking and beachcombing as well as both fresh and saltwater fly fishing. Baranof Wilderness Lodge For families and couples keen on the ultimate southeast Alaskan experience, Baranof Wilderness Lodge remains a top pick. While much of their program centers on conventional saltwater fishing for salmon and halibut, they also offer great freshwater river and stream fishing for plentiful Dolly Varden and salmon. With whale watching, crabbing, hot springs and hiking this is an experience that novice anglers and experts alike will cherish. Rate: $5,050-$5,550 per person for a 5 night/5 ½ day package
Dierick’s Tsiu River Lodge Dierick’s Tsiu River Lodge has been family owned and operated since 1997. Owner Greg Dierick and his father, Ed, built the lodge after 40 years of fishing the system. Its ocean view and close proximity to the tidewaters of the Tsiu make it a top venue for sea-bright silver salmon. The Tsiu is a clear, pristine river with a shallow sandy bottom making wading safe and easy. With the river just a short ATV drive from the lodge, you will have plenty of river time. For anglers interested in high catch rates of sea-bright silvers, we can’t think of a better venue. Anglers are also welcome to take home plenty of these incredible eating salmon. Along with silver salmon, steelhead, sockeye salmon, pink salmon and Dolly Varden are all present in varying degrees throughout the season. Rate: $2,975 per person for a 5 night/5 day package
Kelp Bay Base Camp Nestled under a canopy of ancient Sitka spruce and old-growth hemlock, the Kelp Bay Base Camp offers a unique and charming setting for a truly memorable group or family getaway. Here natural bounty and opportunities abound. Guests can choose from fresh or saltwater fishing, hiking in the plush green forest, clamming, crabbing or just relaxing in solitude and watching whales pass by. The riches of the ocean serve as the base for amazing meals and the staff utilizes old-fashioned Dutch oven techniques to produce mouthwatering fresh baked goods. For parties of four to six it is hard to imagine a more sublime Southeast Alaskan experience. Rate: $4,795 per person for a 5 night/5 ½ day package The Lodge at Whale Pass The Lodge at Whale Pass is one of Alaska’s finest multi-sport lodges, located along the famed Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska. It is the perfect lodge for friends, families, couples, corporate groups and avid anglers alike. Each day is unique at the lodge and their goal is to provide guests with a flexible program full of options. There is no set itinerary and the day is yours to do with as you please, whether it’s fishing from dawn to dusk or sea kayaking in the morning and hiking in the afternoon. Activities include whale watching, hiking, mountain biking, sea kayaking, wildlife viewing, caving, fishing and their not-to-be-missed boat-based glacier tour. Rate: $6,495 per person for a 5 night/6 day package
Rapids Camp Lodge The Heart of Alaska By David Kalinowski Photos by Abe Blair Sunrise over the dock with planes at the ready.
n rare instances, geology and ecology come together to create ecosystems that are truly extraordinary. The interior of Alaska’s Bristol Bay region is one of those places, and it is home to Rapids Camp Lodge. The region is the epicenter of our planet’s highest-functioning salmon based ecosystem. Characterized by massive natural lakes with names like Iliamna, Kukaklek, Naknek and Becharof, the region’s countless clean, pea-gravel rivers and streams form the foundation of the world’s most productive salmon habitat and a bounty of connected species that benefit from it. If you were ever considering a trip to Alaska, it would be silly not to have this region at the top of your list. That was the rightful conclusion that Jerry Schults and his daughter Amy made when they decided to build the ultimate Alaskan fishing lodge from the ground up. They wanted to create a turn-key operation that offered access to a wide range of rivers, all five species of Pacific salmon, huge rainbows and countless Dolly Varden. Moreover, they wanted a lodge that was easy to reach by scheduled jet flights and offered exceptional home waters in the event of bad weather. The result is Rapids Camp Lodge, a proven favorite for first-timers and seasoned Alaska veterans alike. PAGE 14
Location Rapids Camp’s location has a number of unique advantages. First, it is just seven miles by road upstream from the town of King Salmon. With multiple scheduled flights from Anchorage, weather related delays are almost unheard of and traveling anglers who miss a connection have a host of practical options to fall back on. Second, once you reach King Salmon you will travel to the lodge by vehicle and are no longer at the mercy of the weather or VFR flight plans, in addition to having 24-hour access to medical help if needed. Third, the lodge is on the Naknek River, which has some great salmon fishing and is one of Alaska’s most prolific trophy rainbow systems. While Rapids Camp is a full fly-out lodge, many guests have a hard time leaving the home waters when the rainbow fishing is on. Fourth, and most importantly, the lodge has a very strategic location when it comes to accessing an enormous range of fishing opportunities. Katmai National Park’s prolific trout waters are just a short flight east. Additionally, the park offers incredible sightseeing and the best bear viewing in the world. Rapids Camp also offers great access to the Alaska Peninsula, one of the state’s most remote and intriguing areas. This slender land mass extends nearly 500 miles southwest. Along
RAPIDS CAMP LODGE its westerly course, snowcapped volcanoes rise upwards from sea level, and in their shadow anglers find some of the least-visited Pacific salmon, large char and trophy grayling fisheries in the state.
The Fisheries By and large fly anglers flock to the greater Bristol Bay area for abundant rainbow trout, arctic char and Dolly Varden. This is not to say that king salmon and silver salmon as well as the other Pacific salmon are not a key component to the sports fishery, yet were it not for the tens of millions of sockeye salmon that return to these rivers each season, these coveted trout fisheries would not exist. The key to the entire region’s vibrancy, be it from the perspective of a brown bear, a rainbow trout or a fly angler, is the inland migration of ocean-fed salmon biomass that essentially feeds and fertilizes the entire Bristol Bay interior. The following is an overview of some of Rapids Camp’s favorite and most frequented systems.
Naknek River: Rapids Camp Lodge overlooks the remarkable Naknek River, which is one of Alaska’s sockeye superhighways. With annual returns of sockeye nearing 5 million fish, it supplies the greater Katmai Park region with
the biomass to support trout of epic proportions as well as some of the greatest brown bear densities on Earth. In addition to great king and silver fishing, the Naknek is a truly world-class rainbow fishery and produces some of the largest and strongest rainbows in the state. The rainbow fishing is particularly impressive during the early season when the big rainbows slash through schools of downstream migrating salmon smolt and again later in September when they are trying to put on a few extra pounds before winter sets in.
Kulik River: Kulik has long been one of the region’s most famous rivers, in large part due to the incredibly high catch rates it provides visiting anglers. It is a short, broad, easy-to-wade system that is loaded with trout and bears and fully deserves its reputation as a classic. Moraine Creek: The Moraine and its key tributary Funnel Creek are home to huge returns of sockeyes and as a result impressive numbers of large rainbows. Anglers typically fly into small lakes near the river and then hike to where their guides inflate rafts. Moraine can produce some really large fish as well as some super sight fishing opportunities. Battle Creek: Battle Creek is an easily waded, low gradient tributary of Kukaklek Lake. While it is a small system by Alaskan standards, the fish here are anything but.
The author holds a steelhead-like trophy rainbow from the lodge’s home waters
RAPIDS CAMP LODGE With gin-clear waters and fantastic sight fishing opportunities it’s easy to see why this river continues to be a staple.
the river through large windows. Guests can connect to the outside world through their high speed internet and enjoy a large bar with complimentary house wines and tap beer. The Little Ku: The Little Ku is another Kukaklek tributary lodge also has a liquor license so let them know in advance if that has easy walk-in access and great opportunities to sight there is something special you would like. After angling, enterfish to rainbow trout and Dollies. It is also a great place to get up close and personal with big brown bears. tainment includes shuffleboard, foosball and darts. There is also a flat screen television behind the Remote Small Streams: For anglers bar for big games or breaking news. The lodge with strong walking legs and a sense of advenalso has a smoking room for cigars, a sauna, ture, Rapids Camp offers a handful of rainhot tub and fulltime masseuse on staff. bow and char systems that are too small and Morrish Meals are an equally serious affair with special to be named. For the right folks, these systems Sc u l pin can be a real highlight. two professional chefs responsible for hearty breakfast buffets and dinners featuring fresh local seafood, prime cuts of Smokey: For spey anglers wanting to experience the pull of meat and some great local Alaskan fare. All dinners are paired big king salmon, Rapids Camp offers a remote river they sewith thoughtfully selected bottled wines. cretively call “Smokey.” With no crowds, fantastic swing water, and lots of action from willing kings and chums, Smokey is a winner.
Nushagak River: The “Nush” is home to Alaska’s largest returns of king salmon. Guests of any skill level can fish these brutes with conventional gear and spey anglers also do well. Later in August, the Nushagak fills with thousands of fly-friendly silver salmon, making for great sport. The Lower Peninsula: With the exception of Rapids Camp, few lodges are located far enough west to take advantage of the bounty of the northern reaches of the Alaskan Peninsula. Rapids Camp not only fishes some incredible silver salmon and king systems, but they have several forgiving trophy char systems virtually to themselves.
Lodge Life Rapids Camp is a casual but well-appointed lodge that accommodates 16 guests in eight double occupancy rooms, all with private baths. They also have a two bedroom “house on the hill,” perfect for families, that can accommodate four guests for a maximum capacity of 20 guests per week. Their lounge area has comfortable couches overlooking
Everything One Needs
One of the great beauties of Rapids Camp is that you can essentially show up with a change of clothes and a toothbrush and not worry a bit about your fishing needs. From breathable waders and rubber soled boots, spey rods to spinning rods, they have it all and it is included. You are always welcome to bring your own gear and flies, but it is truly optional. Likewise, the lodge has one of the state’s most spectacular fleets of deHavilland aircrafts, with two Beavers and one turbine Otter. With the highest seat-to-guest ratio of any fly-out lodge in Alaska, this means guests wait only on weather and have the greatest possible number of angling options at their disposal. Last but not least, the lodge has an extensive fleet of jetboats stashed at various rivers, comfortable lodge-based boats for fishing the home waters and rafts that your guide can pack into small remote systems. Add to this included air charter service from Anchorage to the lodge and their commitment to personalized service, and we are confident you will be hard-pressed to find a better trip to Alaska!
Travel: Anglers fly to Anchorage. Guests who can arrive before 1pm can charter directly into the lodge, otherwise guests will overnight in Anchorage and take the private charter in the following day. Season: June through September Capacity: 20 maximum Essential Tackle: While the lodge can supply all the tackle, if we were to bring one rod it would be a 7-wt with a floating line 2017 Rate: $8,695 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Top: Swing fishing for kings on the Peninsula, lodge manager Dan Herrig and the author with a Naknek double. Middle: The main lounge 1-800 PAGE 17 area at the lodge. Bottom: A small stream rainbow, halibut night,-552-2729 an aerial view of the lodge.
A Poronui patron getting some of what he came for. Photo: valatkinson.com
New Zealand P
erhaps the greatest of New Zealand’s inescapable charms is that the list of “must-do” activities invariably exceeds the number of one’s available vacation days. When it comes to countries that offer a wide array of natural wonders, beautiful vistas, professionally guided activities and well-run luxury lodges, New Zealand may well be the world’s greatest. Likewise, there is no masking our enthusiasm for fishing its countless rivers and streams. Simply put, we consider the trout fishing experience here to be the most distilled, challenging and rewarding in the world. The only issue with New Zealand is that a two-week trip is merely a tempting taste of all it has to offer. Located in the middle of the southern hemisphere, New Zealand’s two main islands are long and narrow. They are centered on the 41st parallel south and stretch almost 1,000 miles on a north by northeast axis and boast 10,000 miles of coastline. Couple this with the fact that the islands lie right along the dramatic geologic boundary of the Pacific and Indo-Australian plates, and you can begin to understand the root of its spectacular and varied topography. The massive shift in these plates that happened millennia ago not only created the islands themselves, but gave rise to the South Island’s Southern Alps — a massive
mountain range which divides the island’s east and west coasts, and features at least 18 peaks reaching 10,000 feet or higher. Less mountainous but not to be outdone, the North Island is a highly active volcanic zone punctuated by Lake Taupo which sits smack-dab in the caldera of the world’s most active supervolcano. The weather in the country is no less dramatic. Driving through the South Island you can go from rainforest to semi-arid plains in a matter of miles, and many areas of the North Island are subtropical. All told, New Zealand takes top honors for packing a wide variety of stunning landscapes and unique ecosystems into a relatively small space. Custom Itineraries Due to New Zealand’s unparalleled diversity and the vast array of activities available to couples and anglers, our favorite trips often encompass visits to multiple destinations. To accommodate this, we have greatly expanded relationships with lodges and guides in virtually every corner of the country. Cumulatively these venues allow us to offer custom itineraries with a wide range of experiences centered on fishing, hiking, golf and sea kayaking as well as visiting the country’s top sights and winemaking regions.
North Island Lodges Kauri Cliffs Experiences: Golf Set on 6,000 acres near the Bay of Islands in Northland, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs features a spectacular 180-degree view of the Championship Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean. Cape Brett and the offshore Cavalli Islands are part of this stunning panorama, which can be viewed from the lodge’s verandas, lounge and dining room. Rate: NZ$890-$1,490 per person per night The Farm at Cape Kidnappers Experiences: Golf, wine tours The Lodge & Golf Course at Cape Kidnappers, known as ‘The Farm,’ is set on a vast sweeping 6,000-acre sheep and cattle ranch reminiscent of central California that plunges 800 feet into the sea. Cape Kidnappers is the sister property to Kauri Cliffs and Matakauri Lodge. Their spectacular golf course, designed by Tom Doak, is ranked 22nd in the world. Rate: NZ$890-$1,490 per person per night
Poronui Experiences: Fly fishing, riding, mountain biking, hiking Poronui’s unique combination of world-class wilderness fishing, elegant accommodations, gourmet food and wine, varied non-angling activities and modern conveniences has earned them a devout and loyal following from around the world. A true North Island classic. Rate: NZ$5,664-8,475 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
A Tongariro Lodge backcountry trophy. Photo: Brian Gies
In addition to exceptional sea kayaking, New Zealand offers a host of hiking, riding, mountain biking and sightseeing opportunities. Photo: Matt Harris
Tongariro Lodge Experiences: Fly fishing, hiking, golf, whitewater rafting As its name suggests, the lodge is situated on the banks of the North Island’s famous Tongariro River. Tongariro Lodge is a proven winner with the North Island’s most diverse access to trophy backcountry waters utilizing helicopters, rafts and 4x4 vehicles. Rate: NZ$4,195-$4,895 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Huka Lodge Experiences: Fly fishing, golf, hiking, wine tours The charming Irishman Alan Pye founded Huka Lodge during the 1920s and it quickly established a reputation for a unique and generous style of hospitality. This tradition continues today with Huka Lodge continuing to find favor with the world’s most discerning travelers. Rate: NZ$1,585-$2,015 per person per night
South Island Lodges
Owen River Lodge Experiences: Fly fishing, hiking, riding, whitewater rafting, wine tours Located in the greater Nelson Lakes/Murchison region at the north end of the South Island, Owen River Lodge is a stylish yet understated lodge for discerning fly fishers. With its central location and the largest and most experienced guide team on the South Island, Owen’s guests can easily access more than thirty rivers in the area, most of which are less than an hour’s drive from their premises. Rate: NZ$6,300-$7,400 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Stonefly Lodge Experiences: Fly fishing, hiking, riding, sea kayaking Built from local stone and timber, this exclusive riverfront property sits on 156 acres of private forest and offers luxury accommodations in close proximity to three spectacular national parks (Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi). The lodge’s large stone fireplace and the open kitchen adjoining the dining area create a warm, earthy atmosphere and a great base from which to explore the region’s parks and fisheries. Rate: NZ$5,800-$6,750 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Cedar Lodge Experiences: Fly fishing Located along the banks of the Makarora River in the South Island’s stunningly beautiful Makarora Valley, Cedar Lodge is New Zealand’s only pure helicopter fly-out lodge. Their valley is surrounded by prime fly fishing territory in Mount Aspiring
National Park. Established in 1979 by Dick and Robyn Fraser, Cedar Lodge features four rooms with views of their rugged surroundings and a comfortable lounge/dining area where gourmet meals are served. Rate: US$7,995 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Nokomai Station Experiences: Fly fishing, hiking, farm stay Mataura River, known for its famous mayfly hatches, Nokamai Station is the perfect blend of fly fishing lodge and New Zealand farm stay. The station is one of New Zealandâ€™s largest and is owned and operated by the wonderfully hospitable Hore family. Over 12 miles of the Mataura River run through the station, giving guests exclusive access to this world-class fishery. In addition to the Mataura, Nokomaiâ€™s central location gives its guide team access to over 20 other rivers and streams all within a 90-minute drive. Rate: NZ$4,070 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Hapuku Lodge Experiences: Whale-watching, dolphin swims, hiking, sea kayaking, wine tours Located in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Hapuku Lodge is a five-star eco-retreat just a few kilometers
north of the seaside town of Kaikoura. The lodge itself is a complex of unique tree houses perched in native Kanuka trees not far from the majestic Kaikoura Mountains. Their idyllic setting is accented by wild deer wandering into their olive groves and vineyard as well as the picturesque backdrop of the Kaikoura range. Rate: NZ$850-$1,150 per night
Fiordland Lodge is one of many spectacular accommodations that we use in setting up custom itineraries for couples and anglers alike. Photo: Matt Harris
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki & Arthur’s Pass Experiences: Hiking, sea kayaking The Wilderness Lodges are two complimentary facilities that showcase two stunningly wild and scenic parts of the South Island: the untamed west coast and highland heart of the Southern Alps. Lake Moeraki Lodge features rainforests, lakes, rivers and wild seacoast. Arthur’s Pass Lodge is on a 6,000-acre nature reserve and sheep farm encircled by snowcapped peaks and glacier-fed rivers. Rate: NZ$450-$600 per person per night Minaret Station Experiences: Fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, heli-skiing, hunting, flightseeing Accessible only by helicopter, the exceedingly remote, mountainous and picturesque Minaret Station treats guests to an exclusive and luxurious wilderness experience unlike any other in New Zealand. Featuring four lavish chalets and a host of compelling, utterly private wilderness activities, Minaret Station is truly in a class by itself. Rate: NZ$2,000 per night
Blanket Bay Lodge Experiences: Fly fishing, hiking, riding, whitewater rafting, golf Consistently voted one of the world’s best lodges by prestigious publications and organizations, Blanket Bay is a magical and rare haven of peace and solitude combining unspoiled beauty, outdoor adventure and rarely-matched luxury accommodations. Situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu on a 10,000 acre high-country farm, the lodge offers incredible lake and mountain views and an unforgettable base from which to experience all this region has to offer. Rate: NZ$1,590-$2,950 per night Fiordland Lodge Experiences: Fly fishing, Milford and Doubtful sound tours, hiking Fiordland is one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand. Recognized as a World Heritage site, it is home to the Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, two of the most famous and dramatic fiords on earth. Focusing on environmental sustainability coupled with true luxury, Fiordland Lodge is the perfect base for the ultimate South Island experience. Rate: NZ$5,800 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Prepping for the presentation, South Island, New Zealand. Photo: Matt Harris
Coyhaique River Lodge The Heart and Soul of Patagonia
By Ken Morrish
Fly Water’s Jon Covich with a stillwater trophy. Photo: Jon Covich
he story of Coyhaique River Lodge is really a story about brothers Gaston and Claudio Urrejola — their upbringing, combined skills, vision and their neverending drive to learn, create and improve. Born in the mid-70s on a small farm 300 miles south of Santiago, Gaston and his older brother Claudio had the type of childhood many kids dream about. There was a trout stream flowing through their property, endless open space and a culture of trust and independence that enabled kids like themselves to run wild and free in the great outdoors. More than anything else, these two loved exploring and fishing, and while they got plenty of both, life in the country was by no means all fun and games. Living on their property came with real chores and responsibilities starting at a young age. By the age of 10 they were driving trucks and tractors, working in fields of hay, wheat and corn, and tending to their family’s cattle and sheep. It was all normal enough, but now, looking back they were unknowingly building the knowledge and skills that would ultimately enable them to create one of the finest, most versatile and widely praised lodges in all Patagonia. Both of them recall vividly in the early 80s when their father first drove them south on the new Austral highway to
the Coyhaique region. Gaston recalled, “There was just so much water and we wanted to fish it all!” Since that trip, a great deal of their adult life has been about assembling an array of skills to enable themselves, and most importantly their guests, to do exactly that. Combined, Claudio and Gaston are likely the handiest and most capable lodge management team we have encountered, with shared skills in ranching, farming, road building, fine home construction, hospitality, and best of all, guiding fly anglers. Additionally, they share between them careers as a veterinary doctor, a fisheries biologist, a fulltime mechanic and a government director of tourism. It’s the full package, and with it they have created arguably the finest and most versatile fly fishing and outdoor adventure lodge in South America.
