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TrtklrJuly 9th, 2008, 1:19 pm

Posts: 115
OK so I know this question will surely get a good response. And just to preface this I am single w/no kids and nothing to hold me back from moving. As you may or may not know I live in Michigan and I love it and we have some great fishing but I am just wondering what state you all believe to be have the BEST trout fishing?
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
McjamesJuly 9th, 2008, 2:04 pm
Cortland Manor, NY

Posts: 139
I think this debate was held on another thread on this website a while ago and the general consensus was:

I am haunted by waters
CaseyPJuly 9th, 2008, 2:14 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
ahem...take a 90 minute radius centered on Mercersburg, PA and you get the Little Juniata (PA), Gunpowder (MD), Shenandoah National Park (VA), Penns Creek, Falling Springs, Potomac, Yogh, Castleman, etc., etc. maybe not a real state, but it's an amazing State of Mind for an angler!

and to think when we picked that place it was for the skiing!
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
GONZOJuly 9th, 2008, 2:16 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
I hope you'll pardon me for seeming a bit flip, Scott, but I believe that the best trout fishing is always found in the state of Appreciation. Opinions will no doubt vary widely from one fly fisher to the next: Some love the consistent conditions and big fish found in many tailwaters, some prefer the similar (but more natural) consistency offered by limestone spring creeks, some like the purity of seeking unsophisticated little native trout in uncrowded headwaters, some relish the challenge of testing their skills against fussy pressured fish, and so on, and so on. As far as I'm concerned, it's all good.

That said, the variety found in your home state, from big salmonids running out of the Great Lakes to little natives haunting tiny rills, is pretty hard to beat. I guess the real question is "what kind of trout fishing do you enjoy most?"
LeakywadersJuly 9th, 2008, 8:20 pm
New England

Posts: 43
I was fishing with my brother last week, and he said: "It always looks like the fishing would be better from the other side of the river... but once you get over there it will look better on this side."

Its the same with states, and grass and fences.

An old story:
You can build a box around a jackass, ship him anywhere in the world, and when you open the crate he will still be a jackass.

While I was fishing with my brother in New Hampshire, a new state record Brown Trout was cought in my home state of Masschusettes.
Heeeee Hawwwwww
Drag free??? If the fly didn't drag, I wouldn't know where it was!!
TrtklrJuly 10th, 2008, 2:03 pm

Posts: 115
mcjames-I appreciate the post, I have relatives in ohio, all I can say is Ohio? uh?
caseyp-thats what I'm talking about, I've never fished pennsylvania I would imagine the area around the smokies would be good, and I've heard great things about PA
gonzo-you and I both know each state is not blessed equally for trout water. Second, I feel blessed just being on a stream, anytime, anywhere. I have said to friends, MI just may be one of the best states for trout fishing.
leakywaders-if you aren't happy where you are your nowhere, this I understand. part of me thinks the beauty of the majestic mountains and the streams of the west may be calling.
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
GONZOJuly 10th, 2008, 3:39 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Sorry, Scott. I didn't mean to imply that you don't appreciate the great trout fishing in your home state; I only meant that the "best" trout fishing is subjective and hard to quantify. By all means, if you feel the call of the West, then you should go if you can. I envy that freedom. Montana would be an obvious choice, but Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, California, and other western states all have outstanding trout fishing. I don't know how one would decide which is best, although trying to make a thorough comparison would be a lot of fun. In fact, if you don't mind sitting through long, cold, and dark winters, then you might want to hurry to Alaska before it is ruined. (Some say it's already ruined, but that was not my experience. Again, it can be pretty subjective.)
WbranchJuly 11th, 2008, 5:45 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
I've read many of the posts and as Gonzo so aptly mentioned the "best" state is very subjective. However I can say from over thirty years of personal experience there is nothing that can come close to comparing with Montana for just the sheer numbers of large wild trout, large number of first class trout rivers and streams and comparatively long good weather fishing seasons.

The only downside is that many non fisher type people have for some reason decided that Montana is the place to build a summer home and land and home prices have just skyrocketed over the last seven years.
It is very difficult to buy a two bedroom, one bath, two car garge home for less than $250K in any of the larger urban areas. As good as the trout fishing is I wouldn't want to live in some little one horse town where you have to drive thirty or forty miles to go grocery shopping or go out for dinner.

Here are the towns that I would recommend someone look into if they were considering moving to Montana and the rivers/streams within a one hour drive;

Helena - Missouri River, Boulder River, Prickly Pear Creek
Ennis - Madison River, South Fork Madison, Ruby River
Bozeman - Gallatin, East Gallation, private spring creeks
Dillon - Beaverhead, Bighole, Wise River
Livingston - Yellowstone, Shields, private spring creeks
Misssoula - Clarks Fork, Blackfoot, Rock Creek
West Yellowstone - (last choice) Madison River, Gibbon, Firehole, Lamar River, Slough Creek, Pelicon Creek, Lewis River, Henry's Fork of the Snake

The winters are probably less severe than you are currently experiencing especially if you bought a house down in the valleys of any of the cities I mentioned. I don't know what you would do for a living as Montana has very little manufacturing or technology based employment.

