Here we are at the beginning of a new year. This is around the time that every blog known to man…er woman…er humans… posts their “Top Ten” lists. Despite one of my good friends saying that you should never post “Top Ten” lists, never let it be said that the Tennessee Valley Angler is one for bucking trends! This is the beginning of our Top Ten Fishing Destinations posts. Insane and I (and Drake too if he so wishes) will each post our most desireable fishing destinations. We will individually place restrictions on ourselves. Mine will be based on trout fly fishing destinations I might actually get to fish in the coming year. You won’t find a list of exotic locales here, only places that I might find the time and money to visit given some luck and clever schedule adjustments. They’re in no particular order, just as they came to my mind. Enjoy and feel free to add your own to the list in the comments section.
1. Great Smoky Mountains. Sure, this is practically in our back yard, and we usually visit more than once every year, but the Smokies will always feel like home. No doubt they will always be my favorite destination. Wild rainbows, browns and brookies await the wily fly fisher in these ancient mountain streams. With around 2,115 miles of streams, from large to small, there is plenty of elbow room. Most of the fish are small, averaging around 7 inches, but there are enough bigger fish to keep you on your toes. Not to mention I never seem to lose my excitement at catching even tiny trout. The day I do is the day I’ll consider myself a lost cause.
2. Yellowstone National Park. If I could fish any one place for the rest of my life, it would probably be Yellowstone. I visited for the first time last summer, and it was one of the highlights of my life. I can’t wait to get back. There are large, wild rivers full of big browns, rainbows and cutthroats. There are beautiful small meadow streams teaming with fiesty brookies. There are numerous lakes with trout and grayling. And, to top it all off, the scenery and wildlife are amazing.
3. Chasing Gold in the Wind River Range. I first read about golden trout in the Rockies in Rich Osthoff’s book Fly Fishing the Rocky Mountain Backcountry. Ever since then, I’ve been dying to hike to nameless alpine lakes for a shot at these elusive beauties. This would be on my short list of things to do before I die.
4. Arkansas’ Tailwaters. Arkansas houses the premiere trophy trout fisheries in the entire world. Browns of ridiculous proportions have come from the waters of the White, Little Red, and Norfork Rivers. It’s not even that far of a drive, and all the staff here at TVangler should be ashamed for not trying it out. That’s something we need to remedy in the coming year.
5. Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah is a prime location to find native brookies in their home waters, some of decent size. With my interest in the Civil War, this national park holds some other interest as well. I’m sure, given my love of the Smokies, that I’d feel right at home here.
6. Beartooth Alpine Lakes. Last summer’s trip to Yellowstone involved a trip across the Beartooth Plateau. It killed me not to be able to fish in all those beautiful little alpine lakes. There are pretty much all species of trout present in these lakes along with grayling. In one trip it’d be possible to stalk trophy goldens, brookies, cuttthroats, and rainbows. The scenery is among the grandest I’ve ever seen any where. I can’t wait to give it a shot.
7. Wisconsin Spring Creeks. The Coulee region of the Midwest has more spring creeks than just about any where. On top of that, Wisonsin has excellent stream access laws. I first read about this area in Trout magazine and in Rich Osthoff’s excellent book No Hatch to Match: Aggressive Strategies for Fly-Fishing Between Hatches. The prospect of hauling a giant brown out of a stream not any wider than my bedroom just gets me all tingly.
8. Maine’s North Woods. Jacqulyn has been dying to visit Maine for some reason these last couple of years. I don’t know but I’d guess it has something to do with incredibly fresh seafood and awesome scenery. Not a bad choice if I say so myself, Jacqulyn. Plus, there is plenty of fishing to be done in the Pine Tree State. The type I’d like to do is for brookies in some North Woods lake or on a big, powerful river or both. Maybe I can plan an itinerary that allows all that. Look for this trip to happen in or around September if we can manage to find the time and money.
9. Tennessee’s South Holston River. I figured I should include at least one Tennessee tailwater in my list. I have never fished the South Holston, but from what I hear, it’s Tennessee’s premiere tailwater trout fishery. I hope to drag myself up to that part of the state sometime this year. It would be best to find the time to hit some of the winter blue-winged olive hatches, but I don’t know if I’ll make it. Time will tell.
10. Pennsylvania Chalk Streams. I’m not sure my skill level is sufficient for this challenge, but I sure want to give it a try. The trout streams of Pennsylvania are so legendary in fly fishing literature that they seem more myth than fact. Huge trout rising selectively to tiny bugs…that’s just about the ultimate fly fishing challenge I’d say. With Insane’s girl having family up there, I might get to give it a shot in this next year.
Extra Special, Not-a-Shot-in-**** Exotic Location: New Zealand. Ok, I couldn’t resist tossing in one place that I have no shot at getting to in the next year. Ever since seeing Lord of the Rings, New Zealand has been at the top of my list for exotic fishing locales. Stalking spooky browns of giant size in crystal clear streams that look like they’re flowing right out of a kingdom still ruled by elves and sorcerers…can’t get much better than that. For those fond of Alaska (I figure recent commentor Mad Fishicist is one of these), don’t be too upset. Alaska isn’t listed in the top ten because I have no shot at getting there this year, and it wrestles constantly in my mind with New Zealand as the ultimate exotic destination with Chile being a fairly close third.
I like these top ten lists. They make for easy (read lazy) writing! I hope to convince Insane to write his list on Top Ten Exotic Fly Fishing Destinations and Drake his list of Top Ten Bass Fishing Destinations. Keep an eye out for these soon.
Happy New Year to one and all!