Location, Location, Location It is easy to make the case that the Coyhaique region of Chile is the most diverse, strategic and productive trout fishing hub in Patagonia. It was this simple fact that initially attracted Gaston and Claudio to the region and ultimately compelled them to buy land, build their dream lodge and raise their families here. While the area is often compared to the American West or
COYHAIQUE RIVER LODGE
“Their combination of a prime location, handsome facility, private waters and true knack for hospitality make it a lodge that virtually all of our guests rave about.”
Montana 100 years ago, in large part due to its low population and abundance of large uneducated trout, the real magic of the area stems from its geography. The landscape of the Aysén region is incredibly diverse, enabling anglers to travel from the dry, arid pampas of the east to the temperate rainforest of the west in just over an hour. Additionally, the area is more friendly and open than the steep regions to the north or the ice field-dominated regions to the south, making for perfect trout fishing habitat. With rivers of all sizes, streams, spring creeks and an array of trophy stillwaters all within a stone’s throw of the lodge, the region is a virtual dreamscape for all who love spectacular trout fishing and eye-popping scenery.
The Fisheries When pushed on the subject, Gaston confessed to having over 50 distinct day beats that Coyhaique River Lodge fishes over the course of a season. Of those there are roughly 15 staples, 75 percent of which the lodge enjoys private access to. Most of their private land use agreements originate with down-home community relations in which a neighbor needs help cutting a road, harvesting trees, or managing their cattle. Always capable and happy to help, this often leads the brothers to land exclusive access rights to trophy rainbow lakes, small walk and wade gems or special put-ins on rivers that few others float. In a land where anglers are already relatively few and far between, these arrangements will virtually assure that you will have days with a beautiful spring creek, river or lake entirely to yourself. The following is a quick overview of a few of their favorite fisheries.
Rio Simpson: With its large caddis and mayfly hatches and commanding scenery, the Rio Simpson is like a big handsome Montana river. The Simpson boasts some of the southern hemisphere’s highest fish counts per mile and its numerous browns and rainbows average 14 to 22 inches. The Simpson offers lots of distinct floats and walk and wade beats, and has gifted more than a few lucky fly anglers with browns in excess of 30 inches. Rio Nirehuao: The Rio Nirehuao may well be the region’s most famous river. This mid-sized walk and wade freestone enjoys a cult-like following in large part due to the beauty and bounty of its summer hopper fishing. With lots of wild browns in the 14 to 20-inch range, as well as some two-footers thrown into the mix, the Nirehuao is the type of classic trout river that keeps anglers coming back. PAGE 24
Rio Desague: The Rio Desague is the outlet of Lago Elizalde and flows only five miles before entering Lago Caro. Within this short stretch of river, browns and rainbows in the 17 to 23-inch class abound with many larger trophies lurking. This remote and scenic dry fly fishery is accessed by jet boat. Rio Emperador Guillermo: This small walk and wade gem is the perfect stream for experienced or novice anglers looking for consistent top-water action. Its many pools and riffles are loaded with browns and rainbows in the 12 to 16-inch range, making it a favorite for anglers of all skill levels. Rio Mañihuales: In addition to having lots of big trout, the Mañihuales has a diversity of prime structure that makes it a favorite among the guides at Coyhaique River Lodge. The river supports a healthy population of browns and rainbows as well as a strong run of king salmon. Spring Creeks: Near the Argentine border there are several high-country spring creeks. Although they are relatively close to the lodge, the landscape in this area is a world apart and more typical of the high arid pampas often associated with Argentina. These spring creeks combine great walk and wade fishing for really large fish in small well-rested waters. Stillwaters: While many of our traveling anglers shudder at the thought of stillwater fishing, the lakes frequented by Coyhaique River Lodge offer some of the most interesting and pleasant trophy trout fishing imaginable. There are a great many highly productive lakes within easy reach of the lodge and despite their differing characteristics they share a few common elements. They are beautiful, private, hold trophy rainbows and browns, and are most often fished by sight casting large dry flies to visible cruising fish. Some of the most beautiful and productive lakes are found in the dramatic Cerro Castillo area. If you want a shot at a 10 pound trout of a lifetime, make sure you take advantage of at least one lake fishing day during your visit.
The Guides As might be expected the guide team is led by owners Gaston and Claudio Urrejola. Their hand-picked local guide team reflects their commitment to service and they know the surrounding waters like the back of their hands. They are young, hard-working, passionate and professional and always willing to help even the most inexperienced anglers get the most out of their time on the water. Additionally these guides are great off
Top: Enjoying a guided ride on private property, a large stillwater rainbow. Middle: Floating the Rio Simpson. Bottom: The lodgeâ€™s main living room, December on the Coyhaique River, another great lunch complete with -552-2729 Chilean wine. Photos: Barry and Cathy Beck and Coyhaique River Lodge25 1-800 PAGE
COYHAIQUE RIVER LODGE the water, with Alejandro Trepiana being a real standout. He is not only a skilled guide but also a talented professional guitarist who often entertains guests around the lodge in the evenings. Have a favorite Beatles song? Alejandro knows it.
On The Dry
created by the original ancient inhabitants of the region. For those looking for more leisurely activities, the lodge is less than 20 minutes from Coyhaique, a city of 45,000 people and the capital city of the region, where visitors can enjoy traditional handicraft shops, restaurants and friendly local culture.
The Lodge Experience If there is one thing that the majority of trout anglers share in common, it is the love of catching significant fish on Coyhaique River Lodge has everything you would expect from dry flies. It is also one of the main reasons that winter after a premier fishing destination. It was purpose-built out of local winter, North American anglers make the trip south to fish the timbers in a style that could be described as a perfect prolific waters of Chile. Irrespective of time of year or combination of rustic and modern. It is located on conditions, the guides at Coyhaique River Lodge won’t a high bank overlooking the Coyhaique valley and leave the lodge without at least 50 fat foam flies and the small intimate flows of the Coyhaique River. a virtual arsenal of more specific dries. For these They have a beautiful exposed-beam great room guides, fly fishing means dry fly fishing. Will they as well as eight double suites, all with private baths. switch to streamers or dry dropper set ups when Meals are of the highest level with dinners featuring Fat A l b er t needed? Certainly, but given a choice and a chance, you local beef and lamb dishes, fresh vegetables, and Chilwill more than likely catch 70 percent of your fish on top. Were ean salads all paired with renowned Chilean wines from the you granted only one set up, a 6-weight with a floating line lodge’s wine cellar. is the go-to outfit, with line weights in either direction having However, all of this is only a piece of what makes the place their place depending on conditions and preferences. special. What makes it truly special is the fact that this is the home and the future of the Urrejola Family and they want nothSomething for Everyone ing more than to share it with you. At first you might not notice In addition to a world-class fishing program, one of the truly the depth of the family’s personal touch because they are a subdifferentiating features of Coyhaique River Lodge is the tle and modest bunch. In the same breath, the observant might breadth of quality outdoor experiences it offers guests. While notice that Claudio’s wife Francesca had a hand in sourcing the the brothers love to fish, they are also avid hikers, horseback locally woven wool blankets on your bed, or that Gaston is close riders and mountain bikers. They have a stable of sturdy horses, friends with ranchers that raised your dinner’s delicious lamb, or new high-end mountain bikes and professional guides to help that all the vegetables came from the lodge’s own garden. If you hikers explore hundreds of miles of trails in the region. The look more closely you might see that that they have done away trails range from easy day walks to full day hikes in addition to entirely with plastic bottles, that the beer on tap is brewed by new purpose-built mountain bike trails. The diversity of terrain their friends in town and that their kids are part of the team and surrounding the lodge means that guests can easily experience contribute to the family business by taking any task they can all of these activities in a wide variety of landscapes from the get at the lodge. These are some of the more subtle things that arid steppe on the east to the rainforest and fjords of the west. make this lodge so sincere and meaningful to those who have Some of the highlights of the region include the jagged basalt the pleasure of visiting. Last but not least, this lodge is handstowers of Cerro Castillo peak, the chapel-like Marble Caves of down the best value in a truly premium product that we have Lago General Carrera, and the Puerto Ibañez hand paintings seen anywhere in South America.
Travel: Coyhaique is the most easily accessed and arguably the best fly fishing hub in Chilean Patagonia. Guests arrive in Santiago, Chile in the morning, clear customs and take a two and a half hour flight to Balmaceda. From there guests will transfer 45 minutes by truck to the lodge. Season: November to May Capacity: 16 guests total (up to 10 anglers and six additional guests) Essential Tackle: A 5 or 6-weight fly rod with weight-forward floating line Top Flies: Black Fat Albert, Morrish Hopper, Autumn Splendor 2017 Rate: $4,250 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Top: A multispecies double, a hearty river-born brown trout, hiking the incredible Cerro Castillo massif. Middle: A beautiful day of sight casting on a private lake. Bottom: Longtime guide Matt with brown-552-2729 trout, throughout most of the season big foam dries are the topPAGE producers. 1-800 27 Photos: Jon Covich and Brian Gies
A drone’s-eye view of Chile’s fabulous Lago Yelcho. Photo: Jon Covich
La Posada de Los Farios
Rex Bryngelson is one of the early pioneers who came to Chile in search of whitewater and adventure and ended up finding incomparable rivers with remarkable fly fishing, a sense of place, true love and his life’s work. The end result is La Posada de Los Farios (The Inn of the Brown Trout), located on the banks of the Rio Cisnes. Here in the heart of Chile’s greatest trout fishing region, the options are nearly endless — productive floats on nearby rivers, small technical spring creeks, seldom-fished high country lakes and excursions into remote coastal systems are all near at hand. La Posada de Los Farios is the ultimate blend of homestyle Chilean hospitality and high-quality fly fishing. Rate: $4,350 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
When Gonzalo Cortés, author of Fly Fishing in Chilean Patagonia, set his sights on building the fly fishing lodge of his dreams, it quickly became clear that one location in Patagonia would not suffice. There was simply too much good water, so he built two lodges, Yelcho and Rosselot. Chucao’s unique dual lodge program allows guests the opportunity to split their fishing week and take in all that this remarkable region of Chile has to offer. For those who want a charming and utterly authentic Chilean experience with variety, exceptional scenery, dry fly fishing, and a chance at some very large trout, a visit to Chucao Lodge is hard to beat. Rate: $4,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Futaleufú Multi-Sport Adventure
Located near Puerto Natales on the edge of Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park, this utterly unique resort is the ultimate base for a wide range of activities and adventures. Its modern architecture artistically compliments the stark beauty of the surrounding natural environment. It features 72 well-appointed rooms, a beautiful restaurant overlooking the water, a heated infinity pool, sauna, outdoor Jacuzzi and a full time masseuse. With the remarkable Torres del Paine National Park serving as the main attraction, the resort offers over 30 different excursions in the surrounding mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, forests and prairies. Activities include day hikes, mountain biking, horseback riding, cultural visits and, of course, fly fishing. For adventuresome couples looking to explore this remote corner of Patagonia from a luxurious base, Remota is the place. Rate: $5,050 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
The Futaleufú Multi-Sport Adventure is based out of a deluxe riverside camp overlooking the turquoise waters of the famed Futaleufú River. With whitewater rafting, inflatable kayaking, fly fishing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and yoga this southern Chile trip has something for just about everyone. Each day involves a new and customized mix of activities guided by accomplished and talented international outdoor guides. River-based adventures include whitewater rafting the incomparable Futaleufú River, inflatable kayaking the aptly named Rio Azul, fly fishing for rainbow trout, or taking a lesson in whitewater kayaking. Land-based activities include horseback riding, hiking up pristine valleys and mountain biking a mix of established trails and single track. This river paradise ringed by snowcapped mountains showcases the best of what Chile has to offer. Rate: $3,600 per person for an 8 night/7 day package
Austral Kings Chileâ€™s Incredible Coastal Chinook
Story & Photos by Ken Morrish
Nils Rinaldi and the author enjoy a moment on the last morning of their 2016 exploratory trip.
n 2013, brothers Alex and Nico Trochine were confident that king salmon fishing in Chile had enormous potential if only they could find the right system for fly fishing. After two years of searching, Alex and his girlfriend Laura were the ones who eventually found it: the perfect river that set up well for swinging flies and offered daily chances at big chrome-bright fish right off the tides. In 2016, they built the original Austral Kings Camp and ran their first season, which proved a huge success. Moving forward, the Austral Kings program consists of two separate yet closely related programs: the more rustic Austral Kings Camp on the upper river and the more comfortable Austral Kings Lodge on the lower river. The history of North American king salmon in Chilean waters is fraught with failed introduction efforts dating back more than 100 years. Ultimately, it was the release of PAGE 30
hundreds of thousands of lower Columbia River smolts by Japanese fish ranchers in the late 1970s that kick-started naturally reproducing stocks. Today, Chile has lots of productive systems, but Austral Kings is special and packed with big, bright and often finicky Chinook. For their first season, catch rates averaged roughly one fish per person per day with majority of the fish weighing in between 25 to 50 pounds. With that said, rarely is any time spent not covering fish, as the river has more bright kings than any I have ever seen. For skilled anglers wanting the challenge of gorgeous big fish in an awe-inspiring setting, Austral Kings is the place.
The Region and River The Austral Kings program is based around a single, steep, ultra-clear river that flows from the crest of the Andes to the central Chilean coast. The landscape is similar to coastal BC
AUSTRAL KINGS and the Lower Dean, and the headwaters are pristine and protected. The fishing is focused on the lower eight miles of the river where it slows somewhat, creating a series of interesting pools and runs. With tides that average 20 feet, there are lots of dynamic tidewater opportunities on runs that appear and then disappear as well as a large lower estuary where it is common to see fish rolling as you arrive in the region by boat. The upper river is turquoise-colored and runs through a lush green valley surrounded by glacier-capped granite mountains and has a variety of fishy structure, including gravel beaches, big boulders, classic tail-outs and deep runs. The region is very much a rainforest, with weather to match, but it can also be very warm during the summer months when anglers visit. While the river can rise quickly, it also drops quickly, making it a perfect place to target kings.
Fishing Program Anglers fish two per guide, most often using an assortment of smaller motorized boats to access prime water. Fishing will be done mostly from the bank, swinging flies, but there are a number of productive runs that are fished from the boat. Anglers at both operations will rotate through the upper river and lower river beats, meaning that some days you will fish relatively close to your accommodations and other days you will transfer to a more distant point to begin your day’s fishing. While the distances are not great, the roads are slow and often indirect so transfers can take upwards of 30 minutes.
Accommodations and Meals Austral Kings is comprised of two programs located roughly 12 kilometers apart that share fishing beats.
Austral Kings Camp: Despite the remote location, this wilderness camp is Chilean “glamping” at its finest. Guests stay in two spacious double occupancy safari style canvas tents equipped with comfortable beds, chairs and storage. There is a bathhouse with two bathrooms, each with a hot shower, sink and flush toilet. All meals are prepared in the fixed camp kitchen and served in a large dining/lounge tent. While it would not be fair to call this camp luxurious, it has been thoughtfully constructed and is very comfortable. It is located in the middle of the upper river’s most productive reach in a spectacular setting near the river. Austral Kings Lodge: The lodge, which overlooks the fjord into which the river empties, is the most comfortable of the accommodation options. Here, all four guests enjoy single occupancy rooms with attached shower and bath as well as easy access to power and potentially cell service beginning in 2017. The lodge is built in Chile’s classic rustic style featuring lots of local hardwoods and natural edges. There is a wood-burning stove, a common sitting area and relatively easy access to the lower tidal reaches of the river and estuary. Season: January through March 2017 Rate: Austral Kings Lodge – $5,975 per person for a 7 night/6 day package, Austral Kings Camp – $5,225 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
David Cole enjoying some Argentine sight fishing. Photo: Ken Morrish
Limay River Lodge There are new places, and there are great places, and on occasion there are great new places. This lodge will certainly go down in history as one of those lucky few. Located in the arid wide-open expanses of the Patagonian flatlands midway between Bariloche and Neuquen, the newly constructed Limay River Lodge sits entirely on its own overlooking what might be the most biologically rich and rewarding trophy trout river in Argentina. Limay River Lodge is the only lodge on this vast braided river with more than 50 miles of water and 10 distinct beats. While historically thought of as a late-season migratory brown trout river, the truth of the matter is that this system is packed with resident rainbows and browns, the vast majority of which are 18 to 22 inches and eager to eat large dry flies. The lodge itself is a handsome adobe-style structure with luxurious guest rooms, exceptional cuisine and a seasoned staff of professional guides headed by Patagonia guiding legend Jorge Trucco. Rate: $6,590 per person for a 7 night/6 day package PAGE 32
The Route of the Spring Creeks This boutique-style fishing journey combines the best brook and brown trout fishing in southern Patagonia with stays at three traditional family-run Argentine estancias that date back to the late 1800s. Limited to only two rods per week, this intimate program gives anglers the opportunity to fish four completely private and well-rested spring creeks which hold super-sized brook trout in the 2 to 6-pound class. This small homestay-style venue is a treasure within the vast open Patagonian landscape. The Route of the Spring Creeks offers its guests rewarding homespun cultural experiences coupled with some of the finest spring creek fishing south of the equator. Rate: $3,995 per person for a 5 night/6 day package Carrileufu River Lodge The newly constructed Carrileufu River Lodge was purpose-built for anglers with all the amenities one would expect from a wellrun trout fishing operation. The lodge is conveniently situated near the quaint rural town of Cholila, just outside the northern border of Los Alerces National Park, a park widely considered
one of Argentina’s most stunning and biologically diverse national treasures. Carrileufu Lodge has access to a vast network of crystalline lakes and rivers including the Carrileufu, Rivadavia, Arrayanes and Chubut rivers. With such a wide variety of water types at their disposal, anglers fish completely new water each day. Their spectacular post and beam main lodge overlooking the magnificent Carrileufu River valley offers a relaxed and inviting atmosphere in addition to excellent Argentine cuisine and tasteful double occupancy accommodations. Rate: $4,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Wilderness Float Trips It is no secret that we at Fly Water Travel love being on the water, and when answering, “how much time do we want to spend there?” the answer is always, “the more the better!” With our Patagonia wilderness float trips, that is just what you get: quality river time and lots of it. Trips are run on many of the famous rivers in northern Patagonia including the Caleufu, Collon Cura, Chimehuin, and Alumine Rivers. These rivers all run through the semiarid Patagonian Steppe, a region in many ways reminiscent of eastern Oregon and Washington. Trips range from four to six days and cover 20 to 60 miles with deluxe camping along the river each night. Rate: $2,350 per person for a 5 night/4 day package Rio Manso Lodge Nestled in the midst of Nahuel Huapi National Park, Rio Manso Lodge and the waters they fish are testament to the
fact that ecosystems and bioregions are not restricted by political boundaries. This region, with its lush rainforest and brilliant green rivers, is more reminiscent of Chile than the often-dry regions of Argentina. Equally significant is that this region is rather easy to reach from the thriving hub of Bariloche, but just far enough away that its stunning fisheries feel almost private. With great hosts, family-style meals served near a handsome fireplace and comfortable accommodations, this facility is the perfect base from which to enjoy a range of seldom-fished waters. There are multiple downriver floating options as well as great trophy lakes where anglers can sightfish dry flies to cruising fish. Rate: $4,750 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Spring Creek Lodge Located on the banks of Argentina’s renowned Chimehuin River, Spring Creek Lodge boasts a combination of world-class fishing and tasteful accommodations, making it a favorite for anglers visiting the San Martin/Junin area. Centrally located within the heart of the region’s most diverse and productive trout waters, the lodge offers anglers the ability to float or wade-fish the pristine flows of the Chimehuin, Malleo, Alumine, Collon Cura, Caleufu, Quilquihue and Quemquemtreu. From their two-bedroom bungalows, guests at Spring Creek Lodge enjoy thoughtfully prepared meals accompanied by fine Argentine wines and great views of their lovely pond, private spring creek and the nearby Lanín volcano. Rate: $4,200 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
The private and poetically beautiful reach of Las Pampas’ upper Rio Pico. Photo: Bryan Gregson.
