Wisconsin Driftless Region - Viroqua
Photo: Dave Karczynski

How to do a Trout Town: Viroqua, Wisconsin

How to plan your first (or next) trip to the Driftless

Sometimes you go fishing to get away from everything and everyone—Patagonia if you've got the coin, your local backcountry if you’ve got the tent. Other times you want to kick it in a trout town full of good food, local drink, and s. fontinalis graffiti in the alleys. If it’s the latter you seek, and you live somewhere between Paradise Valley and the Poconos, you’re probably within driving shot of one of my very favorite trout towns, Viroqua, Wisconsin.

Patagonia - Traful River Fly Fishing
Crossing the Traful River (photo: Chad Shmukler).

Steeped in Patagonia's north

Touring northern Patagonia's famed rivers and estancias in search of more than just trout

It was quite the juxtaposition, honestly. Not exactly what I had in mind for my first fishing trip to Argentina, but then, the whole experience had been somewhat surprising.

There I was, casually sitting in the back seat of a Toyota Hilux next to a waifish equestrian from Pennsylvania, a tumbler of iced Irish whiskey in hand, when the first shot from the 30-06 erupted in the night. The horsewoman quickly levitated into my lap and, from outside the truck’s cabin I heard a spirited Scotsman exclaim, “Great shot, Orek! I’m sure there’s another one up there.”

Limay River Brown Trout - Patagonia, Argentina
A fish, and moment, almost lost to miserly and sloppy planning (photo: Earl Harper).

Fly fishing travel: don't be stupid

You've been waiting for this trip for a long time, don't screw it up

When you've been dreaming of visiting and fly fishing Patagonia for as long as you can remember, and have finally made the commitment to do so, excitement can reach a fever pitch during the last few days leading up to the trip. We'd planned to arrive in Buenos Aires on the 30th, spend a day exploring the city, and hop a flight to San Martin de los Andes the following day on the 31st, where our Patagonian fishing adventure would begin.

The Yellowstone River as seen from the Hellroaring Creek trail
The Yellowstone River as seen from the Hellroaring Creek trail (photo: Chad Shmukler).

Leaving the road behind in Yellowstone

A series of incredibly good decisions

Although we expected the hike in from the Hellroaring Creek trailhead to eat up around five to six hours, it wasn’t more than a half hour into the hike when, imagining that a vista worth taking in lay at its edge, we broke from the trail to wander up through a stand of scrub pine to the lip of a small ridge. Upon doing so, we caught our first glimpse of the Yellowstone River, coursing through the canyon below.

Pink Salmon
A pink salmon, or "humpy", makes its way up river to spawn (photo: B. Finestone).

Prince of Wales

It might just be Alaska's best kept fly fishing secret

For a remote Alaskan island being made famous by the latest in reality show kitsch, this place is actually pretty easy to get to, all things considered.

Yes, the funky community of Port Protection—the subject the National Geographic Channel’s newest Alaska-based reality show depicting the challenging nature of daily life in the middle of a watery nowhere—rests at the northern tip of Prince of Wales Island and remains accessible only by boat or float plane, but you might be surprised just how easy life can be on the island’s sophisticated, if a bit rustic, road system.

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