The choicest towns for angling

Jul 1, 2000
Outside Magazine
Saratoga, Wyoming
The Town: Though B&Bs and cowboy kitsch encroach, Saratoga's motto, "Where the trout leap on Main Street," was formalized this spring.
The Waters: With 6,000 miles of trout streams in Carbon County alone, you'll never run out. Drift the North Platte casting for browns and rainbows, wade the Encampment River in the Medicine Bow National Forest, or sneak up on wild golden and cutthroat trout in the Snowy Range's alpine lakes and creeks.
The Outfitter: Hack's Tackle and Outfitters, 307-326-9823

Helen, Georgia
The Town: Authentic Bavarian? Fälschung!But don't mind that—Helen puts you within 45 minutes of most of the trout in Georgia, and a goodly share of North Carolina's.
The Waters: Chase browns and rainbows on the upper Chattahoochee, or follow the 'Hoochee to its lower section just above Atlanta, which thanks to the Buford Dam has brown and rainbow hogs upwards of 12 pounds. Make across-border raids into North Carolina for the Nantahala and Hiwassee.
The Outfitter: Unicoi Outfitters, 706-878-3083

Pagosa Springs,Colorado
The Town: Fish the San Juan by day, hot-soak by night. Fish the Conejos by day, hot-soak by night. Fish the Piedra by day, hot-soak by night...
The Waters: The stretch of the San Juan that runs along Pagosa Street is stocked with 16-inch rainbows, a new feature this summer. Farther upstream, two branches of the river offer wilder rainbows and brook trout. To the north, the mountainous Weminuche Wilderness holds the choice Piedra River and countless streams.
The Outfitter: Matt Poma (guide), 970-731-6288; Ski and Bow Rack (flies), 970-264-2370

Coon Valley, Wisconsin
The Town: Weekdays, Coon Valley folks commute to jobs in La Crosse. Weekends, La Crosse anglers commute to Coon Valley.
The Waters: Hundreds of spring-fed streams wind along the bases of bluffs and through meadows in the hilly Coulee region. The waters, like Timber Coulee River and the West Fork of the Kickapoo River, vary from forest gushers to meandering grassland and support a mix of brown trout and native brookies.
The Outfitter: Spring Creek Angler, 608-452-3430

Rangeley, Maine
The Town: IGA supermarket? Check. Single-screen movie house? Check. Fish? Check plus.
The Waters: Landlocked salmon run from nearby Mooselookmeguntic Lake to a web of tributaries in summer, and salmon up to 22 inches long swim the Kennebago River as it tumbles from Maine's western reaches. The Rapid River rushes through spruce and birch and holds record four- to five-pound brookies. Waters up on the Appalachian Trail to the south hold Sunapee trout—a rare cousin of the blueback trout found only in a few Maine ponds.
The Outfitter: Bonnie Holding (guide), 207-246-4102; The Fly Box (flies), 207-864-5615

Cooper Landing, Alaska
The Town: With Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to the east and Cook Inlet to the west, the village's rugged backdrop is nearly as dramatic as the rainbows are ravenous.
The Waters: The Kenai and Russian Rivers are noted salmon runs but are fished for the hearty rainbow trout and Dolly Vardens that feed upon the salmon's eggs. In September, prime season, bring line for five- to ten-pound catch. Ten miles from town, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge's lakes and streams are choked with graylings.
The Outfitter: Nick Hallford (guide), 907-262-3979; Kenai Cache (flies and provisions), 907-595-1401

Edinburg, Virginia
The Town: Local pharmacist Harry Murray opened his fly shop in 1962, and D.C.'s angling politicos have been coming ever since.
The Waters: Stony Creek, a spring branch stocked with rainbows, browns, and brookies, chortles behind Murray's pharmacy-cum-fly-shop; he's taken 20 fish in a half hour. Ten minutes away, the Shenandoah River offers diversion in smallmouth bass. The adjacent George Washington National Forest courses with brook trout streams, and Shenandoah National Park is thick with perhaps the nation's densest population of mountain brook trout.
The Outfitter: Murray's Fly Shop, 540-984-4212

Fall River Mills, California
The Town: Home of the world's largest natural springs and your provisions. But fishing your way out of town is the real kick.
The Waters: California's most fabled rainbow streams—the McCloud, Pit, and Sacramento Rivers, and Hat Creek—all flow within an hour's drive. Pilot a flat-bottomed boat down the Fall River, famous for its 18-inch rainbows. Or wade the pools and runs of Hat Creek for trophy rainbows and browns.
The Outfitter: Art Teter (guide), 530-357-2825; Shasta Angler (flies), 530-336-6600

Hazelton, British Columbia
The Town: Gateway to the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush, gateway to steelhead today.
The Waters: As steelhead runs decline in the American Pacific states, the fishing only gets better here. All six species of Pacific salmon make spawning runs into the Coast Mountain tributaries each summer. Rainbow trout and Dolly Vardens are also common catches, and come September through November, steelhead make a grand finale.
The Outfitter: Wilfred Lee (guide), 250-842-5337; Oscar's Source for Sports (flies), 250-847-2136

Twin Bridges, Montana
The Town:
Not all of Montana has gone trendy. A no-crappucino affair, Twin Bridges is the local ranchers' stop for hat repairs and leatherwork—yours for fuel, food, and flies.
The Waters:
Big, and lots to choose from. Stalk rare native graylings and cutthroats in the Big Hole River to the west, wade the Ruby to the east, or cast into the world-class Beaverhead 30 miles southwest. Or fish right in town: "Last summer a ten-year-old kid—the little slimeball—pulled in a 24-inch brown from the highway bridge downtown," marvels fly-shop owner Scott Barber.
The Outfitter:
Four Rivers Fishing Company, 406-684-5651 

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