Best Cast & Blast Hotspots in America
February 13, 2019
Love both hunting and fishing? Here is a region-by-region look at the best places to enjoy both.
By Rob Jeremy
Far too often, hunters and anglers could best be described as singular of purpose. That is, they’re either hunting or they’re fishing, one or the other. Fortunately, and for those who sure don’t mind their walleyes with a side of whitetails or their largemouths mixed liberally with their longbeards, the Midwest offers an almost infinite list of opportunities for those opportunists who enjoy practicing the fine art of the “cast and blast.”
“Cast and blast,” you say? In Iowa, that might be October walleyes at first light, before climbing into a treestand in the afternoon ...or if Ohio in April is more your speed, a gobbler off the roost followed by some post-lunch crappie fishing. Partial to the Black Hills? If so, there are plenty of possibilities that should have you hankering for either trout or turkeys, or both. Multiple species, all out of one basecamp. That’s the dream. And these are the destinations.
Folks spending time in southern Iowa have their own version of the newspaperman’s Three W’s. In print, the words, or questions, asked by the journalist to his or her interviewee are “who,” followed by “what,” and concluded with “where.” For travelers looking to relax and enjoy some of the finest hospitality the Midwest has to offer, however, those words have much more enjoyable connotations — “walleyes, whitetails and wild turkeys.” And few places are better to set down roots and enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty than at Honey Creek Resort on beautiful Lake Rathbun.
Located just north of Centerville, Iowa, Honey Creek Resort, as well as the original 850-acre Honey Creek State Park, is managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Those searching for an outdoor basecamp have plenty of options at Honey Creek, ranging from the property’s 105-room lodge to more rustic one-, two- and four-bedroom cottages — 28 in all to choose from. An indoor water park, championship 18-hole golf course, and fine dining, courtesy of the Lakeshore Grill, are certain to keep all members of the family happy and entertained.
For anglers, Lake Rathbun needs little introduction. A tremendous year-round trophy walleye fishery (a 12-pound, 12-ounce fish was netted by the IDNR in April 2018) attracts much of the angling attention; however, the lake also holds excellent numbers of crappies, channel cats, flatheads, largemouths and white bass.
In the spring, boaters concentrate on Rathbun’s many small bays as they vie for their 25-fish limit of fine-eating crappies... that is when they’ve not traded the rods for shotguns and head-to-toe camouflage as they try to fool a gobbler on Rathbun’s thousands of public hunting acres.
Come fall, the boats move out onto the shallow rocky flats in search of walleyes, while archers take to the trees waiting out that buck of a lifetime. All told, almost 16,000 acres make up the game-rich wildlife management area, with hunting opportunities not only for deer and turkeys, but pheasants, bobwhite quail, cottontails, fox squirrels and waterfowl.
For more info: honeycreekresort.com; (866) 797-5308; Centerville Chamber of Commerce; centervilleia.com; (641) 437-4102.
South Dakota’s Black Hills are undeniably beautiful; the area around the town of Deadwood is even more so. And for the hunting and fishing enthusiast, it’s difficult, some might say impossible, to find a place on the planet with more in the way of outdoor opportunity.
Combine this with incredible lodging, and you have what many consider the ultimate basecamp. Located a short three miles southeast of Deadwood, the Lucky Chip is a six-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath custom log home on Strawberry Hill Lane that features beautiful views, multiple fireplaces, a regulation pool table, and, for that after-hunt relaxation, a jetted hot tub. Fully furnished, the Lucky Chip comes complete with satellite/big screen TV, Wi-Fi, air-conditioning and a washer/dryer — everything you’ll need for those in-home days, of which there will be few. Why? Too much to do outside.
For the turkey hunter, your hunt begins literally as you step out the door of the Lucky Chip. The Black Hills National Forest covers some 1.25 million acres in both South Dakota and neighboring Wyoming and is home to an excellent population of Merriams longbeards.
This is demanding terrain, with the day’s hunt taking you through major elevation changes and into country that can only be described as rugged. But gobblers aren’t the only game in town. Whitetails abound throughout the Hills, as does small game like cottontails, jackrabbits and squirrels.
