Hunting or fishing? Both, thank you! Many hunters don’t mind casting in a line into water and catching something that goes by the name of fish. People who only hunt and never fish do exist, but there are also people who enjoy both outdoor pursuits in more or less equal measure.
As a matter of fact, you will probably have an opportunity to do some fishing on the side wherever you go hunting. Even if you go high up the mountains after ibex or mountain goat, you will usually find a creek with a local variety of trout swimming in it. And a hunt for a desert animal like the pronghorn antelope, especially a bowhunt, may be centered around a waterhole, that just might have fish in it. Just be sure to mention your desire to do some fishing to the outfitter when arranging the details of your hunt, in case there are special requirements for fishing licenses, or specific local conditions.
But there are times, places and species where some of the most sought-after kinds of fishing, and some of the most iconic types of hunting, can happen together, side by side, in the course of one and the same trip. Here are, in no particular order, five such combinations that, in our opinion, offer the best of both worlds.
1. Black Bear and Musky, Canada
Canada is the country of numerous rivers and lakes, that used to serve as waterways for the explorers, traders, hunters and fishers of both European and native descent. These waterways are blessed with many kinds of fish, but there’s more: in the boreal belt, a big river or lake is a center and source of life. Water doesn’t only nourish trees and bushes, but also accumulates the summer warmth, which smoothes the extremes of climate. Wherever you go to fish, you’re likely to be surrounded by a forest full of animals, and wherever you go hunting, you’re likely to be hunting near a river or lake with fish.
Two species in particular attract our attention. The muskellunge, or musky, is a close relative of the northern pike, and one of the biggest freshwater fish species in North America. The black bear, endemic of America, reaches almost brown bear size and often comes in amazing color phases in Canada. You can pursue both during the same trip, which is an affordable and (barring the notorious COVID travel bans) easy opportunity to immerse into genuine North American wilderness. The virus is not forever, and if you’re sure you can’t come this year, you will be doing a good turn to the struggling Canadian outfitters if you book your 2022 hunting and fishing adventure now.
2. Dorado and Doves, Argentina
Pure gold! This is what “dorado” means in Spanish – “golden”. “El Dorado” was the mythical chief in South America who literally bathed in gold; he existed only in the imagination of the Conquistadores, but the fish is real. If you have seen a dorado only on the fresh fish stand in your local supermarket, you’d have to wonder why the name. But just one look at a pic of a golden dorado caught by an angler in Argentina, and you’ll understand. A further look at the big grin on the angler’s face will confirm that the golden dorado is a fantastic gamefish, and it’s not surprising that many flyfishing enthusiasts pursue it with the same devotion as the Conquistadores searched for the mythical land of gold.
And right near the best dorado fishing spots there are areas where some of the world’s most renowned wingshooting hunts take place. We’re not talking about high-volume, no-limit dove and pigeon hunts. Waterfowl hunters will find there an abundance of familiar and exotic species of ducks, and pointing dogs enthusiasts can follow their bellowed pointers, setters and Brittanys after the local partridge known as perdiz. As a matter of fact, it’s in Argentina where the term “cast and blast” has been coined. If you can’t make up your mind whether you want to cast some flies or shoot some birds, you know now where you can do both!
Argentina is the wingshooter’s paradise. For a devoted bird hunter, “Cordoba” is not “a town in Spain”, but “doves galore”; other provinces are also famous for dove shooting opportunities. Read more about How to Survive High-Volume Dove Shooting in Argentina.
3. Brown Bear and Salmon, Northern Pacific
There were once four buddies sharing a camp in Siberia. Day after day they went out with their guides in search of brown bears, until one morning one of them suddenly declared he’d rather stay in camp and fish. It’s not clear whether he was fed up with walking through the taiga or was simply looking to diversify their ration. But it was good he kept his rifle at an arm’s length: a few hours later a huge brown bear, checking out the river as brown bears do, presented itself at a close range. With a bullet behind the shoulder, the bruin ran into the nearest dwarf pine thicket and dropped dead, out of sight but not out of mind of the hunters, who had a few nervous minutes as they followed the blood spoor without knowing if the bear was still alive or not.
