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Savage River Lodge

This Garrett County gem is the perfect place to escape from workaday activities.

This Garrett County gem is the perfect place to escape from workaday activities.

September 28, 2007|By BOB T. EPSTEIN

It's a rare moment when someone who loves the outdoors isn't smiling from ear to ear after getting a chance to commune with nature.

When wife Barbara and I went upcountry to the Savage River Lodge, in the easternmost part of Garrett County, we pulled into the entrance of the lodge, took a deep breath of cool, clean mountain air, smiled and exchanged knowing glances. We acknowledged that the wild deer standing on the road with their heads cocked in our direction, checking us out, was a good omen.

Along with that thought, there is nothing more important about a trip to most of us than a good meal, with great company, and a fun-filled day, followed by a good night's sleep. It was all here!

The Savage River Lodge, bordering Savage River Forest, turned out to be what we hoped for and treasure most. It offered quiet, beautiful natural surroundings, sweet aromas of pine, wild ferns and grasses, the coolness of waters, clean and dustless air, and a view of deep verdant-hued scenes. As we continued rounding the curve in the entranceway and the main lodge came into view, our smile broadened, and we felt we were in for a great visit. We also had our little dog, Terry, along. The lodge has provision for pets, too!

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There is no doubt about it; a day living in the country is worth a week in the city! I bet you didn't know that God does not deduct from man's time on earth if the man is fishing, and this wild water and land area is rife with great rivers known worldwide for fly-fishing.

One mission of our trip was to fool a trout or two into biting on an artificial fly, catch them, admire them, photograph them and then release these colorful, sleek fish to fight again another day.

Then for dinner, have the chef at the Savage River Lodge prepare a delicious farm-raised trout for our tastebuds to enjoy.

The lodge often has farm-raised rainbow trout on its menu boards as specials. Trout caught in Maryland waters are by law considered game fish and thus may not be sold by any business, whether restaurant or food store. However, farm-raised fish can be presented to the public either prepared, cooked and served, sold fresh, or frozen at the markets. Of course, if you catch trout and wish to prepare them yourself from waters that are designated open fishing areas, you can.

Both Barbara and I are fly-fishing instructors, and we had it on good authority that the Savage River Lodge was a terrific jumping-off point for several of the very best fishing rivers and streams in Western Maryland. It was true. We had a chance - with lodge owner Mike Dreisbach's assistance - to fish a few of them: the Savage, the Upper Potomac and the Casselman River.

Fly-fishing has a long history. The art of fly-fishing has been a sport of kings down through the ages. There are hieroglyphic depictions of fly-fishing on the walls of pyramids in Egypt. French and English noblemen enjoyed their estates rights on their own game reserves, while their serfs worked their lands. Some of the finest fly rods and reels were made in the last few centuries in Scotland and France. Today it is estimated that millions of Americans enjoy fly-fishing as a hobby and escape from their workaday lives.

The story "A River Runs Through It" chronicles the life of a family in Montana with a common thread between the father and sons in their love of fly-fishing for trout. The story is told by the eldest son as he stands in a river long after everyone in his family, including his wife, had passed on and he is reminiscing about his, and their, lives' story. That common thread was drawn together with the image of that wild river that flows forever as man is just a small footnote to nature's majesty.

When I met Mike Dreisbach and the lodge's co-owner, Jan Russell, I realized they must know the story. The hospitality they showed their guests and our new friends, such as Ron and Carol from D.C. (who were very excited to have caught their first trout on a fly rod while staying at the lodge) was part and parcel of what their lodge really meant to them and their guests.

The lodge is their life's investment of $3.5 million and is located on 42 acres in the middle of the 700-acre Savage River State Forest. In addition to the 10,000-square-foot main lodge, there are 18 luxury cabins (actually more like small log cottages with loft bedrooms).

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