The 1992 film directed by Robert Redford gave Brad Pitt his first big lead and won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. And no wonder, with all those lingering shots of Brad standing on boulders above sun-dappled water, tossing lines to wily trout. It’s a long way to Montana, though, and if you’re a newbie angler, you might want to hook up closer to home. Suggestion: Bedford, Pennsylvania, three hours west of Philly in the gorgeous Cumberland Valley, where the streams run fast, life moves slow, folks are down-to-earth friendly, and the wide blue sky will frame you every bit as becomingly as it did Brad. Well, pretty much.
Pitt would fit right in at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort, the fresh-as-paint renovation of a glam National Historical Landmark hotel that’s housed everyone from President James Buchanan (who made it his summer White House) to Japanese diplomats interned during World War II. Highlights: A Spencer Oldham golf course remodeled by Donald Ross, a swimming pool fed with slick, viscous water from the on-site mineral springs, a decadent spa, and a staff so kind and caring, you’ll swear you’ve traveled back in time.
Omni Bedford Springs Resort, 2138 Old Business Route 220. From around $200 per night, with lots of package deals. 814-623-8100.
Book a fly-fishing lesson through the hotel with national treasure Ernie Blough, who’ll have even novices reeling them in. (Be sure to get your license and trout stamp ahead of time — see left.) Visit the Springs Eternal Spa for a relaxing bath in the local mineral spring water, or a guided stretch and outdoor walk. Golf. And check the events calendar for Old Bedford Village, a living-history site with reenactments of half a dozen different wars.
Old Bedford Village, 220 Sawblade Road, 814-623-1156.
The Food Scene
You must have dinner at the grand but not at all stuffy Omni Bedford Springs Crystal Room, which features local delicacies like Lancaster pork tenderloin, Somerset County potatoes and Laurel Hill Farm rainbow trout. In quaint, charming Bedford proper, savor organic arugula pizza, black-bean burgers, turkey reubens and dozens of dressed-up coffees, like chocolate almond roca and cinnamon bun, at the Green Harvest Company. Dynamite breakfasts, too.
Green Harvest Company, 110 East Pitt Street, 814-623-3465.
The Photo Op
Aside from the great outdoors? You’re the star, baby, thigh-deep in the Yellow Creek in your hip boots and brimmed Tilley hat, proudly holding that first trout aloft. Ernie will snap it for you.
Head west on the PA Turnpike for three hours, to Exit 146.
What To Get Before You Go
Gear: Arm yourself with a lust-worthy Orvis rod and reel.
French Creek Outfitters, 270 Schuylkill Road, Phoenixville, 610-933-7200.
License and trout stamp: If you’re between the ages of 16 and 64, it’s $22.70; if you’re 65 or older, it’s $11.70. Tack on another $9.70 for the trout stamp.