Find Exotic Near Home

One of the things I enjoy most about fishing is that, with a little imagination, it’s possible to make exotic-style adventures happen right near home. Sometimes, changing how you fish, even what you fish for, can turn the familiar spot into something new and exciting.

Here’s an example. This is a slough on the Snake River in Idaho. The Snake is one of the best rivers in the West because it has a wide variety of fish—from native cutthroat trout in its upper stretches, to powerfully built smallmouth bass in its warmer waters. But this area is special, because it’s relatively shallow (from a few inches to a few feet deep) and the bottom is firm enough to walk on without getting stuck.

And at certain times of the year, common carp will migrate into these shallows to feed and spawn. If you like fly fishing, you can spot and stalk these carp, cast at tailing and rolling targets, and hook into some brutes that weigh upwards of 30 pounds.

It’s as challenging and enjoyable a “flats fishing” experience as any bonefish adventure you’ll ever find in the tropics.

Moreover, it’s a technical challenge that demands sharper angling skills. Often maligned carp (even considered “trash fish” by some) are among the most complex and interesting fish anywhere and they take some game to figure out how to catch on a fly, on any given day.

Odds are, there’s a fishery like this near you, wherever you are reading this. Carp are among the most abundant and hardy fish in America. They were brought to this country in the 1800s specifically to be a food source, and their value was the fact that they could live in a wide range of water conditions, from clear, cool moving water, to muddy, flat warm water.

Whether carp flip your switch or not, I’d suggest mixing things up a bit the next time you go fishing. Try a new bait, or a new approach, and your angling horizons—and the fun—will expand dramatically. Best of all, you’ll discover that the best “exotic” adventures often happen right near home.

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Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream, and he co-wrote The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing with the late Charlie Meyers.