Las Pampas Lodge
With a stunning location, tially Patagonian trout fishing program. ell past the end of the good road friendly local staff and a diverse When it comes to available water where the outermost tendrils dry fly centered fishing program types, fishing styles and trout species, of rangeland blend with the rugged Las Pampas is the quintessential Las Pampas Lodge may be unbeatable. snow-capped Andes is a fantastical Patagonian lodge. With a multitude of spring creeks, small angling landscape of endless diversity freestone rivers and trophy stillwaters all within a small radius and intrigue. This off-the-beaten-path region of Argentina’s of the lodge, anglers are presented with an array of rainbow, Chubut province is far beyond the familiar waters surrounding brown and brook trout fishing options that would take weeks Esquel and San Martin to the north but shy of the harsh almost to fully sample. If the available lodge-based options aren’t uninhabited steppe country typical of the Santa Cruz province enough, during key times of the season anglers can round to the south. This area is simply referred to as Rio Pico and it’s out their experience with a special satellite trophy brook trout the setting for Las Pampas Lodge’s multi-faceted and quintessencamp extension. This program has its origins in the Patagonia clothing company’s upcoming film Finding Fontinalis, in which the guides at Las Pampas take Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard on an expedition in search of a world record brook trout. Their local Argentine staff is of equal quality and create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere and truly enjoy making their guests feel like part of their larger family. Its unique and remote location, welcoming staff-driven atmosphere and its highly diverse multispecies trout fishing program combine to make this a Patagonian classic that is hard to improve upon. Rate: $5,000 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Jurassic Lake Lodge
f we were put on the spot and asked specifUnquestionably the occupancy rooms with attached bathrooms, an ically where the most prolific 100 yards of enlarged and improved main lodge and dining most prolific trophy trophy trout water in the world was, our reroom, increased fishing access, additional rainbow trout lodge sponse would be instant and our tone would be guides, and most importantly, round-trip in the world confident. “It is where Argentina’s Rio Barrancoso charter flight service to the lodge, making this flows into Lago Strobel.” We have been there and fished it and the most comfortable and productive Jurassic trip available. must say that in all our years of fly fishing, we have never seen, Rate: $4,520-$6,220 per person for a 7 night/6 ½ day package heard of or experienced anything remotely like it. Some label it surreal or incomprehensible, but for simplicity and accuracy let us call it the one and only Jurassic Lake Lodge. Jurassic Lake is nothing short of a biological marvel, and it is the most prolific trophy rainbow fishery on the planet. The lake itself is a large desert sink teeming with small scuds and massive rainbow trout. Here, the fish average over 10 pounds with countless fish in the mid-teens as well as good numbers of fish into the 20+ pound class. These fish are extremely stout and most are incredibly strong and acrobatic. The lodge has the good fortune of being located at the mouth of Jurassic Lake’s only significant tributary. With no outlet, this is far and away the best location on the lake with anglers stacking up big numbers of big fish virtually every day of the season. Moving forward, the newly remodeled facility has five double Late March and April often produce the biggest brightest fish of the season. Photo: Diego Peralta
Surveying the rough and tumble flows of Kooi Noom’s spectacular Rio Capitan. Photo: Ken Morrish
trophy lakes to mind-blowing sight fishing ooi Noom is potentially the most Sight fish steep in steep pocket water. For adventuresome unique, rugged and remote trophy freestones, small creeks anglers who enjoy the challenge of the elerainbow trout venue in all of Patagonia. Set and trophy stillwaters ments, rugged terrain and diverse fly fishing in the foothills of the Andes in the Santa in true wilderness scenarios, with shots at some very large Cruz province of southern Argentina, Kooi solitude. rainbow trout, few other places compare. Noom’s surrounding landscape embodies Kooi Noom, which translates into “the fish path” in the most everything that makes Patagonia great — it’s vast, wild, indigenous Tehuelche language, is based out of a remote and harsh and stunningly beautiful. This program combines the comfortable farmhouse known as Estancia Capitan. The comfort of a full service lodge with a tremendous variety of beautiful family-run estancia sits on 50,000 acres adjoining fishing opportunities, ranging from intimate spring creeks to some of the better fishing grounds. In addition to authentic Argentine hospitality, it offers guests three double rooms with private bathrooms, a dining room and a cozy living room where anglers can sip whiskey and fine wines after fishing. During a week stay, anglers will be able to sample a wide range of fisheries including a large lake, a few smaller productive lagunas, one very steep and interesting river and a few intimate spring creeks. All beats are within four miles of the lodge and are accessed by either four-wheel-drive truck or 4x4 side-by-side. This area has been fished by few anglers and offers lots of fish in the 4 to 10-pound class as well as some fish reaching into the 20-pound class. Rate: $4,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package PAGE 36
Los Plateados Lodge
This small, very rustic but soulful riverside hile there are a great many appealing One of Argentina’s lodge offers both boat and vehicle access to and productive steelhead rivers in the most unique and prime runs, world-class guides and delicious world, the argument for Argentina’s mighty rewarding angling meals paired with fine Argentine wines. Be Rio Santa Cruz being far and away the most adventures among the traveled few to have experienced unique is near bulletproof. The reasons are the thrill and challenge of Argentina’s impressive Atlantic many: its massive size, the harsh and surreal Daliesque landsteelhead. Prime time is from late March through early April. scape through which it flows, the subtlety of its structure and Rate: $4,950 per person for a 6 night/6 day package the trump card that it’s the only prolific Atlantic steelhead system in the world. We have no real idea as to how many fish it holds but what we do know is that after more than a decade of diligent fishing by some of Argentina’s top guides, many of its secrets have been revealed exposing a consistent and viable gem that might possibly be the last major river to be added to the canon of classic steelhead rivers. Like most, the steelhead here average 9 to 10 pounds but what is unusual is that one in ten of these fish is likely to be 20 pounds! While anglers have 30 proven pools and runs to fish, Los Plateados Lodge was built to host only four anglers per week, ensuring all guests the best shot at quality water each and every day. The man who knows more about the Rio Santa Cruz than any other, Claudio Martin, lifting a client’s lunker. Photo: Tres Amigos
The languid Rio Gallegos is the longest and loveliest of the world’s trophy sea trout rivers. Photo: Ken Morrish
Las Buitreras Lodge
ust north of the Straits of Magellan in The most sophisticated, Argentina’s most skilled guides and a chance at southeastern-most Argentina flows the sublime and secluded some of the largest and best-fighting sea trout sea trout fishery lovely and incomparable Rio Gallegos River. in the world and you will start to understand in Argentina For many a seasoned rod, this lovely lowthe loyalty of the river’s many followers. gradient system and the charming Las Buitreras lodge that As the only lodge on the river, the 290,000 acre Estancia serves it represent the pinnacle sea trout experience. Why? Las Buitreras has private access to over 24 miles of river (on Well, the reasons are many, beginning with that fact that the both sides) with 50 named pools. The lodge itself is full of international and eclectic cast of anglers that visit the lodge are rustic charm and modern conveniences. It features seven essentially the only anglers on the entire system. Add to that comfortable rooms, traditional camp styling, a large veranda, huge beats of well-rested water, incredible wildlife, some of a spacious wind-protected courtyard, a fully stocked beer and wine bar and a beautiful covered terrace complete with a stone grill where they host their weekly classic Argentine asado. The spectacular beauty of the Gallegos watershed is otherworldly and the likelihood is high that you might find yourself fishing alongside silver foxes, guanacos, rheas, flamingos and wild horses. Fishing for the mighty sea run browns of the Rio Gallegos can be very challenging but also incredibly rewarding. Together with the highly skilled and experienced guides of Las Buitreras, the warm charm of the Argentinean culture and the extreme beauty of this pristine and unpressured system, you’re assured to have the angling adventure of a lifetime. Rate: $5,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
longtime Fly Water favorite, Estancia Small, unassuming and Come experience firsthand the section of the strategically located Despedida embodies many of the charriver so many huge sea trout call home. on the best pools of the acteristics we value most in a lodge including a The tastefully designed wood and stone world’s most prolific small number of weekly guests, colorful handslodge is reminiscent of a main house on a classic sea trout system on owner operators, great Argentine guides and Patagonian estancia. The main room features a genuine desire to spend long hours on the water. Limited to ample seating around a central stone fireplace and its four large six anglers per week, Despedida is close to their fishing grounds bedrooms have private baths and covered porches with incredible which the locals refer to as “corazon del rio,” or “the heart of views of Cerro Desnudo, a beautiful peak within the Andes. Add the river.” Here in this section of the Rio Grande, sandwiched to this exceptional service, gourmet meals featuring locally grown conveniently between the Rio Grandes’s two key tributaries, Ona organic produce and beef and fine Argentine wines, and you will and Menendez, the question is never “if ” you are fishing over see why this is an operation whose future is incredibly bright. fish, but rather “how many, how big and how willing.” Rate: $6,100 per person for a 7 night/6 day package At its core, Estancia Despedida is a family-run operation with an intimate atmosphere which permeates every aspect of the place. Danny and Helen Lajous have been hosting fishermen on the Rio Grande for roughly two decades. With a very high return rate, guests at Despedida have come to appreciate the incredibly warm and genuine hospitality that comes from the Lajous family and their dedicated team of fly fishing professionals. The most distant pools on the ranch are only minutes from the lodge, minimizing drive times and maximizing time spent on the water. For hardcore anglers who appreciate long hours on the water, short drive times and a great value, Despedida delivers! An angler and guide work their way into the head of the famous Arturo Pool. Photo: Ken Morrish
Head guide and manager Tom Enderlin looking for the day’s last shot on the lagoon. Photo: Brian Gies
Jungle Tarpon Reserve Giants from Costa Rica’s Intimate Interior Rivers
By Brian Gies
orthern Costa Rica’s Jungle Tarpon Reserve is a vast inland system of freshwater rivers, creeks and flooded lagoons surrounded by verdant rainforest and swampland. During the dry season the lagoons and creeks are reduced to nearly a trickle, but come August, the area literally springs to life. Runoff from surrounding volcanoes fills the creeks, rivers, and lagoons, creating a vast inland sea teeming with migratory baitfish, monkeys, wading birds and caiman. Somehow the primal tarpon of the Atlantic sense this and journey over a hundred miles inland to feed on the bounty of the jungle’s flooded interior. The feast attracts tarpon of all sizes with the majority of the fish weighing 50 to 100 pounds as well as behemoths in the 150 to 200-pound class. The most unique and dynamic fishery in the region is unquestionably the river. Flowing through a mosaic of virgin rainforest and active farmlands, this mid-sized jungle river is among the most intense and intimate landscapes imaginable to pursue trophy tarpon. When hooked, these big tarpon typically go wild, leaping into overhanging branches or diving into the dark waters to wrap you on countless obstacles. Fighting tarpon here is active-duty jungle combat at its finest. The other unique fishery is comprised of a network of shallow creek-fed lagoons. While these are meadows in the dry season, in the fall and early winter they are full of baitfish creating an incredible stillwater tarpon fishery. With wind PAGE 40
and chop being extremely rare, the lagoons provide a glassy smooth volcano-ringed arena through which hooked tarpon violently erupt.
The Fishing Program The Jungle Tarpon Reserve is limited to four anglers per week. All anglers fish two per guide out of local pangas and employ a split-day schedule, typically fishing the river one session and the lagoons the other. Days start early with a 100-yard walk to the boats where a light breakfast of fruit, local pastries and coffee is served onboard as you head out to the morning beat. Late morning you will return to your accommodations for lunch and a siesta and then head out for an afternoon/ evening session that typically runs from 2pm to 6pm. Fishing will be a mix of casting to rolling or actively feeding fish, blind casting to likely holding spots, or targeting wakes and nervous water in the lagoons. There are even times when the tarpon line up in the mouths of creeks like giant trout and feed explosively on baitfish as they are flushed out of the jungle.
The Scene Jungle Tarpon Reserve is a rustic fishing-focused travel adventure. The lodging is simple but comfortable. Guests stay in private family-owned cabanas less than 100 yards from where they board the fishing pangas. They have two single beds,
JUNGLE TARPON RESERVE private baths with semi-warm water showers and ceiling fans. The property has a large covered outdoor area perfect for fly tying, relaxing between fishing sessions and evening drinks. Meals are all taken at one of a number of small simple restaurants in the nearby town. It is a very personal affair providing anglers an unfiltered glimpse of this rural ranching settlement. Almost all the restaurants serve a variation of the same dish: fried fish, chicken or pork served with a side of rice and beans. If you have elaborate dietary needs, this might not be the place for you.
Your Host Jungle Tarpon Reserve is a collaborative effort between head guide and host Tom Enderlin and Solid Adventures of Sweden. It does not take long to notice that American expat Tom Enderlin is a smart, passionate guy looking to create a unique and sustainable fishing destination. He truly cares about the tarpon,
the environment, and making a positive impact in the region. Tom has created a program where all of his anglers will be volunteers supporting conservation through the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. Each landed tarpon will be measured and scale samples will be analyzed by their Tarpon Genetics Program. The big picture of this is to better understand how these unique tarpon fit into the global tarpon scheme and how to better implement protection of these majestic fish for future generations. Tom also operates a small non-profit called Conservaciรณn Bosque del Sรกbalo. The goal of this project is to create an internationally recognized freshwater tarpon sanctuary that would promote environmental stewardship, community awareness, enhanced scientific understanding and the creation of sustainable economic opportunities. Season: August to December 2017 Rate: $3,990 per person for a 6 night/6 day package
Richard and Stephan of Solid Adventures team up to photograph a river-caught monster. Photo: Stephan Gian Dumbaj Jr.
Fly Water’s national sales rep and Cuba specialist Jon Covich with a perfect tarpon from Jardines de la Reina. Photo: Jon Covich
ith recent changes and the relaxing of decades-old policies, American anglers can now take advantage of a special allowance that provides 100 percent legal entry into Cuba, and more importantly, re-entry back to the United States. Cuba’s diverse and varied fishing programs are in a class by themselves. The fishing can be spectacular and the call of wild, unpressured flats remains the stuff that angling dreams are made of. However, beyond all of this, it’s truly a magical time in history to visit this remarkable island nation. With so much history, transition and possibility, a trip to Cuba makes for a fantastic travel adventure all by itself. A journey to Cuba blends cultural interest, travel adventure and world-class fishing better than perhaps any other destination in the world today.
