Seems every angler has a bucket list of the one of the name-brand destination fisheries they’ve got to see before they eat it. Those streams have never held much interest for me. I’ve fished a couple, they’re all right, but less fun with trucks and trailers spilling out of parking lots along two-way highways, overfished, over-exposed. It isn’t bad. The fishing can be decent. But if your authentic experience is spending the day with 300 other anglers a day fishing cookie-cutter browns and rainbows on a river lined with lodges and neat fields of ‘falfa, taters and sugar beets..maybe you’re missing something.
My line of work involves protecting the continent’s last best streams- those least modified from historic conditions- and the native species which rely on them. I gravitate to those places because they’re hopefully unique. That’s what I like- not big fish or famous places, but the streams most resembling their natural character.
When I felt my fishing become a rut I made my own bucket list. Something like two thousand of the country’s last best streams, least spoiled by man, more than a lifetime’s worth of places to explore. It’s my project. I share them with you, here.