Predator hunters will find more than their fair share of coyotes throughout the Hills. The national forest is also home to mountain lions, so best keep on your toes and your head on a swivel should you decide to do some calling. The hunter can become the hunted in a heartbeat.
And anglers, you’re not forgotten. To the south of the lodge, Deerfield and Pactola lakes offer fishing for a variety of species, including huge brown trout, splake (brook/lake trout hybrid), rainbows, bass and some dandy yellow perch. Throughout the Hills, countless cold-water streams provide the perfect backdrop for fly-fishers to recreate their own version of “A River Runs Through It.” A wealth of information about fishing the Hills can be found at flyfish.sd.com.
Contacts: Executive Lodging, executive-lodging.com; (605) 578-3555; Deadwood Chamber of Commerce; deadwood.com.
Area Guides and Outfitters
Whitetails are a major draw for Riverbank, which has a wide variety of accommodation price-points. Anglers will want to try the Sangamon River adjoining the lodge.(217) 632-0202; riverbanklodge.com $
Located on beautiful Barker Lake, Bucktail Lodge features four spacious cabins with room for two to nine guests. Summer means northern pike, walleyes and panfish; fall and winter are for whitetail, black bear, grouse and waterfowl hunters. (715) 266-8013; bucktail-lodge.com $
Walleyes or whitetails. Black bears or bluegills. Paradise Resort has something for every outdoor enthusiast. Relax in the Northwoods Lodgeor rent a pontoon boat. (218) 343-6596; paradiseresort.com $$
Glen Elder, Kansas
Located in central Kansas just minutes from Waconda Lake, Rader Lodge offers unmatched fishing for white bass, channel cats, walleyes and crappie, along with whitetail, upland bird, turkey and waterfowl hunts.(785) 545-3476; raderlodge.com $$
Fullerton, North Dakota
Pheasant and waterfowl hunters, your adventure begins at Hay’s Lodge; however, let’s not forget those in search of walleyes, yellow perch or northern pike. The cabins are magnificent and the lodge features a five-star restaurant and full bar. (701) 375-7446; hayslodge.com $$$
Uncle Buck’s Lodge
As real and as Western as it gets. Uncle Buck’s offers a 14,000-foot lodge, with eight double rooms and an old-fashioned bunkhouse. Cattle drives, full-service dining, excellent small-pond bass fishing, and the nation’s best prairie grouse hunting await. (800) 239-9190; unclebuckslodge.com $$$
By Ben Leal
Few things are more relaxing than a quiet morning on the water. What is it about a sunrise in the deer woods? When it’s just you and your fly rod, you and your bird dog, you and your son in a duck blind … There’s literally an ocean, lake, river, forest or desert where your next outing flushes away your cares and reignites the passion you have carried for the outdoors all your life. Perhaps you’ve just discovered the outdoors and your passion is but yet a small flame. Either way, what if you’ve planned your fishing or hunting around a luxurious respite? Oh, the possibilities!
Antelope Creek Lodge, located about 20 miles northeast from 14,000-foot-high Mount Shasta in Northern California, is a diamond in the rough that is surrounded by more than 65,000 acres of national forest.
Antelope Creek Lodge caters to a maximum of eight guests who enjoy wonderful accommodations, great food and absolutely terrific trout fishing that begins right at the doorstep. The lodge is within a stone’s throw of the serpentine, 2-mile-long fish-filled Antelope Creek and within walking distance of the ranch’s two trophy-trout lakes. Each year several guests post pictures of themselves holding a 30-plus-inch trout.
The two-story Antelope Creek ranch house features four spacious bedrooms with private baths and phenomenal views. The massive stone fireplace, a sunken bar and wrap-around decks set the mood. Enjoy the hot tub on the back deck. Delicious meals are included in the package and served around the fishing schedule. Fine complimentary wines are served with the evening meals.
The daily rate for this getaway is $325 per person based on double occupancy, $425 for singles, and a two-night minimum stay is required.Antelope Creek Lodge is booked exclusively through The Fly Shop — theflyshop.com, 800-669-3474 — in Redding.