Jardines De La Reina The Jardines de la Reina (JDR), which translates to the “Gardens of the Queen”, is located off the southern central coast of the country. This massive archipelago is formed by some 600 cays and parallels the Cuban coastline for nearly 100 miles. It alone is bigger than the entirety of the Florida Keys. The JDR is a vast and prolific marine sanctuary and is serviced by Avalon exclusively, meaning it’s likely you will never see another fishing boat other than those from your own party. This area offers anglers true variety and fantastic biodiversity. Both migratory and baby tarpon, permit, bonefish, jacks, snapper and barracuda are all available. Anglers access the fishery aboard Avalon’s floating hotel called La Tortuga or aboard one of several motherships located in the area. Rates: $4,400-$9600 per person for a 9 night/6 day package Cayo Cruz Cayo Cruz features one of the most healthy, untouched and pristine marine environments in Cuba. Located on the northern central coast, this newer destination from Avalon is still being explored and producing impressive results. This fishery is defined by great wading opportunities and fantastic fishing for large bonefish, permit and migratory tarpon in season (May). Anglers access the fishery via Avalon’s mothership called Avalon Fleet I. Rate: $8,800 per person for a 9 night/6 day package (based on a group of 10 anglers)
Cayo Largo Cayo Largo offers an immaculate and highly productive flats fishery coupled with great options for those interested in a wide range of resort-based activities. Absent of commercial fishing pressure, Cayo Largo (Long Cay) is a meticulously managed biosphere preserve and the area is designated “fly fishing only”. Trips to Cayo Largo avoid the confines of a mothership and give guests the ability to explore the island’s beaches, tours and dynamic ecosystems. The primary targets for anglers include large bonefish and permit with a few opportunities for resident tarpon. Anglers can either stay at The Sol Club, a large (296-room) all-inclusive resort complete with several restaurants, swimming pools, activities, eco-excursions and amenities, or the small and more casual Villas Marinera. Suitable for families and couples, both options provide a perfect home base for general vacation tourism and world-class saltwater angling. Rate: $4,950-$9,200 per person for a 9 night/6 day package Cayo Santa Maria Cayo Santa Maria has an established track record for providing amazing tarpon opportunities. Located on the northern coast of the country, approximately a 4.5-hour drive due east of Havana, this area known as the Jardines del Rey (Gardens of the King) is a prime destination for both resident and migratory tarpon. Some opportunities for bonefish and permit are available as
well. This diverse region offers flats, beaches, deep channels and mangrove estuaries. Most fishing takes place from the boat. The best time to visit Santa Maria for migratory tarpon is March through July, with peak months being May and June. Anglers stay at the large, all-inclusive resort called Iberostar Ensenachos. Santa Maria is also one of Cuba’s more budget-friendly options. Rate: $3,640-$5,320 per person for a 8 night/6 day package The Zapata Peninsula If you’re interested in experiencing some of Cuba’s most diverse and economical fishing opportunities, Zapata National Park may be your place. The expansive flats that extend from this huge mangrove swamp provide an amazing saltwater fishery, particularly for bonefish. With most of the flats being hard sand or coral, plenty of good wading options are available. Additionally, anglers can cast from skiffs while stalking bonefish that average between 3 and 5 pounds. There are also good chances for permit here, particularly on the outer edges of these vast flat expanses. Resident tarpon can also be found in the slightly deeper water of the channels and lagoons. Migratory tarpon arrive in the spring months and can be targeted through the end of June. Guests access the area aboard the 100 foot live-aboard yacht, Georgiana. Rate: $3,325-$4,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package (based on a group of 8 anglers)
Fly Water co-founder Brian Gies with a hefty Christmas Island GT. Photo: Dylan Rose
Christmas Island Outfitters
water fishing for tuna, wahoo and trevally is he fact that virtually every fly angler in Experience the world’s North America has heard of Christmas most consistent year-round also available. Christmas Island Outfitters is a small Island is far from coincidence. Amidst fishing for bonefish and operation taking a maximum of 12 anglers the vast inventory of the world’s saltwater trevally with skilled, per week. The lodge is located halfway bedestinations, Christmas Island is a unique warm-hearted guides. tween the airport and London on a secluded natural masterpiece that magically comsection of beach. Accommodations at Crystal Beach Lodge bines all the elements critical to fly fishing success. Endless consist of three split level buildings, each with four separate units. hard sand flats, remarkable numbers of cruising bonefish and Each room is configured to house two anglers and each has a trevally and consistent year-round weather await all who visit private bathroom. Rooms are very simple and clean and feature this unique atoll. ample space for gear. Top floor rooms look out over the vast Pacific Guides at Christmas Island Outfitters have been handpicked and offer a refreshing ocean breeze. Each unit is equipped with for their overall level of experience and skill, calmness under A/C, screened windows, fans, a small refrigerator and simple pressure and instructional abilities. Each day anglers will depart plastic table and chairs. Meals are very basic and incorporate via truck or catamaran for the day’s fishing. Virtually all fishing fresh seafood (snapper, tuna and wahoo, lobster, mantis shrimp), entails sight casting to visible fish while wading in shallow water. chicken, pork, rice, pasta and sometimes steak. Christmas Island’s plentiful bonefish average 2 to 4 pounds, Whether you are an experienced saltwater angler or a novice though each week presents numerous opportunities for larger keen on honing your flats fishing skills, Christmas Island specimens in the 5 to 10-pound class. The guides at Christmas Outfitters offers the finest and most intimate angling experience Island Outfitters are also among the atolls most skilled and pasthe island has to offer. sionate trevally hunters and love nothing more than sharing the thrill of hooking these monsters with their guests. Excellent blue Rate: $2,570 per person for a 7 night/6 day package PAGE 44
Andros South Lodge
Delivering a comfortable, ndros South is a laid-back Bahamian wind comes up, the interior creeks offer a high-value, no-frills operation located in the heart of southproductive respite from the wind. If you’re experience on some of ern Andros’s prime bonefishing grounds. If looking for a proven, affordable and quintesthe Bahamas’ most a “bonefish bum” could design their ideal sentially Bahamian bonefishing experience, productive flats. lodge, Andros South would be it. Guests look no further than Andros South. Rate: $4,635 plus tax per person for a 7 night/6 day grab their own beers out of the fridge and relax post-fishing in package a beach side tiki hut to watch the sun go down and exchange fishing stories. Don’t get us wrong, they take their fishing program very seriously and offer highly experienced guides, high quality boats, a friendly staff, complimentary loaner tackle, long days on the water and warm Bahamian hospitality that is hard to beat. The southern portion of Andros Island offers bonefish anglers an expansive bonefishing playground complete with hard sand flats, channels, creeks and vast skinny water lagoons. Access to the west side is possible with good tidal conditions, and if the
Moonrise over the beachside bar, Andros South Lodge. Photo: Andrew Bennett
Sunset at Abaco Lodge. Photo: Dylan Rose
hen it comes to spectacular bonefishing opportunities, outstanding all-inclusive lodges, skilled guides and a wide range of varied flats environments, the Bahamas still set the bar. The below operations are among our favorite and represent a dynamic cross-section of world-class Bahamian outfitters. Mangrove Cay Club Mangrove Cay Club was built by Liz and Alton Bain from the ground up to be one thing: a world-class bonefishing lodge. It’s one of the few destinations that brings all the crucial elements together — location, management, amenities, guides, equipment, cuisine and spectacular flats fishing. With characteristically short runs to some of the most famous trophy bonefish flats in the world, it is easy to make a case that this is the Bahamas’ premier flats fishing lodge. Rate: $5,350 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 day package Bair’s Lodge Strategically located midway between the South Bight and Curly Cut Cays of South Andros, Bair’s Lodge provides easy access PAGE 46
to some of the most remote and productive flats in all of the Bahamas. Luxury accommodations, fantastic locally inspired cuisine and some of Andros Island’s most experienced guides are just the start. Positioned on a beautiful white sand beach, this location easily caters to spouses keen on relaxing in a Bahamian paradise. Anglers fish from the bow of 18-foot Dolphin skiffs or wade the famed and prolific bonefish flats of southern Andros. Rate: $5,250-$5,650 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Mars Bay Lodge Make no mistake, Mars Bay Lodge is a no-frills operation that has one purpose: to place you squarely on some of the world’s most productive bonefish flats at a price you can afford. Owner and operator Bill Howard puts it best when he says, “We are not a high-end fancy resort. The napkins are paper. You’ll not find a mint on your pillow and you will not be greeted at the dock with a hot steaming towel to wipe your brow. You can grab your own beer and mix your own drink the way you like it. The lodge has a laid-back vibe but don’t let that mislead you. Everything goes off on time and as scheduled.” Positioned as the southernmost operation
on the island, this small eight-angler lodge provides unparalleled access to the hallowed bonefish grounds of “The South.” Rate: $4,350 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Deep Water Cay Deep Water Cay was founded in 1958 as a world-class bonefishing destination. The small private island of Deep Water Cay is located off the east end of Grand Bahama Island and offers a luxurious jumping-off point for an expansive fishery. Deep Water Cay offers easy access to pristine flats, lots of leeward hideaways and a tremendous population of bonefish including some that are just plain enormous! In the spring of 2014 a new lodge record was set with an incredible fish that tipped the Boga grip scale at 14.6 pounds. Deep Water Cay remains a thriving and sought-after destination that many anglers visit multiple times a year. It has withstood the test of time and continues to offer anglers an amazing luxury fishing experience paired with first-class service and amenities galore. Rate: $6,151.37-$6,547.30 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 day package H2O Bonefishing Located in Freeport, Grand Bahama near the Port Lucaya Marketplace, H2O Bonefishing couples premier angling for large bonefish with a hotel-style resort rich in amenities. Guests stay at the beautiful Pelican Bay Resort complete with a large pool, hot tub and outdoor bar. Those who prefer not to fish enjoy the area’s shopping scene, casinos, restaurants, tourist activities
and pristine white-sand beaches. Anglers fish the expansive and remote flats of Grand Bahama’s northern shoreline. After fishing, guests enjoy the lively atmosphere and endless fish stories told in the Bonefish Bar, then head out to the marina where they enjoy many options for drinks and dinner on their own. Rate: $3,071-$3,995 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Eva’s Bonefishing Lodge NEW Eva’s Bonefishing Lodge is a beautiful new operation located near Staniard Creek on North Andros Island in the Bahamas. With a maximum capacity of six anglers, this lodge offers an intimate and relaxed family-run atmosphere. With ample opportunities to target fish on foot, anglers have opportunities to cast at large solitary bonefish or smaller schooling fish depending on conditions and preferences. Eva’s has been receiving fantastic feedback from Fly Water clientele and continues to bolster its reputation as a premier option in the landscape of Bahamian bonefish lodges. Rate: $4,800 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Abaco Lodge With access to nearly 400 square miles of pristine flats and the famed Marls of Abaco beginning a stone’s throw from their front door, Abaco Lodge is a top-tier destination for bonefishing enthusiasts the world over. Tasteful yet understated luxury define this attractive and well-appointed lodge. With direct commercial flights to Marsh Harbor from Florida, anglers enjoy easy access to Abaco Lodge and some of the best bonefishing on the planet. Rate: $5,250-$5,650 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Fly Water’s saltwater specialist Dylan Rose with a handsome Playa Blanca permit. Photo: Dylan Rose
ocated 90 miles south of Cancun is the crown jewel of Mexico’s saltwater ecosystems: the 1.3 million acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, which encompasses and protects the rich turquoise waters of Ascension Bay. Here, among endless crystal-clear flats, mangrove lagoons, channels and reefs, bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook and barracuda abound. Due to its protected status and a growing conservation ethic among its inhabitants, many agree that the region’s fishing is actually improving. Today the area is rich in quality guides and accommodations. The majority of them are located in or near the quaint fishing village of Punta Allen. At first glance they
appear similar, but after years of working the region, we have come to understand their subtle differences. Whether you are a family in search of a great fishing vacation or a seasoned angler in search of the coveted “grand slam,” we will help you find the lodge that is right for you. Casa Blanca Lodge Casa Blanca Lodge is widely considered the most established, secluded and professional operation in the greater Ascension Bay region. Located at the southern end of Ascension Bay, Casa Blanca Lodge’s superb location puts anglers on some of the most remote locations in Ascension Bay within minutes. Casa Blanca’s veteran stable of guides features some of the most talented and experienced professionals on the entire Yucatan. A fresh, vibrant and highly energetic new management team has this venerable operation in top shape and delivering on all fronts. Packages include a private air charter to their private island from Cancun. Rate: $4,398-$4,742 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Playa Blanca Lodge Playa Blanca is a top-quality saltwater lodge that focuses on fishing the little-known and lightly pressured flats of Espiritu Santo Bay. This is a beautiful fishery located entirely within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. When it comes to getting on the flats first and presenting flies to fish that have not seen
a lot of boat traffic, few places in the region compare. Espiritu Santo Bay is known for healthy populations of permit, bonefish, tarpon, barracuda and jacks. Playa Blanca sits on a remote and beautiful white sand beach and is blessed with one of the most seasoned and longest tenured guide staffs in Mexico. They also have a remarkable and essentially private Mayan ruin within easy walking distance of the lodge. Fishing packages include a round-trip charter flight from Cancun to the lodge, eliminating long drives and transfers. Playa Blanca remains in very high demand, so if this operation is on your radar don’t delay getting in a request for dates in as soon as possible. Rate: $4,398-$4,742 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Pesca Maya Lodge When it comes to value, flexible packages, a variety of fish species and warm Mexican hospitality, Pesca Maya Lodge has always been at the top of our list. The lodge maintains a skilled staff of in-house guides that rank among our favorite in the Yucatan. Located on a white sand beach just outside the village of Punta Allen, Pesca Maya Lodge is a casual favorite for serious anglers in search of Ascension Bay’s best fly fishing. Rate: $3,964 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Grand Slam Lodge Grand Slam Lodge sets a new standard for quality lodging in the region. The lodge offers seasoned anglers, couples and families world-class fishing opportunities coupled with the region’s most luxurious accommodations. Located on a private beach outside the village of Punta Allen, Grand Slam is highlighted by 12 private multi-room villas, a beautifully appointed main lodge and a swimming pool. Other than fishing, spouses can enjoy picturesque beach lounging on king-size “Bali” beach beds, kayaking, golf, snorkeling, scuba diving, kite surfing and an array of Mayan tours. Rate: $3,550-$3,830 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Isla Blanca For anglers visiting the Cancun area with their families or transiting to other destinations across the Yucatan, Isla Blanca offers incredibly rich baby tarpon, snook and permit opportunities proximal to the bustling tourist center of Cancun. The numerous flats and mangrove systems of Isla Blanca located northwest of Cancun are accessed by purpose built 18-foot panga-style skiffs. This is the perfect way to sneak in some fishing while on a family vacation and day trips are welcome. Rate: $395 per day for 1 or 2 anglers La Pescadora NEW La Pescadora is a small, family-run operation located in Punta Allen on the Yucatan’s famed Ascension Bay. With a maximum of only eight anglers, La Pescadora is the perfect option for those seeking a casual, affordable, family-run home base from which to access the numerous bonefish, permit and tarpon of Ascension Bay. Together with her husband and head guide Jose, lodge manager Lily Bertram offers a welcoming and budget-friendly operation that works with some of our favorite guides on the Yucatan. Rate: Please call for a custom quote Espiritu Santo Bay Lodge NEW The soon-to-be-completed Espiritu Santo Bay Lodge is currently being built on the southern shore of Espiritu Santo Bay within the massive 1.3 million acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve near the town of Punta Herrero. The inaugural season begins on April 2, 2017, and will allow saltwater anglers quick and easy access to the remote and highly productive Espiritu Santo Bay. This exciting new operation will provide an affordable opportunity to target all four of the Caribbean’s most favored flats species (tarpon, bonefish, permit and snook) and includes a convenient charter flight direct to the lodge from Cancun. Rate: $3,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Castaway Film’s drone captures Fly Water’s Dylan Rose setting hard on a juvenile tarpon. Photo: Grant Wiswell
he fertile mangrove-lined waters of Mexico’s northern Yucatan Peninsula represent the most prolific juvenile tarpon waters in the world. The ease of travel, abundant populations of tarpon and consistent heart-stopping action on the fly makes this region ideal for short trips or longer adventures combining multiple destinations. While considered a year-round destination, our favorite time to be there falls between April and September. Tarpon Cay Lodge The rich azure waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the charming village of San Felipe set the scene for an excursion to Tarpon Cay Lodge. This prolific juvenile tarpon fishery takes advantage of two major biosphere preserves that surround the lodge for miles in each direction. You’ll also appreciate the split-shift schedule and post-lunch afternoon siesta each fishing day. With a maximum of six anglers, Tarpon Cay Lodge is a small operation rich with rustic Mexican charm, fantastic home-cooked meals and highly skilled guides. Simple acPAGE 50
commodations feature bright rooms with fans and airy ocean views, air conditioning and private baths. This incredibly rich ecosystem offers the most well-rounded, interesting and productive baby tarpon fishery on the planet! Rate: $3,775 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Isla del Sabalo Located 60 miles north of the city of Campeche, Isla del Sabalo sits in a solitary world of its own, devoid of any competing angling pressure. With two distinct fisheries, anglers have the opportunity to target baby tarpon from 5 to 20 pounds across nearly 30 accessible river systems and larger juveniles from 20 to 50 pounds found on deeper offshore flats. The beauty of Isa del Sabalo lies in its simplicity. Anglers enjoy basic air-conditioned beach cabanas with two beds, a table and a private bathroom. Each morning the pangas are loaded and beach-launched in front of the property, mere steps away from your room. Meals are served under a large central palapa and consist of fantastic, down-home Mexican comfort food. Rate: $3,775 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Isla Holbox Isla Holbox is located on the north coast of Mexicoâ€™s Yucatan Peninsula. The island is approximately seven miles long and its surrounding flats, lagoons, channels and mangrove forests are home to dizzying numbers of baby tarpon. Placed squarely amongst the most productive tarpon waters found anywhere in the world, Isla Holbox is a world-class destination for fly anglers interested in chasing both baby tarpon and larger migratory tarpon in excess of 100 pounds. The charming and casual fishing village of Holbox is filled with authentic Mexican restaurants, bars, hotels and beachside cantinas. This classic Mexican beach town serves as your home base for a fantastic tarpon adventure. Isla Holbox is perfect for hardcore anglers, couples and families alike. Itâ€™s hard not to fall in love with the island and the general warm vibes of this casual Mexican fishing village. Rate: $450 per day for 1 or 2 anglers
Campeche Located on the western Yucatan Peninsula, the quaint historic city of Campeche offers a rich hub from which to access more than 80 miles of mangrove coasts, countless inlet creeks and numerous channels rich with baby tarpon. Here skilled fly fishing guides specialize in sight fishing for feisty tarpon in the 5 to 30-pound class on floating lines. Campeche is a favorite for saltwater fly anglers of all skill levels. Standard packages offer accommodations at the Ocean View Hotel or the Hotel Plaza Campeche, and for keen tarpon anglers looking for a spouse-appropriate destination, Campeche fits the bill nicely. Light breakfasts are served at the hotel and ample lunches are served aboard the panga boats. Guests enjoy evening meals (not included) at various restaurants in this charming historical city. Rate: $3,775 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Working the flats of the protected Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. Photo: Dylan Rose
ith the lowest population density in Central America, a diverse and laid-back English-speaking population, abundant rivers, numerous inland wildlife reserves, endless flats, hundreds of small islands and the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, Belize is truly a travel-friendly nature lover’s paradise. With incredibly healthy populations of bonefish, permit, tarpon, jacks and snook, there is enough diversity to keep even the most hardened angler captivated. Likewise, those not interested in fishing have countless options ranging from snorkeling and scuba, jungle tours, guided birding, eco-adventures and Mayan ruin tours. El Pescador Resort Located on the island of Ambergris Caye, hardcore anglers and non-fishing guests alike will find a myriad of available activities within easy striking distance. Bonefish, permit, snook, jacks, barracuda and both resident and migratory tarpon are all available from El Pescador. Spectacular snorkeling, diving and kayaking as well as ecotour programs are all available. For those who prefer to just relax, three on-site swimming pools are also available. Additionally, the charming tourist town of San Pedro lies just minutes away by boat. Small groups can also take advantage of well-appointed two or three-bedroom private villas. El Pescador Resort combines exceptional service, quality fishing and an abundance of exciting eco-adventure activities. Rate: $4,310 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Belize River Lodge Belize River Lodge rests quietly on the lush, green banks of the Old Belize River and is easy to reach from the states. This historic mahogany lodge is well known for providing a warm tropical experience and easy access to what we consider the most diverse array of saltwater fisheries in Belize. With rich wind protected river systems, large resident rolling tarpon and countless offshore cayes loaded with permit, bonefish and snook, Belize River Lodge may be one of the world’s best places to capture an elusive inshore super grand slam (bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook all caught and released in a single day). Rate: $4,375 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Long Caye Island Resort Owned and managed by the same team as Belize River Lodge, this small three-bedroom house lies on a small island with a private beach and productive flat right out the front door. This idyllic Belizean outpost gives guests immediate access to a huge number of the most productive waters in the region. Catering to private groups of no more than six people, this intimate operation is the perfect setting for the ultimate small group getaway. Rate: $4,375 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Turneffe Flats Lodge For more than 20 years, Turneffe Flats Lodge has been a mecca for serious anglers. Long recognized as one of Belize’s top
saltwater fly fishing destinations, the lodge also offers premiere scuba diving and marine ecotourism opportunities. Located on the vast Turneffe Atoll, Turneffe Flats Lodge boasts a remarkable diversity of varied saltwater experiences. The management team consistently provides top-notch experiences and thoroughly understands how to take care of non-angling companions. Rate: $3,790-$4,380 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 day package Belcampo Belize Sitting atop a picturesque jungle ridge above the small Belizean village of Punta Gorda is the beautiful Belcampo Belize lodge and farm. Belcampo is a paradise for adventure seekers, foodies, spa goers, couples and fly anglers seeking to experience some of the most prolific permit grounds found anywhere in the world. Belcampo gives the phrase “farm-to-table” a whole new meaning as their operation produces 80 percent of everything served at the lodge. Renowned chef and Le Cordon Bleu culinary school instructor Renee Everett uses the farm as her private culinary playground to create virtuosic cuisine with some of the freshest local ingredients imaginable. Belcampo’s crops and animals are all lovingly cared for and rest on over 12,000 private acres of pristine jungle. Anglers target permit, tarpon and bonefish with legendary local guides from the Garbutt’s Fishing Lodge. We are pleased to offer Belcampo as one of the most unique and interesting programs found anywhere in the saltwater world. Rate: $3,649-$5,096 per person for a 7 night/6 day package The Rising Tide NEW The Rising Tide is a 58-foot Hatteras wide-body yacht that serves as a liveaboard mothership for anglers and families looking for a unique and diverse Belizean fly fishing experience. Trips aboard The Rising Tide offer great variety, custom itineraries, remote access, skilled guides and an affordable yet exclusive experience for groups of 2 to 6 people. Let the Rising Tide be your group’s exclusive floating lodge and access some of the most remote and productive waters in Belize. Rate: $3,695-$5,445 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Garbutt’s Fishing Lodge The Garbutt brothers’ fishing lodge is located in the small village of Punta Gorda near Belize’s southern border with Guatemala. Scully, Eworth and Oliver Garbutt are master permit hunters and focus on the prolific waters of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. This rich, 847-square-kilometer network of lagoons, islands, reefs and flats provide for some of the most diverse and little-pressured permit grounds found anywhere in the world. The Garbutts offer simple seaside cabanas and homespun Belizean cuisine in an affordable, comfortable and friendly atmosphere. Simply put, there may not be a better place in the world to chase permit by day and rest your head by night! Rate: $2,865 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
The Seychelles are home to the the finest giant trevally destinations in the world. Photo: Fly Castaway
he Seychelles have been deemed home to the greatest saltwater fly fishing on earth, largely due to steady streams of large, aggressive bonefish, endless pristine flats, huge trevally and barracuda, mysterious schools of super-charged milkfish, Indo-Pacific permit, triggerfish and some of the best flats guides in the business. The only downside is that once you have fished
here you will be forever spoiled. Let us help you navigate these remarkable waters and aid you in finding the saltwater experience you have been dreaming of. Alphonse Island Resort Alphonse Island Resort is the original and arguably the most consistent Seychelles destination where world-class fishing is complimented by some of the best accommodations in the saltwater world. Alphonse Island Resort offers guests refined international cuisine, tasteful waterfront chalets complete with private verandas and bathrooms with open-air showers. Rate: $9,375 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Farquhar Atoll Lodge Long known to only the inner circle of adventuresome saltwater anglers, Farquhar was one of the earliest outer islands to be discovered. Its reasonable size, varied flats, coral-strewn lagoon and prolific blue water fishery make it one of the worldâ€™s best
multispecies destinations. In the past it was only accessed by mothership but today anglers enjoy a small, simple lodge that makes it the perfect island fish camp. Rate: $8,500 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Cosmoledo Liveaboard Accessed by the comfortable Lone Star liveaboard catamaran, Cosmoledo is unquestionably one of the best giant trevally fisheries in the world and has become the benchmark for anglers in search of the epic flats fishing experience. Cosmo is a large, untouched ecosystem whose white sand flats, lagoons and channels are ruled by pugnacious packs of giant trevally. However, these fish are not the only species that can be found here in impressive numbers. Big bonefish, bluefin trevally, bohar snapper, barracuda, milkfish, finicky Indo-Pacific permit and a host of triggerfish species all call Cosmoledo home. Hit this trip right and it is as good as saltwater fishing can be! Rate: $15,125 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Astove Atoll Lodge Just a stoneâ€™s throw away from the famous Cosmoledo Atoll lies the lesser-known but equally prolific Astove Atoll. Among anglers in the know, this atoll is recognized as the greatest GT fishery in all the Seychelles. Angling here has historically been limited due to difficulties in access, but with the construction of a new airstrip and a simple rustic lodge, small groups of six
anglers are now able to access this unspoiled saltwater paradise. Rate: $14,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Providence Atoll Liveaboard Providence Atoll ranks among the largest and least discovered fisheries in the Seychelles. It has vast open sand flats, large areas of turtle grass and intricate coral heads scattered throughout deeper waters. There are many channels, coral spits and dropoffs with several deep cuts that become isolated during spring low tides. Top guides have described it as a massive unpredictable beast that changes moods with the tides and will take years to fully discover and tame. Be among the first to unlock and experience the vast potential of this prolific saltwater wilderness. Rate: $12,000 per person for a 7 night/6 day package St. Brandon Atoll NEW Due east of Madagascar and 300 miles northeast of the island of Mauritius lies an obscure and seldom-visited atoll that may be the greatest bonefishing destination in the world. Fished from the comfort of a new, simple eight-person lodge, St. Brandonâ€™s Atoll is a wade fishermanâ€™s paradise blessed with enormous hard sand flats and staggering numbers of huge bonefish. In addition to this incomparable bonefish resource, anglers will also encounter good numbers of Indo-Pacific permit and a vast array of trevally including bluefin, golden, yellow dot, green spot and the coveted GT. Rate: $7,500 per person for a 10 night/7 day package
Tarpon Cay Lodge’s
A crazy juvenile tarpon throws the fly mid-jump.
