October 29, 2009
Nominate the Best Fly Fishing State in America
By Kirk Deeter
Every now and then I dabble in the dangerous editorial waters of trying to write about subjective topics like the Best Fishing Towns in America... which usually makes me a temporary chamber of commerce hero in a few places, and a full-blown idiot in others (I'm not bringing this up to remind the good folks of Cody, Wyoming, to re-start the E-mail campaign)...
So now I'm going to share the heat. I'm interested in how the Fly Talk Nation would rank the best fly fishing STATES in America.
Oh, I have some opinions, but don't let them sway you. Feel free to agree or disagree and mix in a few of your own (as if that's ever been an issue).
Highlighting my list would be:
Florida. Pros: Think about all the myriad species to be caught on the fly in Florida, from tarpon and snook, to bass and panfish. Fly fishing isn't, after all, only about trout. Cons: You cannot catch trout on a fly in Florida, and despite what I just said, the best fly fishing state should at least offer some trout fishing, yes?
Montana. Pros: Wild, brawling rivers, beautiful fish, a strong fly-cultural tradition, and wide-open spaces made available by enlightened stream access laws. Cons: That November-April thing.
New York. Pros: The Catskills. Cradle to the tradition. Babbling brooks teeming with mayflies... oh, and don't forget that striper thing happening on Long Island. Cons: High probability of encountering a Yankee fan on the water.
Michigan. Pros: Another cradle of tradition... after all, this is where the first brown trout was introduced in America, it's where Trout Unlimited started, and you're never far from a fishable river or lake. Add to that the steelhead scene, and it's hard to top the Enchanted Mitten. Cons: That November-April thing.
Oregon. Pros: Start with the sea-run fish, the cutthroats, the steelhead and salmon, then work your way east to include trout rivers, and smallmouth bass waters. Cons: Bring a raincoat, at least along the coast.
Alaska. Pros: Leopard rainbows, char, grayling, and the most prolific salmon runs in the world. Cons: Not exactly a weekend destination for most folks.
Sure, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah deserve some props. Pennsylvania and North Carolina also. Louisiana (how could I forget Louisiana?)... and Texas. Of course. California... yes you have everything there, from stripers to trout, to tuna, to massive largemouth bass. Washington. Hmmmmm. Tough decision. But where should legitimately, honestly, rank as the best fly fishing state in America?