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Dreaming about (maybe very early stages of planning?) relocating to a new home. I'm at that stage in my life where time is more important than money, the kids are grown and gone, and the house is bigger than we need. I need to fill more of that time with swinging flies in moving water. The question is, where?

Some of the considerations:

It has to be in the continental USA.

I'd like to have the opportunity to experience steady fishing in moving fresh water with the two hander 9+ months a year.

Rivers and streams must allow opportunities for the wading angler and have ample public access. I don't want to own a boat. Waters should have gradient, but not too much that would make a whitewater kayaking adrenaline junkie fearful; something between Class IV and muddy bottomed frog water would be great.

I'm not especially picky about species, just looking for critters that will eat a swung fly and occasionally get over a couple of pounds. Trout and smallmouths are very satisfactory. Anadromous species would be a super nice bonus, but not a requirement.

I'm not afraid to shovel snow or fish in it. Very experienced with both. In fact, a somewhat cooler climate is preferable. Being a life-long Maine-iac, I'd probably melt and die anywhere south of Virginia or lower than 5000 feet in the southern Rockies.

Community or local area must have a public library, grocery store, and an active outdoor culture. Bonus points for a true fly shop within a 30 minute drive and other outdoor recreation opportunities such as camping, scenic hiking, wildlife viewing, and canoeing / kayaking. Mountains are good.

Community of 15K to 40K people would be great, but I could enthusiastically embrace smaller or larger in the right location.

I'm not overly concerned about state or local taxes. They are what they are.

So, any suggestions?
 

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Im kind of in the same boat. Im 50 and my wife is 56 and she just retired after a career in downtown Manhattan. Her folks are still alive and well in Savannah, GA so we are selling our home and moving south and since I travel extensively for work I can live just about anywhere that is kinda close to an airport. When the family business is done in Savannah we are going to move elsewhere in search of good fishing and skiing. I think finding the answer to your question involves some serious road trips. Do some research, load up and go. Maybe the answer is to be centrally located in an area the has access within a few hours of many places to fish.
 

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I recently had the same dilemma. Southern Oregon (Rogue River) around Ashland/Jacksonville is kind of perfect for this. Tons of water right there, and tons more within a few hours. Then, I thought I might prefer to be closer to coastal fishing for the winters, so I looked in the Willamette Valley, which is 90 minutes or so from a bunch of rivers. Unfortunately, my wife preferred Bend, Or better. The Deschutes is right there for trout, and there's some summer steelhead in the Deschutes pretty close by (although the Columbia and tribs seem to be suffering), and the coast is a few hours drive (assuming the passes are open), and the Upper Rogue isn't too far (3 hours), so that's where we are settling. Plenty of other trout streams in the area, too. Mt. Bachelor is 30 mins away if you like to ski/snowbaord/hike/x country, etc. The area is beautiful with waterfalls, mountain views, high mountain desert, tons of hiking, very dog friendly...
 

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An interesting problem. It would have been easier a half century ago, when I decided to move west. At that time, we didn't realize that steelhead were fated to become an endangered species. I spent the first four years in Sun Valley, Idaho (Big Wood River in town, Silver Creek and many other great streams nearby). Then I moved to Bellingham, Washington for its university and several storied steelhead rivers nearby. In time, things deteriorated, and legal steelhead fishing became more challenging than accessing some archives in the Library of Congress.

It may be that some town along the U.S. shores of the Great Lakes, near productive steelhead streams, might be a good choice (my skin crawls as I write this). Bend or one of the few other towns along the Deschutes River is in the running. The D is probably the greatest trout/steelhead stream (with very few rivals) in America. A good choice would be Lewiston, Idaho/Clarkston, WA, on the Snake River, at the mouth of the Clearwater River, with a combined population probably near 50,000, a state university in Lewiston, which has the mildest climate in Idaho. Forget it, though, if you can't stand the smell of wood pulp.
 

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In December my wife and I made the decision to by a home in the pnw and it has been an amazing and a huge change from Southern California. Visit places, enjoy the hunt. Sadly I have a few more years of teaching before we can make the full time move, so right now it has to be 70/30.
 

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I think anyone considering relocating in the near future needs to closely watch the affects of climate change.
After nearly two decades of my young adulthood contending with annual rainfalls between 160 and 300 inches the Tongass national "rain forest" is currently experiencing a drought!
 
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In December my wife and I made the decision to by a home in the pnw and it has been an amazing and a huge change from Southern California. Visit places, enjoy the hunt. Sadly I have a few more years of teaching before we can make the full time move, so right now it has to be 70/30.
Congratulations. Hope it works out well for you. Like you, I became trapped by my profession. It took me forty years to escape the rat race. Sooner than I had really planned, but when opportunity knocks, go for it & don't look back.
 

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The closer to, or on, the west coast, the better. In addition to inland trout, steelhead, etc, you'll also have the opportunity to fish the beaches and rivers for pinks and coho. On the coast, there's always the opportunity to have a line in the water somewhere throughout the year. Locate where you can keep the travel times short and you'll fish more often....Speaking from experience, because that's what I do.
 