Story & Photos by Dylan Rose
other Nature needed a fish that jumped high, was adorned in stainless steel plates of armor and attacked with reckless abandon. She needed a durable fish that induced shock and awe from all that encountered it, was capable of migrating thousands of miles and was comfortable in murky oxygen-depleted water. She needed an ambush predator with a bucket-sized mouth that could chase, strike and devour prey with a simple flick of its tail. She needed to create the fly angler’s dream quarry and a fish that had the potential to thrill, infuriate and addict anglers from near or far, and so she created the tarpon. Mother Nature created perfection when she created the tarpon, and luckily for us, there is a place to experience them unlike any else on Earth. PAGE 56
Tarpon Cay Lodge Tarpon Cay Lodge is the world’s premier destination for targeting juvenile tarpon on the fly. Located in San Felipe, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula, this charming and somewhat rustic hotel is home base for fly anglers keen on tossing flies to loco sabalitos (crazy baby tarpon!) in the 5 to 25 pound range. The expansive open-water turtle grass flats and mangrove estuaries surrounding San Felipe are some of the most productive habitat found anywhere on Earth for rearing tarpon. The lodge is located in the charming and essentially touristfree commercial fishing village of San Felipe on the northern tip of the Yucatan. It is positioned squarely between the expansive Parque Natural San Felipe marine preserve stretching some 20
TARPON CAY LODGEâ€™S LOCO SABALITOS miles to the west and the Rio Lagartos preserve stretching 30 miles to the east. Cumulatively, these conservation corridors ensure that miles upon miles of prime tarpon rearing grounds are protected in their entirety. Tarpon Cay Lodge is actually a small hotel called the Hotel San Felipe. Rooms at the hotel are not over-the-top in terms of luxury but instead offer simple surroundings with clean, comfortable and air-conditioned rooms and common areas. Rooms feature private bathrooms, ocean views and plenty of hot water. Adding to the charm of Tarpon Cay is on-site manager Beto, who remains one of the most popular hosts we have ever come across. His pleasant and good-natured humor, attention to detail and unfailing desire to help you have a great time keeps anglers coming back year after year.
The Silver King Tarpon are fascinating and prehistoric creatures that are capable of breathing air in low oxygenated water. Scientists continue to research and study all that they can in an attempt to un-
derstand these incredible fish. The majority of baby tarpon grow and begin to mature in the estuarine ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico, where many juveniles take refuge in the vast mangrove-lined coastlines of the Yucatan. These babies develop along these abundant mangrove shorelines for the first seven or eight years of their life, typically growing to an average size of about 30 to 35 pounds during this time. Males generally stay smaller than females. As they continue to mature, grow in size and build confidence they begin seeking larger prey offshore. Typically fish above 30 pound become migratory in nature and less apt to inhabit the nearshore mangrove edges of the Yucatan. The main portion of the migration is thought to begin somewhere near Panama (or even further south) and extends north through Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Keys. Females are thought to spawn in deeper open water environments where they may produce millions of minute larvae that eventually are washed back towards the mangroves where the cycle repeats.
The author with a perfect TCL tarpon.
TARPON CAY LODGE’S LOCO SABALITOS
Few things will make you happier as a traveling angler then the split shift fishing program at Tarpon Cay Lodge. Each The fishing program at Tarpon Cay allows two anglers to fish morning the fishing day begins around 6am and extends to per boat with a single guide. The guide team is a seasoned crew about 11am. After the morning session, anglers have an opporof experienced tarpon hunters, deeply familiar with their local tunity take in a fabulous home-cooked Mexican lunch back at waters. All of them were born and raised right in San Felipe. the lodge, have a siesta, tie flies and prep tackle for the evening They are a highly skilled and savvy team with expert knowlsession which kicks off by about 3pm. Anglers have the opporedge of the area and the specific needs of fly fishing clientele. tunity to fish through the evening sunset Tarpon Cay is a small operation that only places three and typically arrive back at the lodge boats on the water each day, keeping the around 7pm for cocktails and dinner. fishery fresh and unpressured all season It’s easy for anglers to assume that long. Anglers are able to fish the entire because they are targeting “babies,” the catchexpanse of available terrain without worry ing will be easy. Sometimes, this is absolutely of other operations infringing on their fishing zone, Tequila Popper the truth, but more realistically juvenile tarpon which is a huge benefit and rare in the scope of availcan be very challenging. Even though they may be smaller able saltwater fishing destinations. then their adult migrating counterparts they are still tarpon, Anglers are typically outfitted with fast-action 8 and and at times can become very sensitive to their changing envi9-weight rods, high-quality saltwater reels and floating fly lines. ronment. Whether it’s due to increased rain, the moon, wind, The black golden hue of a tarpon’s back blends perfectly with a changing barometer, or other unknown factors the fish can at the color of the bottom in this area, making it nearly impossible times become quite finicky. At other times, a well-presented fly to see them through the water. The guides are instrumental for falling anywhere within a 30-foot radius will be greedily inhaled reading the surface of the water for telltale signs of fish moving and instantly attacked. Every day and every trip is different with underneath. At times, schools of moving fish from a half dozen tarpon, further adding to the joy of targeting these fish. to more than 200 can be spotted. At other times you may cast to a single rolling fish, only to find that you spooked a school of The Launch Factor 40 fish ten feet from the boat. Sometimes blind casts or explorExcellent fly casters will excel in this fishery, and owner Marco atory casts are made in likely areas to find fish, especially if they Ruz is fond of letting those anglers keen on visiting the lodge do not seem to be rolling. Depending on the tides fish can be know that this is a “caster’s game.” The better your accuracy, found cruising open-water flats or at the mouths of dozens of speed and distance, the better your chances are of hooking mangrove-lined creeks that drain the area. multitudes of fish. It’s more a factor of how fast one can deliver Tarpon Cay’s 18-foot pangas are specifically designed with the fly then it is extreme distance. An angler that can reach fly fishing in mind and are extremely stable fishing platforms. 70 feet in three or less false casts with a powerful double-haul Smaller size 2-2/0 tarpon flies in natural colors that are dewill have the best access to traveling fish cruising the flats. signed to imitate baitfish or shrimp work best. Fishing surface Tarpon are highly sensitive, so at times the guides will attempt and waking patterns can be incredibly exciting and addicting to keep the boat quiet by keeping their distance from the fish. while other times a subsurface baitfish imitation might do the This means that the angler may be asked to reach great lengths trick. Neutrally buoyant fly patterns tied with spun deer hair quickly and thus good casters will be rewarded with higher or bits of foam smoothly glide over the vegetation without catch rates. hanging up, and whether you’re fishing on top or below the Tarpon have brutally hard mouths and can repel even the surface, a well-positioned cast to feeding fish almost always highest quality and sharpest hooks with amazing proficiency. draws attention.
“The expansive open-water turtle grass flats and mangrove estuaries surrounding San Felipe are some of the most productive habitat found anywhere on Earth for rearing tarpon.” PAGE 58
Top: Lodge manager Beto welcoming anglers at dayâ€™s end, Cheryl Morgan with a big one, a San Filipe taxi. Middle: Rob Ramsay gets in 1-800 PAGE 59 one last cast. Bottom: Boats approaching the lodge, a tarpon that -552-2729 fell for a tequila popper.
TARPON CAY LODGE’S LOCO SABALITOS
“The black golden hue of a tarpon’s back blends perfectly with the color of the bottom in this area, making it nearly impossible to see them through the water. At times, schools of moving fish from a half dozen to more than 200 can be spotted. At other times you may cast to a single rolling fish, only to find that you spooked a school of 40 fish ten feet from the boat.”
Often, anglers need to remain patient as they learn the insand-outs of properly strip striking on a thrashing 20-pound tarpon. There is a sharp learning curve that comes with developing the skill of how to set the hook, and it can take a couple of days of missed opportunities to get the hang of it. “Bowing to the king”, or the “prince” in this case, is the practice of giving line to a jumping and thrashing fish in an effort to avoid the leader being cut by the tarpon’s sharp mouth and gill plates. Patience to get it right is required!
When to Go? Baby tarpon are available at Tarpon Cay year-round; however, late spring through summer offers the best opportunity for stable weather, lighter winds and the most consistent action. As the mercury rises and calm winds settle in by late May, the season kicks in to high gear. Throughout the summer, warm and regular rainfall keeps winds calm and the tarpon actively feeding. As the temperatures rise and oxygen content on the flats goes down, the tarpon stay comfortable by rolling and Tarpon Cay breathing air, which gives us great chances to spot them, particularly in the cooler morning and evening hours. As fall approaches, opportunities for larger migratory fish can sometimes yield truly out-of-this-world tarpon angling. Long runs from the lodge to the migratory fishing grounds are possible in late August and September for those
interested in trying to find migrating fish of 100 pounds or larger. Finding targetable numbers of migrating adults is always a bit of crapshoot, but it’s certainly nice to have the option during the fall months and all it takes is one fish to have a truly memorable encounter. As the winter months settle in, chances increase for cold weather from the North, which can greatly inhibit fishing and so the season typically winds down with the arrival of October.
The Final Bow The northern Yucatan’s beauty will steal your breath away and the bountiful opportunities to chase the Silver Prince at Tarpon Cay are a fly angler’s dream. The casual atmosphere, friendly staff, great local food, skilled guides and insanely productive tarpon fishery make Tarpon Cay Lodge our favorite spot in the world to chase baby tarpon. The entire tarpon life cycle can be encountered in a single trip to San Felipe, from 6-inch babies hiding in the mangrove roots to full-fledged 100-pound migrating adults (in season). This Lodge Special fact alone makes Tarpon Cay unique in the landscape of the world’s tarpon destinations. Coupled with fantastic guides, one of the best onsite hosts we’ve ever seen, and the heart-pounding thrill of a leaping tarpon on the end of your line and it’s impossible to see how a trip to Tarpon Cay shouldn’t be the very next destination on your saltwater hit list.
Travel: Anglers fly in to Cancun, Mexico. A lodge representative transfers guests by van approximately three and a half hours to the small town of San Felipe. Season: May through September Capacity: Six anglers Essential Tackle: 8 to 9-weight rods with a weight forward floating tropical lines. Top Flies: Tarpon Cay Lodge Special, Megalopsicle, Morrish Tequila Popper, Enrico Puglisi Tarpon Streamer 2017 Rates: $3,775 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Top: A loco sabalito, sunset from the lodge. Middle: Heading out. Bottom: A simple bright room at TCL, an awesome group of guys.
John Murray works the clear flows of the Itirizama above Pluma Lodge. Photo: Ken Morrish
Tsimane Lodge, Bolivia
the greater Secure system and with them come n terms of the all-around ultimate fly fishing Likely the thousands of large, aggressively feeding dorado. adventure, Tsimane, more than most any other worldâ€™s greatest Here, anglers wet wade a jade-green river and cast place, has it all. Located in a remote indigenous exotic angling six-inch flies on wire leaders through an endless territory of Bolivia where the Andes meet the adventure array of pristine water types. Their reward: consisupper Amazon, the freestone rivers of the region tent catches of pugnacious, aerial dorado in the 8 to 35-pound are both familiar and foreign to the well-traveled angler. class as well as additional jungle species like the fickle pacu and Each season, hundreds of thousands of baitfish migrate up the elusive surubi. With few exceptions, the many anglers we have sent to Tsimane rate the trip among the top three angling experiences in their extensive careers. Tsimane is operated by an Argentine outfitter with exclusive rights to the region. They offer two distinct fly fishing programs, the Agua Negra safari camp and Pluma Lodge. Both trips will begin with an overnight in Santa Cruz followed by a charter flight to a remote jungle airstrip. The main lodges for both programs are made from hand-hewn local timber and feature comfortable sitting areas, open bars and fine cuisine. While both operations access portions of the rivers by boat, considerable walking and wading is essential to success. This trip into the heart of the Bolivian jungle is best suited to adventuresome, fit travelers. PAGE 62
Agua Negra Camp The unique benefits of the Agua Negra program include a small group size of four anglers (making it perfect for private parties), lower cost, and easier wading. This program also offers a bit more fishing from the boat, access to the region’s smallest streams (not to be confused with small fish) and the best opportunity to engage with and experience the adjacent and endearing local communities. Agua Negra also offers a remote upper river camping option which is more primitive but easier to reach than the Pluma out-camp options. Rate: $7,600 + $670 native fee per person for a 9 night/ 6 day package
beautiful rocky freestone terrain, making it rather physical and best suited to stable waders. With that said, anglers with poor wading skills have options to fish from the boat on multiple beats. Some of Pluma’s unique features include a wide variety of water types ranging from pocket water to long pools and runs and Tsimane’s best sight fishing opportunities. Another great feature is the ability to partake in either of the upriver out-camps. Both have large tent platforms and offer adventuresome anglers the opportunity to become fully immersed in a stunningly beautiful deep jungle experience. All out camp overnights are voluntary. Rate: $7,600 + $670 native fee per person for a 9 night/ 6 day package
Pluma Lodge Pluma Lodge caters to eight anglers, making it a more social camp. Their double occupancy cabins are more spacious and comfortable than the deluxe safari style tents at Agua Negra. Pluma anglers also enjoy an exciting jeep ride into camp, complete with mud bogs and stream crossings, adding to the overall sense of jungle adventure. Much of Pluma’s water is characterized by
Secure Lodge NEW Secure Lodge is a deluxe six-angler safari style tent camp for conventional anglers. They fish both up and downstream from the camp and fish from the bank and from boats. Their beats do not overlap in any way with Tsimane’s signature fly fishing camps. Rate: $5,380 + $570 native fee per person for a 9 night/ 6 day package
Releasing a wolf fish in the clear waters of Kendjam’s Iriri River. Photo: Ken Morrish
Brazil Agua Boa Amazon Lodge Located in northern Brazil, the Agua Boa is remarkably clear, with white sand beaches more reminiscent of the Florida Keys than what most would expect of the Amazon jungle. Overlooking the river is the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge, the world’s first operation dedicated exclusively to pursuing peacock bass and other jungle species on the fly. The lodge provides anglers with a level of comfort unrivaled in the Amazon. Guests stay in private, air conditioned bungalows with two queen beds, a sitting area, private bathroom and a porch overlooking the river. Home to world-class bird watching and wildlife viewing, the lodge also features a swimming pool, entertainment room and other amenities suitable for nonanglers. With over one hundred miles of private water, this is a premier peacock bass destination for discerning fly fishers. Rate: $4,950-$5,950 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Rio Marié
Deep within the Brazilian rainforest near the border with Columbia lies one of the most remote and exciting peacock PAGE 64
bass destinations in the world. After two very successful seasons, Rio Marié has lived up to its claim of being the greatest trophy peacock bass destination the fly fishing world has ever seen. Anglers enjoy true luxury accommodations on a purpose-built mothership that moves about to unfished water each week. With over 400 miles of private water and seasoned English-speaking Brazilian guides, this is the place to target well-rested doubledigit monsters. Be one of the first to experience this wild region that the locals refer to as “Rio de Gigantes.” Their season runs from mid-September through mid-December. Rate: $6,700 per person for an 7 night/6 day package Kendjam
If the massive Amazon basin were to have an Eden, it would be on the banks of the immaculate Iriri River. Home of the noble Kayapo people, the Iriri, with its clear green waters, countless braids and rocky islands is a surreal, bountiful and friendly place that defies what most envision the jungle to be. From the comfort of a deluxe safari style camp, groups of six anglers will explore the riches of the Iriri by boat and on foot. Anglers
will sight cast to a host of exotic jungle gamefish including a unique species of peacock bass, wolf fish, pacu and jaturana. For anglers, adventurers and lovers of the wildest and most remote reaches of our planet, this epic journey into the Amazon’s most pristine jungle paradise is truly without equal. Rate: $6,250 per person for 8 night/6 day package Pirarucu Lodge NEW Pirarucú is a new Brazilian destination that focuses on catching an unprecedented number of aprapaima — the huge, elusive, prehistoric, tarpon-like gamefish that many consider the ultimate jungle trophy. Here, anglers will fish in the Mamirauá Reserve, Brazil’s first Sustainable Development Reserve, which totals more than 1 million hectares and was created to preserve
aprapaima and their habitat. In addition to the hard-fighting and aerial arapaima, the reserve offers great fishing for timbaqui, a large pacu-like fish; the exotic arowana; and yellow peacock bass. The region is characterized by long chains of lakes and interconnected channels. During the wet season it is a worldrenowned destination for birders. When the water drops in the fall, the angling opportunities reach their peak. Guests will stay at a simple, floating, solar-powered ecotourism lodge built from native hardwoods. The lodge features 10 floating cabins, three of which have A/C. The lodge is also very suitable for non-anglers keen on a range of general ecotourism activities. This trip pairs well with Rio Marie and packages less than a full week are available. Rate: $5,950 per person for 6 night/5 day package
Beyond the Circle
Plummer’s Arctic Lodge and the Remarkable Tree River Story & Photos by Ken Morrish Heading back to the Tree River Camp after an evening session.
nada’s largest lake was flat calm and glistened like liquid mercury. More than 60 feet beneath us we could make out every stone as though they were in the shallows. It was T-shirt weather well above the Arctic Circle in the northernmost arm of Canada’s famous yet rarely visited Great Bear Lake. Despite being two miles offshore we were in the midst of an impressive traveling sedge hatch. The caddis propelled themselves across the surface leaving conspicuous v-wakes. For the moment, every large red-fin lake trout within eyeshot was delighted. Their oversized fins flopped about as though they were drunk and feeding in slow motion. When we finally committed to the opportunity and put down our 10-weights in favor of a 6-weight with #12 dry tied to a long 3x tippet, it was like deep water permit fishing without a push pole. It was hard to get the 18-foot boat into position and the fish were scattered and most often just out of range. We began using a canoe paddle to soften our approach, and with time, the right shot along with a clean 70-foot cast unfolded towards a feeding fish. I twitched the fly twice and a large head casually rose to engulf it. Halfway through my backing, both of the pawls on my old Hardy disengaged, and PAGE 66
15 minutes later we landed a beautiful 10-pound lake trout. My hands shook for 15 minutes after its release. The setting, the light tackle, the take and the long fight had together created an utterly unexpected pinnacle experience on the last day of our long-planned trip to Plummer’s Arctic Lodge. For our group the driving point of the trip had little to do with fishing the vast and varied waters of Great Bear Lake for lake trout, but rather was driven by a longstanding itch to fish the world’s largest sea-run Arctic char on the rough and tumble Tree River northeast of us in the Nunavut province. But ultimately, Great Bear proved to be a key part of our experience that granted us three species of lake trout on the fly, the largest of which tipped the scales at 40 pounds. We caught them trolling with 500-grain heads, sight casting from rocky islands and due to special conditions, casting dry flies to selectively feeding fish. Great Bear Lake is also home to the world’s largest grayling (over six pounds), and one afternoon while fishing from the bank for them, a huge lake trout charged into two feet of water to attack a 19-inch grayling that I was about to release. It exploded on the fish so close to me that I got half soaked. See-
BEYOND THE CIRCLE ing this as an opportunity, I spent the next hour on the bank with my 10-weight and a big fly and got five respectable shots at the 30-pound beast as it cruised its beat back and forth along the steep drop off. While I never closed the deal, it was one more experience that converted me from a lake trout fly fishing skeptic to an outright enthusiast and served as another reminder for me to take what travels brings with an open and appreciative mind.
