Whether you’re fishing or catching, Mich. is best for both

With four of the five Great Lakes, rivers, ponds and other bodies of water peppered all over our mitten, there is water seemingly within reach no matter where you cast your line in the state of Michigan.
Which is why fishing is one of the best things to do in our state and one of my favorite pastimes.
Now, catching is an entirely different thing.
A wise older man on a charter, heading out on Lake Michigan, once told me: “I can promise great fishing today. I didn’t say anything about catching.”
And that’s what keeps anglers throughout the state going out on the water, or standing on the shore, or throwing a bobber and a hook from a bridge. There is always great fishing, and sometimes there is great catching, but those are two very different things. With a rod in your hand and sitting in the boat, you are fishing. But when you actually bring in a fish, then you are catching. But all fans of the activity are always on the prowl for the right combination of both as nothing is promised and nothing is given. Which means the challenge is always there.
Chances are, in this state, fishing and catching will mostly likely go hand in hand. With over 150 species of fish, 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, thousands of miles of rivers and streams and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan is one of the premier places in the country to fish.
Many Michiganders know that, wherever you are in the state, you are never more than six miles from a body of water. So pick a direction, grab your tackle box and start walking or driving … chances are you’ll be fishing soon.
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Growing up, for many of us, it is part of life here. A parent takes a son or daughter out to a local fishing hole, sets their hook for the first time, and shows them how to cast. Then, that young angler has a hobby that they can do for a lifetime and someday, maybe, teach their son or daughter the same thing.
Being from the middle of the state, catching sunfish and bluegill at Graham Lake, or Beadle Lake, as a child is still fresh in my memory. Your lake of choice is probably very similar, a funny-sounding name, plenty of fish to be had, and maybe even more “grass snakes” to get your hook caught on, interrupting your day for a bit while you untangle the weeds.
Then, memories race to spending some of my college days killing some early evening hours after class on the Grand River near Lansing, mostly hooking carp, which didn’t help fill the frying pan, but still was fun.
Then there were the best times, after settling in with a family, being on the Battle Creek River and Kalamazoo River with my own kids, wondering if they were having even half as much fun fishing as I was watching them.
It was always about enjoying some peace and quality time on the water. But there was always the goal of bringing in that fish that later you can say, I caught one “this big,” with hands stretched out wide.
How big? Well several fish caught in Michigan have impressive histories and records that have lasted generations.
According to the state record books, the largest Lake Trout was 61½ pounds and was hooked in Lake Superior in 1997. The biggest carp was the same 61½ pounds and was caught on Wolf Lake in Jackson County. That record has stood since 1974. And there must have been something in the water in 1974, because the record for biggest Lake Sturgeon is 193 pounds, caught on Mullet Lake in Cheboygan County, also in 1974.
I wouldn’t expect anything like those fish to come out of the water the next time you throw a line in, but landing a nice 21-inch bass will keep the fish stories going for most of us for a while.
So whether you are fishing, or lucky enough to do some catching, as we play out the rest of the summer and into the fall, be grateful that you get to do both in Michigan – maybe the state best equipped to experience the sport in the U.S.
Contact Bill Broderick (269) 966-0678 or bbroderi@battlecreekenquirer.com. Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick.