Top Ten Fly-Fishing Destinations - Page 3
5. Amazon River Basin, Brazil
When most people hear Amazon River they don't think, "Great place to go fly-fishing." But the happy few who do think that way have either tangled with—or more likely heard tales about—a red-eyed beast called the Peacock bass. Peacock bass aren't actually bass at all but a 20-plus-pound relative of the tilapia. They chase smaller fish onto the shore, love surface flies, and strike so ferociously that they fly several feet into the air. The best of the very few lodging options is the comfortable, low-occupancy Royal Amazon Lodge on the Agua Boa River, which has a white-sand bottom and enough clarity to reveal fish 50 yards away. The surrounding area is government-protected, unspoiled rainforest and savannah, inhabited by wild things such as toucans, howler monkeys, jaguars, and caiman crocodiles. Sensibly, most people fish from a boat.
4. Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Freshwater brown trout were introduced to Tierra del Fuego's Rio Grande in the 1930s, and a decade or two later they headed out to sea. Why? They had pretty much eaten everything in the river. These fish apparently kept their voracious appetite, because now, when they return to spawn sporting their silver scales, they outweigh their European cousins by a factor of five to ten. And their numbers are growing, too. "The runs are bigger than ever," says Steve McGrath, a retired guide who used to own a lodge in the Bahamas. "It's probably the most amazing phenomenon in the fishing world right now." Anglers who take a winter or spring trip to southern South America can expect to land about five monsters of up to 30 pounds every day—once they get the hang of casting in the winds that howl across the pancake-flat, treeless terrain.
3. Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
This mountain-spined arm of the Russian Far East awakens memories of Alaska circa 1900. Kamchatka is much less civilized and, most importantly, much less fished. "You don't hear a bush plane flying over, you don't hear a motorboat downstream, and you certainly don't see another person," says Ryan Peterson, who often guides on the peninsula. Although Kamchatka is a Pacific salmon stronghold, most fly-fishermen come for the plentiful, fearless rainbow trout. Anglers can wade the famed Zhupanova River in search of trophy rainbows approaching a yard in length, or, if they want to explore remoteness by Kamchatka standards, they can join a float trip down one of the peninsula's scores of hardly fished rivers. "More people go to other regions," says Peterson, "but Kamchatka attracts the sort of cutting-edge, hard-core fishing set."
Fascinated by stories of titanic fish lurking the wild rivers of Mongolia, Dan Vermillion and his brothers decided to go check if they were just fish tales. "On the third cast we broke our rod," says Vermillion, a fishing guide and co-owner of the family business, Sweetwater Travel Company. The fish that snapped their rod was a taimen, the largest member of the fish family that includes salmon and trout. Taimen are behemoths: They grow to more than 60 inches and can push 200 pounds. And they love flies, just not the kind most people use. "I think we're the only ones who fish with squirrels," Vermillion says. Not real rodents, mind you, but castable fakes made from foam and rabbit hair. (The "Chernobyl Squirrel," for example.) This destination is a true back-of-beyond adventure. Anglers fishing the taimen waters in north-central Mongolia stay in yurts, and without the helicopter, the nearest town would be 24 hours away by car.
It's near impossible to get more out-of-the-way than the Seychelles for fly-fishing, or for anything really. Scattered across a small patch of the Indian Ocean to the northeast of Madagascar, this tropical archipelago includes uninhabited atolls teeming with saltwater trophy fish. Out-of-this-world permit, bonefish, and triggerfish cruise the warm, crystal-clear waters of the flats, oblivious to the existence of fishermen, not to mention the dangers posed by their flies. The Seychelles' top game fish is the giant trevally, which charges at the surface like a bull and often exceeds 45 inches and 100 pounds. Fishing the Seychelles isn't a vacation; it's an expedition. Reaching the premiere atoll, Cosmoledo, requires a 1,000-mile flight from the main island followed by a 12-hour sail. "The reason that the fishing is so good at these places is because man hasn't been there," says Gerhard Laubscher of FlyCastaway, a South Africa-based travel outfit that specializes in extreme destinations like the Seychelles. "And getting to a place where man hasn't been isn't easy."