The Plummer’s Program If you want to fish the Tree River, there is one and only one way to get there. That is through Plummer’s Arctic Lodge, arguably the oldest and most established lodge in the Northwest Territories. Less than 300 anglers fish the prolific trophy waters of Great Bear Lake each season. Their largest lake trout to date tipped the scale at over 72 pounds. The vast majority of Plummer’s clients are conventional anglers who happily troll banana-sized flat fish and massive spoons from the quiet comfort of 18-foot Lunds. Guests can fish out of the lodge all week or splurge and fly out in one of two turbine Otters to more distant reaches of the lake that rarely if ever see a fly or lure. Catch rates tend to be high and the fish tend to be large, and among the lake trout guide community Plummer’s is considered the absolute end of the rainbow. Long after their best guides officially “move on,” many come back for cameo work weeks because Great Bear is one of those places that deep
down inside they wish they never had to leave. While the lodge can take as many as 45 guests per week, they typically run with 35 anglers, some of which take advantage of flying out to the Tree River for a short visit. For parties of six serious fly anglers we make special arrangements for them to spend as many as three nights at the Tree River camp, giving them a legitimate and focused crack at this impressive river and its massive char. At the end of the season, there is also a trip that offers guests the chance to spend five days at the Tree River Camp without visiting Plummer’s main lodge.
The Tree River Camp To reach the Tree River, anglers fly nearly two hours northeast of Great Bear Lake across a vast pond-splattered wilderness to where the Tree meets the Arctic Ocean. Plummer’s tent camp is located roughly five miles inland from the sea where the frothing rapids of the upper river meet the broad slow-flowing reaches of the lower river. The camp, with its inviting red metal roofs, consists of four large guest tents, a shower building, a main kitchen/dining building overlooking the river, guide tents and several outhouses scattered about. For those who don’t need anything fancy its setting and simplicity make it darn near perfect. The Tree flows clear and hard. After draining a large lake it necks down and thunders over an impassible 70-foot falls. For its huge migratory char, some of which exceed 30 pounds,
Photo: Craig Blackie
BEYOND THE CIRCLE
“If you want to fish the Tree River there is one and only one way to get there. That is through Plummer’s Arctic Lodge, arguably the oldest and most established lodge in the Northwest Territories.”
this is the end of the road. Char enter the river beginning in late June with their numbers increasing through August. The majority of these fish spawn in August and September and then overwinter in the river. As with most anadromous gamefish, the early fish are bright and grabby and the more time they spend in freshwater, the more colored and fickle they become. Deciding when to visit is a tossup for most anglers. Come in July and the catch rates might be rather high with anglers hooking or landing multiple fish in excess of ten pounds per day. Come in August and you might sight fish and catch the world’s most beautifully colored gamefish.
Fishing Program While fly fishing is not the mainstay at Plummer’s, they have a good many guides who are into it and they are most often assigned to the anglers wanting to spend multiple days on the Tree. Typically fly anglers head upstream on foot each morning with their guide. Most often they will cross the river by boat and hike up the main trail on the opposite side or alternatively remain on the more rugged camp side of the river. While spey anglers who can cast a long line enjoy fishing some of the larger pools immediately above and beneath camp, the vast majority of the fly fishing focuses on the mile and a half of fast water above camp that terminates at the upper falls. Taking fish from these fast and furious waters is interdisciplinary to say the least. Pocket water skills, sight fishing skills and the ability to cast and strip heavily weighted streamers all come into play. While there are a few places
on the upper river where spey rods are handy, a solid single hand 8-weight rod is the most practical all-around tool for the Tree. There are lots of spots where anglers cast from rocks on the bank, as well specific situations where anglers will need to sneak up on specific holding lies and make their first cast count. Due to the clarity of the water, these fish spook easily. Additionally these char tend to be chasers, so stripping streamers and keeping them active works well in many of the key pools and pockets. Last but not least, having sturdy walking legs and good balance is a big bonus for those wanting to get the most out of the Tree. Once hooked, these fish can be very hard to handle. More often than not they will bolt for the fast water, which is always near at hand. If they reach it you will see a lot of backing in a hurry. If you are fast and agile you might get even with your fish and land it but more often than not, it will win. The best strategy is to use heavy tippet and do everything within your power to keep your fish within the pool or pocket once hooked. All said and done, a trip to Plummer’s is a must for anglers that want to experience some of the more extreme and unique elements that our sport has to offer. Great Bear with its enormous size, incredible clarity, and huge lakers is for many worth the trip all on its own. When you add in the Tree River with its incredibly scenic wilderness setting, aggressive pocket water, and its challenging and unspeakably gorgeous sea run char, you will be happy that you made the effort to reach the riches that lie beyond the Arctic Circle.
Travel: Anglers will fly to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and overnight before taking a charter jet flight to Plummer’s Lodge. Anglers heading on to the Tree River will fly in turbine Otter northeast to Coronation Bay. Season: July through August Capacity: 35 anglers at the main lodge with 6 to 12 anglers at the Tree Camp Essential Tackle: A 10-weight with 500-grain sinking line and an 8-weight with floating line Top Flies: Dolly Llamas in assorted colors, Clouser minnows in assorted colors 2017 Rates: $5,245-$6,790 depending on package
Top: Fishing aggressive pocket water on the upper Tree River, a bright char fresh from the sea. Middle: Paul Imperia with a beautiful red fin lake trout from Great Bear Lake. In the right conditions these fish can be caught on dry flies. Bottom: Plummerâ€™s Lodge on Great Bear Lake, fishing beneath upper falls on the Tree.
The Falls Pool on Iceland’s famous West Ranga River. Photo: Angling Club Lax-Á
he recent explosion in Icelandic tourism is for good reason, as this little country with less than 300,000 residents has an enormous amount to offer. For anglers this means some of the largest brown trout in the world, in addition to a vast and varied selection of world-class Atlantic salmon rivers. For couples, Iceland constitutes a true dream trip with countless well-organized activities, remarkable natural features, fine hotels, spas and more. We work with many of the country’s leading outfitters and tour companies, together creating a wide range of custom itineraries that that our clients appreciate and enjoy. The following is an abridged selection of some of the more popular destinations. Deplar Farm NEW For families, couples and groups looking for a classy, turn-key, activity-rich base from which to enjoy a wide range of guided activities, Deplar Farm is the proverbial end of the rainbow. Ringed by massive peaks, their elegantly refurbished farmhouse-turned-luxury lodge enables easy access to an array of exclusive northern salmon rivers in addition to an incredibly PAGE 70
wide range of well-organized outdoor experiences. With fishing, hiking, sea kayaking, mountain biking and coastal tours, as well as an acclaimed spring heli-skiing program where you can descend from summit to the sea, Deplar Farm is in a class by itself. Rate: $4,375-$7,500 per person for a 5 night/4 day package Norwegian Flyfishers Club West Ranga In recent years, Iceland’s West Ranga has filled the niche of the country’s top producer of fly-caught Atlantic salmon. On a good year this can mean more than 10,000 fish landed for the season. The West Ranga is a classic Icelandic river with gentle flats and long gliding runs, punctuated by impressive multitiered falls. Originating near the foot of Mt. Hekla, the Ranga is rarely low and seldom colored, making it one of the world’s most consistent Atlantic salmon fisheries. Hosting 12 to 16 anglers per week, the fly fishing lodge on the West Ranga is both modest and comfortable, featuring private baths in all rooms. Anglers can also “share a rod,” thus reducing the weekly rate per person. For those of you interested
in the mystique of Icelandic rivers, this is the system to see. Rate: $2,064 per person per day for a full rod or $1,225 per person for a shared rod East Ranga, Iceland Located 70 minutes from Reykjavik, the East Ranga is one of Iceland’s most famous and productive systems. Characterized by big water and easy wading, this is a favorite among spey anglers who want a chance at big fish while enjoying comfortable full-service accommodations. Rate: $1,187-$2,064 per person per day for a full rod or $789-$1,225 per person for a shared rod Stóra Laxá NEW For anglers looking for the ultimate self-catered experience, look no further than Stora Laxá. With its upper beats winging through rugged canyons and the lower beats spreading out across a gentle valley, this incredibly scenic system and its hard-fighting wild fish offer anglers spectacular fishing from mid-July through September. Fully catered, guided packages also available. Rate: $533-$1,514 per person per day for unguided selfcatered package Laxá in Kjos NEW Were you to design the perfect Icelandic river, say, a mediumsized one with falls and canyons in its upper reaches and a gentle valley below, you may well come up with Laxá in Kjos. With a handsome lodge for 8 to 10 fishermen, 14 miles of fishable river and strong returns of wild fish that are best targeted with single-handed rods, this easy-to-reach classic is not to be missed. Rate: £5,500 per person for a 4 night/4 day package
Thingvellir Trophy Brown Trout NEW Located less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik lies the unique and beautiful Thingvellir National Park, World Heritage Site, and trophy brown trout lake. Often referred to as Iceland’s Jurassic Lake, Thingvellir has produced numerous fly-caught browns over 20 pounds and even a few over 30 pounds. The lake has a lovely three-bedroom self-catered lodge on its banks, perfect for longer stays. It is also easy to reach for day trippers based in Reykjavik. Prime time is May through June. Rate: Please call for details Additional Experiences
Private Tours: Let us help you arrange a private guide to take you on and off road across the country to visit the most dramatic glaciers, waterfalls, geysers and more. This a great way to circumnavigate the entire island in privacy and style. Reykjavik Tours: Enjoy full or half-day tours of the capital city. See the famous parliament building and have your guide help you make a dinner reservation at a top restaurant. Helicopter Tours: There is no better way to see the land of ice and fire than from the air. Heli-fishing tours can also be arranged. Fishing Day Tours: If you have limited time, there are great many fisheries less than one and a half hours from the capital where you can fish for salmon, trout and char. Volcano Caving Tour: Very near the capital guests can descend 400 feet into the magma chamber of the dormant Three Peaks Crater.
Ryan Peterson puts the finishing touches on a Zhupanova trophy. Photo: valatkinson.com
Kamchatka, Russia Ozernaya River The “Oz” is without question one of Kamchatka’s crown jewels. In essence, it is a large wild spring creek with big mouse and sculpin-munching rainbows, dollies and grayling. The rustic but comfortable 10 to 12 person permanent camp features little A-frame cabins, a main dining cabin, hot showers and even flush toilets. Anglers enjoy exclusive access to more than 50 miles of river by jetboat as well as walk and wade adventures on productive side streams. This is a system where one need not choose between numbers of fish or size of fish as it has plenty of big ones! Rate: $8,195 per person for a 6 night/5 ½ day package Two Yurt River Were you to design a perfect freestone trout stream with an endless range of interesting water types and lots of big eager rainbows, you might come up with something resembling this incredible river. Here, parties of four anglers float between PAGE 72
comfortable fixed camps and enjoy some of the best top water fishing on mice patterns imaginable. This is the perfect Russian adventure with high catch rates and one of the few systems where virtually every fish will be a rainbow. Rate: $6,895 per person for a 6 night/5 ½ day package Rainbows from Above For those that want the ultimate Kamchatka angling adventure, Will Blair has designed a new weeklong four-person helicopter fishing program. Based out of a unique and remote base lodge, four anglers and one guide will enjoy exclusive use of a Eurocopter 120B chopper to explore a multitude of rivers that have rarely seen anglers. In the event of bad weather, the unfished headwaters of the Two Yurt River stand at the ready. This is without question the apex trip Kamchatka has to offer. Rate: $7,195 per person for a 6 night/5 ½ day package plus helicopter usage
Sedanka Spring Creek NEW More than any other river, this idyllic spring creek is what made fly fishing in Kamchatka famous. With three comfortable fixed camps that anglers float between, anglers here continue to enjoy some of Kamchatka’s most consistent fishing, finest hatches and the best dry fly fishing Russia has to offer. Rate: $7,850 per person for a 6 night/5 ½ day package Zhupanova Float Trip NEW During this week-long odyssey anglers will float between comfortable fixed camps and spend lots of time wade fishing for some of Russia’s largest river-born rainbows. With dramatic volcanoes and a wide array of interesting rocky structure, this is a classic for those wanting a crack at really big rainbows. Rate: $6,995 per person for a 6 night/5 ½ day package Zendzur Lodge NEW From this fixed lodge on the lower Zhupanova River, anglers
will set out by jetboat to target Kamchatka’s largest rainbow trout and kundzha. For experienced anglers and spey casters in search of a half-dozen really high quality fish a day, this is the place! While the number of fish caught per day tend to be on the lower end of the Russian spectrum, there is no question that this operation offers anglers a chance at Kamchatka’s largest rainbows, some of which exceed 32 inches. Rate: $6,995 per person for a 6 night/5 ½ day package Kamchatka Steelhead Project
For anglers in search of one of the most remote and unusual steelheading adventures available, this may be it. Here, a very limited number of guests get to fish two small lowgradient rivers for some very large sea-bright fish and at the same time collect scientific data on these most remarkable specimens. For steelheaders that think they have seen it all, think again! Rate: $12,500 per person for 11 night/10 ½ day package
A world-class salmon from the Atlantic Salmon Reserve. Photo: ASR
Kola Peninsula, Russia Yokanga Lodge For anglers who long for large, challenging anadromous fish in big water, nothing compares to the mighty Yokanga River. The largest fish of the season enter in June and early July and many can exceed 30 pounds. Yokanga offers helicopter-assisted access to many miles of diverse water as well as a comfortable main lodge where anglers enjoy both single and double occupancy rooms with private baths. Rate: £5,500-£17,000 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Kharlovka Lodge This is one of the Kola’s big fish systems. With great accommodations and a brilliant home pool that anglers can fish all night long, this place has it all. Each day anglers are dropped by chopper with their guide to fish their allotted beat on the PAGE 74
Kharlovka or the nearby Eastern Litza. With plenty of fish in the 20 to 30 pound class and a few even topping 40 pounds, this is one of the most sought-after systems in the world. Rate: $5,500-$19,900 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Rynda Lodge Just north of the Kharlovka on the Atlantic Salmon Reserve flows the Rynda River, one the peninsula’s most exclusive and under-the-radar trophy systems. With what many consider the most nuanced and interesting trophy water in Russia, outstanding accommodations and a chance at sea-bright fish pushing 30 pounds, this is a gem beyond compare. Anglers enjoy helicopter drops each day and one day on the intimate and completely private Zolotaya River. Rate: $2,900-$13,500 per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Ryabaga Camp, Ponoi For consistent and high catch rates, the Kola’s Ponoi River remains the ultimate venue. The famous Ryabaga Camp remains a true classic on the peninsula. With comfortable accommodations, plenty of fishing from the boat and a prime season in both June and September, this is a system that continues to deliver year after year. Rate: $6,990-$15,490 per person for a 7 night/6 day package Gremikha Camp, Yokanga For ultra-hardcore anglers that want a chance at the biggest and hottest fish on the peninsula without breaking the bank, this 10-person tent camp on the lower Yokanga is the place. Anglers hike to their beats and use watercrafts to cross in specified areas.
This may be the most physically demanding trip we offer, but the rewards are worth it! Rate: £4,000-£5,500 per person per week for a 7 night/6 day package Umba Lodge The Umba is a Russian classic with endless water types, big fish, gorgeous scenery and a long season. It is also one of the most economical offerings on the Kola Peninsula. This venue is best suited to highly experienced, physically fit anglers who are willing to work hard for their fish. Anglers enjoy double occupancy rooms and a comfortable main lodge overlooking a great home pool. For serious anglers looking for a serious value and a chance at quality salmon, this is the place. Rate: £3,550 per person per week 7 night/6 day package
Paul Imperia with a spectacular fly-caught specimen. Photo: Paul Imperia
The Pursuit of India’s Ultimate Gamefish
or game adventure travelers and fly anglers that appreciate the rewards of targeting wary and sophisticated fish, consider India’s mahseer a little-known contender near the top of the list. The mighty Himalayan mahseer is a sport fish of great strength and mystery that seems part tarpon, part carp and part steelhead. Feeding primarily on nymphs and baitfish, these exceedingly clever fish run from 1 to 60 pounds, and outfitter Misty Dhillon along with his crew at The Himalayan Outback have been unlocking the secret to catching them on flies for well over a decade. One of their favorite locations is the the Saryu River. The Saryu is located in the ruggedly beautiful Kumaon region of the Uttarakhand province in northern India near the Nepalese border. In season it typically runs crystal clear and has runs and pools reminiscent of some of our favorite steelhead rivers. Anglers access the river from either two or three deluxe safari-style camps located along the banks of the river, rafting between them throughout the course of the trip. Experiencing this region with Misty and his crew is like being guided backwards through time. This is not the crowded hustle and bustle of Mumbai, but rather an intimate glimpse of modest mountain people who live off of hillside terraces and all that they can forage and barter for. Traveling through India is an adventure in and of itself. Frankly, just getting to the put-in is more than some people want to take on, but for those undaunted by the rigors of third-world travel and energized by the mystery of a PAGE 76
By Brian Gies
new and challenging fishery, this is a unique and rewarding trip that few others compare to.