Caseyp - Aren't the rivers you mention in PA pretty much trout fisheries only because of planted hatchery fish? Not to mention the combat fishing that can often be found on the Yellow Breeches on seekends or anytime the White fly or Tricos are on the water. The Letort is overated and has not fished very well for decades, Big Spring is a misnomer since the flow rate is pathetic and the fish count is poor. While the Gunpowder is a pretty little stream and has, from what I've read, high counts of wild trout, and I have a MD license, the size of the average fish is considerably less than 12". It is an okay place to go when I can't go to the Catskills but I wouldn't recommend anyone to make it a destination trip if they lived in a state more than two hours away.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Shawnny3July 11th, 2008, 7:25 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
The best trout water: Whatever trout water I'm fortunate enough to find myself on. I know my trout-starved brothers from Texas would agree.

But, to answer the intent of the thread, I love Pennsylvania trout fishing. It may have far more people and generally smaller fish than out West, but there's something about catching a 13-inch brown that sees ten flies a day that really brings me satisfaction, and something about not catching that fish that keeps me coming back to try him again. I'm also an Eastern guy, and I can't see living anywhere else.


P.S. And if you find that old thread, I think you'll find the Ohio comment was a joke.
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
WyflyfishJuly 11th, 2008, 9:06 am

Posts: 2
Montana is pretty tough to beat! One thing about the Montana rivers is they are world renowned and written about in hundreds of fly-fishing magazines. Wyoming is also up there, although it is not as published. Wyoming has a variety of wild trout with several notable rivers such as the Platte, the Green, the Snake, the Bighorn, The Shoshone, and the Wind. If you are in to walking a bit, there is also some great mountain fishing for trout up to ten pounds. One thing that is nice for me, with little effort to get off of the beaten path, you are guaranteed to see more fish than people. Bottom line, the best trout waters, are personal preference! A bad day of fishing (anywhere) beats a good day at work!
CaseyPJuly 11th, 2008, 9:46 am
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
Caseyp - Aren't the rivers you mention in PA pretty much trout fisheries only because of planted hatchery fish?

nope...most of the ones i named have wild populations. The Little J gets fingerlings, and the Castleman and Yough and Penns are stocked, but there are wild fish too.
the other streams you name are probably famous because that's where the authors of famous books fished. famous doesn't always mean the best of all possible streams, but those guys found them convenient and amusing to fish. people make the same complaints about fishing the Catskill streams, too.
I wouldn't recommend anyone to make it a destination trip if they lived in a state more than two hours away.

me neither. it's great if you live here, though.
yeah, i go to Montana, but i have to confess that i go all that way to find small streams with elegant small trout, fewer trees in the backcast, and (mostly) less traffic noise. live there? not on a bet.
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Jjlyon01July 11th, 2008, 2:57 pm
SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse

Posts: 71
You are absolutely right. as the old, almost worn out quote goes, "You never know what you have 'til its gone". I think that quote fits the best. Although upstate New York does not have the best trout fishing and many times I leave the Battenkill cursing I will always return to my beloved trout streams in New York. I feel it is not the trout that count, but the memories you make that constitutes the best trout water.
"I now walk into the wild"
RleePJuly 11th, 2008, 4:39 pm
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
Hi Fellas... I've been away for a while. My Dad passed away this Winter and I've been kinda slow on the rebound. Virtually everything about me that is good came from my Dad, and he put a fishing rod in my hand for the first time when I was 3, beginning me on a lifetime journey of joy I would not have missed for the world.

I'll always miss him.

Anyway, this is the sort of thread that makes me happy to be back...

I liked what Lloyd had to say here:

"That said, the variety found in your home state, from big salmonids running out of the Great Lakes to little natives haunting tiny rills, is pretty hard to beat. I guess the real question is "what kind of trout fishing do you enjoy most?"

I don't think Pennsylvania has the very best fishing for anything, but I think it does have the sort of variety that most other states can only dream of having.

In terms of trout fishing, as a function of numbers of fish and average size, I have "better" trout fishing in Wisconsin than I ever had at home in PA. But in Wisconsin, I can't come off a limestone stream after a morning's outing and drive 15 minutes and be in the cool shade of a tumbling mountain freestone popping little wild brookies and browns.

I can do that in PA.

