The Trout Underground Asks: Where Should a Fly Fishermen Retire?

Category:
Fly Fishing, Opinion
Added Date:
Thursday, 8 Feb, 2007
Summary
The Golden Years. You see, I received an e-mail from a loyal Undergrounder who's been scouring the Oregon/California/Nevada region for a place where he and his wife could live out their Golden Years before going the way of all flesh.
 
Content
Though I often ask for responses to my posts, let's face it - I hardly ever actually read all your drunken replies.

You're an odd, sometimes frightening offbeat bunch.

However, this time it's different. I'm actually planning to read the responses.

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The Golden Years
You see, I received an e-mail from a loyal Undergrounder who's been scouring the Oregon/California/Nevada region for a place where he and his wife could live out their Golden Years before going the way of all flesh.

The parameters?

Wild enough for good trout fishing. Civilized enough for good spousal relations. And cheap enough for retirement incomes.

Extra Credit
Knowing that Underground Montana Correspondent Sully is going to weigh in with tales of -30 degree winters, violent bison stampedes and crazed militia gangs (his feeble attempt at halting population growth in the Trouty West), I thought I'd put the question to the readership.

Given the conditions outlined above, where would you retire?
Extra credit points will be awarded to those who - through judicious use of the language - actually dissuade readers from retiring in undiscovered, out-of-the-way spots where you frankly don't want a lot of old people cluttering things up.

So have at it Undergrounders.

Where would you live out your cranky, cane-waving, "You kids get off my lawn" lives?

fly fishing, retirement, retirement planning, trout underground, sully
 
Reading Time:
5minutes
Featured:
No
Author
Destinations
 (2)
This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen ... moreLake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.

Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.

Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
Fishing Waters
 (1)
Maclean’s famous story, A River Runs Through It, is set on the now famous Blackfoot River. Despite this, Robert Redford’s 1992 movie version was largely filmed on the Gallatin as he ... morefelt the scenery and fishing were more cinematic. The river originates high in the mountains of the Gallatin Range inside Yellowstone National Park and flows for 115 miles until it intersects with the beginning of the Missouri River at Three Forks. Inside the Park, where it runs for more than 25 miles, floating is not allowed and there are restrictions on fishing. Once it exits the park, it crosses a forty-mile expanse of mostly public lands, and runs parallel to a highway that makes it quite accessible. Because the river is narrow for much of its run, float fishing is restricted from Yellowstone Park to the confluence with the East Gallatin River. No wonder this river has a great reputation for wade fishing!

Unimpeded by dams, the river provides consistent, easily waded flows from mid-summer through mid-spring. Rainbows predominate with an estimated 1400, 8+ inch, fish per mile from the West Fork confluence at Big Sky to the mouth of the canyon. Browns are abundant accompanied by occasional cutthroats, brook trout, white fish and graylings. New to the lower most band of the river are northern pike. Never known for trophy trout, the river offers excellent dry fly fishing and beautiful surroundings. Since the fish are recognized as indiscriminate eaters, the Gallatin has come to be known as an excellent river for those learning to fly fish.

Like much of Montana, the River played a significant role in the state’s history. First explored by Native American hunters, by the early 1900’s, the area eventually became known to fur-trappers and gold prospectors. By the turn of the twentieth century logging rose in importance to the local economy as loggers famously rode the logs down river to prevent them from jamming. The towns of Bozeman and Three Forks are most closely associated with the River although given the importance of Maclean’s legacy, Livingston should also be considered as part of its history and heritage.
Game Fish Opportunities:
 (2)
The Jefferson River is an important part of a system of rivers that combine to form the majestic Missouri. Starting at the confluence of the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers near Twin ... moreBridges, Montana, it winds 77 miles in a northeasterly fashion to Three Forks. Here, it meets with the Madison and Gallatin rivers that together converge into the Missouri River at the Missouri Headwaters State Park. Like so many other rivers in Montana, the Jefferson, named by Clark in honor of the U.S. President, runs deep with history. In fact, the Jefferson River is a segment of the larger Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by our National Park Service.

When thinking about the Jefferson, a Class 1 river for recreational enjoyment, most observers view the river in three distinct sections. Characterized by slow, meandering flows, the upper third works its way through a broad, arid valley. Along this braided, 44 mile long floodplain, you will encounter working farms, dense cottonwood stands, flowered meadows and a variety of wildlife until you reach the town of Cardwell. Throughout the next 15 miles, its waters flow through a narrow, steep canyon where the water can be deep, slow and contained. As a result, the stretch from Cardwell to the Sappington Bridge has comparatively fewer trees, swamps, meadows and wildlife.

