Not your parent’s travel experience
By Patrick Straub EBS FISHING COLUMNIST
A few months ago, when the outlook for our late-summer stream flows and fishing conditions painted a bleak picture, I serendipitously got a call from a good friend of mine. He was inviting me to join him for a week of chasing tarpon and permit on some far-away saltwater flats.
In the past, high summer in our region meant consistent dry-fly fishing in clear and cold water. This year’s drought and anomalous lack of water in our rivers and streams, which was easy to forecast in late spring, meant my desire to chase fish might be better served elsewhere. I jumped at the opportunity to give myself and the fish a break from the smoke and the heat.
“The plan is to fish in late July and early August,” he told me. “Because that’s when the tarpon are thick and the moon is best for permit.”
The last time I boarded an airplane was March 7, 2020. I was returning from a fishing trip in South America and barely made it back before the world shut down. Over 500 days later, I headed for Belize to resume my international angling travel experience, one that has unsurprisingly changed immensely.
For those anglers itching to pack up their fishing stoke and take to new waters, here are some tips to manage what is likely to be the new normal for fishing in the far-off places in the world.
Plan early. When the pandemic shut down travel in 2020, most lodges, outfitters and guides throughout the world canceled trips. Most of these trips were pushed to 2021 or later, creating very limited availability at many destinations. Many destinations are already booked during their prime seasons, so if you’re thinking of an international trip, start planning early.
Be flexible. The pandemic is far from over. For several of the world’s top fishing destinations, their countries and local governments are still navigating the best approach to keep their citizens safe while striving to allow visitors. From changing entry restrictions to travel disruptions, be prepared to roll with some punches.
Get vaccinated. To be blunt: If you want to travel to fish internationally in the coming years, get the shot. Even as countries require negative tests for entry, many lodges and outfitters are still requiring visitors be vaccinated. Most fishing lodges are small, intimate operations and interactions with other guests from a variety of places is common. The science behind vaccines is accepted and being vaccinated reduces risk and gets us closer to ending this pandemic.
It is not always about you. No question you’ve earned the opportunity for a great fishing trip, but if you’re making the choice to travel to a remote destination to fish, look beyond the mirror and think about the impacts of your decision to travel and your actions once at your destination. The first step is getting vaccinated. The next step is respecting the rules and regulations at your destination. Lastly, be courteous and conscious to residents and staff. You may be getting away from the hustle and bustle of the rat race we’ve created here in the U.S., but practice respect and understanding when visiting a rural area so the residents and staff continue to welcome visitors.
Angling travel is still a moving target and will be for the years ahead. However, if you take a thoughtful approach to both planning and being a visitor, your trip and the trips of others are important first steps to get us all closer to what life was like prior to the world shutting down.
Patrick Straub has fished on five continents. He is the author of six books, including “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Fly Fishing” and has been writing the Eddy Line for nine years. He was one of the largest outfitters in Montana, but these days he now only guides anglers who value quality over quantity.