I’ve never thought much of bucket lists, although it seems every angler has one of the name-brand destination fisheries they’ve got to see before they croak. I’ve been fortunate enough to fish a couple and they’re fine, but I’ll never forget the Idaho tailwater with three hundred trucks and trailers and cars in the parking lot, spilling out onto the shoulder of the two-lane highway, of guides and clients and DIY’ers frothing the water for sore-mouthed trout. I skipped it. I found some no-name headwater tributary forty minutes up the road and had a ball catching unmolested cutthroats and browns all by myself.
That’s what I like- not big fish or famous places, but the streams most resembling their natural character. So when I decided my fishing was in a rut- visiting the same stretches of the same streams over and over and over- I made my own bucket list, combing literature and published reports, generating a list- several lifetime’s worth of streams, lakes, rivers, and seashores to explore. They’re not all pristine, just the the best we have left.