Plan for a family fly-fishing adventure and you’ll wake up in some of the country’s most pristine places.
Here are five fabulous destinations to consider:
Jackson County, North Carolina
With more than 3,000 miles of trout streams and 1,100 miles of hatchery-supported trout waters in the mountains alone, North Carolina is a fly-fishing haven. It’s also home to the nation’s only designated fly-fishing trail, the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail, which takes anglers to 15 prime spots in the Great Smoky Mountains to cast a line. Expect a variety of options from wide-open rivers to small, secluded streams. The heart of the trail, the Tuckasegee River, or the “Tuck,” as it’s known to locals, is the county’s largest body of water. Designed by two outdoorsmen and fly-fishing guides, the trail is an ideal way for fly-fishers of all skill levels and ages to learn the art of fly-fishing.
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Stunning scenery, diversity of waterways, plentiful fish and an enthusiastic community of guides combine to make Montana a top-notch base camp for a fly-fishing adventure. Spend a day on the Madison River with Joe Dilschneider, owner of Ennis, Montana-based TroutStalkers and your family members will go home with more than basic casting skills. You’ll learn to “match the hatch” and fish pocket water from a raft, and how to maximize a day on the famed Madison River, the Yellowstone River, a long stretch of blue-ribbon trout habitat or nearby spring creeks.
Formed by the confluence of the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison rivers at Three Forks, the mighty Missouri River flows 700 miles across Montana and is considered one of the most productive trout fisheries in the west.
The small town of Craig is among the numerous launch points from which families explore this storied river. Expect a picturesque landscape, trophy trout and the opportunity to imagine Lewis and Clark navigating the same waters.
For more: visitmt.com; wwwcrosscurrents.com
Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania
The Letort Spring Creek, Big Spring Creek and Yellow Breeches Creek (two classic limestone spring streams and one freestone stream) are considered “hallowed waters” and have enticed fly-fishermen to the area since the 1800s. Enthusiasts can expect to cast for brook, brown and rainbow in the local streams, where a variety of riparian ecosystems provide diverse fly-fishing opportunities. Consider a stay at the Orvis-endorsed Allenberry Resort, where fly-fishing packages are offered. The Valley is also home to the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum.
For more: www.VisitCumberlandValley.com
Sun Valley, Idaho
This mountain town is perhaps best-known for its famous ski slopes, but the region’s gold-medal waters make for yet another reason to nudge Sun Valley higher on your family vacation list. You’ll be on the hunt for rainbow, brown, brook and cutthroat trout on Silver Creek, the Big Lost and the Wood rivers as well as in pristine mountain lakes.
Tap into the town’s vibrant cultural scene or strap on skates for a whirl around the ice rink at the famed Sun Valley Lodge.
For more: visitsunvalley.com; silver-creek.com
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For an extraordinary angling experience, consider an overnight trip on the South Fork of the Snake River. On day one, you’ll hone your skills floating through some of the most coveted water in the western United States.
Later, as the sun sets, arrive at the South Fork Hilton, a fully outfitted camp tucked in the pines with a steep canyon wall as a backdrop. The overnight includes a deluxe dinner, tall tales, roasted marshmallows around a campfire, and a good night’s rest in cozy platform tents.
The second day promises stunning scenery, 16 miles of braided waters and the opportunity to expand the adventure wading around gravel bars and up side channels. The trip is ideal for a multi-generational outing.
For more: worldcastanglers.com; wyomingtourism.org
Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com