Network’s Hosts, Experts Reveal Their Top Travel Spots for “Sportsman” Summer Activities and Fun
Sportsman Channel’s hosts and experts spend their lives hunting, fishing, shooting and exploring in many of North America’s most beautiful outdoor destinations. So with summer right around the corner, Sportsman Channel, the leader in outdoor TV for the American Sportsman, polled its talent to create the “Top Sportsman Summer Destinations” list, providing insights to what our experts and enthusiasts believe are some of the best vacation spots available for today’s sportsman—with or without family. Visit our Top Sportsman Summer Destinations page at for more on the selections including photos and additional insights and information. You can also “pin” your favorites here.
1) Ocean Key Resort – Key West, Florida
David Conway, host of Florida Sportsman TV, @FL_Sportsman selected Key West as his top destination where the fishing, spearfishing and lobstering are a blast. Conway, also managing editor of Florida Sportsman magazine, recommends the Ocean Key Resort—right in the heart of Old Town—to fish the reefs and wrecks with Captain Pepe Gonzalez. And, of course, the resort offers incredible food, drink, sights, sounds and a bit of luxury. According to Conway, “There’s no end to the directions you can go for fish in Key West, a place that’s a stroke of geological genius—and a stroke of great fortune for anglers.” And it’s all set in a cool subtropical town just far enough away from the mainland to be a one-of-a-kind escape act. Sure the town is touristy, but it’s fun. The fishing is serious and world-class. It’s a can’t-miss, highly scenic town—good for a trip for serious fishermen and for families, too.”
2) Sportsman’s Cove Lodge – Prince of Wales Island, Alaska
Sportsman Channel’s Steven Rinella, @stevenrinella host of MeatEater, @meateaterTV selected this all inclusive lodge in southeast Alaska as his top choice for a summer destination. Rinella owns a shack on the same cove and has come to admire everything the lodge does. As Rinella says: “The guys and gals at Sportsman’s Cove treat their clients with respect; the employees are humble and competent; the place is immaculately clean; the food is top-shelf; and, most important, they fish like mad.” Every day he’s there, Rinella says he feels like having a jealousy-inspired temper tantrum when he watches the lodge’s captains unload catches of salmon, halibut, ling cod, and rockfish. He says that every boat that launches from the lodge outfishes him each and every day. Rinella adds, “If you do make the trip to Sportsman’s Cove Lodge, be sure to wander down the shoreline and say hi to the guys at the Fish Shack.”
3) Hells Canyon Resort, Snake River Hells Canyon – Lewiston, Idaho
For In-Fisherman TV host Doug Stange,@InFishermanTV a jet-boat trip into Hells Canyon @hellscanyon to fish for North America’s giant white sturgeon is an adventure that’s tough to beat. It’s a wild three hours up the river through white-water chutes, as the canyon rises magnificently on each side. Elk, bear, sheep, perhaps even a mountain lion might all be seen prowling ridges along the way. One fishing spot is in the deepest gorge in North America—the surrounding canyon rims are at more than 9,200 feet, while you fish some 8,000 feet below. Stange remarked, “As you fish, the word ‘epic’ comes to mind—epic country, epic fish.” Nestled in the heart of Hells Canyon you’ll find the upscale lodge, Hells Canyon Resort, perched on the river’s edge at Heller Bar. Gourmet meals, private baths and even a fuzzy warm robe await you. The theme is fishing, the entrance majestic, and all around nature’s breathtaking beauty.
4) Kvichak Lodge – Bristol Bay Region – Igiugig, Alaska
Sportman’s newest host, NFL Hall of Famer John Riggins, whose “Riggo on the Range” show starts in January 2013, says the Kvichak Lodge in Alaska is a world-class experience. “The staff’s experience and knowledge of all the accessible rivers in the area, which include the Nushagak, Alagnak, Naknek and Egegik, to name just a few are supreme.” Riggins says come early for the Kings and Rainbows or come late for the Silvers and Rainbows. The Kvichak harbors the largest native rainbows in Alaska, maybe the world. The Fourth of July marks the invasion of the world’s largest run of Sockeye Salmon. “The atmosphere is family, and with only six rooms you’ll never be overrun or overlooked by guests and staff. And it’s all part of the Katmai National Park, and the world renowned Brooks River, home to the stars of Katmai – the Alaskan Brown bears.”
5) Blackmur’s Athabasca Fishing Lodges, Lake Athabasca, Saskatchewan/Alberta, Canada
David Blanton of Realtree Outdoors had this to say about his fishing selection of Lake Athabasca in Canada: “By no means do I consider myself to be an avid fisherman; quite frankly, I wouldn’t walk across the street to catch a fish . . . most of the time. But I have to go on record and say that one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever been on was when I took my son Harman to Blackmur’s Athabasca Fishing Lodge located on Lake Athabasca in northern Saskatchewan/Alberta. Absolutely incredible – fishing and accommodations!” Visitors can select from the Otherside River Lodge, the premier full-service lodge at the mouth of the Otherside River that empties into vast Lake Athabasca, or the Engler Lake Lodge, a quiet retreat that offers the perfect facilities for fishing getaways for families and small groups.
