Friday, December 3, 2010

Drew’s Top 10 Dream Fly Fishing Freshwater Destinations

I am sure that I am not the only fly fisherman out there who has a dream list of places they would like to fish. I have been a fish geek for a really long time and have done a lot of thinking about this and had many conversations with friends. Those conversations usually start with “If I ever hit the lottery I would go fishing in…..”

Well I am putting those down in writing and I hope to be able to cross a few of them off my list before I die in some “weird fish accident” (thank you Todd G. for that epitaph from many years ago).

But first, let me get into my reasoning for these choices. To be a dream destination for me the location must provide species not available to me locally and species that I have not caught before. This eliminates a lot of places right off the bat. Yea I would love to fish giant pike in Manitoba or muskies in Wisconsin or even head way down to Patagonia for sea run browns, but none of those fits my criteria for a “dream” trip. I want to catch something I cannot get nearby.

The second criterion is that the species I am targeting is a native to the area.  If I am going to travel to fish for something I want to catch a fish that was meant to be there. Big browns in Patagonia- love to do it, but they aren’t a native South American fish. I know at some point I will fish down in South Florida for peacock bass, but I want to get them where they live naturally.
One thing that you might notice is that salmonids are not high priority for me with this list. Trout and salmon are definitely cool but I like weird fish that get to gigantic proportions. I also like to do things that most other folks don’t. So while I definitely would love to get a bull trout sometime and cutthroat trout are awesome, they just won’t cut it for my top 10.

I am only going to consider freshwater locations too.
So, without further ado….
A lovely Roughfished buffalo
#10 Minnesota- Buffalo. WHAT???? DP has lost his mind and wants to chase a mammal with a fly?  Nope. I want a damned big sucker instead. I read about these fish in “Fishing for Buffalo: A Guide to the Pursuit and Cuisine of Carp, Suckers, Eelpout, Gar, and Other Rough Fish” by Rob Buffler and Tom Dickson. (a book to own if you like oddball fish)A sucker that can get up to 70 pounds, will eat a size 12 hare’s ear and fights like the dickens? Hell yea! I am on that for sure. These fish are found all over the Mississippi drainage, so why Minnesota? To visit the Michael Corleone of brownlining himself- the one, the only, the Roughfisher, Jean Paul Lipton. This legendary (in his own mind) fly angler would be able to put me on the buffalo species in his area and could identify what kind it was at a glance (I would do my homework ahead of time, but it always helps to have someone that knows the business to help). I am sure Major Brownstain would be willing to help me find a few other fish to expand my life list of fish too. Mooneye, quillback and other sucker species would be cool.  Yes folks, I am putting a bunch of suckers down as target species for my dream destinations. Deal with it suckas!
That's not a fish, THIS is a fish!
#9 Northern Australia. Remember the movie Crocodile Dundee and the scene where he is explaining why there are shells in the bottom of his boat and he says “Well, barramundi is a bloody big fish”? That says it all. Barramundi are a close relative of the snook and get to gigantic sizes. World record is 83 pounds. They better be big since they have to deal with saltwater crocodiles (an added bonus to fishing the freshwater rivers in Queensland- crocs are animals that both terrify and amaze me). Alongside these tacklebusters are other fish like tarpon, Australian arrowana, jungle perch, and others that would be fun to catch. How could you go wrong fish fishing for a variety of large gamefish, dodge man-eating crocs, and wind down at the end of the day with a barby and a couple of Fosters in their native land?  Crikey, you would be madder than a two bob watch to not give that a fair crack of the whip mate! I'll be there faster than a lizard drinkin'!
Massive fish, huge teeth, great colors- what more could you ask for?
#8 The Pantanal. – Just like Pizarro and Oranella seeking out the lost city of El Dorado, I want to travel to this vast wetland complex to find gold. In this case it is the dorado. These golden fish are just amazing! The colors, the teeth, the fight!!! A 10 weight is a necessity. Combine that with a wide variety of other fish species like piranha, pacu, arowana, cichlids, cyprinids… lots and lots of fish to catch. The dorado is the big prize here though. Need to have a wire leader. Love that. Up to 30 lbs. Love that too. Let’s not forget all the cool wildlife like caimen (another crocodilian showing up? Do you sense a trend?), taipir, anaconda, capyabara, birds galore…. Yea, this is up to my standards for the trip for sure!
Look at the colors! Look at the teeth! I want one!
#7 Thailand. Lots of folks know Thailand as a great vacation spot. Beautiful beaches, great food, friendly people…. How about a huge, toothy, freshwater fish that has been known to bite people when guarding its nest? A fish species I used to keep in an aquarium at one point- the giant snakehead! These things are just plain nasty! Like a bowfin on steroids, crack and angel dust! And there are a few other snakehead species there as well. The clown knifefish would be fun to catch too. And let us not forget all the other native cyprinids- some damned big carp there. Catfish as well. Soak up the sun, eat some great food, catch some huge fish that I need the Boga-grips for? Hell yea….. and maybe I would get a shot at seeing a wild Siamese crocodile at the same time- highly unlikely but hey, who knows, right?
Nice fish mate!
#6 Papua New Guinea- How about a species that Lefty Kreh says is one of the hardest fish to land on any tackle?  The New Guinea black bass is it! Up to 20 kg, in the depths of fast moving jungle rivers hiding in dense logjams and crocodile infested water, this is one bad ass fish.  It is not unusual for a smaller fish to break 20 or 30 pound line. Similar in shape to a smallmouth, but a lot bigger and with some serious canine teeth in its mouth, the two black bass species are tough customers indeed. Smash and grab is their tactic and that sounds fun to me! Maybe I can even get a custom fitted gourd from the indigenous people…..

That is number 6-10 folks. Stay tuned for the top 5 coming soon!


  1. great post drew will have to do a list as well

  2. Thanks Dave, the top 5 are coming today! Get your koteka ready!