For a family that’s looking for adventure in the great outdoors, along with amazing activities, this is the place! Situated on 3,000 acres high above the old Western-theme town of Winthrop in north-central Washington, Sun Mountain Lodge features a broad range of both summer and winter activities for you, your spouse and even the youngest adventurists in your family.
Winthrop is a center for outdoor recreation — mountain biking, ballooning, golf, skiing, snowmobiling and more — but it’s the fly-fishing guides of North Cascades Fly Fishing, based at Sun Mountain Lodge, that the anglers in the family will want to meet. Book the team for a float trip on the Methow River, where catch-and-release fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout takes place in 14-foot inflatable, self-bailing rafts with a top-of-the-line fishing frame for floating.
If you’re looking for a place to learn about fly-fishing, the lodge offers fly-casting classes from May to mid-October. Guided fly-fishing trips leave the guesswork up to the experts on the Methow River and Moccasin Lake, located just minutes from Sun Mountain Lodge. Only six rods are allowed on the 30-acre private lake — a very private and pristine retreat — surrounded by rangeland and mountains.The average trout runs more than 3 pounds, and some catches have weighed more than 10 pounds.
Sun Mountain Lodge provides luxurious guest rooms, a full-service spa, a 5,000-bottle wine collection with private wine cellar, and a triple-A-rated four-diamond gourmet restaurant. Rates start at $265 per couple per night midweek. Booking and activity information is found on the lodge website at sunmountainlodge.com or call the lodge office at (800) 572-0493.
Many believe Colorado offers the country’s best big-game hunting opportunities, and Bear Paw Lodge, 20 miles east of Durango, can place you in the middle of some of the state’s best hunting zones for mule deer and elk.
Affordable lodging at Bear Paw Lodge consists of comfortable cabins and vacation home rentals that are available May through October, offering great accommodations for early season deer and elk hunters. The lodge is located in game management units 75/751, a region known to produce record-book bucks and fine elk. We’re talking muleys with antlers 30 inches wide! Hunting guides and pack services are available and are priced at the request of the customer.
Mule deer tags for these hunting zones are available only through drawing (applications due by early April). Elk tags for the muzzleloader season (early to mid-September) and the first (mid-October) rifle season are also awarded through a draw system. But elk tags are available over the counter for archery hunting (late August through mid-September), as well as the second (mid-October) rifle season.
Bear Paw Lodge suggests its guests book their hunts with outfitter Preston Goetzke at Bugle ’Em Up Outfitting Company in Bayfield — online at bugleemupoutfitters.com or by calling (970) 903-5129. Goetzke’s team offers both guided hunts and drop camps for trophy elk and mule deer. Call for pricing.
Bear Paw Lodge cabins and vacation homes are fully furnished with everything for relaxing after your hunts. Rentals start as low as $110 per night and are fully equipped with barbeque grills, fireplaces, TV/VCRs and more. Most have a private outdoor picnic table, too. Plan your stay at Bear Paw Lodge online at bearpawlodge.com or call (970) 884-2508.
Area Outfitters and Guides
ICICLE OUTFITTERS & GUIDES, INC.
Guided hunting packages include saddle horses, pack horses, guide, wrangler, cook, food, tent and the camp. Bring your own weapon, tags and personal gear. icicleoutfitters.com $
DEAN FINNERTY GUIDES & OUTFITTERS
Willamette Valley, OR
Check out guided waterfowl hunts in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, home to hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese during the fall and winter, as well as guided fishing on Oregon’s steelhead/salmon rivers, which include the well-known Umpqua, McKenzie and Siuslaw. deanfinnerty.com $
BORDER TO BORDER OUTFITTERS
Upland bird hunting, including ruffed grouse and woodcock from the Northwoods of Minnesota, to pheasant hunts on the Kansas prairies and trifecta quail hunts in southeast Arizona. bordertoborderoutfitters.com $$
BAILEY CREEK LODGE
The ultimate fly-fishing experience in the shadow of 10,500-foot-high Mount Lassen, targeting trophy trout just steps away from the lodge on the private waters of Bailey and Rock creeks in Northern California. baileycreeklodge.com $$
SCARP RIDGE LODGE
Crested Butte, Colorado
Plan your float trip for rainbow trout on the famed Taylor River, just 45 minutes from the lodge, where private chefs, guides, transportation, gear — anything and everything you need — is provided for your dream-fishing experience. scarpridgelodge.com $$$
RUBY SPRINGS LODGE
An idyllic location on the back of the Ruby River, 90 minutes west of Bozeman, featuring 10 miles of this celebrated trout steam on property, with some stretches containing as many as 2,200 fish per mile. rubyspringslodge.com $$$
By Peter Beachman
It’s well-known that the coastal region is a great place to combine a hunting and fishing trip to make a cast-and-blast adventure at a variety of local lodges.