At Sappington Bridge the river once again becomes a circuitous, rambling river, rich in swamp life, colorful fields, large cottonwood groves and productive agricultural land. The presence of significant agriculture has resulted in competition for water use. During dry years, the river was tapped generously for irrigation, dropping water levels to the point where fish populations were adversely affected. Recent improvement in riparian management has tended to alleviate these issues. Primarily known as a brown trout river, rainbows, mountain whitefish, burbot and northern pike can also be found here. Less well known and less discovered, the Jefferson offers the opportunity to catch large fish in a scenic, un-crowded environment.
 (4)
If fly wranglers were gossips, the “Blue Ribbon” Madison River would likely be their primary object of attention. Arguably it’s the most talked over, written up and frequented river ... morein the entire state of Montana – and that’s saying something. What’s more, no one has anything bad to say about it and that’s for a good reason. There’s nothing bad to say. Its scenic journey begins in Yellowstone National Park at the convergence of the Gibbon and Firehole rivers and continues for 19 miles through parkland. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and sorry to disappoint, but it’s catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters the Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hegman releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

//
Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintain relatively low water levels and provide wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
Trips
$
525
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
The Gallatin River is one of the closest, in proximity to Bozeman. As it makes its course from Yellowstone National Park to the Headwaters of the Missouri River, the Gallatin River ... moreflows through a diverse topography. High mountain meadows near Yellowstone Park, robust pocket water through the Gallatin Canyon, and the wide open spaces of the Gallatin Valley offer three distinct environments in which to fish and explore this fine river. Since it is smaller than many of our other rivers, the Gallatin offers a good opportunity for fishing on foot. Consistent hatches of caddis, mayflies and stoneflies throughout the season make the Gallatin an easy choice on any day.
$
365
-
$
495
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
Destination:
Spend the day fishing for huge rainbows and big browns on the famous Madison River, a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. With more than 2000 fish per mile, the Madison River offers challenging ... moreand fun fishing for novice to seasoned angler.
$
495
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Join us for a fun day of fishing on one the Jefferson River, one of the top rated trout rivers in the US.
Outfitters
Welcome to Zach Neville Outfitters. With over 10 years experience, we are one of Bozeman, Montana's premiere fly fishing guide services. We offer float and walk/wade fly fishing trips ... moreon southwest Montana's finest trout waters. Here in Bozeman we are centrally located among The Yellowstone, Madison, Gallatin, Missouri and Bighorn rivers. In addition to this, we have access to some of the best private water in the region. At Zach Neville Outfitters it is our mission to provide you with a fun, safe and educational day on the water regardless of your background or level of experience.
Type:
Fishing
27 comments
Lighten up, buddy. This whole thread's all in good fun; I made a joke about where to retire, and now I'm fat, over 50, and clueless (though I stand by my "fish boil" statement)?If you're one of those perpetually pissed off people, then this might not be the right site for you. If you just misunderstood, then I apologize for not being clearer.
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By the appearance of your photo, you have trouble negotiating out of the drift boat; so lose the attitude.....and you kissed 50 goodby some time ago Buddy... Fish boil is a Scandinavian custom, which includes consuming vast quantities of beer, another endearing practice the Old Northwest. I forgot that Californians are as clueless as New Yorkers about most of the country between the coasts. So a couple ... more of facts..There are 9000 miles of trout water in Wisconsin, about the same as Montana. The "Driftless " area ......Oh just read Ted Leeson's book," Jeruselem Creek"
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Uhh, Friday "fishboil??" Wouldn't a fish fry, you know, taste better? As for unbreathable elevations, you're right. It's impossible for anyone above the age of 55 to sustain life at the Trout Underground's altitude, so don't bother moving here. Or anywhere near here.
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Probably just my Midwestern provincialism, but I am retiring next year to Wisconsin or Minnesota. Wonderful spring creeks,trout lakes , steelhead rivers and extreemly high taxes. But you pay for paradise. The healthcare is superb and the friday fishboils are mandatory. I would be worried that this post would entice legions to my favorite trout streams; but strangely enough most of you "destination" ... more flyfishers thing sterile mountain streams in unbreathable elevations on private land are Romantic wilderness experiences .
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Well Tom, Ihink you have some reasonable health care right there in Mt. Shasta. If that isn't enough then just roll down the hill to Redding. Larry S ps. Isn't this one of the more-relied-to subjects that you have posted yet ?
