As sportsmen, we all have a bucket-list of adventures we would love to take part in. Maybe growing up reading hunting books and magazines or watching outdoor TV caused our minds to wander or maybe it’s simply in our nature to dream of walking around wild places filled with wild animals. It doesn’t really matter why we dream, but for most the thoughts of hunting someplace different and far away lends to some great easy-chair daydreaming.
For some, an African safari filled with plains game and miles of openness sounds alluring. Others dream of the Rocky Mountains, where the mule deer and elk are king. Whether it’s Alaska, Canada, the Rockies, Africa, American Southwest, Maine or Florida, it is fun to daydream about the pursuit of animals in far-off places.
Having said that, maybe your dream of hunting far from home includes somewhere in West Virginia. Perhaps giant white-tailed deer in our southern counties, black bears in our mountains or maybe turkeys up north — our state does have a lot to offer. We all would likely admit we are spoiled in the hunting and fishing arena here at home.
I have had hunting and fishing days in West Virginia I would consider to be “bucket-list” worthy. I recall a few turkey hunts and squirrel hunts that would be hard to compare anywhere else. And fishing days here at home, absolutely!
There have been days on the Elk, the New and the South Branch, as well as miles of wild trout streams that were very special to me, and would rank up there with the best in the country. At times, our smallmouth streams and trout waters are top-shelf.
But there is something about floating the Yellowstone River, fishing off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico for tuna, New England for stripers, Canada for northern pike and walleyes that makes us want to pack our bags and book a plane ticket. Maybe it’s simply the thought of going somewhere new and adventurous that moves our souls.
My career has taken me all over the place hunting and fishing and I have heard all kinds of tales of “we have the best hunting and fishing” in the world. While much of it is simply marketing hype, there have been a few times I was pleasantly surprised.
Some of my surprises were elk hunting in New Mexico, turkey hunting in Oklahoma, fishing for redfish in Louisiana, tuna fishing in Venice and, more recently, Lake El Salto for largemouth bass.
A few weeks ago, a group of us traveled to Mexico’s Lake El Salto for four days of fishing. Lake El Salto is well known. It is not like we found a hidden gem, but the fishing simply blew away any expectations I left home with. Growing up fishing the rivers of home, I am not much of a largemouth bass fisherman, but Lake El Salto may have changed that. The fish were unbelievably big, hit the baits very hard, were very powerful fighters and, most memorably, very plentiful and willing to please.
My next adventure on my list, you may ask? An undisclosed location in my home county for wild brown trout. With the heat and humidity, the bugs are flying around like crazy and the fish are gorging themselves and becoming fat. I don’t plan on missing this time of year at home anytime soon.