American Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing Afoot in the Porkies
By Nathan Perkinson
All photos by Kyra Perkinson

Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park, MI (Bass)

Smallmouth bass are prime targets throughout the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, especially during the warm summer months. The Big Carp and Presque Isle Rivers are the best bets for bronzebacks. All photos by Kyra Perkinson

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, affectionately known as “the Porkies,” is a 60,000-acre tract of woods and water located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). Over half of the forest in this preserve has never seen the saw blades of loggers, making the park home to one of the largest tracts of virgin hardwood forest in the United States. That this awe-inspiring stand of timber has survived untouched is a minor miracle, considering that the state park wasn’t established until 1945.

The Porkies offers a wide variety of fly-fishing opportunities, with something to suit every angler’s taste. Native brook trout inhabit the small mountain creeks. Feisty smallmouth bass prowl the lower streams and many of the park’s hidden lakes. Lake-run steelhead, smallmouth bass, and northern pike lurk in the lower stretches of the Presque Isle River. Not enough? You can also explore more than 20 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, and the only way to reach it is by foot.

In fact, the main mode of transportation in the Porkies is your own two feet. The park has three primary roads. Michigan State Trunkline Highway 107 (107th Engineers Memorial Highway) enters the park from the east and goes as far as Lake of the Clouds. South Boundary Road is the only road that crosses the entire park, running more than 30 miles through the woods rather than along the lakeshore, and connecting with County Road 519 on the western end of the park near the Presque Isle River. The park has more than 90 miles of hiking trails, and the roads are basically conduits that take you to different trailheads. In a few places, you can find drive-up fishing opportunities, but for the most part you need to hike to earn your fish.