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I wish I could recommend the small town in eastern Idaho that I live in, but regretably I would do you a disservice. You see, my lowly town has nary a single Starbucks, Applebees, Wal Mart, nor even Home Depot for that matter. How this town survives being so cut off off from the basic essentials of life is a modern day wonder and a continual life and death struggle for us residents. But our conundrum ... more is not so intriguiing that you should find yourself compelled to drive here and gain a better understanding of what life was like before 1985. If only that were all I could offer to dissuade you poor (well, probably wealthy, actually), soon-to-be-retired masses from casting about for dream digs. Sadly, in addition, the lack of viable trout water within a 3-block radius of my home is discouraging to say the least. Of course, if you're willing to expand your idea of nearby fishing to include wild cutthroat a whole 10 minute bike ride away, and enough fishy water to last several lifetimes within a 1 hr. drive, well, then yes, I suppose there is some fishing here. But still it's nothing to write home about, particularly of you live here, because then you'd be writing to yourself, here, which is rather silly. So no, in all good faith, I can't recommend my town. But if you're passing through, I'd highly recommend the huckleberry milkshakes at the Emporium. But then keep moving. Trust me.
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Nearby health care? I'm not planning on any extended hospital stays. I'm going to be healthy - right up until the day the clock runs out, the ticker stops, and I pitch face forward into the river. Living near an airport? That's a useful thing. Makes trips to other fly fishing destinations less troublesome.
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I agree with rriver that the decision on where to relocate to once one bails out of the work world is a tough call. In addition to the factors mentioned already a couple more to consider are health care and out of area travel costs. The older one gets, the more important it is to live reasonably close to a good health care facility. This factor can be tough to achieve in rural parts of MT, WY and ... more other remote areas of western states. So that's one factor to consider. The other factor is travel costs. How much are you planning to travel once you retire? How far do your kids, relatives, close friends, live from you? I'm not signaling out Montana per say but our family does have property in the far northwest corner of the state so I can definitely say that its a long drive to even a small commercial airport. The same is true of most towns in Montana for that matter. While not having the associated hassles of a big city nearby, etc. is nice in its own way it DOES make for some real logistical problems if you have to travel/fly to a different part of the country. The costs associated with these planned and occasional unplanned trips can add up. So if you are planning on traveling a good deal once you retire, moving to a town/city close to a good sized airport might be a better option. Building a home in certain parts of MT can be a real challenge due to weather conditions, terrain and the cost of shipping/transporting building materials/supplies. This can get expensive in a hurry. Brian
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I think Redding, CA deserves a nod. Large enough population to have a Starbucks (which will please the wife) and close enough to all the best California rivers, to make a fisherman count his options. I lived there for five years, and yes - it can be plenty hot. But this is retirement, so you are only outside if you want to be. Forty minutes up the road is Lassen Park, which is about 30 degrees cooler ... more than the valley, just head that direction for fishing in August... Trinity River has steelhead, Klamath has salmon, all are close by. Lots of upland birds available for hunters (fly tyers). As the wife will have the final say, I would err on the side of civilization, and act surprised when she mentions the fishing. "...your right, Sweetness, I hadn't noticed that the Sacramento river goes right through downtown.."
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Just don't come to west or north Michigan, who needs blue ribbon trout streams, Lake Michigan and its sandy beaches, Lake fishing for Salmon, Steelhead, Muskee, Browns. Or the rivers O' plenty or the kind people and Hell, no one here has a job anymore anyway so you would fit right in! We just want your retirement money to enrich our local economy.
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I fish with retired folks. They fish all the time. When they don't fish, they're tying flies or drinking a beer and talking about fishing. They are the greatest resource for trout fishing knowledge on the planet, unassuming, and always have a beer handy when necessary. They aren't fishing in a warm climate, and are only visiting for a short time if they do. Their locations are kept a secret, but they'll ... more tell everyone that the Rocky Mountains are clearly the best. :)
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Well, to take this query a bit more seriously, State College PA and Asheville NC. Both are growing retirement meccas with vibrant culture and almost city-like amenities (Asheville more than State College). And both are surrounded by some of the best fly fishing in the east. I'd say Asheville is the more desirable place to retire in that it's winters are mild and it's a decent size town. State College ... more is smallish and possibly more isolated than Asheville. But the fishing is a hair better. At least more venerated. And if you like college sports and the other attractions that a large university brings it's the place to be.