Salmon fishing attracts bears and humans in equal measure to the rivers that run into the Northern Pacific, providing an exciting opportunity to get your bruin and your fish from, perhaps, precisely the same spot. Alaska is a second-to-none destination for both brown bear hunting and salmon fishing. The same kind of opportunities exists on the other coast of the Pacific Ocean – on Kamchatka and the Okhotsk Sea coast in Russia. One tip here is that if you want to combine your brown bear hunt and your salmon fishing trip you will have to think the fall season and try to schedule your hunt on the early part of it.
Walking in the water was awkward because of the slick, round rocks on the riverbottom. Crimson-colored salmon swam all around us, and every few yards, we passed fish carcasses strewn about on the narrow shore leading into the dark bear tunnels. Read about James Reed’s Adventure on the Alsek
4. Moose and Taimen, Eastern Siberia
Taimen is the world’s biggest type of salmon, it can reach two meters in length and nearly a hundred kilograms in weight. Imagine fighting a fish that is just as big as yourself! Unlike most kinds of salmon, it is a strictly freshwater fish, that inhabits many rivers in Eurasia from the Volga basin in the West to Mongolia, China, and, of course, Siberia. The Mongols don’t eat fish, but the Russians, Evenks, Yakuts, and other peoples of Siberia do, so it’s not surprising that taimen populations in many Siberian rivers have been depleted. But if you travel far into the wilderness of Eastern Siberia, you may still find a great taimen fishing – and more, much more.
One of the best times to catch taimen is after the leaves fall until the rivers freeze, which coincides with the rut of the moose. Eastern Siberia is home to Alces alces buturlini, one of the biggest subspecies of the moose, which is nearly identical to the Alaska-Yukon moose. The Mid-Siberian, or Yakutia moose is only slightly smaller. During the rut, the bull moose is very aggressive, and when he answers the call of the guide, thinking it’s a rival moose trumpeting a challenge, he will come real close to you. Seeing a 2,000-lb. beast that with one swing of his mighty antlers can thrash a tree you’d struggle to fell with an axe, only a few paces away is an unforgettable experience. How does it compare to fighting a human-sized salmonid on the end of your line? Book a trip and compare for yourself!
5. Saltwater and Plains Game, South Africa
A lot of people imagine Africa as something dry and waterless. This image, needless to say, is wrong. South Africa has some of the most diverse fishing opportunities, both fresh and saltwater. The rivers and lakes of South Africa have a wide range of species, both native, like the tigerfish with its impressive mouth full of enormous fangs, and introduced, like bass and trout. And there are few other countries where you can fish not one, but two oceans: the Indian and the Atlantic. It is hard to give one an advantage over the other, but most experts believe that the best saltwater fishing opportunities in South Africa are in the Indian Ocean, off the coasts of Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu-Natal.
These two provinces also offer amazing hunting opportunities. Outfitters in both Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Eastern Cape tend to operate on exceptionally vast tracts of land that offer genuine hunting experience for a variety of species, up to rhino darting (non-lethal) hunts. Most hunters, however, come to South Africa after the plains game. The semi-arid Karoo, densely wooded bushveld, high cliffs of the Drakensberg mountains, the broken highveld of the Natal province, all offer excellent hunting for such iconic and endemic species as red duiker, suni, nyala, common reedbuck, grey rhebok, Eastern Cape greater kudu, and more, in the manner that meets the highest standards of true, fair-chase, hunting. And there are properties where you can catch a shark in the morning and kill an antelope after dinner!
Obviously, those are not the only options to combine a hunting and fishing tour, but so far we’ll settle on these five awesome opportunities. Do you think we missed your favorite cast and blast tour? Be sure to tell us in the comments!