Lily Pond Lodge is located near Jackson, N.C., and offers guided trips from three lodge locations. Its main claim to fame in the fishing department is guided trips to the fabled waters of the Roanoke River in March, April and May. “When the stripers are heading upriver on their spawning run, you can catch a fish on every drop,” said Dock Boone, Lily Pond’s owner. “We hunt turkeys in the morning and stripers in the afternoon. Unless the weather is bad, our turkey hunting success rate is near 100 percent and our striper fishing is the best in the world.”
The lodge hosts two hunters per day for cast-and-blast trips, providing guides and gear, but anglers can bring their own tackle. Striped bass are suckers for jigs, soft plastics, crankbaits and flies. All lures must have a single barbless hook.
Lily Pond Lodge also hosts deer, bear and upland bird hunts with released birds. The main lodge is a restored farmhouse that sleeps up to 24 hunters. For turkey hunts, the maximum number of hunters is six. For deer hunters, the usual number is 12. All meals are furnished and the lodge has satellite TV and other amenities.
Lily Pond has two satellite lodges used for deer hunting. Bridgers Creek hosts up to four deer hunters for three-day hunts on 1,500 acres. Verona Plantation accommodates 12 deer hunters, with access to 8,000 acres.
The black bear hunting boasts a 100 percent success rate for trophy black bears. Upland hunting for pheasant, quail and chukar is available on a 100-acre licensed shooting preserve. The lodge also hosts tower shoots for pheasants.
Prices vary by species and trip duration. Turkey hunting/striper fishing cast-and-blasttrips are $500 per day, bear hunts are $4,500, and deer hunts range from $1,350 to $2,600. 252-534-7381; lilypondcreek.com
$$ ULTIMATE FISHING EXPERIENCE, Summerville, S.C.
Fishing a private lake, with no one else around, is the ultimate adventure for bass anglers. The excitement grows when anglers catch bass on nearly every cast, which is what the Ultimate Fishing Experience provides.
Located near Summerville, S.C., this series of private ponds is the perfect place for professional bass anglers to share on-the-water expertise. Anglers can also add duck or upland hunting to fishing trips.
A sand-mining operation created the five fertile lakes many years ago. Since then, the owners have stocked bass and managed the population to produce high numbers of trophy fish. The lakes each have unique characteristics, ranging from tannin-stained to crystal-clear, along with a multitude of cover options including grass, reeds, brush, rock and shell beds for working with crankbaits and soft plastics, and shoreline cover for pitching and flipping. The different water and cover make this trip the ultimate learning opportunity with its controlled environment and secluded atmosphere.
The VIP trips include duck hunting every Wednesday and Saturday from mid-November through January. The waterfowl lakes have an intensive management program that ensures lots of mallards and wood ducks.
The duck hunts end at 9 a.m., with breakfast following immediately afterward. These blast-and-cast combination hunting and fishing trips provide all the fishing gear, shotguns and ammunition, and are guided by experts who make sure both adventures are successful.
The upland hunting for quail and pheasants takes place on a shooting preserve where guides work pointing dogs. These hunts are available to kids of appropriate ages.
The guides are bass pros Marc Deschenes and Mike DelVisco. Deschenes has been tournament fishing for more than 25 years and spent the last 17 years managing and guiding on these lakes. DelVisco has been involved in the bass industry all of his adult life, fishing his first B.A.S.S. Invitational while in high school. He is also a tournament competitor.
