Home Bases, Great Places

Trout Fishing the West
  |  Gorp.com

I am a lucky guy and I know it. I fish a lot, all over the country but especially in the West, in the Rockies. I fish in spring creeks, tailwaters, alpine brooks, high country lakes, freestone streams, beaver ponds and sometimes even cow pasture ponds (Wyoming seems to have more than its fair share of these—big puddles of water on flat ranchland which some bright feller decided to stock with trout). I am a lucky guy, and I know it. And my wife knows it, too.

My beautiful wife loves to go on fishing trips with me. She likes to fish—which also makes me a lucky guy—but she also likes to shop, sleep in clean rooms, and eat nice meals. Many of you fellow anglers are in the same boat as you make plans to take the family trout fishing this summer. Where can you find the perfect place out West to fish most of the day, keep the kids occupied, and make your spouse happy with all the collaterals?

We like to eat Mexican food and test Montezuma every chance we get, so if our list of restaurants seems to lean in that direction, our palates apologize. But after a hard day of splashing in the river, bypassing meals in favor of handling smelly trout, you deserve to treat yourself with a hot meal and hotter bath.

(I will go on record right now, that if you happen to go west through Amarillo, you need to stop by my favorite rustic cafi—the Rabbit Ears Cafe on the west side of Clayton. This hole in the wall may not be much to look at, but the food is plentiful and pleasing. To note: a wet napkin will only smear those grease stains you dripped on your shirt while eating their stuffed sopapillas.)

Criteria

I put together five locations in the West that I believe offer the best array of trout fishing waters. My wife seconds all of these. These home bases are ideal mostly for fishing but also for seeing sights with your family (or at least giving them somewhere to go during the day while you fish).

I left out many famous trout hotspots like the Green or Bighorn Rivers because they are not family-conducive and do not offer much in the way of alternate activity choices. From any of my home bases, I like having alternatives in case of bad weather in case the kids want to drop a hook or the sophisticated big rivers kick my butt and I need a pick-me-up on a nearby smaller, lesser-fished stream.

I left out some my favorite places, like Missoula, MT, Chama, NM, Buena Vista, CO, and Aspen, CO, for no other reason except that I couldn't include every home base. And I didn't clutter the suggestions with lists of flyshops, guides, and outfitters. I kept in mind the need for decent accommodations, although an angler's definition of 'decent' leaves a lot to be desired. (Suffice it to say, my wife had some say here, too.)

I included a diverse listing of lodging and restaurants for the budget-minded fishers and threw in a few higher-priced treats. I did the same with the trout fisheries. In this jumble of trout waters, I tossed in some big-time trophy trout rivers, a dash of backcountry brook trout creeks, a cupful of accessible roadside waters and a pinch of whatever else was left over. So here are my fave five spots, choice hamlets from which to set up a home base to reach a lot of trout streams and lakes while keeping it interesting for the family.


Article © Mark D. Willliams, 2001.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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