Your Hosts and The Program Misty Dhillon and his head guide Bobby are considered some of the world’s most accomplished mahseer fly anglers. They are nothing if not sophisticated, skilled, appealing and professional. They speak immaculate English and love adventure travel, hospitality, spey fishing and fly tying. At least one of these two will be on each trip. They will be assisted by additional local guides. The local guides know their rivers well and have learned to love the sport of fly fishing but are not yet what we consider expert fly fishing guides. Each day anglers will depart camp on foot, often starting at the home pool and work their way either up or downstream until lunch. Lunch is typically served back at camp and most often followed by a nap in the shade. Mid-afternoon, anglers head back out to fish until evening. Mahseer are known to feed at night so many anglers will fish well into darkness. Anglers will move between camps by rafts. Guest stay in comfortable safari style tents. The tents all have cots with sleeping pads and linens. The spacious camps include a dining tent, shower tent and bathroom tent. Meals include a combination of Indian vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries, Italian dishes, tandoori cuisine including naans as well as a bit of Chinese and Thai. Each morning anglers enjoy hearty continental breakfasts. Even in this remote location there are
MAHSEER always freshly baked breads, cakes and pies. Breakfast and lunch are served in camp. However, fishermen who do not want to take a break can have a lunch packed in the morning. Dinner is generally served under the stars around the campfire.
Fishing Mahseer The Saryu is a clear, muscular river similar to many of the rocky streams that flow westward off the southern Cascades and Sierras. Here you can easily spot golden mahseer, some the size of trout and steelhead and others the size of tarpon holding and feeding in deep tailouts. Just as easily, you might watch them disappear as your buddy makes a less-than-perfect cast under the hot Indian sun. While most anglers fish single handed 8 to 9-weight rods with 300 to 400-grain integrated heads, spey rods can be excellent tools as long as the angler can handle casting tips with minimal line tear. Mahseer are widely considered more selective and wary than the popular anadromous gamefish but they are every bit as strong and
often larger, attaining sizes reached only by true trophy chinook. They respond well to a wide range of streamers and the larger specimens are tough on tackle as well as those trying to land them. Like Atlantic salmon, king salmon and steelhead fishing, catch rates and the size of fish caught varies widely with each fish landed, constituting a prize to be cherished.
Travel After arriving in New Delhiâ€™s modern airport guest will be greeted and transferred to a fine luxury hotel. The following day you will get a taste of the real India, traveling five hours north by train and then three hours by vehicle to a lodge in the foothills of the Himalayas. The next morning, guests will drive the final leg into the first Saryu camp and fish a half-day followed by five full days of guided fishing. Season: March to June 15th, September 25th to October 10th 2017 Rate: $4,400 per person for a 9 night/5 Â˝ day package
A typical camp on the Saryu. Photo: Brian Gies
Sweetwater guide Jako Lucas hoists a hefty Mongolian taimen. Photo: Cpt. Jack Films
ongolia is a wild, unbroken land reminiscent of Montana and the American West before settlement. Here, you will find some of the worldâ€™s largest remaining tracts of true wilderness, clear free-flowing rivers and some of the largest freshwater gamefish on earth. Mongolia offers two distinct fisheries. The first is an underutilized world-class trout fishery focusing on lenok (Asian trout) and grayling, and the second is the worldâ€™s largest salmonid, the taimen: a vicious surface-oriented predator known for its explosive dry fly takes. While these unique fish average 28 to 30 inches, anglers have landed fish in excess of 60 inches and had encounters with fish estimated at over 100 pounds! Taimen Jetboat Camp Located in the north central portion of Mongolia, the Vermillionâ€™s original taimen camps offer anglers access to miles of prolific fly water from a comfortable home base. Their two river camps are well-appointed with comfortable 18-foot gers (traditional Mongolian tents) complete with wood stoves, electricity, tables, chairs and wood floors. Additionally, all camps have hot showers, translators well versed in Mongolian PAGE 78
culture and exceptional guides who will help you stalk the huge taimen that call these rivers home. Both spring and fall trips available. Rate: $6,300 plus $330 fishing license per person for a 7 night/6 day package Wilderness Float Trips For the game traveling angler, a float trip through the wilds of outer Mongolia represents one of the ultimate angling adventures. Rich with native culture, stunning scenery, spectacular lenok trout and grayling fishing and numerous opportunities to hook the exotic and monstrous river taimen, these luxurious wilderness float trips are unlike any other. After a full day of floating and fishing through some of the most pristine and dramatic landscapes imaginable, you will arrive at a fully set up camp complete with a large dining tent, shower tent, multiple outhouse tents and either traditional Mongolian gers with wood stoves or expedition-style tents complete with cots and bedding. For those that enjoy the peace and solitude of true river time, this is one of the ultimate adventures. Rate: $5,950 per person for a 8 night/7 day package
ow does one decide between a week The only place where best suited to experienced anglers with on the upper Dean or the lower adventuresome anglers an independent streak. Dean? Which is more scenic? Where are access the best of both the The lodge sleeps eight anglers in the fish the hottest and hardest to land? upper and lower Dean simple double occupancy cabins and has Where do they rise best to dries? Where a long legacy of serving incredible meals. do the fish stack when the water is high or low? These are Their season begins with a focus on kings in late June and tough questions, and as the only operation that enables access ends the third week of August. Rate: $7,295 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 day package both above and beneath the famous falls, BC West may well be your answer. BC Westâ€™s guests get the best of both worlds and fish half of their days guided beneath the falls via jetboat and the other half self-guided above the falls using personal four-wheelers to access prime runs. Equally impressive is BC Westâ€™s willingness to go the extra mile and create a split-day fishing program where anglers fish from dawn to lunch, then return to camp for a gourmet meal and a siesta before heading out in the late afternoon to fish until dark. By all standards, this is a rigorous and rewarding routine Approaching the mouth of the Dean River at the end of the long inland reaching Dean Channel. Photo: Ken Morrish
Landis Armstrong releasing a beauty from the Bulkley Basecamp. Photo: Ken Morrish
Smithers & Upper Skeena Region
any towns claim to be the “Steelhead Capital of the World,” but despite not making the claim, Smithers BC deserves the moniker. With the Bulkley flowing right through it, Smithers is the hub from which many great adventures into some of the Skeena’s most sought-after tributaries begin, including the Kispiox, the Babine, the Morice and the Sustut. Frontier Farwest Located between Smithers and Telkwa, Derek Botchford’s Frontier Farwest Lodge is one of the most diverse and well-run operations in the region. Anglers will spend three days fishing the Bulkley out of the main lodge and three days fishing the upper reaches of the Morice out of their second lodge. An option to overnight in one of the remote Bulkley canyon tent camps is also available. With top-notch food, accommodations and guides this is an experience not to be missed. Rate: $7,000 per person for a 7 night/6 ½ day package Bulkley Basecamp NEW The Bulkley Basecamp is a new under-the-radar program PAGE 80
created by Derek Botchford, owner of Frontier Farwest Lodge. At its core, this operation is the single most versatile operation in the Skeena watershed, enabling guests driving access to the Bulkley, Skeena and the Morice where they will fish two per guide in jetboats. For anglers keen to charter a helicopter into the Babine or upper Skeena, this program is truly in a class by itself offering guests the ability to go where the fishing is best during their stay. Bulkley Basecamp consists of a complex of four extremely comfortable wall tents, cedar shower houses, and a large safari style tent where meals are prepared and served. There is also a great “bar cabin” near the campfire circle making this the ultimate “glamping” base for serious steelheaders. Rate: $6,400 per person for a 6 night/6 day package Bear Claw Lodge Located on the upper Kispiox, the Allens run an operation that combines the finest accommodations in the region with downhome family-style hospitality and a crew of savvy, hard-working guides. Typically anglers will spend four days floating the Kispiox in rafts, one day jet boating the Skeena and one day jet boating on
the lower Bulkley. This is a great program and a great opportunity to swing your fly in front of some of BC’s largest wild steelhead. Rate: $6,745 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 day package
to 30-pound class, these wilderness lodges epitomize what BC steelhead fishing is all about. Rate: $6,900 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Babine Norlakes Steelhead Camp
Suskeena & Steelhead Valhalla
Skeena Meadows This unique operation offers deluxe “glamping” accommodations, incredible meals and over 5 miles of private access to self-guided fishing on the Skeena. Explore and fish their remarkable property with the provided ATV and also enjoy the region’s finest pheasant hunting. This is a great hub from which to fish the region and a great add-on to longer trips in the region. Rate: $325 plus taxes per person per night
The Sustut River is one of the most remote, scenic and least competitive trophy steelhead rivers in all of BC. It is also home to these two exceptional lodges, both of which share very similar fishing programs ensuring that you will never be racing the other operation for prime runs. With some of the cleanest water in the Skeena system and a legitimate shot at steelhead in the 20
Bulkley Day Trips For those interested in adding days to their existing trips, please contact us about setting up day trips on the Bulkley with Denise Maxwell and Keith Douglas. Rate: $600 plus taxes per person per day
Not far beneath Babine Lake and the weir, Billy Labonte’s operation is a hardcore steelheader’s dream. With literally dozens of ultra-productive runs, seasoned guides, a cozy camp and an unsurpassed passion for chasing the huge steelhead that call the river home, this operation has it all. Rate: $6,795 per person for a 6 night/6 ½ day package
Dinner at the incredible Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge. Photo: Ken Morrish
Silver Hilton Steelhead Lodge
America. The Hiltonâ€™s combination of large idely considered to be the finest and The worldâ€™s most fish, pristine wilderness setting, world-class most exclusive steelhead fly fishing sought-after and guides, limited fishing pressure and remarklodge in the world, the Silver Hilton offers exclusive wilderness able amenities has also made it one of the jetboat access to more than twenty miles of steelhead lodge hardest lodges in the world to get into. pristine trophy steelhead water. Babine River Silver Hilton Lodge features two fully staffed five-star steelhead range from eight pounds to over 30 pounds and are steelhead lodges located approximately 7 miles apart. The among the purest strain of wild steelhead remaining in North Main Camp feature four double occupancy cabins and caters to eight rods per week on the two lower beats. The upper Triple Header camp offers single occupancy rooms and takes four rods per week on the upper reach. Anglers fish four per guide at both camps and rotate through most of the beats, ensuring a great variety of water and ample solitude streamside. Due to a high rate of repeat clientele, availability is typically limited to early and late in the season. All packages include round-trip, private helicopter transportation from Smithers, BC to the lodge. Rate: $5,843-$9,123 plus $250 donation to the Save the Babine Foundation per person for a 7 night/6 day package PAGE 82
Skeena River Lodge & Nass Base Camp Skeena River Lodge
Nass Base Camp
Located 15 minutes upstream of Terrace, Skeena River Lodge is a new, understated hub from which to fish the fabled waters of the Copper, Skeena, Kalum and Kitimat. Headed by Jeroen Wohe, the lodge comfortably takes four or six anglers depending on the week. Home-style dinners are prepared by his charming wife Mannon and anglers prepare their own breakfasts before the guides pick them up in the morning. For those looking for the highest level of guiding without breaking the bank, this is the place. Rate: $3,800-$4,400 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/ 6 day package
Located on a secluded lake that feeds into a little-known steelhead river, the Nass Base Camp is the newest and most under-the-radar of our BC steelhead offerings. Here, anglers will focus on the scenic and prolific waters of the Bell Irving as well as the lesser-known dry fly waters of their home system. Up to four anglers enjoy very simple single occupancy rooms in a modest lakeside cabin. Not only is this a hard-to-blow-out, high catch rate region but it is also the best value in all of BC. Rate: $4,200 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 day package
Owner and head guide, Jeroen Wohe, with a late season bruiser. Photo: Skeena River Lodge
A brutish spring steelhead awaiting release on the Kitimat. Photo: Ken Morrish
Terrace & Beyond
he greater Terrace region on the lower Skeena is, in many ways, the ultimate anadromous angling hub offering access to sea-bright steelhead and salmon virtually year-round. With a multitude of rivers including the main-stem Skeena, Kitimat, Kalum and Copper as well as numerous lesser-known systems, this region represents an unbeatable combination of value and opportunity for serious spey anglers.
Spey Lodge It is hard to find anyone who has met Wally Faetz and not immediately liked him or his operation. Located near Terrace, Spey Lodge offers the finest accommodations in the region and near year-round fishing for spring steelhead, chinook and summer steelhead. In addition to the spacious, wellappointed main lodge, Wally has a remote coastal camp for fishing kings and supercharged chums, and Boundary Lodge on the Bell Irving for chasing steelhead in September and October. Rate: CAD$5,450 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/ 6 day package PAGE 84
Skeena Spey Skeena Spey is a wonderful new riverside lodge headed by renowned casting instructor Brian Niska of Whistler, BC. Brian has a great team of guides who pride themselves on putting folks onto big, bright fish as well as improving their guestsâ€™ angling and casting skills. Their fishing program focuses primarily on the main Skeena, home to the largest fly-friendly salmon and steelhead in the world. They offer deluxe A-frame cabins with single accommodations and stays of varying length available. Unguided freelance anglers are also welcome and can fish their productive, unclassified home waters on the weekends. Rate: CAD$5,700 plus taxes per person for a 6 night/5 day package Nicholas Dean Lodge Nicholas Dean Lodge is an all-around great choice for anglers looking to experience the many seasons, species and unique systems of the greater Terrace region. With seasoned guides and wonderful meals and accommodations at Pioneer Lodge, this is a great operation in the heart of what many consider to be the ultimate year-round anadromous region in the world. Rate: CAD$3,750-$4,950 plus taxes per person for a 6 night/5 day package
Skeena Wilderness Charters Veteran guide Stan Doll has guided the best waters in the Terrace area for more than 40 years. When it comes to knowing where to be and when, few can compete with the trove of experience Stan and his sons offer. With a casual home-style lodge and an enviable arsenal of classified waters permits (including the Copper), Stan can put folks in front of big fish literally year-round. For the ultimate in remote wilderness fishing, Stan also offers an array of sought-after fly-out fishing options for spring steelhead. Rate: $5,000 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 day package Copper Bay Lodge For fit, skilled anglers keen on one of the greatest and most rewarding winter steelhead challenges, Copper Bay Lodge is the ultimate. Here, groups of four to six anglers fish a wide range of woody island streams on Haida Gwaii. This is a special place and a special opportunity to fish for some the world’s strongest winter steelhead. Rate: $4,995 per person for 7 night/6 ½ day package.
Kings of Summer If you like the sound of an ultra remote yet comfortable six-person tent camp on a swift, gorgeous coastal river (that shall remain unnamed) then this is the place. In addition to some of the hottest and hardest-to-land BC kings, anglers also tangle with huge super-charged chum salmon, some of which exceed 25 pounds. An incredible July getaway. Rate: $6,200 per person for 7 night/5 ½ day package Northern BC Heli Fishing Somewhere north of the Nass on a remote transboundary river, there is a rustic family-run camp on a river that very few fly anglers have ever heard of, let alone fished. Here, small groups can chase spring steelhead, abundant summer kings, and fall steelhead in relative solitude. If you think you have fished it all, then think again; there is more and it’s good! Rate: $5,500-$7,500 per person depending upon package and helicopter usage
Speywater Lodge & Floats Scott O’Donnell’s Passion for the Ronde
By Charles Gehr Photos By Walter Hodges
The Grande Ronde provides the ultimate setting for anglers to improve their spey casting and steelhead fishing skills.
f the name of this lodge seems biased, wait until you meet the guides! Located on the Grande Ronde River near Troy, Oregon, this low-key, high-value operation is where some of the Northwest’s finest steelheaders and spey casters congregate for two months of guiding and instruction. Renowned spey instructor Scott O’Donnell heads a crew of diehard steelhead guides who love the Ronde and the steelhead it sustains. As much a spey casting and fishing school as a hard-charging guiding operation, this is the best place we know of to learn the art of spey casting and improve your swing fishing skills. Now offering two distinct options on different sections of the river, Speywater Lodge continues to improve and impress. Scott has deep roots in the sport stemming back to the 1980s and his time serving the Navy in Washington State. There he met another like-minded soul, Dec Hogan, and together they learned to steelhead fish and spey cast. Scott guided winter steelhead on the Sauk and Skagit for many years before relocating to the Northern Oregon coast to do more of the same. In the meantime, he spent more than 25 seasons guiding in Alaska, designed the very first Rio Skagit lines and enjoyed the pleasure and recognition of being a Sage-sponsored casting instructor. PAGE 86
It’s now been more than 20 years since Scott O’Donnell first laid eyes on the river that he would eventually call home. For much of that time Scott had a simple game plan: run multi-day float trips on the lower portion of the river in the early season and move the operation upriver to a rental house turned short-term lodge later in the season when temperatures dropped. Over time, Scott expanded his operation, and more importantly, he and his wife Stephanie fell more deeply in love with the Grande Ronde. In 2014, with the purchase of their own permanent Speywater Lodge facility, Scott and Stephanie are now proud to call the Grande Ronde home and share their love and knowledge of this river with their guests.
The River The Grande Ronde is a Snake River tributary and is considered one of the best late season steelhead rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Throughout the month of October, the Ronde is as good a dry fly and greased line fishery there is. The multi-day float trips start the last week of September and continue through the last week of October. These trips cover the lower portion of the river and take out very near the mouth where it flows into the Snake River. At the beginning of the month anglers can expect to fish with a floating line 75 percent of the time or more.
SPEYWATER LODGE & FLOATS As the season progresses and water temperatures drop, anglers spend more time fishing light sink tips. The Rio MOW spey tips were developed by the Speywater guide team (MOW = McCune, O’Donnell, Ward) and are very useful on the Grande Ronde. The most common MOW tips will have a 2.5, 5 and 7.5-foot sinking section. Fishing can remain excellent through late November and later if water conditions permit. Grande Ronde steelhead are known for their willingness to move to a fly and range from 5 to 12 pounds, with the average fish typically weighing in around six pounds. Rafts are employed to access water, but all fishing is done while wading.
Speywater Lodge Located on a productive stretch of the Grande Ronde upstream of Troy, OR, this comfortable lodge is the ultimate hub from which to fish the Ronde in October and November. Six guests stay in double occupancy rooms with shared baths, and meals are taken in the main lodge. Anglers will depart the lodge each day with their guide to float a different section of the river, getting out to wade prime runs. Lodge trips are great for the later part of the season when air temperatures make
camping less than desirable. Additionally, the river around the lodge differs in character from the broader, more open river downstream, giving guests the opportunity to develop an entirely different set of skills centered around the technicalities of fishing deeper pools and pocket water.
Float Trips For those who want to maximize their time on the water, these six-person multi-day float trips are a great option. These fourday float trips launch twice per week in October and access the lower Grande Ronde in Washington. Deluxe camps are set up on great home pools and move each day. These mobile river camps consist of large stand-up double occupancy tents complete with cots and vestibules and a 12x14-foot wall tent for dining. Each trip includes a night’s stay at Speywater Lodge on the evening of arrival. Optional day trips on the Oregon section near the lodge can be arranged before the float trip starts. Season: Late September through November 2017 Rates: Speywater Lodge – $1,980 per person for a 4 night/3 day package; Float Trips – $2,250 per person for a 4 night/4 day package
Whether you select a lodge trip or a camp trip, Scott and his crew will get it right from start to finish.
