Running a fly fishing lodge in the Bahamas allows me to interact with so many likeminded, passionate fly fishermen. The campfire is the perfect place where we share stories of fishing trips of the past and discuss the famous bucket list trip question. It’s really a very personal question to answer, in my opinion seeing that everyone’s expectations and goals are so much different. Being able to make a living in the fly fishing industry, I feel fortunate to often be part of new exploratory/adventurous trips into the unknown. I often overlook the risks and warnings as I am blinded by the potential adventure and fish that lies ahead. In saying this, here are a couple of my favorite fly fishing trips that are worth the risk:
Seychelles (Africa): I was very fortunate to spend close to five seasons in the Seychelles. Over the years hearing numerous people rave about the fishing and fishery, you get a sense that this place is more special than you think. What makes this one of the best saltwater flats fishery on this planet is a combination of a couple of things. The sheer diversity of fish you target on a daily basis is one of those things. Yes, every day is different, and it’s called fishing for a reason but most days you will cast a fly at multiple species including GT’s, bonefish, triggerfish, permit, emperors, milkfish, grouper, barracuda, etc. That’s not even to mention the offshore fly fishing options for Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna; the opportunities are endless.
Above all, it’s the pristine environment you are surrounded by. This is becoming rarer in the year 2019. With all the pollution and environmental factors this is what I value the most when wading these flats. It has been properly managed for so many years and I feel the Seychelles fisheries are way ahead of most other destinations. It shows in the quality of fish you pursue and the general life on the flats. They manage how many rods should fish a week and they don’t stray from their goal to keep the fishery protected, and it shows.
Kamchatka (Russia): Where do I even begin? I started as a trout fisherman and consequently I still get a major kick pursuing them on fly. In 2014 I was asked to guide the mighty Zhupanova river in Kamchatka. Zhupanova is known for its trophy rainbow trout and big sea run Kundzha (Asianic White spotted Char). I ended up staying for three seasons. When your first ever encounter with a rainbow trout on a river is 32.5” you know it’s either a fluke or it’s very special and, in this case, it was the latter.
Kamchatka was closed to the general public until the early 90’s, and therefore these rivers are still fairly young (unfished). There are still to this day rivers that have not seen any flies on this peninsula. My main motive for Kamchatka being one of my top destinations is the sheer remoteness and raw wilderness that one gets to experience during a week.
I have fond memories of skating mouse patterns across the river while having a couple bears chasing salmon in the riffles below me. These fish are considered to be some of the purest strain Rainbow trout in the world, growing up to 14 years old and averaging 23’ in length. Kamchatka is as close to Rainbow trout heaven that I’ve ever encountered.
Bolivia: A top three destination for many adventure travel fly fishermen. Even though it has seen an increase in people over the years, these rivers are still the best fisheries in my opinion, offering true sight fishing opportunities to trophy Golden Dorado. The Bolivian jungle and the native people that you interact and spend time with makes this a true bucket list destination. Seeing an environment so rich in life is priceless, from colorful Macaws flying around to thousands of Sabalo swimming the big pools and channels to the smallest of colorful insects. Jaguar tracks are everywhere on the sandbars that line the river, but they are quite shy and seeing one in person is a truly rare sight. I’m already counting the days until I get to set foot in this amazing place again.
My destination list is quite extensive when it comes to fisheries, so I will leave these top three with you for now. My favorite specie to pursue is the next one I get to cast a fly to. What really makes a trip for me are the different cultures, pristine environments and the unknown! To this day my bucket list is still growing; you tick a couple of boxes and you gain a couple more. I might not be able to see them all in my lifetime, but I’m certainly going to try!