Posted by: Kath Usitalo | April 21, 2009

Fishing for Fun


A Michigan native, Ritch Branston fish that we caught in Rapid River (see note below)

We caught this Ritch Branstrom fish, which is native to Michigan, in Rapid River (see note below)

Excitement is running high among fishers or fisherpersons (fishermen is so un-PC) for the opening of Michigan’s inland stream trout season on April 25.  Anglers are counting the days until they can spend hours standing knee-deep in water, casting, casting, casting… trying to outwit brown and brook trout. And when they’re not fishing, many of them will be hunched over well-lit tables scattered with feathers, wire, beads, and other secret ingredients (the tables, not the fishers will be scattered with…oh, never mind). Anyway, they’ll be creating imitation bugs designed to trick the fish into thinking the handmade insects are delicious.

Take a look at the scenery where the fish live and you’ll understand an appealing aspect of trout fishing in Michigan: with 16 National Wild and Scenic Rivers, the state trails only Alaska and Oregon in the number of waterways that “possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values.” Michigan’s streams are rated as “best in the Midwest” by those who know about such things.

Learning to tie flies and how to use them has been on my To Do list for many years. It’s not that I’m an accomplished fisherman (oops, guess I’m not PC, either), though I have been salmon fishing on a couple of Lake Michigan charter trips and landed two whoppers (fish, not lies). I did take pleasure in claiming those catches, but with all the high tech gear on those boats it would have been nearly impossible to head home without dinner.

Fly-fishing in a stream seems to be more challenging and, maybe it’s because I know nothing about the sport, I find it fascinating. I occasionally browse the Take Me Fishing Web site just because it has lots of easy-to-digest information, not to mention good graphics—and if I ever really get motivated to fish I’ll have a little bit of knowledge (which, I know, is dangerous). Our son Graham is now interested in learning about the sport; I trust he’ll act on it sooner than I will. Hey, maybe it will become a mother-son activity. A mom can dream.

Whether you fish or not, you can get in on the fin fun at a couple of festivals this week: the National Trout Festival kicks-off in Kalkaska, home of the 11-foot trout, April 22-26. Across the state the Freeland Walleye Festival takes over the weekend of April 24-26.

Vintage "Reel Thrill" postcard sends "Greetings from Hilliards, Mich." I've never been to Hilliards but does anyone else think that the terrain looks more like Pennsylvania, where the card was printed.

Vintage "Reel Thrill" postcard sends "Greetings from Hilliards, Mich." I've never been to Hilliards (elevation 702'), which was named for lumberman Lonson Hilliard, so correct me if I'm wrong: I think the terrain looks more like Pennsylvania, where the card was printed, than the area around Grand Rapids.

Mark your calendar…

…for Michigan’s statewide Free Fishing Weekend, June 13-14, 2009. No fishing license required, but fishing regulations do apply.

Women can learn all about fishing, including fly tying and casting, as well as a choice of other outdoor activities at the Becoming An Outdoors-Woman (hey isn’t that un-PC?) session June 5-7 at Big Bay in the UP.

*THE BRANSTROM FISH: Artist Ritch Branstrom creates all sorts of creatures from found objects, such as this fish from a pineapple juice can. He has a series of beer can fish, too. His Adhoc Workshop is in Rapid River, east of Gladstone and Escanaba in the UP. You’ll see more of him and his art here in the near future.




  1. Okay, this is getting to be a regular thing with us … I was just wondering when my next fishing trip will be moments before I read this blog.

    Now, when are we next synchronizing our thoughts?

  2. We’ll surprise ourselves!

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