As I am a beginner, I need to start dreaming of my first trip. So where are the most famous places to fly fish in the US or Canada? I think Alaska is a given.
I will accept for an answer as specific or regional as you so choose. For example you could say the Yellowstone River for the 10 mile stretch between "town a" and "town b", central Montana, or Montana. Whatever you choose.
Off the top of my head the places that I think of as fly hotspots are:
Montana and the Yellowstone corner of,Idaho and Wyoming.
Columbia River tributaries
And British Columbia
Oh, maybe upstate New York, but I don't know that much about it and can't imagine it possibly isn't overfished to death.
Location: beside the AuSable River in northern Michigan
Re: where are the most famous place to fly fish?
It's never too early to start dreaming about/planning for "the trip," places that take high priority on your bucket list, so to speak. Always aspire to visit new places and fish new waters when you can, as the gifts such places freely give a fly-fisherman are many.
For me, my "dream trips" came in staggered clusters, and long after I'd honed my meager skills with a fly rod on my home waters of northern Michigan's AuSable River, with occasional visits to the Manistee, Boardman, Pigeon and Pere Marquette thrown in for good measure. I viewed the lessons learned on those rivers all as "building blocks" for a skill set(?) that I hoped would serve me well wherever I fished...
Dream trips #1 and #2 came during my years spent writing for a variety of magazines. The first served double-duty in my visit to England, Scotland and Ireland, as I was able to research my ancestors while learning new styles of wetting a fly. I followed up the two-month stint to the lands of my forefathers by departing from London and heading to New Zealand, long before its popularity as a fishing destination exploded. And, when the three months abroad were finished, I found myself blessed with fly-fishing experiences that will stay with me forever.
Dream trip #3 came "post-cancer," months after the removal of my first brain tumor. In essence, it differed greatly in its intent from trips #1 and #2. With the family by my side, we worked in an "east to west" pattern, kicking things off in the Catskills-- the historic cradle of American fly-fishing --and easing our way back into the Midwest and waters unknown to me before hitting the confines of Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. For me, the visits all were as much about fish diversity as they were about the history to be found in each destination.
After dabbling in the fisheries of the Northwest and Alaska, we set our compass on the return home, cutting across the Canadian provinces and fishing along the way. And, when we finally pulled into the driveway, after days behind the wheel, I promised myself that I wouldn't drive anywhere again for months. I also found myself wondering who enjoyed the trip more-- me, or "The Speaker of the House" and our girls? Looking back on life now, it was undoubtedly THE best dream trip of my life, in every way imaginable...
And, it didn't take but a day for me to break the aforementioned "promise" regarding time behind the wheel. After the bags were stowed, I picked up a message on my answering machine extolling the virtues of an on-going hatch on my "home waters" on the AuSable River. The following morning found two of my daughters and me headed out to fish a couple of our favorite places on the waters we knew well.
In hindsight, I've come to realize that an angler's "home waters" often can be a "dream trip" of the best kind, especially when shared with my daughter Jesse, or some of my closest "friends/fly-fishing cronies." These days, I dream of building more memories made up of these "home-waters moments..."
"Most famous" is not necessarily the same as "best fishing" or "most enjoyable". That said, in the west the upper Madison River would probably also have to be on the list. Also the Snake around Jackson Hole, the Missouri below Holter Dam, and the Bighorn below Yellowtail Dam. In the East, the list should probably include the Beaverkill and Willowemoc in NY, the Battenkill in VT and NY, and Letort Spring Run in PA. In the midwest there probably isn't a more famous river than the Au Sable.
Originally Posted by hairwing530
In hindsight, I've come to realize that an angler's "home waters" often can be a "dream trip" of the best kind
Easy for you to say. You live on the banks of the Au Sable! Here in Boston the "home water" is the Charles.
I would say that if you're a dry fly fisherman the Catskill area would be your mecca. Home waters for Theodore Gordon, Ray Bergman, Art Flick, Harry and Elsie Darbee, Walt and Winnie Dette, Roy Steenrod, Rube Cross, and countless others.
Starting in Roscoe NY you could camp at the Famous Beaverkill Covered Bridge Campsite or stay at the Famed Red Rose Motel and fish the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, E and West Branch of the Delaware within less than an hour's drive. In addition in less than two hours drive is the Esopus and the E and W Branch of the Neversink, and one of my favorites the Little Mongaup.
In that area is the Amawalk which was the second fish for fun experimental project and only a few minutes drive of that is the e and w branch of the Croton River, all three are fish for fun with a limited kill.