In my home PA turf in southern Erie County, within 45 minutes drive, I could fish in any of 4 of the top 10 (in terms of biomass)wild brown trout streams in the Allegheny drainage. Within the same 45 minutes, I could be on any of the Lake Erie steelhead streams, any of a dozen small lakes with good numbers of largemouth up to 5 lb (as well as spread-hand size bluegill and crappie, be throwing big-ass bunny buggers over 10 lb. pike in Presque Isle Bay and have my pick of a half dozen high quality smallmouth streams.

While there are lots of places where I can have better fishing to any one or two of the species above, I don't know any place with the same variety of good fisheries in such convenient proximity.

So, even though I've expanded the criteria beyond the scope of the original question, I vote for PA based on the variety.
TrtklrJuly 11th, 2008, 5:59 pm

Posts: 115
This was my intention from the start. saying one stream is better than another is like saying one flower is prettier than the other. I wanted to hear what you all felt was the best and why you felt that way. will it determine a clear winner, no probably not but it certainly helps. I don't know if I'll ever leave michigan I still haven't explored the u.p yet. I got a plan to move north in my state and then maybe out west.
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
GONZOJuly 11th, 2008, 7:29 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
If Scott's thread does nothing else, it surely confirms that fly fishers have many different ideas of what constitutes the "best" trout fishing. Nothing wrong with that. If we all had the same notion of excellent water, then we'd probably all be standing in the same stream with no room left for the trout.

Just for giggles, I thought I'd provide a slightly different perspective on the famous Central PA streams that Wbranch mentioned. On one hand, I'm inclined to agree that the Letort, Big Spring, and Falling Spring probably aren't as good as they once were. But nailing down exactly when those halcyon days were is also very subjective. It's easy to look back on the good old days through a pair of rose-colored binoculars that make things look grander and cheerier than they really were.

These days, we may not hear much about legendary fish like Ed Shenk's "Old George," or Ed Koch's 9 lb. Letort brown on a dry fly, or, the most legendary of them all, Don Martin's monster 15 1/2 lb. brown from the former Blue Hole at the head of Big Spring. But we should also remember that Marinaro famously characterized the Letort as a stream where a good day could involve catching a single fish. He also wrote (back in 1950) that half of the Letort was unsuitable for trout due to pollution. And yet there were still brook trout in the cress-beds at the head of the Letort in those days. When A Modern Dry-Fly Code was reissued at the beginning of the '70s, Marinaro bemoaned the loss of his beloved mayfly hatches:

It is difficult for me to believe that such enormous changes could take place so rapidly in such a short space of time (hardly a decade) on waters that bore magnificent hatches of fly for thousands or even millions of years.

Today, the hatches still don't match those of Marinaro's recollection, and the stream has certainly endured other catastrophic pollution events, like the pesticide contamination in 1981 that many thought would toll a death knell for this historic stream. But, it is also no longer true that half of the stream is unsuitable for trout, and some stretches hold far more wild trout now than they ever did in Marinaro's day. In stark contrast to most other famous streams, the fishing pressure that Marinaro complained about in 1950 is probably not much heavier on the Letort today. Partly, that is due to Marinaro's masterful job of convincing anglers that catching Letort trout required supernatural skill. I often wonder if visiting anglers who come to see the legend are disappointed by finding a little, mostly urbanized creek or if they are just intimidated by its reputation. Either way, few spend the time to figure out how to fish it.

I have seen good and bad on the Letort over the years, but it has always been a stream that held a few big fish in some sections and lots of smaller fish in others. Personally, my favorite part is one of the less popular, small-fish sections. When I was still living in Boiling Springs, I fished that short stretch 14 times in 2004 and 2005, catching 208 wild browns and 1 wild rainbow, for an average of just under 15 trout per visit. I never had to worry about a skunking, and some days I was only on the water for an hour or so. In Marinaro's day, that section held no trout at all. I never spent a day on the Letort in those seasons when I didn't feel fortunate to have wild trout water so close to home. Given all it has been through and the rampant development that surrounds it, I still think the Letort is a pretty special place. But that's just me, and I can easily understand that it might not appeal to everyone. I know that some fly fishers take one look at it and think someone must be playing a joke on them. "C'mon," one guy said to me, "you can't expect me to believe that ditch is the famous Letort!" Different strokes....

PS--My sincere sympathies on your dad's passing, Lee. But welcome back; you've been missed around here.
WbranchJuly 11th, 2008, 7:51 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
caseyp wrote -

"the other streams you name are probably famous because that's where the authors of famous books fished."

Yes, in part they are "famous" and well known due to the articles that have been written about them. But why do you think the articles were written? To tell people to come and catch a zillion dopey hatchery fish that were fed liver pellets or to come and fish for wild trout in beautiful surroundings with great mayfly, stonefly and/or caddis fly hatches.

