What Are the Best Places to Retire for Fly Fishing?
Fly fishing is sometimes called a “meditative” sport due to the nature of the way in which the fish are caught.
Unlike other types of fishing, fly fishing requires the fishing rod to be angled a certain way, in order to make the bait look like an actual type of insect that the fish you are trying to catch would normally eat.
These baits are called “artificial flies,” and thus, the name “fly fishing” came to be.
The sport is one of resilience, patience, and skill, particularly the skill of knowing where the schools of fish are gathered in the bed of water in which you’re fishing.
The meditative part of fly fishing is apparent when you watch a person fly fishing. Their poise, patience, and perseverance are not only impressive but are quite tranquil to watch.
In order to fly fish, a person needs some simple equipment: a fishing reel, a rod that’s made particularly for fly fishing, and special fishing lines that are of a certain weight that makes them ideal for the sport of fly fishing.
Fly fishing is mainly done on the surface of the water, or just below it. Since there is no lure used to help sink the fishing line deeper into the water, most of the fishing is actually done at the surface.
Lakes, ponds, and rivers are some favorite spots for fly fishing. Saltwater basins, marshy areas, and even the ocean can also be ideal places to fly fish, though a boat may be necessary in some of those areas.
Because fly fishing requires minimal equipment and can be done in a vast array of water sources, finding a spot to retire and fly fish won’t be hard.
But – if you want to know where some of the best places are, keep reading!
1. Florida Keys, Florida
It would be hard to beat the Florida Keys for retiring and fly fishing, and many people feel the same way.
“The Keys”, as they are popularly known, are a group of islands that span 125 miles and are directly off the southernmost coast of Florida.
The fishing in this part of Florida is second to none. Whether you decide to fly fish by boat or on the shore, you will rarely go home empty-handed or disappointed with your time spent in this beautiful location.
Florida is also a terrific place for retirement, as the year-round sunshine and mild winters make it ideal for those ready to spend their later years on the water, and not shoveling snow.
There is also a large community of people who love and understand fishing in this part of the state, and they will be excited to welcome you, whether you are just learning to fly fish or it has been a passion of yours for many years already.
2. Jacksonville, Florida
Another ideal spot that is located in Florida for fly fishing would be to retire to Jacksonville, Florida.
This town of just under one million people sits on Florida’s east coast and hugs close to the Atlantic Coast. Jacksonville is a great spot for retirees, thanks to its bustling list of activities, high-quality medical care facilities, and easy access to outdoor recreation.
Jacksonville sits along the St. John River, which is one of the most scenic and desirable spots in the country to experience the true art and sport of fly fishing.
Flowing south to north from the Atlantic Ocean and then inland, the St. John River is Florida’s longest river. Because of its length and the fact that it flows slowly, it is an ideal spot for trying your hand at fly fishing.
There are numerous species of fish to be found in this river, including familiar ones like bass and bluegill, but also boasts plenty of less familiar types like shad and snook fish.
This river can be easily accessed by foot, but you may want to consider a small kayak or fishing boat, as the river is so long and begs to be explored.
3. Pensacola, Florida
For those who still like the idea of retiring in Florida, but want to fly fish in something other than a river, then Pensacola may be your spot for your golden fishing years.
Pensacola sits on the opposite side of Florida from Jacksonville. A city of only 50,000 inhabitants, it offers what many retirees are looking for – warmth, community, and a thriving population of active people.
The city sits on the Florida panhandle and boasts its own bay, which is a haven for those who want to fly fish in their retirement.
The Pensacola Bay is home to trout and redfish, two wildly popular fish in the sport of fly fishing.
Here, a person can fish from the shore, from the numerous docks, or by boat if they wish to venture deeper into the Bay’s waters.
The Bay is a mix of saltwater and freshwater, making it an ideal location for fly fishing. And, at 13 miles long, you won’t have any trouble finding your perfect spot to fish.
4. Charleston, South Carolina
Moving a bit up the coast from Florida, another hot fly fishing spot that is also attractive for retirement is the sweet southern town of Charleston, South Carolina.
Charleston sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, on the eastern side of the state. With a population of just over 150,000 people, this city is big enough to offer all the amenities you will want in your retirement while also being small enough that it feels like a close-knit community.
South Carolina, like Florida, boasts year-round sunshine and no need for a snow shovel, both very attractive attributes for the later years of our lives. It also has a growing retirement community, as the cost of living tends to be lower than in Florida.