6) Indian River Outfitters – Vero Beach, Florida
Host of Family Traditions, Haley Heath, recommends Indian River Outfitters as her family’s one-stop shop for your summer sportsman destination. Whether you want to relax with the family on the beach, do some fishing, or take some time to sharpen your hunting skills in the off season, Haley says nothing beats it. Another great reason: The world famous Disney World is just 40 miles away. “You can’t beat the Florida sunshine and incredible weather for family time on the beach, then loading up the family on a swamp buggy and looking for hogs in the late afternoon…It can be a jammed, non-stop hunting/fishing destination… or simply enjoy kicking back on the beach.” Hosts Corby and Kim Durrell offer a great lodge, or visitors can choose from the many major hotels/motels in the area.
7) The Emerald Coast – Gulf of Mexico, Florida
Florida Sportsman TV host Jeff Weakley couldn’t pin down just one selection – there’s too many to select from along the beautiful Emerald Coast, which runs on the northern Gulf of Mexico from Panama City west to Pensacola, with world-famous Destin right smack in the middle of it all. The name “Emerald Coast” is pretty obvious when you get to the beach—just look at the water. But many fishermen are surprised to learn that these waters boast world-class fishing. Sailfish, wahoo and even yellowfin tuna have been caught within sight of shore. Says Weakley, “It’s truly a big-game fishing destination. Overnight trips open up all kinds of options, including drifting for swordfish way out in DeSoto Canyon, or mooring up near an oil rig off the drilling fields… This might be the most dependable stretch of Florida’s coast for catching a blue marlin or big wahoo and the inshore fishing is just as spectacular.” If you enjoy high-rise beachfront living, the Emerald Coast is for you. But there are also plenty of quaint beach homes for rent as well as superior resorts. There are restaurants, shopping districts and nightlife.
8 ) McGrew Guide Service & Lodge – Diablo Mountain Range, California
No surprise that Sportsman Channel’s PigMan, host of PigMan: The Series, would select hunting for trophy wild boar for his top selection. PigMan says McGrew’s Guide Service, an all-inclusive, pristine hunt trip, is not only his top summer sportsman destination, but one of his top three hunts of all time! Perched atop the Diablo Mountain Range in Central California lies a hidden gem not often considered as a serious destination for traditional hunters. PigMan says, “With thousands of acres of prime wild boar, black-tail deer, tule elk, and wild turkey habitat secluded from the pressures often associated with hunting public land in California, outdoors men and women will find one of the most affordable, first-rate experiences made available on the Pacific Coast.” The luxurious main lodge holds six full-size beds with each bedroom having its own individual shower and facilities. Separate guide quarters, and a skinning shack with adjacent walk-in cooler will ensure your complete privacy for the duration of your stay. For more information, contact Pig Man through www.pigmantv.com for a first-hand reference.
9) FTW Ranch, Texas Hill Country, Texas
Craig Boddington, host of Guns & Ammo TV, co-host of Petersen’s HUNTING Adventures TV, and host of his new show, The Boddington Experience, chose Tim Fallon’s Fallon Trophy Whitetail (FTW) Ranch, located in rugged hills in the southwest corner of the Texas Hill Country. FTW Ranch offers great whitetail hunting and a wide range of non-native species, but is also home to the Sportsmen’s All-Weather, All-Terrain Marksmanship (SAAM) shooting courses. Says Boddington, “Accommodations and food are superb…FTW is a great place to improve your field shooting skills, including finding steady positions, reading wind, following up your shots, and so much more…and you’ll have a great time while you’re doing it. All around a first-rate establishment.”
10) NRA National Firearms Museum – Fairfax, Virginia
Jim Supica, host of NRA Guns & Gold, offers an “indoor” option for his top sportsman summer destinations where you can stay cool and learn about America’s firearms history and heroes in one world-class experience. Located in the NRA Headquarters building in Fairfax VA, just outside Washington DC, admission is free and there is plenty to see with 15 galleries and more than 2,700 firearms, as well as a state-of-the-art indoor range, shop and café. A few of the 15 galleries include: The Robert E. Petersen Gallery, Guns that built America; Firearms of the Famous and Infamous; Hollywood Guns; and Theodore Roosevelt Display. The area offers plenty of choice for accommodations from bed and breakfasts to hotels to resorts.
About Sportsman Channel: Launched in 2003, Sportsman Channel is the only television and digital media company fully devoted to the more than 82 million sportsmen in the United States, delivering entertaining and educational programming focused exclusively on hunting, shooting and fishing activities. Sportsman Channel is now available in HD, check with your local cable or satellite provider. Acquired by InterMedia Outdoors Holdings in 2006, Sportsman Channel reaches nearly 26 million U.S. television households and is a part of the nation’s largest multimedia company targeted exclusively to serving the information and entertainment needs of outdoors enthusiasts. Visit online: www.thesportsmanchannel.com, follow on Twitter: @SPORTSMANchnl, or become a Fan on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sportsmanchannel.