Posted by: Kath Usitalo | April 23, 2010

Trout Fever Grips Michigan

The State Fish in Kalkaska, home of the National Trout Festival

At last, with the opening of trout season this weekend fishermen can wade into their form of liquid bliss and brush up on their stories about the one that got away.

When I think of fly fishing I remember one particular outing, a wonderful afternoon and evening last summer on the Boardman River south of Traverse City.

Okay, it is the only attempt I’ve made at the sport and it was more a celebration of the food, wine, and recreation of Northern Michigan than the fly fishing classes taught by certified instructor David McCool.

Dining on the Fly involved Dave’s instruction, the sipping of several products of Bowers Harbor Vineyards, hands-on casting hip-deep in the cool river water, more wine and wine stories from Bowers Harbor’s Spencer Stegenga, and a gourmet dinner prepared on the riverbank by Chef Eric Nittolo of The Boathouse Restaurant on Bowers Harbor.

I wrote about Dining on the Fly last June; check it out and then treat yourself to a memorable, Pure Michigan experience. Dining on the Fly would make a great Mother’s or Father’s Day gift, too.

Dining on the Fly Chef Eric Nittolo whips up a memorable, white tablecloth meal on portable burners at the Boardman River's edge

Just how how serious is Michigan about trout?

-It’s the official state fish.
-The state has more than 12,000 miles of trout streams, 800 of which are classified “Blue Ribbon.”
-The international conservation organization Trout Unlimited was founded here in 1959
-The National Trout Festival, a celebration in Kalkaska since 1935, runs through Sunday and includes fly tying and casting demonstrations, fishing contests, a Grand Parade, fireworks, and pig roast (doesn’t every fishing festival have one?).

A Bowers Harbor Vineyards toast to trout

But wait, there’s more! Michigan trout celebrations don’t stop in Kalkaska:

June 11-12: Baraga County Lake Trout Festival, Baraga

July 16-25: 36th Annual Brown Trout Festival, Alpena

July 21-25: 54th Troutarama, Baldwin

And we haven’t even touched on the bass, perch, walleye and Fish Sandwich festivals.


  1. I shall forward this post to my Ricky – who was so excited yesterday with the (finally!) arrival of trout season. It’s good to see joy in the simple pleasures of life!

    • Yes! I know how much this weekend means to those who fish.

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