Fishing packages for two anglers and up cost $700 per angler. Ultimate Pro Fishing Packages begin at $1,200. Cast-and-blast waterfowl trips add $225 per person. Upland hunting rates vary according to numbers of birds. Call for the prices of cast-and-blast vacations, which include lodging and meals. 407-850-8758
$$$ CABIN BLUFF, Cumberland River Retreat
Cabin Bluff, Cumberland River Retreat offers a huge variety of cast-and-blast opportunities. Its cabins have 20 rooms, which can host up to 40 guests. The base rate for a room and meals is $650 per day. The staff can tailor activities to clients and price them accordingly. Andy Ippersen and Erin Kraty are the sales directors who coordinate hunting and fishing. Other activities include tennis, golf, swimming, bocce ball and horseback riding.
Turkey hunting is very popular in the 10,000 acres of fields and forests. Hunters also take deer and wild hogs. Upland hunters can hunt quail on 1,800 acres of intensively managed fields and pine savannah habitat. The resort also has sporting clays and five-stand ranges, and shooting instructors are available.
Freshwater ponds on the property hold largemouth bass, sunfish and catfish. However, the saltwater fishing attracts more anglers to the Cumberland River and the nearby Atlantic. Anglers fish with guides from 18-, 24- and 30-foot boats, depending upon location and species.
The Cabin Bluff property adjoins the Cumberland Island National Seashore. Anglers can sight-fish with fly rods for red drum, tarpon and speckled trout on the expansive flats and tidal marshes of the river. Instructors are available to touch up casting techniques before taking to the water or learn to use a fly-rod.
Inshore fishing along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway presents excellent opportunities for speckled trout, red drum, bluefish, sheepshead, black drum and other species. Half-day and all-day guided trips are available for catching king mackerel, cobia, tarpon, grouper, snapper, sea bass and other species. The lodge furnishes allnecessary tackle and, by request, will have the catch cleaned and packaged for the ride home or prepared for meals by the chef. Phone: 912-729-5960.
Area Outfitters and Guides
Spec Fever Guide Service
Speck Fever Guide Service hosts morning sea duck hunts with Capt. Andy Bates and afternoon striper, speckled trout and panfish charters with Capt. Gary Dubiel from Oriental or New Bern. 252-249-1520; specfever.com $
Noontootla Creek Farms
Blue Ridge, GA
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Noontootla Creek Farms offers upland preserve hunting for quail and pheasants and fly-fishing for mountain trout on more than 1,000 acres of private property. It also has a sporting clays range. 706-838-0585; ncfga.net $
Cast and Blast Charters
Virginia Beach, VA
Cast and Blast Charter Fishing provides its clients with a combination of inshore fishing and guided duck hunting, as well as private dolphin watching, kayaking and sunset cruises in the waters surrounding Virginia Beach. 757-408-0399; virginiabeach.guide $$
Mountains to Coast Fishing and Hunting Guide Service
In a cabin near the Watauga River Gorge, pull on your waders to go fly-fishing for trophy mountain trout. Sporting clays and preserve quail shooting are available. Mountains to Coast books hunting and fishing throughout North Carollina, as well as other states. 828-335-3474; mountainstocoast.com $$
Meadows of Dan, VA
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland’s 10,000 acres offer guided fly-fishing for mountain trout and hunting for deer, turkey, pheasant, quail and chukar. Instructors for fishing and shooting are available, including sporting clays. 866-960-7746; primland.com $$$
Flat Creek Lodge
Flat Creek Lodge has guestrooms and cottages, with full service amenities including meals. Hunting for turkey, deer, quail and wild boar and fishing for bass, bluegill and crappie in 240 acres of private ponds. 478-237-3474; flatcreeklodge.com $$$
By Kody Chase
From Texas to Florida, the Gulf Coast Region is a hotbed of diverse ecosystems both on land and in the water. This makes the region an excellent area for sportsmen and women to conduct a cast-and-blast adventure that is second to none.
The cast-and-blast package at Savagne begins after arrival and check-in with an afternoon saltwater or bass fishing trip. Calcasieu Lake, known locally known as the “Big Lake,” offers anglers redfish and speckled trout fishing that rivals any saltwater estuary along the length of the Gulf Coast. From Savagne, guides take folks into the marshes around the Big Lake where redfish lurk. Speckled trout and flounder are also an option during teal season, as are bass in freshwater.