But for the person interested in fly fishing, Charleston is more than just a good place to retire.
Just a short drive away is the Kiawah River, one of the most scenic spots to fly fish in the country. Redfish and trout are abundant in these waters and the thick marshes that border it allow for a fly fisher to have an advantage point when attempting to sight-fish or observe the behavior of the fish from a distance.
5. Columbia, South Carolina
Sticking with the great state of South Carolina, another fantastic retirement area to consider for fly fishing enthusiasts would be the city of Columbia.
With an eclectic population of over 130,000, Columbia isn’t an enormous town, but it has a ton to offer. Not only is Columbia the state capital, but it is also home to over seven colleges and universities, bringing diversity and educational opportunities to any retiree who may be interested.
For those who want to spend some time outdoors, Columbia’s surrounding area is hard to beat. The Saluda River is a favorite spot for all sorts of recreational activities, from whitewater rafting to fly fishing (and many activities in between!)
Fly fishing on this river is especially exceptional, given the tranquil nature of the surrounding area and the pride the people of the area have clearly demonstrated in keeping it clean and pristine.
The river has an abundance of striper fish, as this is the largest migration spot for them, and there is plenty of trout to go around.
In fact, South Carolians like their fly fishing so much that the state actually keeps the Saluda River stocked with rainbow and brown trout from early April through November.
6. Charleston, West Virginia
Moving out of the southern part of the United States, another haven for those who want to fly fish in retirement may want to consider the growing town of Charleston, West Virginia.
As the cost of living continues to skyrocket in places like Florida, retirees are looking for homes where their budget can stretch farther, and the winters are still mild and the sunshine days are long.
Charleston, West Virginia can offer all this and more. With a population of almost 50,000 people, it’s by no means a large city, but what it misses in population it makes up for in accessibility, an excellent cost of living, and a growing community of retirees who want to combine good weather with less traffic and lines at the grocery store.
Not only that, but it’s hard to find a place to retire that has more to offer outside than West Virginia. While mountains take up 80% of the state, it is also one that is full of riverbeds ideal for as much fly fishing as you desire.
One of the best spots near Charleston, West Virginia is the Gauley River. As part of the Gauley River Recreation Area, the state of West Virginia has spent an enormous amount of resources ensuring that this area stays a refuge for all who wish to enjoy it.
The Gauley River will offer a plethora of walleye, trout, and smallmouth bass to its fishing enthusiasts. And though West Virginia may not boast the beaches of Florida or South Carolina, the tranquility of this state is one that will resonate with anyone who wants more nature and fewer people surrounding them in their retirement years.
7. Madison, Montana
One of the best places for someone who is ready to retire and spend their days fly fishing is Rock Creek, Montana.
Montana is known for its outdoor lifestyle and low cost of living, two things that are popular for many retirees.
Your retirement dollars will stretch a bit further in this Big Sky state since there is no state sales tax and other taxes remain lower than in many of the other 49 states.
Yes, Montana winters can be cold. But, if you love the outdoors, want crisp and humid-free summers, and dream of fly fishing in some of our country's best bodies of freshwater, Montana is worth checking out.
One of those bodies of water is the Madison River.
The Madison River is over 180 miles long and runs all the way through Montana and Wyoming. As a headwater for the Missouri River, the Madison River is a Class 1 river, which means its fast-moving current and low-level rapids make it an ideal place for fly fishing since the water can easily be accessed by foot as well as by small boats.
Trout swim freely in this river, and there are plenty of them. The water is so clear that sight-fishing is fun and much-practiced activity in the fresh waters of Madison.
8. Thermopolis, Wyoming
Similar to the spot above, this is an ideal retirement community for those people who are less worried about winter snow in retirement and more interested in wide open spaces and serene, the natural beauty surrounding them.
Thermopolis, Wyoming is a small community that is friendly, outdoorsy, and tranquil. Outdoor activities abound here and there are also plenty of restaurants, indoor recreation centers, and medical clinics for those worried about health care in their later years.
Bordering the town is the Bighorn River, one of the best-kept secrets in our country for the sport of fly fishing.
Bighorn River traverses both Wyoming and Montana and is widely known as an impressive trout fishing river. On certain parts of the river boats with motors are not allowed, which speaks to the care and commitment Wyoming has toward preserving this beautiful area.
Non-motorized boats, like kayaks, canoes, and fishing boats are allowed on all parts of the water, though the trout are so abundant in the Bighorn that you may not need a boat at all in order to fly fish.