Fly Right

May 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
Elk Creek – Bristol Bay

EPIC ANGLING: Pitt River at Clearwater House    Photo: courtesy, Clearwater House

Elk Creek Lodge, Colorado
Shank a cast to a feeding cutthroat at remote Elk Creek Lodge and the only ones to notice will be your guide and maybe a few mule deer. Fifteen miles from Meeker in the northwestern corner of the state, the lodge is set against the Flat Top Mountains on 20,000 acres of working ranchland and miles and miles of private trout streams.

THE FISHING » Just a few minutes away is a mind-blowing ratio of trout to people, with a daily maximum of 22 anglers wading 20 miles of private water on Elk Creek and the south fork and main branch of the White River.

THE DIGS » Built in 1988, the 11-suite lodge sits at almost 7,000 feet, at the mouth of a spectacular alpine valley. In the antler-adorned log dining room, past menus have included everything from Kobe beef to sushi.

Access and Resources Doubles, $4,500 for six nights, guides included; 970-878-5454,

Clearwater House on Hat Creek, California
Strict regulations keep bait fishermen off these five northeastern California rivers and spring creeks, which makes them full of trout. Set in the heart of this underrated trout country is Hat Creek's Clearwater House, a beautifully restored farmhouse about 70 miles from Redding that's been the state's premier anglers' inn for 25 years.

THE FISHING » Clients can learn a tip or two from owner Dick Galland, who spends most of his free time drifting nymphs in boulder-strewn Pit River or tempting huge rainbows on crystalline Fall River.

THE DIGS » Sit on the sun porch of this 90-year-old seven-guest-room lodge and gaze at Burney Mountain as chef Noelle Wright dishes up fresh, seasonal specialties like grilled beef tenderloin in a local blackberry-wine sauce or a Middle Eastern/tropical fusion like her curried chicken with mango chutney and couscous.

Access and Resources $360 per person per night, with guide; 530-335-5500,

Bristol Bay Lodge, Alaska
Arrive at Bristol Bay Lodge, 350 miles southwest of Anchorage on Lake Aleknagik, and you won't even have time to enjoy the view of the Wood River Mountains. That afternoon you'll be casting for silver salmon in the lodge's home waters, the Agulowak River.

THE FISHING » The guide staff relies on three DeHavilland Beaver floatplanes to shuttle anglers between six different rivers. One day you'll cast to 50-pound king salmon fresh from the Bering Sea; the next you'll throw flesh flies to the ten-pound rainbows that follow the migration and feed on dead spawners.

THE DIG » Bristol Bay Lodge is the latest purchase by Shackleton International, a British company that's bought six of the planet's plushest fly-fishing lodges. Despite being accessible only by boat or floatplane, this 17-bedroom guest lodge still finds a way to indulge its clientele, pampering them with fresh veggies, home-baked pastries, and plenty of steaks.

Access and Resources $4,995 to $6,550 per person per week; 509-964-2094,