Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Greatest State Debate

big king from an unsung river
 Looks like Kirk Deeter over at Field and Stream has opened a can of (San Juan) worms with his blog post "FlyTalk Picks the 12 Best States for Flyfishing in the U.S.A.".  In this post he puts Michigan at the top of the pile- a ranking I approve and agree with.
Now Alex Cerveniak weighs in with his rebuttal, listing New York first, Florida second, then Michigan.

While it may be early to reply to this, as he plans to expand on this in coming days, I think I will anyhow.

In Michigan the furthest point from surface water is six miles.  Michigan has what is perhaps the most diverse fishery in the U.S.- 12,000 plus miles of trout stream, 120 streams managed for steelhead, naturally returning chinook and coho fisheries, coaster brook trout, lake run browns, one of which recently brought the world record back to Michigan.  Go check out Kelly Neuman's pictures of the lake trout and monster browns he gets throwing streamers in Lake Huron- the diversity of fishing in this state goes on and on.  Is the Au Sable the only trout stream in Michigan?  Granted, it is a fantastic and fabled hydra of a river, but the Manistee, Muskegon and Pere Marquette are nothing to sneeze at and hold large populations of large resident fish.  There are dozens of unsung rivers scattered all over the state- I find fantastic fishing wherever I go, all I have to do is get away from the access points.  Michigans Upper Peninsula has fishing that may never get fully explored, and rather than being all cedar swamp as he suggests, there are a number of streams that do flow through low mountains, or at least bear that resemblance.  I haven't even gotten to the warm water species.  There are areas on the Lake Michigan coast that hold monster smallmouth that will NEVER be fished- the coast is too remote and the surf too rough.  Grand Traverse Bay flats fishing for carp is world class- beautiful crystalline water, hordes of large fish that are just shy enough to make it a challenge, but plentiful enough to make it fun. Pike, muskie, largemouth, 'gills, white bass. Want Atlantic salmon? Call Brad Petzke and fish the St Mary's river with him.

In the end, I think it's truly difficult to compare states.  Choosing between Michigan and North Dakota is easy, comparing it to a state with such a similar fishery like New York is much more difficult.  When you consider all of the criteria Field and Stream used, including a fly fishing heritage that gave rise to Trout Unlimited, you understand their ranking.  New York is a great state to fly fish- I would love to toss the salt for stripers and bluefish.  I still think Michigan has it in spades.

Sorry Alex, I disagree.

this ain't no cedar swamp


  1. Very much looking forward to my visit in July. Sounds like I'll have a hard time not finding good fishing.

  2. I ran a similar post today. I'm going with Alaska first, followed by Montana, then Florida and then Michigan. Michigan still rocks, but Alaska has the most native, wild fish of any state.

  3. @Jay- make sure you let me know when you're coming. July is a busy month (already) but we should at least meet up and I can point you in the right direction.

    @mystic- very good point, worthy of consideration, I think the accessibility factor affected F&S' decision. I'm headed over to read your post right now.

  4. I think each state has it's own special mystique. It's hard to classify one as THE BEST! For me, Alaska is top on my bucket list, followed by Montana. I'll get to Michigan eventually...

  5. Thanks, Jason. I'll be there the 7th and 8th which will be a rather brief trip, but maybe we can meet up one of those days.

  6. Yahoo for Meeeeechhiigan!! Thanks Jason :)

  7. @ Stephanie- I don't think anyone puts Michigan on their bucket list, which is a shame really. You need to experience the Great Lakes, esp. the Upper Peninsula at least once. I understand the draw of your other two choices and I have a trip to AK in the works.