The newsletters and emails are hitting the mail box with the advertisements for all the “Endorsed Fishing Lodges” including jaw dropping photos and beautiful descriptions of days on the water, huge fish, delicious meals, nice company and perhaps some fine wine. I get caught up in the fantasy of it, the images and the dreams of a wilderness or blue water lodge with immaculate accommodations, good weather, and consistent fish runs. Lots of water to choose from, quality guides and, of course, the best time of year to be there.
No one seems to mention the black flies and mosquitos or the constant wind, but that is understandable.
I have fished in 23 states and 5 countries and enjoyed it all. On the other hand my vision of what it would be like and how it really was were somewhat different. All good you understand, but just different.
For years I dragged my young family around the Adirondacks each summer in search of a reenactment of the Great Camp or Philosopher’s Camp experience – we never did get it quite right. One year it was a nice house with a view out the front window of a beautiful lake, but on a main highway; another time it was a wilderness cabin – 2 miles on a dirt road – only to have a kid’s camp across the lake with bugles in the morning and camp announcements over the loud speakers all day.
So there is a lot to think about when going on these trips:
You can go alone, with a buddy or in a group.
A group trip can be fun, but not knowing the other participants can be a bit dicey. You can’t be sure who your boat mate will be or if you will be comfortable around folks of various persuasions. (A friend once went up the Alaskan coast on a small cruise ship only to be matched with an ardent supporter of the other political party in an election year. The fellow ruined every dinner with his continuous political harangue.) Try to travel with a buddy or two, a fishing spouse, or with a local fly shop so you can meet your fellow travelers in advance.
$3 Bridge on the Madison
Then there is the scope of the trip: X number of days of non-stop fishing sounds great – but on the same water? Some would prefer that, as they get to know the place. For others this may be the only time in their lives they get to go to this area and may want more of a smorgasbord.
If considering Alaska, for example, it would be nice to have some salmon, some wild rainbows (in small streams) and maybe some grayling. Halibut? (just a thought but to my way of thinking it would be better to buy halibut at the fish market at home than trade one of the few days I have to haul up a monster fluke from the deep and have to ship home 50+ pounds of fish – just saying.) You may want to see a glacier, do a fly in, take a trail ride or go to town; maybe even get up close and personal with a mountain.
The Smith River in Montana has been on my wish list – fishing and camping along a river for days on end. Trouble is I have to think about it well in advance to get one of the few open spots and find a tent mate who is deaf due to my snoring.
Going to the blue water of the Bahamas or Islamorada is nice. Be aware of the wind and species that are running. Red fish and sea trout are nice, but not when you are looking for that first tarpon on a fly.
Do your homework to make reasonably sure you will be getting what you want out of the trip.
There is the internet of course – and its a good place to start but don’t stop there. At the very least call and talk to the outfitter. Build a list of questions to go over with them so you can compare one to another. Try to keep your adrenaline in check.
Look for outfitters who tell it like it is; who give honest descriptions of the trips and straight answers to your questions. As with everything in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it just might be.
I would start by checking with your local fly shops and guides as they often host trips. Check out the Riverbay Outfitters trip to Alaska and Al Caucci’s trip to the Bahamas or Montana for example. Joe Demalderis and Brett Greco are other good resources. Talk to friends and associates who have been to the area themselves. Run your list of questions by them.
But here is the bottom line when planning a trip: nothing ventured, nothing gained – get out there and explore. Just be prepared to make the best of whatever you find when you get there – life is too short to do otherwise.
Dream trips are trips you have yet to take. Letters to Mack is my trilogy of a few decades of fishing adventures. Why not take a look and see if you may want to add one of these rivers to your Dream Trip list?
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