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A while back, I floated the idea of devoting some editorial space in The Angling Report each month to coverage of second-home and retirement properties that offer fishing as an amenity. I quickly backed off that idea because the majority of the feedback I got was negative. Stick to critiquing guided and un-guided fishing opportunities here and abroad, I was told in no uncertain terms.

Well, I listen intently to such feedback, but it is impossible to avoid writing about a huge new private property development called Everlands. Dubbed an Equity-Based Experience Club (what a mouthful, huh?), Everlands envisions buying 45 properties around the world, many of which will involve fishing. Already, the club has purchased Bristol Bay Lodge in Alaska and Lake Rotoroa Lodge in New Zealand, plus it is under contract to buy Mangrove Caye Lodge on Andros Island in The Bahamas.

Significantly, these three properties were the ones Shackleton International Ltd. locked up a while back with an eye toward creating a similar network of places where the well-heeled can fish and recreate in luxurious isolation. The only difference is, Everlands is bigger – much bigger. Everlands has floated the idea of a $1 million initial-membership payment, plus annual fees of $40,000. The goal is 1,800 members. You can do the math. That comes to membership fees of $1.8 billion and annual fees of $72 million.

To be sure, at this writing, the club is offering special founding memberships costing only $548,000. And it is allowing founding members to hold their place in line for a deposit of only 15 percent. To date, the total number of memberships is over 20, I’m told. All of the properties Everlands has bought remain open to the public at this writing, too, including the aforementioned lodges.

So, is this idea dead on arrival? Is it about to prove an armchair theory of mine that the current real estate bust is going to trickle up in coming years? For sure, there are a limited number of people in the world who can afford this kind of thing, and most of them may be living in the Mideast soon if the West doesn’t develop an energy policy. Moreover, if Angling Report subscribers are any indication of the upscale angling community at large and I am sure they are it is not clear that anglers want to rub shoulders with the kind of people Everlands wants to bring together namely, a cross section of the well-washed elite of the world who love nature. Most anglers, in my experience, want to schmooze with fellow anglers. That seems to be particularly true of fly fishermen.

A subscriber whose name I won’t use because I don’t have his permission nailed this issue so perfectly I can’t improve on it. He wrote the following, not about Everlands specifically, but about my idea of devoting space in the newsletter to retirement and second home opportunities:

As a long-term subscriber, as well as an Online Extra subscriber, please don’t waste space in The Angling Report writing about properties of this type and giving them free press coverage. Developments like this block access to fishing areas, ‘develop’ formerly pristine locations and give local populations the view that all fly fishers are snotty, rich, land-grabbing swine. Let the golf courses continue to hold that honor.

That same subscriber added this at the bottom of his letter. It’s a quote from the Hemingway short story, Big Two-Hearted River: Nick did not like to fish with other men on the river. Unless they were of your party, they spoiled it.

Piling on this way may not be fair to Everlands and the overall concept. It includes the noble idea of awarding a $1 million annual conservation prize, and it has formed an alliance with Trout Unlimited to do some stream work. No less a world personality than Richard Leakey, the paleontologist and conservationist has lent his name to the concept. So has John Heminway, a writer and filmmaker who carries the mysterious title, Explorer in Residence. The CEO of Everlands is Kenneth May, the former president of Disney Vacations. (Sorry about the unfortunate juxtaposition there.)

The defining element of Ever- lands may be its web site. You’ll have to look at it to understand what I mean. It could be the web site for United Colors of Benneton. It is image-marketing gone mad, with goofy fellows hopping over hay bales and pert stewardess-looking babes lining up to do something to a vintage fighter aircraft. What this has to do with Mangrove Cay and Bristol Bay Lodge is beyond my comprehension. Maybe you can figure it out? I’m open to additional comment on this.

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