Grosse Savagne lodge represents the finest in Southern hospitality, charm and cuisine. However, Savagne’s amenities and dining come second only to the lodge’s fishing and duck hunting opportunities. Teal, staying ahead of cool weather, flock to the Lake Charles region to rest and feed in the lush marshes and rice fields.
Grosse Savagne’s cast-and-blast package provides experienced staff coupled with fine dining and world-class hunting and fishing to serve any need. 337-598-2357; grossesavanne.com
The Alabama Black Belt region consists of 23 counties nestled between the state’s Appalachian foothills and the Coastal Plain. The region is widely known for excellent hunting and fishing opportunities. The region’s dark soil creates high-quality habitat for numerous kinds of wildlife, including white-tailed deer and bobwhite quail. The Shenandoah Plantation affords hunters opportunities to shoot quail and land ferocious black bass.
“Shenandoah Plantation staff works to customize quail hunts to what our clients want to experience,” said Tom Lanier, Shenandoah Plantation owner. “We go above and beyond to make sure our clients unwind and enjoy.”
Quail hunts include a seasoned guide and outstanding dogs. At both properties, they utilize early release quail programs, as well as an aggressive management of habitat for wild quail. The terrain is varied with rolling hills, fields and bottoms. Hunters will break for lunch around noon and go to the main house or lodge for a hot Southern meal.
Folks can also cast a line on one of three premier trophy bass lakes located on the property. Each lake is professionally stocked and managed to produce high-quality bass.
“These lakes have been managed for 20 years,” said Lanier. “We stock F1 Hybrid bass. They have large Florida bodies but are aggressive like northern bass.”
Management includes a gizzard shad and threadfin shad program, which keeps bass fat and happy. The fishing experience is sure to excite both younger folks and the professional angler. The policy is strictly catch-and-release. 706-773-0857; shenandoahplantation.com
“Flexibility gives us mobility,” said Stephen Lee, owner-operator of Intercoastal Safaris. Stephen is referring to his outfitter’s ability to put hunters on ducks quickly and with fast action. Intercoastal Safaris, based out of Pensacola, offers “uniquely coastal hunting and fishing,” said Lee. “We offer three different ways to hunt ducks, but the most popular with our clients takes place on the barrier islands in and around Perdido Key. Depending on the location of the ducks, our guides set up temporary blinds — we only hunt public land — and that helps keep our costs down, which we pass to our clients.”
Lee’s crew targets redheads, bluebills and bufflehead but has also timed out the “golf course geese.” They spend days watching birds and have timed the arrival of the area’s golf course geese to the minute.
This outfitter has put together trips that stray from the typical image of a cold, muddy, rainy duck hunt and has replaced it with white sands and palm trees.
A cast-and-blast combo with Intercoastal Safaris is much different than with traditional outfitters. It is designed to meet the needs of a new generation of sportsman, while maintaining traditional standards of service that most will recognize.
The morning portion of the day begins with a 10- to 30-minute ride, during which parties of four hunters are ferried to their duck blinds, where a hot breakfast is served. Hunting commences and continues until bag limits are reached or hunting conditions take a turn for the worse.
Upon returning to the lodge, hunters change into fishing gear and are whisked to away to dine, in view of the bay, at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club.
The fishing portion of the day starts after lunch, and there are a couple of options for anglers, such as heading into the marsh for redfish and trout.
Two of the biggest benefits the Gulf Coast offers is diversity of game and year-round fishing opportunities. As such, clients can change it up and go offshore instead of into the marsh if they so desire.
Dinner is served family-style at the yacht club, where the chef prepares meals with fish caught that day.