From there it would be on to less than two hours to fish the Housatonic River and shoot north (doubling back a little) to the Battenkill and up to the upper Conneticut three lakes area.
There was an awful lot of Americas early fly fishing literature written about that area.
I was lucky enough to grow up there and fish with many of the legendary old timers.
Location: White City (tad north of Medford) Oar-E-Gone
Re: where are the most famous place to fly fish?
Fun reads here (again!). You can't beat water for places, with an old dog, or in my case a Cat.
Then the damned Siamese Cat. 'Mz. 'Cat-Cat' was the worse 'critic.'
'Well, what do you think?' Holding a fly box under noses.
First of the Dog Snorts, YES! ..... Then the damned cat: 'Bad Choice.'
Dog(s) out of the car like a shot from a rifle. Sandy, my old Yellow Lab, was in the water as fast as she could run. Boggie, 'Husker's,' like 'Sheba,' took a more measured approach, but they were only going to feet wet.
'DOG SNORTS, tails wagging like windshield whippers, faces looking up; 'When do we get our treats?' Young kids 'fighting' over whose bed tonight.
"Cat-Cat" would roll up in a ball, take another nap. On my bed pillow; unless I was tieing flies. 15 pounds of fuzz ball, off the floor, in your lap, on the table, remarkable interest as she sorted out feather's etc.
Paw sorting out: 'Use this and that.' Damned Cat was usually right.
''We don't own Pets, they own us.'' So it would seem?
Your Dog/Cat is where? If you have kids, the answer is easy. At my age, the answer has not changed. "WOULD YOU PLEASE MOVE OVER!"
wow... kenai looks ridiculous, if I showed up and saw that I would try to leave and go somewhere else less 'famous'!
To the original poster, not sure where you are based.
If you get a chance to go to Colorado, I suggest the Roaring Fork Valley around Glenwood Springs. Access to the Colorado, Roaring Fork, Frying Pan, and Crystal Rivers all within a short drive.
Summit County is pretty good too, the Blue River is quite famous locally.
I recently made a trip to Asheville, NC. There are several rivers and creeks in the area. I had a great time considering I had never fished there before. Looking forward to exploring up there in the future.
I've been smitten with fishing in the Florida Keys and other saltwater flats destinations recently. Not exactly fly fishing hot spots, but an incredible place to fish.
IMO, the less famous the better Find a high altitude lake that not many are willing to hike to, and the fishing can be amazing.
Oh man. So much water, so little time. Based on my own limited fly fishing experience I'd offer the following:
--British Columbia, especially the Skeena River drainage (including the Bulkley, Kispiox, and Babine). If you want to swing flies for salmon and steelhead, this is the place to come. Obviously there are a lot of rivers and lakes in BC to fish but these might be some of the most "famous".
--Alaska: I fish for salmon in the Chilkat and Chilkoot rivers, but like BC, Alaska is a wilderness of water with lots of places to go. As other posters have pointed out, some of those rivers are packed a**hole to elbow with other anglers (those places maybe aren't so much famous as they are infamous). Our friendly moderator Ard Stetts (username Hardyreels) can tell you more about fishing Alaska than anyone.
--Belize: if you ever want to try saltwater fly fishing, I'd suggest a trip to Belize for bonefish and permit. Again, lots of places to go for saltwater fishing--Florida, Bahamas, Mexico--pretty much anywhere on the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean.
--Northwest Territories: these are my "home waters", and there are a lot of them. Like BC and Alaska, this is a big territory with a lot of water. For the fly fisher we've got grayling, whitefish, pike, and arctic char. Most of those fish have never seen an artificial fly or lure before.
There are obviously many others in North America and elsewhere-check out some of the regional forums on this site. Some of the places I dream of and would like to fish some day include Tierra del Fuego in Argentina (big sea-run brown trout), Scotland (Atlantic salmon, of course), Atlantic Canada (the Maritime provinces plus Newfoundland--Atlantic salmon, obviously, but brookies too), Iceland (same but also trout and char), Louisiana (my wife wants to see New Orleans; I want to go after some redfish), Bahamas (see above), and Christmas Island (bonefish and giant trevallay and others).
Finally, as Jerry has so eloquently explained, never underestimate your home waters. There are a lot of spots nearby that I love to fish, even though they don't have the fame of some of these other far-flung destinations. Catching a whitefish or grayling in some unnamed creek that you can only reach by canoe might not be as glamorous as hooking a bonefish in Belize, but it's a lot of fun and deeply satisfying.