November 30, 2017
These trout lodges in the Western U.S. will get you near the action for some great fishing.
If you are one of the many anglers who dreams of fishing for big trout in a unique and beautiful setting, these locations across the West are for you.
Whether you operate on a budget ($), prefer slightly pricier options ($$) or favor luxury angling experiences ($$$), what follows are several places to consider for your next fishing trip.
($) DIAMOND LAKE RESORT
Central Oregon's Diamond Lake Resort ($) evolved from a small fishing lodge built in the 1920s to a modern resort offering year-round fishing for rainbow trout, and more recently a sterile brown trout-brook trout cross known as "tiger trout."
Located only 5 miles from the entrance to Crater Lake National Park, this mile-high "Gem of the Cascades" is often still frozen through March.
The ice-off period in late spring sends trout on a feeding frenzy that can last well into June.
I was lucky enough to land half a dozen large rainbow trout on a purple Beadhead Woolly Bugger following a brief whiteout blizzard in early May 2016. Catch rates generally dip in late summer due to warm water temperatures, but late September anglers make up for the lull with high catch rates.
The shallow weed beds of Diamond Lake are rich with aquatic insect life that leads to trout growth rates of an inch or more each summer. Fish topping 20 inches are common.
The south end of the 3,031-acre lake, where Silent and Short creeks add their flow to the headwaters of the North Umpqua River, is a good bet for fly-casters that wade or have a pontoon boat. Popular trout flies include Woolly Buggers and Leech patterns, imitative of the abundant dragonfly nymph population.
Bank-anglers who favor tossing PowerBait or garden hackle will find easy access near the four U.S. Forest Service campgrounds, the resort boat ramp and along a paved path that leads north from the resort.
A common trolling technique for boaters is using an attractor such as the Luhr Jensen Ford Fender Lake Troll followed by a nightcrawler. Rapala hard baits, Worden's Rooster Tails and Mack's Wedding Ring lures trolled in the top 10 to 20 feet of water also prove effective for cruising rainbows.
A liberal stocking program by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife allows for a five trout per day limit.
This popular lakeside resort offers 38 two-bedroom guest cabins, one deluxe lakefront retreat cabin, 38 motel rooms, 10 housekeeping studios and one deluxe Jacuzzi suite.
It has a full-service marina and store stocked with bait, tackle and groceries. Boat rentals and guide service is also available for budget-minded anglers in search of trophy trout in a spectacular wilderness setting.
($$) THREE RIVERS RESORT
Three Rivers Resort ($$) is located in historic Almont, Colo., near the confluence of the Taylor and East rivers, which form the headwaters of the Gunnison River.
The resort was established in 1983, and Willowfly Anglers guide service and fly shop was formed shortly thereafter. Willowfly Anglers offers a full fly-fishing shop and Orvis-endorsed guide service.
The famous "catch and release" section of the Taylor River — also known as the "hog trough" — is just a short drive away. Experienced anglers put on their waders in hopes of landing that trophy brown or rainbow trout in this section of water.
Upstream of this stretch is Taylor Reservoir, and several streams that feed into the reservoir. The lake produces huge northern pike and mackinaw while its tributary streams hold substantial populations of brown and rainbow trout, and occasionally brook and cutthroat trout.
Downstream from the Taylor River, the Gunnison River offers great water for float-fishing or walk and wade. The Gunnison empties into Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest lake in Colorado and home of the state record for Mackinaw trout.
Farther north of Almont, toward Crested Butte, anglers will find streams with incredible mountain backdrops. Willowfly Anglers holds private leases on the East River in Almont and Crested Butte, and in Cebolla Creek near Powderhorn. Guided half- or full-day walk/wade and float trips are offered for guests.
Each fall brings the return of the land-locked kokanee salmon run up the Gunnison and East rivers. This event typically begins late August and lasts through the beginning of November. Test your luck for these beautiful fish with a kaleidoscope of fall colors and snow-covered peaks as your backdrop.