Intercoastal Safaris offers several versions of a cast-and-blast trip (including fully guided south Alabama quail hunts), but works with clients to customize trips, services and lodging if desired. Intercoastal is headquartered in Perdido Key, but has a regional footprint. 850-375-2223; intercoastalsafaris.com
Area Guides and Outfitters
LG Outfitters, based out of Lower Laguna Madre, offers custom trips including fall dove hunts near the Rio Grande coupled with fast redfish action inshore. Both tripstake place in the same day. 956-559-6334; lgoutfitters.com $$$
Dream Lake Lodge
Between trophy bass fishing and trophy bucks, Dream Lake Lodge has been offering the finest Alabama outdoor experiences since 1990. Great food and comfortable lodging has helped make Dream Lake one of the state’s premier hunting and fishing destinations. 205-652-4545; dreamlakelodge.com $$$
Back Bay Adventures
Panama City Beach, Florida
The shallow bays and lush marshes offer unique opportunities in fall and winter. Capt. Todd Jones gives you the chance to shoot mature redheads in the morning and then pole the flats and sight fish for redfish in the afternoon. 850-819-5829; backbayadventures.com $$
The lodge has been recognized in Texas and nationally as one of the top fishing and waterfowl hunting destinations. Hogs, quail and ducks all meet fine inshore fishing in this corner of the Gulf Coast. 888-618-4868; seadriftbayfishing.com $$
Nestled along the Mississippi Delta, Venice is home to some of the finest fishing and duck hunting in the world. Here you can relax and unwind, catch quality fish and shoot a variety of waterfowl. 985-637-8901; veniceoutdoors.com $
Dos Rios Outfitters
West of San Antonio, Dos Rios Outfitters puts anglers on quality bass in the morning and lightning-fast doves in the afternoons. Early fall is best, of course, but late doves fly here, too. Reasonable pricing means you and a guest can have a full day of hunting and fishing without breaking the bank. 210-944-1661; facebook page $
By Jordan Michaels
Some things are meant to go together. Cookies and milk, Laurel and Hardy, and rum and Coke make the short list, but many Americans set “hunting and fishing” at the very top. To help our readers satisfy the desire to do both, we’ve compiled nine “cast-and-blast” locations that let sportsmen and women enjoy two trips for the price of one — no matter your budget.
Formed by a series of violent earthquakes between 1811 and 1812, Reelfoot Lake offers excellent fishing and duck hunting. There’s no better lodging than the Blue Bank Resort — family owned and operated for five generations. Its current owner, Michael Hayes, maintains its stellar reputation for service, food, hunting and fishing.
“Reelfoot Lake has some of the best crappie, bluegill and catfish fishing anywhere,” Hayes said. “The duck hunting is also special.”
Ancient cypress trees rise from the lake’s surface; underneath, huge stumps offer prime fish habitat. Over one million birds migrate through the flyway; Blue Bank Resort is at the heart of it.
The resort offers three-, two- and one-day guided duck hunting packages, and their spring, summer and fall/winter fishing packages include lodging, boat, motor, gas, bait and ice. Blue Bank’s fishing pro, Billy Blakely, a 35-year lake veteran, will answer questions and suggest prime spots. All fishing package amenities are included with any hunting package.
Duck hunts begin around 5 a.m. with a buffet breakfast. Blinds are only a short boat ride away and feature full kitchens, heat, couches/recliners, with space for up to 15 people. Guides, most with decades of experience, will call ducks until noon and prepare lunch in the blind. After lunch, hunters can continue shooting until 3 p.m. or until reaching their limit.
Guests can enjoy a full-service restaurant and bar and a swimming pool and hot tub. Various lodgings are available. Hunting packages include two meals/day at the restaurant. 1-877-258-3226; bluebankresort.com
Looking for a premium experience without the formality of luxury lodges? Hit Deer Creek Lodge in western Kentucky. It’s hosted wingshooters since the early ’80s, and in 2005 a 30-acre lake stocked with trophy bass was added.
Deer Creek has two cast-and-blast packages. Quail-and-bass packages let sportsmen hunt the first day and fish the second, and three-day turkey packages let guests pursue gobblers each morning and fish the afternoons. Guides are provided for all hunting, but guests can choose whether they want a fishing guide.
The main lodge, Wingshooting Lodge, boasts 10,000 square feet and sleeps 16 people. Lakeside Lodge is a “family treat,” Tim Chappell, Deer Creek’s marketing manager, said, and has three bedrooms sleeping eight. Whitetail Lodge is the land’s original farmhouse, renovated in 1999.
All packages include lodging, meals, cocktails, guides, animal dressing and field transportation.
“It’s all-inclusive,” Chappell said. “Guests don’t need to bring anything except their clothing, if they don’t want to.”
