Fishing in PA: Getting Hooked and Finding Zen Among the Fish

Imagine creating your perfect life, doing the things you love the most – every day.

For Pennsylvania native and longtime fisherman Grant Genzlinger, living his dream comes by way of owning the historic Settlers Inn at Bingham Park in Hawley, PA. The lodge and its acclaimed restaurant are famous for trout dishes. Luckily for Genzlinger, the trout-filled, rushing waters of the Lackawaxen River  – complete with a sweet spot – run through his back yard. 

The affable, self-taught chef and innkeeper grew up fishing on the banks of nearby Lake Wallenpaupack – just one of the 200 or so icy waterways that keep Pennsylvania’s Pocono lakes, rivers and streams flush with trout. “After filleting a couple of thousand fish, I think I got it down,” Genzlinger quips. “It’s difficult (cleaning trout) because they’re very bony.”

Fishermen and foodies alike know that the Settlers Inn strikes the perfect balance between simple comfort and luxurious style, sustainable farming and sophisticated cooking. Even the Wine Spectator award-winning wine list ranges from familiar names to lofty vintages reserved for special occasions.

After earning an admittedly obscure degree in Ancient Chinese Languages and Archeology at Michigan’s Oakland University, Genzlinger longed for the chilly waterways of the Pocono Mountains, a place where he and his wife, Jeanne, both spent their summers as kids.

Working at a resort in the Poconos turned the couple’s attention to culinary pursuits. Genzlinger was an early advocate of the farm-to-table approach, and he has a passion for cooking with indigenous species like brook trout, Pennsylvania’s state fish.

The lavish Settlers Inn menu includes Genzlinger’s signature dishes – House Smoked Brook Trout, Brook Trout Almondine and Fresh & Smoked Trout Mousse (get the recipe on page 91). 

Trout also holds a place on both the breakfast and dinner menus. At breakfast, smoked trout is served with sides of capers, chopped onion, egg whites and pungent horseradish cream. By evening, a flaky smoked trout takes center stage alongside classic trout almondine. A creamy smoked trout mousse, served as an amuse buse, is at once robust and rich without being overwhelming or heavy.

Springtime anglers seeking an outdoor escape to an old-world lodge serving up acclaimed cuisine, with evenings spent sipping whiskey around a log-burning hearth (and nights spent tucked into the warmest feather-filled bed) favor the Settlers Inn. Now a fixture in this modest town, the Settlers Inn is a stately punctuation at the end of an otherwise working-class strip.

Inside the handsome building, the classic Arts and Crafts style décor is complemented by a massive hearth fireplace and beamed ceilings to create a welcoming, woodsy environment. Guest rooms glow late into the night with individual fireplaces, while Jacuzzi tubs and chocolates on the pillow complete the scene.

The Genzlingers are masters in the art of hospitality. They are an exceptional example of living a balanced life – blending careers with personal ambitions, mixed with heavy doses of friends, family and time spent outdoors.

Not far from the Inn’s river access is where prolific 20th-century Western novelist, filmmaker and avid fisherman Zane Grey enjoyed the waters of the Lackawaxen River, finding them to be among the best trout fishing in the country. These days, that same area, including the Zane Grey Hole, remains popular with both novice and seasoned fishermen. Though urbanization, population density and other factors have reduced some of Pennsylvania’s natural trout abundance, the state is working to stock its waterways with some 3.4 million trout.

Southeastern fishermen should ready their bait on March 30, 2013 while their northern and western brethren needn’t have their last fly tied until April 13.

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