Three Rivers Resort and Willowfly Anglers offer the perfect base camp for any fishing adventure in Gunnison County. The resort offers a variety of lodging options, including rustic to upscale cabins, vacation homes and lodge rooms. All units are non-smoking.
The outfitting service offers raft trips, fly and spin fishing trips, pond fishing for kids and even casting lessons for beginners. Other local activities include horseback riding, zipline tours and four-wheel-drive tours.
During the summer months, the on-site restaurant, Three Rivers Smokehouse, feeds hungry customers with BBQ pulled pork, brisket, salmon and chicken smoked on site. Three Rivers Resort is open all year for lodging. The fly shop and guide service are accessible year 'round.
($$$) CLEARWATER LODGE
Clearwater Lodge ($$$) is a premier destination California fly-fishing resort. It offers world-class catch-and release fishing for rainbow trout. An impressive arts and crafts facility dating back to 1921, the lodge provides family-style gourmet meals and luxury accommodations along the Pit River.
Fisheries that also include the Fall River, Hat Creek and Burney Creek can be found within 15 minutes of the lodge. An hour of travel takes you to the McCloud River, Upper and Lower Sacramento rivers — all teeming with beautiful wild rainbow trout.
Noted as being among the finest naturally occurring wild trout fisheries in California, the Pit River offers more than 30 miles of beautiful, remote canyon water. High catch rates of wild rainbows in a scenic backdrop make it a perfect destination for anglers.
The Fall River rises clear and cold from Thousand Springs, in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, and meanders nearly 30 miles through the Fall River Valley. Trophy wild rainbows come readily to a well-fished dry fly or nymph. Extraordinary hatches in combination with abundant large wild rainbows leads to great fishing.
Hat Creek is a famous spring creek in its own right. It became the West's first fishery to be managed exclusively for wild trout in 1968.
The nutrient rich waters support a diverse insect population and thousands of trout per mile in the three miles of "Trophy Water." Fishing can be challenging on the flats, with small flies and 7X tippets required to entice large trout.
The Clearwater Lodge offers 20 rooms, including 7 private rooms, a European-style annex accommodating up to six anglers, and three cottages. It also maintains a full-service fly shop.
Whether you choose to relax in the great room around the massive stone fireplace or share stories on the covered front porch with a glass of wine in your hand, the experience is bound to be unforgettable.
Boggan's Oasis ($), Washington
The setting for this rustic lodge is deep in the scenic Wenaha River canyon. Six modest cabins sleeping up to three persons, and a five-bedroom doublewide overlook the river. A full-service restaurant is on site. Guided drift-boat fishing is available, as is shuttle service for rafters. boggans.com 1-509-256-3372
Crosby Lodge ($), Nevada
Overlooking majestic Pyramid Lake, Crosby Lodge features 22 cabins and trailers for anglers seeking to catch trophy Lahontan cutthroat trout. There is a well-stocked grocery store, grill, gift shop and tackle shop. Guided fly- fishing trips are offered.
Trout Hunter ($$), Idaho
Located on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, this grand facility is sided in antique fir and moss rock. The lodge incorporates 11 river-view rooms with decks, a fly shop, and bar and grill. Additional amenities include an outdoor hot tub. Guided fly-fishing, both float and wade, are available, as are vacation packages.
Rockin' M Ranch ($$), Wyoming
Nestled on the banks of the Salt River, the Rockin' M offers both self-guided and guided fishing opportunity in on-site spring creeks and ponds, in addition to nearby rivers and lakes for cutthroat, brown, rainbow and lake trout. Seven deluxe rental cabins having full kitchens and covered decks sleep up to seven guests each.
Crystal Ranch ($$$), Utah
This luxury lodge provides a maximum of eight guests exclusive access to two miles of the Yellowstone River and Arrowhead Creek. Two lodge suites and the bunkroom come with impressive wilderness views. Premium meals, daily housekeeping and guided fly-fishing trips are optional.