Fly fishing is quickly becoming a couples' sport and the the destinations are becoming more and more exciting. People are now traveling the world not just in search of the "big catch", but also for the experience. What was once typically thought of as a "man's trip" is fast becoming a couples' trip. With more time together and destinations that are more than just about the fishing, fly fishing lodges are quickly becoming one, two, and even three week experiences.
They are offering so much more than fly in, fish, and fly out. Think world class food, spas, hiking, and top notch staff. We typically have turned to Orvis to book our trips. They get us and what we are looking for in a destination. They are able to work with the lodges to have our needs, wants, and desires met.
Although we have traveled to many places, there are three that have stood out and have been or will be repeated. All of the lodges listed are perfect for either the fly fishermen who does not want to take a day off or the fly fishermen who does and just wants to chill at the lodge or do some sight seeing.
People often laugh when I tell them about my experiences at the lodges we so enjoy. They are epic in every way, but also a bit like a combination of the Bravo shows, Below Deck and Real Housewives, mixed in with a little Deadliest Catch from the Discovery channel. I would not change it for the world.
Copal Tree Lodge, Belize
We have to start with Copal Tree Lodge where we have spent more days on and off the water than I can count. Formally known as Belcompo, Copal Tree Lodge is located in Punta Gorda, Belize, the furthest spot south you can get. It is located at the top of the jungle rainforest, yet minutes from the water. The fishing grounds are some of the more sacred for those searching for the Grand Slam - permit, bonefish, and tarpon - but in a true serene setting.
The fishing takes place for the main part in the protected marine reserves and national parks. This is considered a world-renowned permit territory and the hunt is as much the game as landing and releasing that permit. A quick ride to the reef or one of the local islands will also put you in excellent bonefish grounds. And if you are looking for the grand slam, the patient, kind, professional, and just unbelievable guides will get you to tarpon as well.
Looking beyond the fly fishing, Copal Tree Lodge in itself is a special place, growing the majority of food served. We stay on the top of the ridge in the Signature Canopy Suites complete with a private infinity pool for the four suites overlooking the jungle and Rio Grande River. But it is the experiences that set Copal Tree apart with an expert staff there to meet your every need. From a massage at the jungle spa to a trip to town for the Farmers' Market to snorkeling with Chef, we always plan a couple of days without fishing for both a break and to enjoy all that southern Belize has to offer.
Crystal Creek Lodge, Alaska
It took very little for our Orvis specialist to convince us to book at Crystal Creek Lodge. We said we wanted to go to Alaska and he said, "I got this". And that he did...Crystal Creek was not just up to the standards we look for, but beyond.
Located in King Salmon, Alaska there is world-class fishing in every direction you turn. Form the Naknek River, which the lodge sits on. to the Bristol Bay, the Egegik, the Moraine and so much more, no day is spent without epic fish on the line. Seriously, a slow day here is a 25" trout. Whether you decide to stay close on the Naknek or hop in a seaplane to float a river or head for the salmon, no day is a bad day at Crystal Creek.
We went for the salmon and quickly fell in love with the rainbow trout and grayling fishing. They say at Crystal Creek "Welcome to the land of dreams" and dit certainly is. The Katmai Region delivers an epic experience. Each night you meet up with the guides and director to determine the next day. They truly cater to your fishing desires and the guides are some of the best we have ever had. We especially love that they rotate the guides and pilots, so you get to experience them all.
Beyond the fly fishing, there is a massage therapist on staff as well as a Chef who is one in a million. The food was literally some of the best we have had and each meal featured local finds. Lunch fishing always included a hot soup that warmed you up and made you forget you were cold or wet. The fresh bread was made with local blueberries fermented and used all season. Chef served not one, but two separate desert courses each night. The food also is true to the flavors of the ingredients. You can see Chef's pride and respect to the ingredients he uses.
Some days while everyone else would head out, I would curl up with a good book by the fire. The lodge is like a home where you are not just welcomed, but well taken care of. I enjoyed every single moment. Whether sitting out on the deck wrapped in a blanket reading, watching the seals play in the Naknek, or the bald eagles soaring above, I couldn't have been more content. And I'm telling you that this trip brought home how much travel can inspire our everyday lives.
Bahia Honda Club, Florida
When traveling from lodge to lodge to fly fish, we often hear about "epic" places we must go. The tarpon run, which is in May and June in the Florida Keys, was one of those places. Of course we called Orvis and they said, "Oh, that will be tough this year. The lodge you would like is booked way out". A day later there was a cancellation and we were in.
Being open only eight weeks and with only five rooms, chances are slim of getting in, but we did it and we would do it again. What makes it so special? The lodge is a private home right on the water with a welcoming pool, kayaks, and an excellent staff. The house manager can arrange massages and meet any other need you have and Chef is exceptional. When you ask, "What's for dinner"?, the answer is an honest, "I have to see what looks good at the market".
But it is all about the tarpon and waiting on the hatch. You tie your flies and wait for that worm hatch to catch the big one. Sound boring, it isn't at all! And besides, it is well worth the effort because you fish for tarpon in the most beautiful locations and the experience and guides are outstanding.
When we were at the lodge a hurricane passed over the day after we arrived. Lliterally, the only day the guides could remember not ever fishing during season. As a result, the water was a bit rough the next couple of days for me. My husband and our guides were out the next day and caught some great tarpon and even a big permit. I stayed poolside with my book and kayaked from our dock.
One day Chef asked if I wanted to go to market with him. Well, YES! We drove to Key West to the fish market and even down to the docks where the shrimp and fish were coming right off the boats. Now I knew why Chef waited each day to plan the menu.
Fortunately, he water calmed and I got back out there fishing. I enjoyed it just as much as my days relaxing and kayaking.
We have spent time at many more lodges, resorts, fishing camps and other types of fly fishing experiences and I would be doing you a disservice if I did not mention a few other of our favorites for couples.
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, Primland is known not just for the fabulous fly fishing, but also the resort itself. A true luxury resort where you can chose between the comfy lodge, a townhouse, or a home to stay in. The resort is known for its golf, spa, food, activities, and so much more. But the fishing is truly breathtaking.
There are many areas to fish, but my favorite was when my guide drove me down a path, we geared up, walked down the river, crossed, hiked up a hill, and then back down. We found ourselves in the most beautiful, untouched, protected spot that literally brought tears to my eyes. Be sure to enjoy dinner one night at the Chef's table in the kitchen. It is a delicious and delightful experience.
Known as the historic and ionic Broadmoor Resort most people have know idea that the Boardmoor has a Fly Fishing Camp. Located on a private stretch of the Tarryall River, the camp is perfect for an extended stay at the Broadmoor. The food is as fabulous as the Broadmoor. In terms of accommodations, the cabins are a bit less plush, but the bathhouse located in the center of camp has all the amenities of the luxurious resort. This is the perfect destination for the experienced fly fishing couple or those brand new to the sport.
No matter which of these fabulous destinations you choose just know you can't go wrong and you will have an amazing time even if you want to spend most of your days catching up on your reading!