Cast a line, soak up the tranquil wilderness and prepare to land the biggest catch you’ve ever seen at Northrop & Johnson’s pick of the finest fly fishing lodges in the world.
Fly fishing has been around a while, but things have changed somewhat since primitive man first honed a shard of bone into a fishing hook. The tools have since improved immeasurably and today there is an arsenal of high-tech equipment available. Add to this the opportunity to experience locations that were previously inaccessible where the fish are as ripe to catch as they are plentiful, and you have the perfect wilderness setting. One such place that has earned acclaim for its excellent fly fishing is Nimmo Bay in British Columbia. Home to the Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, this is the place to go for some of the best heli-fishing in the world. The rivers are alive with fish and there are dozens to choose from, including Rainbow and Steelhead trout (for skilled fly-fishers), Dolly Varden, Char, and all salmon varieties. All the equipment you will need is provided, or you can bring your own, but the fishery has a catch-and-release policy so only barbless hooks can be used. Flying high above misted forests, towering mountains, crystal-clear rivers and landscapes abounding with grizzly bears, wolves and eagles, this the ultimate wilderness adventure.
Back at the resort, guests have a choice of accommodation either in one of six intertidal cottages or one of three stream-side properties. The entire resort can be exclusively reserved for one party of up to 18 guests, who can come together to dine on fantastic cuisine (fresh, local fish, of course) in the main lodge, or in Little River, the new floating restaurant. When alone time is required, guests can sit back in one of the cedar hot tubs, enjoy a massage treatment at the spa (or al fresco if desired), or simply take to the water with a paddle on a board or kayak.
Over on the other side of the world on New Zealand’s spectacular North Island, the 16,000-acre Poronui estate is located in the Taharua valley near Taupō. Home to Māori hunters and English settlers over the course of its history, the estate welcomes guests to angle for rainbow and brown trout across many miles of mountain creeks, rivers and streams. Given these excellent waters, heli-fishing is not always necessary, but helicopters and highly experienced pilots and guides are on hand to whisk guests further afield to back country, wilderness fishing spots along renowned fisheries such as the Ngaruroro and Rangitikei rivers or remote back country streams. This gives avid fishermen the extra option, particularly if rains leave some rivers unfishable. In such cases the mountain headwaters offer perfect fishing conditions, and the helicopters can get you to these remote wilderness spots quickly and easily. What’s more, flying over the dramatic beech forests and alpine meadows is a stunning experience in itself.
“These waters, deep in the mountains, can be hugely challenging for all levels of fishing enthusiasts,” says General Manager Steve Smith. “Catching a trophy trout from deep clear pools requires patience and accuracy, but the effort is worth it!” The myriad waters within fishing distance of Poronui enable most anglers to be catered for. Early season conditions on smaller streams favor the novice angler, while even the most competent will be tested fishing the high-country water in mid-Summer. Luckily, Poronui has expert guides on hand to impart their extensive local angling knowledge.
Back at the luxury sporting lodge, it’s not all about the primitive wilderness. Guests can access a full array of spa facilities, superb cuisine and fine wine from the underground cellar. When it comes to retiring for the night, Poronui offers three options, including the main Poronui Lodge with seven guest cabins situated alongside the Taharua River, a secluded rustic-luxe safari camp on the banks of the mighty Mohaka River at the property’s back boundary, and the utterly unique Blake House private villa, which resides on an imperious plateau overlooking the Taharua valley.
All the way down in the southern hemisphere, surrounded by lush Patagonian wilderness, the remote Rio Palena Lodge offers some of the most scenic fishing in the world. “Fishing in the Southern Hemisphere is always great because, for a lot of American and European anglers, it takes place in our winter, their summer,” says Brian O’Keefe, Angling Product Manager for experiential travel company Eleven Experience.
Set on a scenic stretch of river in the Lake District of Chilean Patagonia, the Rio Palena Lodge is so remote that just to reach it involves an adventure in itself, but once there, guests reap the benefits of its isolation with extraordinary and plentiful fishing adventures. “There are so many rivers and lakes that are populated with larger-than-average wild trout, where fly fishing tackle and techniques are very similar to the style of fishing in Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and other great fishing destinations,” says Brian. “You will rarely see another angler, for a whole week, or more.” After being whisked by helicopter over the Andean peaks to hard-to-reach lakes, anglers embark on inflatable rafts to cast out along reeds in the hope of catching gigantic wild brown and rainbow trout.
The journey may not be strenuous (the helicopter takes just 15 minutes as opposed to an arduous trek) but the fight and haul to catch these magnificent lake trout will leave you ready for a peaceful slumber back at the sumptuous lodge. But first, kick back on the deck overlooking the tranquil river and celebrate your triumphs (or toast the one that got away) with a fine Chilean wine or Pisco Sour. Or, soak weary muscles in the wood-fired hot tub and sauna, before enjoying a Chilean asado (a traditional barbecue).