Its often adventure that keeps my fly fishing engine fueled. The exploration of wild locations drives me to wander areas where many rarely travel. I am not a fan of overcrowded rivers and would rather sulk in solitude amongst the steep mountains (even if I don’t catch a single fish).
I have found that generally speaking, less people equates to better fishing. In some cases this means getting far from any dirt road. Some anglers search for the reasoning behind their fishing addiction and I feel my answer lies somewhere between a passion for exploration and adventure. Most can’t wait to escape their office on Friday evening and forget their overpowering business life. The river is calling. So here are ten ways to finding your own fishing adventure:
1) Pick a location: The more specific the better. Use previous feedback you have heard from family, friends and the local loud mouths at the bar to help narrow down your options. A little digging will get you a long way. Are you looking for a specific type of fish to catch or are searching for amazing landscapes? My most memorable adventures come from picking a somewhat well known river system and searching the surrounding areas. Study every possible stretch of water that could hold fish. Make a final decision on a location and dive deeper into the planning.
2) Choose a timeframe: Are you fishing summer, fall, spring, or winter (yes, I said winter)? Take into account spawning periods, runoff, weather, and where the fish will be located in the local river systems. The worst is having to hike in 10 miles to explore a lake in the mountains only to discover it resembles the arctic circle, but hey thats still an adventure right?
3) Research the area: Never been to the location you plan on exploring? No problem. The internet and mainstream fishing magazines are loaded with information. Search everything from online forums to Facebook to get insight on what to expect in the honey hole you will be targeting. You would be surprised how much info people give away through social media. The more prepared, the better your chances of catching fish in that area.
4) Scour a map: Do yourself a favor right now and download Goggle Earth onto your home computer if you haven’t already. Viewing overhead satellite imagery has changed exploring the backcountry. There is no longer the question, “I wonder what’s over the next ridge?” You can literally pinpoint pools, log jams, waterfalls, ponds, lakes, and camp sites all from your computer. Combine Google Earth with a good topo map and you have trailheads, roads, and access points all at your fingertips allowing yourself to make any knook and cranny a possible golden fishing spot.
5) Avoid the roads: Google Earth will give you a good idea of how accessible certain river systems are by road. Use this to your advantage. Take into account; river access sites, road access, trailheads, road closures, etc to determine where most fisherman will be. Does the river reconnect with a small trail 8 miles from the nearest road? Go there and explore. The added effort pays big dividends most of the time.
6) Know the Flows: Most states have streamflows and water temps available online. Keep close tabs on the rivers you plan to explore year round. If the water has been rising, you might have to deal with water clarity issues and may want to push back your trip another week. The streamflows can tell you a lot about the water you will be fishing.
7) Create a Gear List: Know beforehand where you will be sleeping and what you will be eating. Make a list of essentials for a successful trip. I have been on trips where the people I am traveling with either A) borrow my food the last couple days of our trip or B) don’t have the supplies for a comforting stay in the mountains. Don’t run low on energy and bring enough food. If you are backpacking into your fishing spot, make sure you pick out appropriate campsites beforehand. On one of my recent adventures, we did not have a topo map before heading into our location. With no foreseeable flat ground close to the river, we had no choice but to camp above a 100ft cliff. In the end it was great, but not the safest camping location. Some other great questions to ask yourself are: Do I need a water filter? Is it grizzly country? Are there going to be sasquatch sized mosquitos? Think beforehand and bring the right gear to handle every possible scenario.
8) Find a Fishing Buddy: Some adventures are just better when you know a friend is there to help in case something bad happens. Make sure this person is not a loud mouth and can be consistently trusted. You may find the fishing spot of your life, so keeping your adventures low key is a must. There is nothing worst than hearing half the town talking about your fishing spot because your buddy can’t keep his mouth shut when throwing back some cold ones at the local pub. Make a contract with your partner ahead of time, sometimes a pinkie promise is not enough.
9) Pack the Yeti: I’m a firm believer in making my adventure as comfortable as possible. Car camping? Pack the Yeti with plenty of beer, condiments, snacks, and elk burgers. Floating a secret stretch of river? Bring the appropriate size Yeti to accomadate your needs. There is nothing better than having a cold beverage in the middle of a summer adventure.
10) Plan for a Great Adventure: Get your mind right heading into the trip. Be positive and plan for success. Your first day might not be the best fishing, but the next day could uncover an unknown section of river that is stocked full of monster trout eating mice. Who knows, you might even find the next Kamchatka. Pack your fly box accordingly, do one final checklist, and hit the road! Adventure awaits!