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Quiet everyone! My parents are home...
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Somebody is in trouble now!....Tom! My vote would be for anywhere in Idaho, my trip out there was one of the best times of my life (take that as you like, cause I'm nowhere near retirement age) and ya, I did quite a lot of fishing for those that didn't get the SITREPs provided by this fine online 'institution.' (ps - colorado has some nice water to throw your line at, and it's not hard, or far, to ... more find solitarity or populace when you want a change.
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My heart will heal after knowing what you think of your parents. You really took yourself out of the will this time. If we are able to make it north for another vacation we will not bother you. And we will not fish your fish either. But we will enjoy ourselves anyhow. You forget how smart we get. Mama
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I hate to potentially give you company ;-) ...but, I would say Dunsmuir or Truckee depending the spouses love or not of skiing or small towns.
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All kidding aside, this is a difficult issue. In the last 10 years, property has exploded in Montana, Idaho and Northern California and Southern Oregon. I think there is too much population up North, so not on the list (Northern Oregon, Wash). The tricky thing is to find that right place between no where and somewhere, so you have good fishing, and can still find a decent restaurant, a good grocery ... more store and some decent shopping. It's a tough balance. - rriver
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This subject is very real to me. I'm bailing out of the work world in mid June. We are putting the house on the market and Southern California can kiss-my-ass thank you very much. The wife and I are going to northeastern Indiana where her mother and brother still live. I will miss fishing trips to NorCal a huge amount but I can't retire and live there, even if the wife would go. Fort Wayne, IN is ... more about half an hours drive from Southern Michigan and maybe two hours to the nearest Steelhead river. Lot's of warmwater fishing locally and 5 hours from the Au Sable river. Counting down. Larry Swearingen
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I forgot to add, don't anyone else retire to Costa Rica. I've got a Crossman 760 Pumpmaster, and I'm not afraid to ratchet it up to 11.
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You forgot the omnipresent grizzly bears and the apex predator- vicious, offal eating realtors. Mosquitoes and rattlesnakes can be thick at times. No chain pickerel in our whole economically downcast, drought-ridden state. Colorado is nice.
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" There's no place like home." My fishing partner and I have had this conversation numerous times in the past and always reach the same conclusion. We are blessed to live in the sierra foothills with many trout streams and lakes within a 1 to 2 hour drive, the upper/lower Sac in 3 1/2 hours, steelhead within 20 min and the ocean 2 hours away. We can reach most of the premier western water inside of ... more a day. Being a half hour from Sacramento and as close to San Francisco as I want to be also keeps the wife happy. In a nutshell, I ain't goin' nowhere!
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Yes, please keep your sagging butt out of Southern Oregon. You'll just tangle the line to that stupid oxygen tank you carry around on the blackberry bushes that line the river anyway. When Snowbug gets done with you, I'll steal your SS money out of your wallet, take your dentures, and unscrew the wheels on your walker. - rriver
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I'd love to retire in pagosa springs, colorado. shhhh!
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I would learn Spanish and move to Papagayo, Costa Rica, on the Pacific side. I'd take up surfing again, and buy a kayak and chase after the ridiculous numbers of pacific bonito and small (5-10 pound) yellowfin tuna busting en masse right along the beach. I'd get an all-terrain motorcycle to handle the awful roads to go to the Atlantic Coast for tarpon fishing. I'd road trip to Belize and Guatemala ... more whenever possible. I'd drink great coffee and keep howler monkeys as pets. Of course, this is all contingent on hitting the megamillions ticket. Just a dollar and a dream...
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If you can keep a secret try Whitefish Montana. Bring your AK, and don't shave your legs. Yellowstoner
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By the time I reach retirement age, all the good trout rivers will be dammed. The West will be so overpopulated that you couldn't fly fish in solitude even by hiking 30 miles into the backcountry. Whirling disease, mud snails, etc. will have wiped out what trout are left. Sometimes things look bleak for the fly fisher. I say forget retirement. I'm moving out there now before it's too late! Snowbug, ... more you wouldn't have to deliver a butt-kicking. My wife will do it for you once I inform her we're moving out West. Her roots run pretty deep here in Alabama. Take care, hawgdaddy
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Do NOT join me in the Great State of Jefferson, under penalty of severe injury. And I was a Marine... I'd do it. I can kick yer ass in six differerent languages. (Maybe I can just SAY ass in six different languages. I forget)
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