There are many fly-fishing schools where you can join the streamside version of a group aerobics class and learn the basics of casting as well as how to tell a mayfly from a fruit bat. But fly-fishing, at its heart, is a solitary sport, or something you do with a friend, spouse, or child, and is best taught one-on-one. Tom Akstens holds a Ph.D. in English studies; teaches Shakespeare in film at Siena College; and is one of the most knowledgeable, skilled, and passionate anglers I have ever met. (At six foot six, he is also the tallest.) His classes for one or two people include casting, streamcraft, and flytying and cover everything from beginning to advanced techniques. With access to the Schroon River, the west branch of the Ausable (one of my favorites), numerous Adirondack ponds and lakes, and the little-fished upper Hudson, Akstens teaches on very picturesque waters. If you want to skip school and just fish, he also offers guided fishing trips for trout and smallmouth -- this last an often-overlooked but magnificent game fish on the fly rod. Bring your gear or use his. Canoe and Adirondack guide-boat float trips are also available. Tom lives in Bakers Mills, about five hours from the city, and there's lodging at the nearby Highwinds Inn, a very tasteful mountaintop lodge with four guest rooms and an ambitious and well-executed menu.
DETAILS Tom Akstens (518-251-2217; Akstens@aol.com; one-day session, $150; two-day, $200; discount available for sessions with two anglers); Highwinds Inn (518-251-3760, www.highwindsinn.com; $92 per guest, includes dinner and breakfast).