We are honored that Kathryn Maroun, world-renowned fly fisherman and television show host of “What A Catch!” would list 10 of her favorite places in the world to fish. It wasn’t easy for her, either. Presently, she is fishing in Iceland, a place most of us only dream of visiting. Enjoy the good read from Kathryn, with her warm conversational style of writing and her descriptions of the people and the fishing around the world. ~BB
The more thought and preparation you put into exploring what you require for a fulfilling vacation destination, the more likely you will be to create that trip of a lifetime for yourself.
Consider who will be a good travel buddy, what species you want to target, budget, time of year, equipment, how to get where you need to go, safety, food, bugs, guides and more.
I have fished around the world – catching-and-releasing some of the most prized species of gamefish on earth. What makes a destination memorable for me is not the numbers of fish I will catch, but rather the experience of being immersed in a new culture and learning about global issues (in particular, freshwater conservation and pollution).
I remember a lot more about an adventure far from home than just the trophy fish. The food, the people, the vistas and time spent on the water … all fill up my photo albums as well as the big fish shots.
My “Top 10” list … not in any particular order
– The legendary land of Genghis Khan. People welcome anglers into their Gers as they have for centuries because “they too were once weary travelers.” This is home to the world’s largest salmonid, called the taimen, a surface-taking animal as big as a sixth grader.
No one around, just me and mile after mile of fishy water. Just when the familiar landscape lulls me into thinking I could be in North America, the throat singers show up and start dancing and singing while I sip on a celebratory Scotch after a perfect day of fishing.
2) Gaspe – Québec, Canada
– Trophy Atlantic salmon in gin-clear water on dry flies. This is what I would imagine Heaven may feel like. The Gaspe runs along the shores of the mighty St. Lawrence River and its name means “lands end” in Mi’kmaq. The peninsula is recognizable by a natural stone arch not far from shore. This area is a cyclist’s and angler’s playground. The rain water filters its way through the Chic-Chocks mountains and stands of white birch trees to the banks of the rivers that boast the “clearest Atlantic salmon water in the world.” So much so, that the fish appear to be floating in air.
I love the warmth of the French people. The men know how to make women feel special, and the women make meals that are in themselves reason enough to pick this as a travel destination.
3) British Columbia
– I love the diversity of the fishing experiences to be had in one day. British Columbia touts 20,000 km/12,000mi of coastline, 25,000 lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers/streams to pick from. Fish for a dinosaur and catch a wild sturgeon or fly via a helicopter to a secluded mountain lake to catch any number of species. The landscape is breathtaking, but then again so is the shopping.
4) Northwest Territories
– Northern pike, trout and Arctic grayling north of sixty. It’s no coincidence that places that are hard to get to hold trophy fish, and that is why I love the Arctic. With my fine art background I enjoy experiencing firsthand the Dene, Inuvialuit and Metis culture and artwork. I landed a trophy pike, “the wolf of the North,” while a wolf looked on.
-I studied the tea ceremony in school and it was a dream come true to participate in an authentic tea ceremony in Japan.
My fishing adventures help me to see the world through fresh eyes. For example, cormorants are killed in North America and other places because fishermen feel the birds kill their fish. In Japan, these birds are part of the family. In fact, they help people fish for food.
I visited a Master Imperial Fisherman of the Royal Household at home with his birds. He served me tea and told me about his life and destiny. He is continuing the 1,300-year-old tradition of cormorant fishing on the Nagara River. Afterward, I visited the bamboo forests, watched as a master craftsman heated and split the bamboo as he built my rod. We fished for wild trout together high in the mountains. A trip of a lifetime!
-What’s not to like? Over 500 species of fish. Pick from big, bigger or many. The bait-heavy waters make the idea of going after a Grand Slam a very real proposition.
I watch all the National Geographic shows and really enjoy walking into the TV by visiting Mayan civilizations and swimming with whale sharks. I was even invited to get hands on and help with a baby flamingo conservation effort. I love a guy in uniform and Mariachi bands are really something.
-Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world and the people are a culture of anglers. The area is so huge and varied geographically that it is one locale that I say it’s a must to go back to over and over again. My only fear is that I will run out of time before I get a chance to fish all the places on my list from locations in Argentina.
My best memory from this part of the world is pocket fishing with grasshoppers for browns. I can’t get over how such big fish can hide in such small pockets. The guides cooked up pork chops on an open fire. They served vine-ripe tomatoes, avocado and oil as well, because all the fresh air and exercise made us hungry. Boy, it tasted great!
The best wines in the worlds were uncorked and the guides taught me how to tango, even though it was a little awkward in waders and boots. Not to mention, we didn’t have music either.
8) Indian Ocean
– In the middle of the ocean, far even from Madagascar, is an Island called St-Brandon’s.
Live-on ship adventure fishing at its best. Leaving the mother ship each morning to walk enormous hard sand flats and walk square into schools of very dumb fish. These are uneducated fish and perfect for the armchair angler who is into numbers. Yawn. The best part of this locale for me, aside from great fishing, were the bird nurseries. They, like the fish, are not afraid of people. I could have won The Big Year based on this trip alone. I love bird watching.
The next best thing was my return to the comforts of civilization by the name of an Island called Mauritius or “delicious” as I renamed it.
As a side note, the prices for handmade carpets were fantastic.
Did I mention I landed a huge giant trevally on the fly in shallow water by sight casting to it?
9) Costa Rica
-Sailfish on the fly. Check that one off. Costa Rica Means “rich coast.” It’s one big national park and is internationally renowned among ecologists for its biodiversity. It’s a jungle on the water as well.
Billfishermen expect to get at least 20 opportunities a day to catch sailfish and marlin. National Geographic magazine calls this area “the most ecologically intense place on earth.”
-When is a bass not a bass? When it’s a cichlid of course! Peacock bass have many of the bass attributes, such as a gaping mouth and an affinity to take a surface popper, but they are from a family of fishes that actually learn. These qualities and their good looks make them a wonderful game fish. I landed the giant of this species, known as a Temensis.
I took time out from the fishing to learn about how rubber is made and how people live off the grid.
And many, many more …
I have fallen in love with many places that had to be left off this list, but they are no less special. I was asked to talk about 10 spots and these were the first to hit the page.
Bonefish Charlie, please forgive me for almost leaving you out. He would say,”Some people don’t know enough to know that they don’t know.”
That’s how I go into every trip. I think I know what I’m getting myself into but I really don’t.
Safe travels and tight lines.
President, What A Catch Productions
Casting for Recovery Canada