Evening light on one of Oregon’s many winter steelhead rivers. Photo: Ken Morrish
or many, steelheading defines the Pacific Northwest angling experience. With a wide range of angling styles and a colorful array of skilled guides, the waters of Oregon, California and Washington offer more quality steelheading options than most realize. At Fly Water, we know these fisheries and the best guides like the back of our hand. With everything from walkand-wade day trips to deluxe multi-day river camps, we can build an itinerary that will show you what we love most about the Pacific Northwest and its remarkable steelhead fisheries. Deschutes River The Deschutes River is a rugged desert gem and one of the most captivating systems in the American West. With 100 miles of water, a 12-month season and distinct trout and steelhead fisheries, it is one of those places that cannot be completely understood or experienced in a single lifetime. Summer steelhead fishing on the Deschutes is best from August through November. Characterized by long, even, powerful runs, the Deschutes is deeply appreciated by spey anglers and holds a worthy and special race of steelhead that eagerly take swung flies. Anglers enjoy a wide range of trip options here from multi-day floats trips to jetboat-assisted basecamp operations. Rate: $1,800-$2,400 per person for a 3 night/4 day package for 2 or more anglers PAGE 88
Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge NEW The Rogue River is one of the most consistent and approachable steelhead fisheries in the lower 48 states. Regardless of fly fishing technique, the Rogue has wonderful water for all. Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge is the region’s oldest and most established full service fishing lodge. With tasteful accommodations overlooking the river, fine dining and daily guided drift boat trips targeting adult and “half-pounder” steelhead, Morrison’s remains the region’s classic fall steelheading destination. Rate: $1,550 plus taxes per person for a 4 night/3 day package Rogue River Canyon Float Trips NEW This 50-mile boat trip traverses a scenic and secluded stretch of the Rogue River. This particular stretch was designated as a “Wild and Scenic River” by Congress in 1968. It offers spectacular natural scenery, wildlife, whitewater rapids and fly fishing, perfect for all ages and all levels of experience. Guests stay in classic lodges along the way with custom camping trips available as well. The season runs from late August through late October and primarily targets the famous Rogue River “half-pounders.” Rate: $2,150 plus taxes per person for a 3 night/4 day package
North Umpqua River Oregon’s North Umpqua River is the quintessential Cascadian River — steep, swift, crystal clear and incredibly beautiful. It is an American classic that has captured the souls of countless anglers and drawn them back year after year to test their skills against one of the most challenging and rewarding races of steelhead in the world. Split-shift days on the water entail sometimes-difficult wading and multiple trips up and down the riverbank. Paired with tasteful accommodations at the Steamboat Inn, this makes a great vacation for anglers and non-anglers alike. Rate: Day Trip – $500 per day for 1 or 2 anglers; Steamboat Inn – please call for a custom quote
the world’s finest winter steelhead, this is a spectacular venue. Lodging options include hotels and inns in Manzanita. Rate: $575 per day for 1 or 2 anglers
Klamath River The Klamath is arguably California’s most remote and least-visited steelhead system and home to Jefferson Flywater: a small, high-value operation situated on the middle river downstream of Happy Camp, California. Guests stay in canvas-walled tents just steps away from productive water. Whether you are a seasoned spey angler or an avid nymph fisherman this remote rustic venue is a proven winner. Rate: $495 per day for 1 or 2 anglers
Sandy & Clackamas Rivers The Sandy and Clackamas rivers begin as high alpine streams in northern Oregon’s Cascades before descending westward towards Portland. Their proximity to a major city allows visiting anglers easy access in addition to a great many regional activities. While there is almost always something worth fishing for year-round on these rivers, they often shine the brightest in the winter and spring months. Rate: $550-$575 per day for 1 or 2 anglers
North Oregon Coast From mid-January through April, the rivers surrounding the greater Tillamook Bay region on the northern Oregon coast transform into some of the most productive and seductive winter steelhead rivers in North America. Structurally they are a swing fisherman’s paradise and the quarry is almost always sea-bright, wild and willing to chase a well-swung fly. For anyone interested in perfecting the art of spey casting while fishing for some of
Olympic Peninsula The “OP” is home to the greatest rainforest in the lower 48, breathtaking glaciated peaks and incredibly prolific rivers including the Hoh, Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Queets and Calawah. These temperate rainforest systems remain a true stronghold for trophy winter steelhead and offer a number of great guiding options for the visiting swing fishing angler. Day Trip: $525 plus taxes per person per day for 1 or 2 anglers
John Day River For the hearty steelhead angler, the John Day provides exceptional late season sport. Prime months are November and December. Anglers can enjoy day trips into prime water after spending warm nights in the neighboring town of Condon or multi-day floats through the rugged canyon with comfortable riverside camps. Rate: $2,400 for a 3 day/2night float package for 1 or 2 anglers
The Nelson clan on Idaho’s Main Salmon. Photo: Brian Gies
Rockies Float Trips Montana Overnight Float Trips These trips stand out not only for the nature of the waterways fished, but also for their guides, equipment, work ethic and remarkable gourmet meals. Clients can select from multi-day overnight trips on the Yellowstone, Madison, Missouri, Blackfoot, Clark’s Fork and Bitterroot rivers. Honestly, what could be finer than spending the day floating a river, catching wild trout and then arriving at a fully prepared camp for a lavish meal of rack of lamb, grass-fed bison or wild salmon? Rate: $2,500 per person for a 4 night/5 day package Smith River, Montana One of the most sought-after float trips in the country, the Smith float is a chance for you to leave the rigors of civilization behind and enjoy one of Montana’s most beautiful wild rivers. Towering limestone cliffs, deep pools, fast riffles, abundant wildlife and fantastic fly fishing for wild browns and rainbows makes this the trip of a lifetime. This five-day float covers 61 miles of pristine water in remote country. Rate: $4,150 per person for a 4 night/5 day package Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho The most prolific and unspoiled westslope cutthroat trout fishery in the world, the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River offers what many consider the finest multi-day wilderness float PAGE 90
trip in America. While the fly fishing is excellent throughout the season, the early season favors big whitewater and the late season favors fly fishing. This is an incredible family trip and is perfect for anglers of all skill levels. Rate: $3,290 per person for a 5 night/6 day package, $2,360 per person rafting package Main Salmon River, Idaho This 85-mile trip cuts through the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and the second-deepest river canyon on the continent. The Main Salmon River is undammed and virtually untouched by modern civilization. Most of the fishing entails wading up tributary creeks and throwing dry flies to native cutthroat. With incredible whitewater and glorious sandy beach camps, this is an ideal family trip for anglers with non-fishing family members. Rate: $2,295 per person for a 5 night/6 day package Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Colorado A float through the steep-walled Gunnison Gorge is one of the top fly fishing trips in the lower 48. This wilderness area features spectacular scenery, wildlife viewing and excellent fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout in the 12 to 18-inch class. This troutfilled float through time is a classic not to be missed. Rate: $2,040 plus taxes per person for a 4 night/3 day package
Crane Meadow Lodge
dining room. The dinner menu features local ocated in the heart of a 20,000-acre ranch One of Fly Water’s specialties with an emphasis on wild game. on the Ruby River, just outside the town of most popular Breakfasts are continental. Twin Bridges in southwestern Montana, Crane destinations for all For those who long for quality guides, Meadow’s exceptional private water program the right reasons warm hospitality and the uncrowded dry fly and home-style hospitality make it among our waters of yesteryear, this is the place. top picks for serious anglers who like long, productive days on Rate: $3,260 per person for a 5 night/4 day package the water. In addition to the ranch’s 12 miles of private access to the Ruby River, Leonard Spring Creek and Mill Creek, Crane Meadow has exclusive leases with more than a dozen local landowners, enabling access to seldom-fished reaches of the Beaverhead, upper Ruby and countless other secret spots. The lodge’s unmatched public water program allows anglers to float the Madison, Jefferson, Big Hole and Beaverhead or wade Proposal and Poindexter sloughs. Many anglers visiting Crane will elect to float one of the nearby rivers for the first half of the day and wade the ranch’s private water in the evening. Crane Meadow Lodge features four private cabins, each complete with queen beds, separate living areas and screened porches. The main lodge features a relaxing Western atmosphere with a comfortable living area, fireplace and a spacious Crane Meadow remains our top Rockies destination for all the right reasons. Photo: Ken Morrish
Anglers enjoy a September float on the lower Big Hole. Photo: Ken Morrish
Montana Bighorn River Lodge
North Fork Crossing Lodge
A benchmark for quality tailrace trout fishing in the United States, the Bighorn River remains a system against which all others are measured. A mixed bag of techniques and large numbers of trout in the 16 to 20-inch class characterize this fishery. The log-built main lodge features Montana-style décor with a large outdoor patio overlooking a five-acre stocked pond. Double occupancy rooms with private baths ensure a restful night’s sleep and make this a natural choice for anglers of all skill levels looking for a short, productive getaway.
Located in the heart of western Montana’s least traveled dry fly waters, North Fork Crossing Lodge shows the visiting angler what classic Montana trout fishing is all about. The Blackfoot River enjoys low angling pressure and prolific hatches of aquatic insects. In addition to the Blackfoot’s 50 miles of classic trout water, the Missouri, Bitterroot and Clark Fork Rivers are within easy reach. Guests at North Fork Crossing Lodge stay in deluxe double occupancy wall tents with wood floors, electricity, heaters, plush beds, fine linens and dressers ensuring that your “rustic” experience includes all the comforts you’d expect from a fine Montana lodge. Rate: $3,250 per person for a 5 night/4 day package
Rate: $2,695 per person for a 5 night/4 day package Firehole Ranch Firehole Ranch is a classic Western guest ranch. Their handsome facility sits alone overlooking Hebgen Lake just outside of West Yellowstone, Montana and is an ideal base from which to access Montana’s best trout fishing including the Madison, Gallatin, Henry’s Fork and the varied waters of Yellowstone National Park. The ranch itself is impressive and offers additional experiences including canoeing, hiking, mountain biking and trail riding. The level of service is outstanding, making this a sought-after destination for anglers and nature lovers alike. Rate: $4,550 per person for a 5 night/4 day package
With arguably the highest re-booking rate in the state, Ruby Springs continues to define the deluxe western trout fishing experience. In addition to fishing a wide range of waters including the Madison, Ruby, and Beaverhead, guests enjoy the finest meals and cabin accommodations Montana has to offer. Rate: $4,750 per person for a 5 night/4 day package Lodge at Eagle Rock
Harrison Homestead Listed on the National Historic Register, the Homestead is not so much a lodge but rather a charming home-like base where groups of six can set their own schedule. Staffed with a professional chef, all meals are served in the dining room overlooking the handsome property. Located on the banks of the ultra-productive Yellowstone River, Harrison Homestead also fishes the nearby Paradise Valley Spring Creeks, the Stillwater River and the Boulder River. Fall pheasant hunts also available. Rate: $2,500 per person for a 5 night/4 day package Linehan Outfitting Company
Ruby Springs Lodge
As the first full service lodge on Montana’s Missouri River, the Lodge at Eagle Rock offers the type of fly fishing experience we have waited years for. Arguably the most productive system in Montana, the Missouri should be on every western angler’s list. In addition to floats on the Missouri, guests can choose to fish tributaries such as Prickly Pear Creek, Belt Creek, the Dearborn River and others. Jet boat trips to the Land of Giants can be arranged for an additional charge. Rate: $3,300 per person for a 5 night/4 day package The Ranch at Rock Creek
The Kootenai River is one of the great undiscovered rivers of America. Located in the extreme northwest corner of Montana, anglers keen on fishing dries typically rack up big numbers of fish every day. With excellent small stream options as well, this is a natural for groups that thrive on lots of action. Custom packages include sumptuous meals and multiple lodging options at tastefully appointed cabins. Rate: $3,105 per person for a 5 night/4 day package for 1 or 2 anglers
Nestled in one of Montana’s most pristine valleys, The Ranch at Rock Creek offers unique year-round vacations on an authentic 19th-century homestead. With a wide range of activities for mixed groups and families and a large service-oriented staff, this ranch experience is a perfect balance of Western adventure and lavish all-inclusive amenities. The fly fishing program is centered around four private miles of Montana’s famous Rock Creek, with options for floating area waters off-ranch. Rate: $6,750 plus taxes per person for a 5 night/4 day package
Early morning on the scenic South Fork of the Snake. Photo: Ken Morrish
Henry’s Fork Lodge For more than 20 years, Henry’s Fork Lodge has been one of Idaho’s premier destinations. In addition to miles of the fabled Henry’s Fork, the lodge also ventures out to the Madison, Yellowstone, Firehole, Gibbon, Gallatin, Lamar, Slough Creek,
Hebgen Lake and Henry’s Lake. Non-anglers will enjoy the tasteful accommodations in close proximity to Yellowstone Park and additional activities such as hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Whether you are a seasoned traveling angler or a newcomer to the sport and region, Henry’s Fork Lodge will provide you with an angling and lodging experience that you will appreciate and enjoy. Rate: $4,026 per person for a 5 night /4 day package Natural Retreats South Fork Lodge The South Fork of the Snake River is one of the West’s most productive fisheries and enjoys one of the longest dry fly seasons in the lower 48. Hands down the place to stay here is South Fork Lodge, overlooking the river. Their setting and facilities are among the finest in the Rockies with a great restaurant and bar scene in the evening. The majority of the fly fishing is done from drift boats in the early season, with wading selected riffles becoming more common as water levels drop in the fall. Rate: $2,850 per person for a 5 night/4 day package
Teton Springs Lodge & Spa Located in the idyllic Teton Valley, Teton Springs Lodge & Spa is the ultimate venue for larger parties and corporate groups. The facility includes an award-winning 18-hole golf course, full spa, private ponds and conference center. Guiding is provided by the professionals at WorldCast Anglers who offer anglers a host of incredible fisheries including the South Fork of the Snake, Teton River, Green River and some little-known private streams. Rate: $1,845 per person for a 5 night/4 day package Main Salmon River Middle Fork of the Salmon River The most prolific and unspoiled westslope cutthroat trout fishery in the world, the Middle Fork of Idahoâ€™s Salmon River offers what many consider the finest multi-day wilderness float trip in America. While the fly fishing is excellent throughout the season, the early season favors big whitewater and the late season favors fly fishing. This is an incredible family trip and perfect for anglers of all skill levels. Rate: $3,290 per person for a 5 night/6 day package
This 85-mile trip cuts through the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and the second deepest river canyon on the continent. The Main Salmon River is undammed and virtually untouched by modern civilization. Most of the fishing entails wading up tributary creeks and throwing dry flies to native cutthroat. With incredible whitewater and glorious sandy beach camps this is an ideal family trip for anglers with non-fishing family members. Rate: $2,295 per person for a 5 night/6 day package
The privacy and beauty of El Rancho Pinoso, Colorado. Photo: Ken Morrish
Colorado & Wyoming Brush Creek Ranch Nestled in the high country of Wyoming’s Sierra Madre Mountains lies an area that cannot be adequately described in words. A property and facility so incredibly stunning that those with experience here struggle to find the proper adjectives that relay the awe-inspiring beauty and ruggedness of the landscape. Add to this a lodge operation whose comfort and elegance exceed the worlds’ five-star hotels and a staff that does not understand the word “No” and you have a small sense of the finest dude ranch operation in the world that you’ve never heard of. This is Brush Creek Ranch. Brush Creek Ranch is simply every western guest ranch experience you’ve ever dreamed of. The number of activities available will take years to fully experience. Lodging options alone ensure that there’s a facility custom tailored to your every desire. Whatever it is you desire for your family vacation Brush Creek Ranch can and will fit the bill. Rate: $4,750 plus taxes per person for a 5 night/4 day package
with willing trout. Add to that sporting clays, trap, hiking, trail rides, majestic vistas from almost anywhere on the ranch property, mineral hot springs, programs for kids and superb dining, and you will quickly understand why families from around the nation return here year after year for the ultimate Colorado dude ranch experience. Rate: $3,100 per person for a 7 night/6 day package North Platte Lodge The North Platte River, from the Miracle Mile to the town of Glenrock, is one of the world’s most productive tailwaters where the average fish would be considered a trophy in most other systems. Anglers fish the Grey Reef section of the Platte from drift boats with the option of wading prime runs. Anglers typically spend the majority of their days casting nymphs and streamers. Fish in the 3 to 4-pound class are expected daily with a very strong possibility of landing even larger trophies. Rate: $2,000 per person for a 5 night/4 day package
4UR Ranch There are places on earth that can stun even the most jaded of travelers. 4UR Ranch is one such place. Its centerpiece is Goose Creek, with over seven miles of private stream that brims PAGE 96
Upper North Platte River Day Trips The North Platte River offers a multitude of wade fishing and float fishing opportunities. With access to over twenty
miles of the North Platte River, the guides at Four Seasons Anglers are uniquely qualified to show you what wild trout fishing in the American West can be. Fishing options include multiple sections of the North Platte and Encampment Rivers as well as private stillwaters. Rate: $475 per person per day for 1 or 2 anglers El Rancho Pinoso Hidden within Southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains is a pair of properties so beautiful that you will marvel at their perfection. With significant tracts of private acreage, fully restored historic cabins with all the modern comforts, abundant wildlife and fabulous fly fishing flowing through it all, these properties will compel all who visit to return again. Both El Rancho Pinoso and Weminuche Valley Ranch differ from standard lodges in the respect that they more closely resemble deluxe catered rental properties than hosted lodges. With easy wading, great dry fly fishing and plenty of fish pushing 20 inches, these undiscovered gems are two of the finest and most fairly priced private water venues in the West. Rate: $3,256.50 plus taxes per person for a 5 night/4 day package
The High Lonesome Ranch For families looking for the ultimate high country multi-activity dude ranch experience, look no further than the High Lonesome Ranch. This sprawling property, located at 5,000 feet elevation on Colorado’s western slope, encompasses a myriad of ecosystems and provides a range of outdoor adventures for the whole family. In a week-long stay guests choose from activities that include horseback riding, skeet and trap shooting, hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, golf, winery tours and yoga classes. Meanwhile, the anglers in the group will find the 18 spring-fed stillwaters full of healthy, heavily built trout. Accommodations of different configurations are spread throughout the ranch, ensuring guests the level of privacy and amenities they’re looking for. Rate: $3,356.25 plus taxes per person for a 5 night/4 day package Black Canyon of the Gunnison River A float through the steep walled Gunnison Gorge is one of the top fly-fishing trips in the lower 48. This wilderness area features spectacular scenery, wildlife viewing and excellent fly fishing for rainbow and brown trout in the 12 to 18-inch class. This troutfilled float through time is a classic not to be missed. Rate: $2,040 per person for a 4 night/3 day package
The Elk River as it flows through the Fernie BC region. Photo: Charles Gehr.
Canada Eastslope Adventures, Alberta Cam Jensen’s Eastslope Adventures specializes in guiding a host of productive and unspoiled trout fisheries in southwest Alberta, including the Castle, Oldman, Waterton and St. Mary river drainages. Although the bulk of this program is walk and wade, the early season takes advantage of drift trips in rafts. This is a sophisticated wild trophy trout fishery with prolific insect hatches and some of the largest and feistiest fish south of Alaska. Packages include accommodations and meals at a no-frills log home situated on the Waterton River. Rate: $2,440 per person for a 5 night/4 day package Elk River Guiding Company, BC Elk River Guiding Company specializes in drift boat and wade fishing the waters of southeastern British Columbia and Southern Alberta. Here, anglers enjoy the magic of exceptional dry fly streams including the Elk, Wigwam, Oldman, Crow, and other local tributaries. We offer custom itineraries with multiple lodging options including simple hotels, in-town condo units and deluxe full service lodges in and around the charming mountain town of Fernie, BC. Rate: CAD$1,825 plus taxes per person for a 5 night/4 day package at Park Place Lodge Tsylos Park Lodge, BC This storybook Canadian lodge offers a genuine “off the grid” wilderness experience. The Chilko Lake/River area is wild, remote
and stunningly beautiful. Here, anglers focus on fishing large dry flies for substantial wild rainbows on 15 miles of the Chilko River as well as heading out on the glorious Chilko Lake to pull streamers for large bull trout. In addition to spectacular trout fishing, Tsylos is equally renowned for its world-class riding program. Rate: $4,395 plus taxes per person for a 7 night/6 ½ day package Spatsizi Wilderness Lodge With exclusive access to 1.5 million acres of the most beautiful, prolific and unspoiled dry fly fishing in the world, Spatsizi Wilderness Lodge remains in a class by itself. Here, anglers fly out to fish a wide range of well-rested systems including numerous mountain streams, beautiful lakes and the remarkable Firesteel River. When it comes to high-catch light tackle trout fishing, utter solitude and incredible scenery, few if any destinations compare. Rate: $4,950-$6,850 per person for a 7 night/8 day package
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