They are "famous" because guys like me and many other's who frequent these forums go there and have an awesome experience and tell our friends about the rivers, the size of the fish, the (you name the type) great dry fly, nymphing, hatches, water types, scenery, etc.

There are many places in Montana for guys like me who prefer to target large trout on small flies, in very technical settings, and then there are guys like you who just love the smaller, intimate streams and creeks, where you might have to walk in a couple of miles and get to catch those little jewels with all the colors of the most imaginative artist.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
GONZOJuly 11th, 2008, 8:27 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
OK, guys, I guess I'll broach this subject publicly, even though I run the risk of embarrassment either way. But perhaps I can save others from the same embarrassment. Unless I am sadly mistaken, I believe that our good friend Casey is actually a she. If I am wrong, boy is my face red; but if I am right, then I apologize for all the times I must have used the wrong personal pronouns.
WbranchJuly 12th, 2008, 2:01 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Whatever, his/her gender is unimportant to me.

"famous doesn't always mean the best of all possible streams, but those guys found them convenient and amusing to fish. people make the same complaints about fishing the Catskill streams, too."

I don't understand this comment?? I find Caseyp's comments amusing in their naivete'. Whose complaining about the Catskill streams? Why in the world would anyone complain about a place where you can reach any one of five of the best trout streams and rivers in the East within forty-five minutes if you are based in Roscoe, NY?

The main stem Delaware is not stocked with trout by NY or PA. However both states stock tributaries to the main stem so it is probable that some stocked fish will migrate into the main stem. However the bulk of the hundred plus trout I catch every year are wild browns and rainbows of 14" - 23". There has been no trout stocking on the West Branch Delaware for at least a decade. This river would easily be equal to any Montana river if there was a constant flow of 500 - 600 cfs maintained throughout the Spring and Summer.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Aaron7_8July 13th, 2008, 9:42 am
Helena Montana

Posts: 115
Hello everyone;
Just thought I would add my two cents or is it sense? I am flattered that you hold my state in such high esteem we are very lucky to live in a state with so many great trout streams. While we have great resources the climate and remoteness of our state make it unfavorable for a large population due to the absense of quality high paying jobs. You really have to want to live in Montana to be here. You have a higher population on the east coast which means more polution, more jobs, more money. Which has degraded your water quality and suitable trout streams. The bit about high real estate prices is very true mainly due to the fact of transplants selling their houses out of state and building huge houses here for relitively low cost. However there is a place in southwestern MT that does have low prices on housing and drving distance of many of the fabled trout streams, Butte MT it is at the junction of I-15 and I-90. Within ninety minutes you could be on the Jefferson, the Big Hole, the Madison, the Gallitin, the Clark Fork is just out your door, the Blackfoot, Rock Creek, the Bitteroot, the Missouri, and countless other small trout streams with just as good fishing but without the traffic.
Far be it from me however to put any of these streams above yours, I have never fished your home stream. I have found that I personally have the best fishing on streams that I take te time to learn not necissarily the most storied waters. Because what is the basic truth about fish stories???? My biggest cutthroat and brown has been caught not on a famous stream but on one where I can fish a mile of stream and not see another person on it that day. But that is my preference, solitude over reputation.
I guess what this non sensical rant has been about is you just take the good with the bad in a trout stream just like you do in life. You have to evaluate what you want with what it takes to get it.
WbranchJuly 13th, 2008, 12:42 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Aaron wrote -

"Which has degraded your water quality and suitable trout streams."

That statement is true for many waters that are near to major cities and metro areas but quite untrue for waters like the East Branch of the Delaware which according to some has the most pure drinking water coming out of any of the NYC reservoirs. Most of the Catskill waters must have reasonalby clean water for them to support as many wild fish and holdover stocked fish as they do.

Now I don't want to impinge on Aaron comment too much but if you notice Butte was not anywhere in my list of favored cities that are near good trout water??

Why would you think that is? Might it be because one of the top ten Super Fund sites in the entire United States is located right smack dab in the middle of Butte City. The Anaconda open pit copper mine is super polluted with mine tailings.

The upper sections of the Clark Fork are the home to old tailing ponds that are severely polluted and the upper stream itself is only finally now starting to show some signs that years of remedial work are beginning to bear fruit.

Most of the other Montana cities have shown nice growth over the last thirty or more years. Some have shown too much growth if you lived there now you'd probably say that Bozeman has really become crowded. I looked at home prices in Butte and yes there are some great deals to be had there if you want to live in a very old city with some serious water quality problems.

Did you know that the river in "A river Runs Through it" was the Blackfoot but at the time of the filming the Big Blackfoot was so polluted that the decision was made to film the fishing scenes on the Gallatin?
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.

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