English-Speaking Destinations

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Question: I’m kind of a wimpy traveler, so I hate to go places where they don’t speak English. (I know…it’s embarrassing; that’s why I’m not including my name and address.) Part of it is that I like to bring my non-fishing wife, who doesn’t like wandering around without me where she can’t speak the language. What are your top five foreign destinations where I don’t have to struggle with a phrasebook to get by?

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Canada Fly Fishing

photo by New Brunswick Tourism

Answer: We try not to be judgmental here at Midcurrent, and there’s no doubt that the ability to communicate removes much of the stress of traveling. For my money, here are the best English-speaking fly-fishing destinations. I’m sure you’ll get more advice in the comments.

  1. Let’s start with the obvious: Canada. It’s right next door and offers everything from amazing brook-trout and Atlantic salmon fishing in the Maritimes; to incredible smallmouths in the middle of the country; to giant pike in the northwest; to great trout fishing in the Canadian Rockies; to Pacific salmon and steelhead (in fresh and saltwater) along the Western coast. You could take a trip to Canada every summer for the rest of your life and never fish all the great water available. The only places you may struggle with the language are the Gaspé and Quebec, although English-speakers abound.
  2. Less obvious, but also close-by, is Belize. Smack dab in the middle of Spanish-speaking Central America, this former British Colony kept English as its official language. If you want to catch a saltwater grand slam and still be able to talk to the locals, Belize is the place for you.
  3. The Bahamas, too, share the British background and maintain the language. Your guide may have a thick accent, but you’ll have little trouble understanding him when he berates you for blowing a cast at an 8-pound bonefish.
  4. Ireland is, for some reason, a totally unheralded fly-fishing destination. I think that because most anglers understand that gaining access to good water in England and Scotland often requires big bucks, they simply assume that Ireland has the same fee system. However, the Emerald Isle is no more expensive than, say, Montana, and offers some fantastic fishing for brown trout (including sea runs), Atlantic salmon, pike, and some saltwater species. And the wife will have no problem entertaining herself. You can’t swing a 6-weight without hitting some historical ruin or gorgeous view of the green hills and gray sea.
  5. New Zealand is, of course, a no-brainer. Not only do they speak English, but they are some of the friendliest people on the planet. When I returned from New Zealand, I begged my wife to emigrate with me, but I lost that battle. The fishing is, without question, phenomenal.
  6. Australia offers an incredible array of fly-fishing opportunities, but few Americans seem to take advantage of them. From sight-fishing to double-digit trout in the backcountry lakes of Tasmania to chasing barramundi in the waters off Cape York, there’s a lot to convince a fly fisher to travel halfway around the world.
  7. I’ve always wanted to catch a tiger fish, so one of my dream destinations is Zambia, in the center of southern Africa, where they speak English and the Zambezi River offers prime fishing for tiger fish, as well as incredible game viewing.

It’s no coincidence that there are so many great English-speaking fly-fishing destinations around the world. The British Empire was almost single-handedly responsible for the proliferation of trout around the planet. And where they couldn’t get trout to survive, they figured out other species to chase with the long rod.

By limiting yourself to English-speaking destinations, you’re missing out on all of South America, most of Central America, continental Europe, Kamchatka, Iceland, and on and on. But I doubt you’ll ever run out of places to go.