Wanderlust – the yearning to discover new places and adventures. Fly fishing is as much about the incredible locations it takes us to as it is about the quarry we are pursuing. In this post, we explore five of the most unspoiled fly fishing destinations in the world and the fish that inhabit their waters. CAUTION: If you haven’t caught the travel bug yet, this article may give you the bug!
Andros Island, The Bahamas - Bonefish
Does the idea of an island paradise surrounded by crystal-clear, emerald waters and vast, unsearchable saltwater flats sound enticing? Just 150 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, Andros Island offers unparalleled opportunities for flats fishing via boat or by wading for a number of exciting species including tarpon, permit, barracuda, snapper and in particular, bonefish.
Bonefish, also known as the “Silver Ghosts”, are a formidable quarry for the fly fisherman. One of the most popular saltwater species for anglers to target, often times these fish will readily eat a well-placed fly. Once hooked, your reel is going to scream as this fish makes intense, lightning runs!
Known as “The Bonefish Capital of the World”, Andros Island offers anglers world-class sight-fishing opportunities for Bones. In this pristine warm water fishery, Bonefish in the 7-pound class are not uncommon and guided anglers will often have daily chances at double-digit bones!
Bristol Bay, Alaska - King Salmon
The pristinely beautiful Bristol Bay located in Southwestern Alaska offers access to arguably the greatest run of salmon in the world. While most Bristol Bay lodges are well equipped to target all five species of salmon (King Salmon, Silver Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Chum Salmon, and Pink Salmon), the King Salmon is undoubtedly the draw for many fly anglers.
The mighty King (also known as Chinook) Salmon is unapparelled in its beauty, size and strength. The average King Salmon in Bristol Bay is between 15 and 40 pounds, with exceptional fish reaching 60 pounds. There is nothing quite like the power and vigor in these fish! Kings have a reputation for breaking fly rods and its testament to their shear strength.
Catching a King Salmon on the fly is considered to be a pinnacle fly fishing experience by many fly anglers. Known as “The Salmon Factory of the World”, Bristol Bay may be the ticket if you’re looking to experience the final frontier and have excellent opportunities at some of the greatest salmon fishing the world has to offer.
Cairns, Queensland, Australia - Black Marlin
The gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns has become a mecca for saltwater fly fishing. If Billy Pate’s three world records for Black Marlin aren’t enough of a draw, the blue water, reef and mangrove fisheries of Cairns offer almost unlimited angling opportunities including species like barramundi, mangrove jack, tarpon, blue-fin tuna and even giant trevally, to name a few!
For many fly anglers, catching a Black Marlin on the fly is a life-time achievement. One of the fastest fishes on the planet, catching a Black Marlin on the fly is no small feat and involves a coordinated bait-and-switch strategy. The idea is to attract the fish close to the boat by trolling hookless teasers and a bait. Once a marlin is spotted near a teaser, the bait is pulled in and the angler makes a short cast to the fish. If everything goes right, get ready to see some backing and a marlin jumping 100 yards off the bow!
Cairns has access to one of the healthiest fisheries of Black Marlin found anywhere in world – a typical guided trip may provide more than 20 opportunities at casting a fly to a bill fish on a single day. And while landing a Black Marlin on the fly is a very challenging thing to achieve, few angling experiences are more exhilarating than a Black Marlin on the run!
Corrientes Province, Argentina - Golden Dorado
North eastern Argentina possesses a vast network of freshwater creeks, estuaries, lakes and lagoons that make up the second largest wetland habitat in the world (more than twice the size of the Florida Everglades). The stunning Iberra Marshlands are home to a rich biodiversity including a variety of flora and fauna, including a number of targets for the fly fisherman, like Pacu, Pira-Pita, and of course, Golden Dorado.
A bucket-list fish for the traveling fly fisherman, the Golden Dorado is impressive, both for its striking beauty as well as its fierce, predatory nature. The Dorado has a stunning appearance which instantly sparks the thought they are somehow related to salmon. However, they are in fact not a salmonid at all, but are actually a part of the characiformes order that includes the piranha and goliath tiger fish (may indicate where they get their voracious appetite!).
The clear freshwaters of the Iberra Marshlands provide many opportunities for the angler to sight fish for this incredible species. Known as “The Tiger of the River”, these fish hit baitfish patterns hard! Once hooked, be ready for a legendary battle as the Dorado makes stunning aerials and fights with immense strength!
Labrador, Canada - Brook Trout
Labrador, located on the eastern coast of Canada, is a remote, rugged wilderness of thick pine and spruce with lakes and rivers fully of healthy populations of Northern Pike, land-locked salmon, and large, wild Brook Trout. It is truly one of the last untamed places in the world!
Labrador is home to the best Brook Trout fishing on earth, period. Anglers commonly catch fish in the 4 – 6-pound class, with opportunities at trophy 7 – 8 pounders, and on rarer occasions, double digit fish. These fish have unrivaled beauty with spots of red, yellow and blue, and males turning bright red during spawning season.
Accessing the fisheries of Labrador is not easy, and that may be part of what makes the fishing so great. Many locations may only be accessed by flying in on a seaplane and have remained practically untouched by man, harkening back to the days when fly fishing legends like Lee Wulff, Stu Apte and Ted Williams casted dry flies on their waters.