Photos and Story: Into the Himalaya for Fly Fishing and More

Written by: Dave Perkins, Orvis vice chairman

Nancy and Dave pose before the 17th-century Punakha Dzong, on the banks of the Mo Chhu.

One of my great joys in fly fishing is not really catching the fish (okay, that’s always a pleasure), but savoring the places the sport takes me. This spring, I had one such very special experience: I was fortunate to be able to visit Bhutan, a mountain nation nestled between India and China. The fishing was the common denominator that drew four friends to join my wife Nancy and me in this unique country, but time on the water turned out to play a minor role in our experience.

Map by Gerald J. Coleman from CIA World Factbook 2017., Public Domain

Yes, we caught a few small brown trout and a mahseer here and there, but the real wonder of the trip was experiencing the culture and natural beauty of this remarkable Buddhist nation in the Himalaya. Birding, hiking, rafting, and experiencing the local culture and history made the trip unique. We went on a four-day/three-night rafting trip, and although we caught only a few fish, we had fun coursing through some rapids, saw all manner of wildlife including an Asian elephant cow and her calf, and stopped in to visit a small and meticulously maintained subsistence farm where we had lunch with the family who owned it .

The campsite offered incredible views in every direction.

We trekked overnight up to 12,700 feet, where we stayed in a camp with spectacular views of the Himalaya, and then descended the next day to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, a sacred Buddhist site that clings to a rock face and draws hundreds of faithful every day to make the strenuous climb and worship at the shrine.

But most important were the people we met along the way. Our guide, Karma Tshering, embodied all that is remarkable and good about this nation. He was warm and kind, deeply knowledgeable about his country’s social and natural history, and a devout Buddhist who shared his passion and enthusiasm with humor and humility. Truly an extraordinary man.

Karen Amero and guide Darren McFadden show off a fine mahseer.

One of the great things about fly fishing is that, whether I am at home on the Missouri River or off in some far away place, it’s the common thread that introduces me to so many remarkable people and continually opens new worlds to me.

Dave Perkins is the vice chairman of Orvis. He joined the family business in 1979 and has held numerous positions, from fly-fishing Instructor to retail development.

The group of travelers poses with prayer flags they hung on the river.
Dave and Nancy pose on the trek down from Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

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