“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.” That’s the first line of the movie “A River Runs Through It.” Made in 1992, the film about two sons in Montana continues to inspire people to learn how to don waders, learn to cast and master the meticulous craft of fly tying, creating blinged-out “buggy” replicas of bait. Their Zen-like concentration may not always result in catching a fish, but in this activity, sometimes the practice seems to be more about tapping into the meditative part of the sport.
Here are 5 luxury resorts where a novice can learn the basics, or pros can bring their own equipment for a chance to fish sparkling new waters. Not your thing? These resorts are all in gorgeous locations so there are plenty of other options for relaxation and finding your own form of Zen.
Barnsley Resort, Adairsville, Georgia
This 3,000-acre North Georgia resort about an hour from Atlanta recently partnered with Cohutta Fishing Company in Cartersville, Georgia, to up its fly fishing game with added off-property fishing excursions, including private waters owned by Cohutta. Look for spotted bass, striped bass, white bass and hybrid bass on the half-day float trip on the Etowah River. Instructors from the resort’s Spring Bank Sporting Club teach novices the art of fly casting in the ponds on the property.
Accommodations at Barnsley include estate cottages set in the style of a 19th-century European village, with a 55-room inn opening early in 2018. Other activities include golf, sporting clays, horseback riding and paintball. A spa and pool open seasonally are good options for après fishing relaxation.
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana
Montana is a mecca for western trout fly fishing and a fishing license is even included in your stay at this all-inclusive five-star ranch. The Ranch at Rock Creek has four miles of private fly fishing on Rock Creek for species that include rainbow, brown and the Rocky Mountain whitefish. All gear and equipment are provided for the lessons from experienced fishing guides. Off-site excursions are also available.
Guests have their choice of accommodations in The Granite Lodge, glamping cabins right on Rock Creek, the historic barn or luxury homes. A photography workshop, geocaching, mountain biking, archery and a ropes course are other activities to enjoy. The Granite Spa has plenty of treatment options as well as outdoor yoga and other mind and body classes.
The Resort at Paws Up. Greenough, Montana
This resort on a 37,000-acre working cattle ranch has not just one, but four rivers that run through it or nearby, including the Bitterroot, Clearwater, Missouri and 10 miles of the Blackfoot River, the one featured in “A River Runs Through It.” Paws Up staffers lead the guided excursions under the leadership of Montana Outfitter Justin Caps. Children can learn to fish on a small stocked pond on-site.
There is no main lodge at Paws Up: accommodations include 30 luxury tents and 28 luxury cabins and homes up to four bedrooms. Guests can also enjoy rafting, mountain biking, rappelling, sporting clays, hot air ballooning and an aerial adventure park. Their Spa Town is made up of white tents in a meadow, so guests can enjoy their treatments among the pine trees with just the sound of a bubbling creek.
North Fork Ranch, Shawnee, Colorado
Located 45 minutes from Denver, this 520-acre ranch has Orvis-endorsed guides offering classes for all levels and fly fishing in private waters. A fly fishing clinic is available for beginners. The ranch is on the North Fork of the South Plate River and close to many of its tributaries. Species include rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout. Guests can fish on their own on the North Fork Ranch Pond or in many small creeks that are within an hour’s drive.
Accommodations are in the 5-suite Wildhorse Lodge or a choice of three cabins that sleep up to 12 people. Other activities include horseback riding, zip lining, target shooting, trap shooting, yoga, and rafting.
South Fork Lodge, Swan Valley, Idaho
South Fork Lodge is on the fork of the Snake River, where guests fish along 65 miles of pristine waters. Guides from South Fork Outfitters provide the equipment and instruction for any level of fisherman.
Guests have their choice of accommodations that include suites with river views, a fisherman’s cabin and private homes. They can also choose to spend a night in a tent at the Riverside Camp.
In addition to fly fishing, guests enjoy hiking and horseback riding at Big Hole Mountains or visiting Grand Teton National Park.
Special thank to DLX special correspondent, Jan Schroder for this contribution!