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Leavenworth washington.
Like living in switzerland within a days drive of 20 steelhead rivers. Maybe more.
Be ready to retire. No money there, or anywhere else decent in washington.
 

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70/30

In December my wife and I made the decision to by a home in the pnw and it has been an amazing and a huge change from Southern California. Visit places, enjoy the hunt. Sadly I have a few more years of teaching before we can make the full time move, so right now it has to be 70/30.
When I made the decision to leave So Ca, I didn't have any place particular in mind. It all looks good on a map. But there are those overlooked places, off the beaten path, places you discover only after spending time in an area.

So, have you made a commitment yet, or are you still exploring? How much time are you able to spend in any location to get past the fluff & determine whether or not you want to settle there?
 

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Wifey is remarkable in financial matters. When it came to making the retirement move 3 years ago, all things necessary for making smart money go the extra mile, health care, ease of travel, recreation, etc., we chose the Prescott, AZ area. No regrets.
Can leave the house at 6;30am and be fishing in Colorado around 1:30pm.
 

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When I made the decision to leave So Ca, I didn't have any place particular in mind. It all looks good on a map. But there are those overlooked places, off the beaten path, places you discover only after spending time in an area.

So, have you made a commitment yet, or are you still exploring? How much time are you able to spend in any location to get past the fluff & determine whether or not you want to settle there?
We found a nice little place on the water in Astoria. Been great. Luckily teaching gives us plenty of vacation days. This week I will be on the the McKenzie swinging for trout.
 

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Seems like there are quite a few of us in your situation. Unlike the west coast guys with big rivers I like you live in the northeast. I find NH and ME have great opportunities for swinging flies. Lake steelhead and Atlantic salmon fishing are within a days drive and the ocean is a short drive during the summer months. I love this part of the country and it's fishing opportunities, so I'm looking to stay in the NE.
 

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Seems like there are quite a few of us in your situation. Unlike the west coast guys with big rivers I like you live in the northeast. I find NH and ME have great opportunities for swinging flies. Lake steelhead and Atlantic salmon fishing are within a days drive and the ocean is a short drive during the summer months. I love this part of the country and it's fishing opportunities, so I'm looking to stay in the NE.
Ahh, the old "grass maybe greener on the other side approach" ... :hihi:
True statement. Always worth a second glance before making a "big move". Re-evaluate your current situation is always sound advice.

I would love to have fishing as my #1 concern ... unfortunately it is not :(
Living here in the GL's region is pretty cool. No "big" rivers of the west really ... there are two within a 3 hour drive from my place. I am fortunate to have a mid-sized river within 30 minutes from my front door. I can do a 15 minute jaunt over to mid-river sections though and use a single hander or a short two-hander. Fall and spring are my steelhead seasons, with Chinook at the end of summer. Bass and walleye in the river late spring to summer, with the walleye moving out first signs of warm weather. Bass stay in to play, as long as the river keeps it's water. Past two seasons were brutal though, not many bass hanging out in this water. Good casting practice though.

I take a week in the fall for a salar hunt out east. A full week with the lads chasing salar hard everyday fills my soul. Maybe this year I'll take another week and chase steelhead here at home, or .... take a plane to the west coast and visit a few friends and swing some feathers ??


Mike
 

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Aldo, GR8LAKES...come visit.

I would love nothing more! Wife and I are planning a cross country drive for summer 2022...Watch out, becauase I might just show up on your doorstep! :)
 

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Priorities

Seems like there are quite a few of us in your situation. Unlike the west coast guys with big rivers I like you live in the northeast. I find NH and ME have great opportunities for swinging flies. Lake steelhead and Atlantic salmon fishing are within a days drive and the ocean is a short drive during the summer months. I love this part of the country and it's fishing opportunities, so I'm looking to stay in the NE.
The original plan was to sell the Ca house for twice what we paid for it, go someplace where we could buy a smaller house for half as much, and invest the remainder. We were both into Bluegrass (me banjo, her dobro & guitar), I was also into fly fishing & had the bug to do two hander's for SH & Salmon. I also had an appreciation for sporty cars. She had Bluegrass country in mind. I dreamed of the PNW. It was kind of a joke, until the end when it all fell apart.

So having lived in So Or, for 15 years, I offer this little bit of advice in retrospect. Yeah there are a bajillion places I can fish, and by Ca standards, relatively close to home. But when the Rogue river is right there (10 miles & 3 traffic signals, now 6 & counting, to the closest access point) it's hard to get too excited about putting the two hander down & driving very far to fish for the little guys. The float tube hasn't seen water for years.

There isn't a whole lot of Bluegrass activity in this area. Perhaps if I were closer to a big metro area, but that ain't gonna happen again, not in my lifetime. There is a lot of hot rod activity, however it is focused on American iron of the pre-fuel injected era, which I found to be out of my price range. Add to that, I am a techie & have become spoiled by the amenities of late model cars. No one around here knows anything about tuning F.I. hot rods. Again big city. Thank you, but NO!.

As priorities have shifted a bit, the grass has begun taking on a greener tint in other pastures. Get out of the big bird & come down to ground level & you'll find this is a big country. Really big! Helps if you like to drive. :hihi:
 
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