Despite the luxurious look, Deer Creek tries to retain the relaxed feel sportsmen enjoy. “We love having a laid-back environment,” Chapelle said. “We try to make people feel like they’re coming to their weekend house or their cabin.”
“Laid back” only applies to the lodge. Deer Creek takes hunting and fishing seriously.
The carefully managed 3,000-acre property offers habitat for upland birds, ducks and turkeys. The property’s turkey kill ratio is between 80 and 90 percent, and its central location (and October-to-March season) maximizes opportunities.
“It’s a different environment because of where we’re located,” Chappell pointed out. “We’re right in the middle of the country, so we can hunt species that other places can’t hunt.”
The lake’s controlled with fertilizer. A fish biologist ensures bass are healthy and growing. The lodge is Orvis-endorsed, won the Lodge of the Year award in 2006 and 2007, and was a 2014 Wingshooting Lodge of the Year finalist. 270-835-2424, deercreeklodge.net
Arkansas is famous for trout and ducks. Fortunately, you can access birds and fish on one trip if you’re willing to drive a bit between trout waters and the Mississippi Flyway.In the Ozarks, you’ll find the White River Inn, an all-inclusive fishing lodge specializing in brown, rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout.
“We pride ourselves on great customer service and great trout fishing,” Moose Watson, the Inn’s owner, said. “We’re the only five-star lodge on the White River, and we’re the only Orvis-endorsed lodge in the state of Arkansas.”
Watson and his wife founded it 13 years ago. Five suites are available; each has private entrances, custom-made Mission-style furniture, individual climate control, a fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub. All meals, snacks, mixers, equipment and guides are also provided.
“From the time they come to the time they leave, our customers’ needs are met,” Watson said. “That’s what we’ve built our reputation on, and we grow ever year.”
He said that more 10-plus-pound browns come from this fishery than any in the country.
“We’re the world’s best brown trout fishery, and that’s undebatable,” he said.
After fishing, drive two hours east to the Stan Jones Mallard Lodge, a luxury hunting lodge in prime duck country. Stan Jones founded it in 2012, but he’s been guiding much longer.
“When I was in 9th grade, I would take my school principal and superintendent duck hunting,” Jones said. “I’d miss class, but nobody seemed to mind.”Since then, he’s been building his 8,000-acre property to include 52 hunting locations. Only six to eight spots are hunted any given day, leaving ducks over 40 habitats to rest and grow.
The 15,000-square-foot lodge has rustic décor and beautiful outdoor spaces. Guests can also participate in hatchet throwing, archery, skeet shooting, golf and billiards. 870-430-2233; thewhiteriverinn.com. 870-886-3000; stanjonesmallardlodge.com
Area Guides and Outfitters
New River Trophy Outfitters
Meadow Creek, WV
Specializes in trophy bass fishing on New River. Offers fall cast-and-blast packages for smallmouth, geese and ducks. Two houses, each sleeps eight. newrivertrophyoutfitters.com; 304-651-7110 $
Gateway River Outfitters and Show-Me Catfishing
St. Louis, MO
Pursue ducks, geese, doves, deer and upland birds with Gateway River Outfitters, then drive southeast to St. Louis and try to nab a trophy-caliber catfish with Show-Me Catfishing. gatewayriveroutfitters.com; 636-368-1463. showmecatfishing.com; 314-477-8355 $
High Brass Hunting Preserve and Lake Hugo Guide Service
Half-day hunts for quail, chukar and pheasants. Fish Hugo with Bodee’s Guide Service. highbrasshunting.com; 580-326-7759. fishbrokenbowlake.com; 580-306-3921 $$
Mountain Meadow Hunting Preserve and Serenity Now Outfitters
Hunt bucks at Mountain Meadow. Fish for smallies, carp and trout. mountainmeadowhunting.com; 304-832-6635. serenitynowoutfitters.com; 304-647-9779 $$
The Hunting Grounds and River of Life Farm
Hunt trophy deer, red stag and bull elk.Fly-fish the world-class North Fork of the White River. thehuntinggrounds.com; 314-626-8122. riveroflifefarm.com; 417-261-7777 $$$