The author with species from local waters. From top: largemouth bass, brook trout, brown trout, chain pickerel.
When most people think of fly fishing, they picture an angler casting for trout on a beautiful mountain freestone stream, just like in the movie A River Runs Through It, but the fact is that you can catch almost any species of fish on a fly and have a lot of fun. No matter where you live, you almost certainly have a variety of game species—from panfish and bass, to trout and salmon, to carp and suckers—available within a short drive of home. Think of the ponds and lakes you pass by and the streams you cross on your way to somewhere else. Have you ever wondered if the fishing is any good there? Since many of us are traveling less these days, it’s the perfect time to plan a series of mini adventures, exploring those local waters to see what swims in them. You may be astonished by what you find!
Saltwater anglers have long prized the Grand Slam, which involves catching a bonefish, tarpon, and permit in the same day. If you were to apply that concept to your home waters, what species would constitute your own “Local Slam”? In southwestern Vermont, where Orvis is headquartered, we can cast for brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, northern pike, common carp, and a variety of panfish—all within a half hour of the office. Our friend, Drew Price, who guides and fishes in the northern part of the state, has taken this goal to the extreme by attempting to catch a trophy-size specimen of all 33 species of game fish in the state. He’s almost there, as you can see from the video below.
Planning Your Own Slam
The first step to creating your own Local Slam is to look for nearby places to fish and determine what species are available in these waters. Most state fisheries agencies publish lists of fishable waters, along with what you can catch in each. Other local anglers, fly shops, and bait shops are also great sources of knowledge.
Now it’s time to plan your own slam. Set yourself a goal or series of goals. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1: Catch four different species in one day
- e.g. brook trout, largemouth bass, bluegill, and pickerel
2: Catch all species in the same family
- e.g. bass and panfish, or all species of trout
3: Catch all species in a particular body of water
4: Catch all species in a specific area
- e.g. your town, county, etc.
If you have a buddy with a boat that will offer you access to waters difficult to fish from shore, see if they would like to join your mini adventure. You could even make this a competition with your fishing friends. Perhaps teams of two anglers could vie for fun prizes. There are many ways to make the Local Slam fun and exciting.
As an added incentive, we are including a Local Slam category in this year’s “20 September Days” Photo Contest. All fish for this competition must be caught during the month of September, and you’ll be up against anglers from all 50 states.