It was only a matter of time before Forbes Magazine came out with its list of "Top 10 Fly Fishing Towns," seeing as how the magazine has resorted to this kitschy technique to drive online readers for the last decade or so.
I remember, as the former editor of the daily newspaper in Pocatello, Idaho, a few years back, when Poky made the magazine's list of top small cities in which to do business. It's an honor, certainly, and Pocatello is perhaps the most underrated small city in the Northwest. But after the city appeared on the list a few years in a row, I caught onto Forbes' gimmick. By naming Pocatello and other small cities across the country (Sioux Falls and even Duluth) as great places to do business, the magazine essentially assured itself of some free advertising (which chamber of commerce president ISN'T going to put that in the relocation guide?) and tons of regional web traffic. Lists are gold mines in the Internet Age. Simple as that.
So back to the latest Forbes list--the best fly fishing towns in America. It's pretty predictable, but also a bit wacky. Sure, Missoula and West Yellowstone made the list, as they should have. So did Glenwood Springs (I'm sure the folks in Aspen are PISSED). Then there's Grayling, Mich., which the magazine incorrectly identifies as the "birthplace of Trout Unlimited--TU was founded in Traverse City--and Roscoe, N.Y. Also appearing on the list is Asheville, N.C., and State College, Penn. Redding, Calif., made the list, presumably because of the Sacramento River running through town. Mountain Home, Ark., thanks to its trophy tailwaters, is on the list, and then, in a tip of the cap to our Canuk friends, Calgary made the Top 10.
So, two in Montana, one in Colorado, two in the South, one in the Midwest, two back east, one in California, and one in Canada.
Folks... this isn't a Top 10 list. It's a geographically skewed advertising ploy performed deftly by a savvy media machine--Forbes. While places like Rosco and Asheville have their fly fishing charm, should they really rate in the Top 10? Think about the 10 places on your list of "some day" fly fishing destinations in North America. If Asheville's on your list, your priorities are whacked. Granted, there are native brookies (and you know how we feel about brookies, right?), but if you'd rather fish near Asheville than, say, Gunnison, Colo., or Idaho Falls, Idaho, or even Reno, Nev., then you need to get out more.
And the list is skewed completely toward trout. There are great places to fly fish for other species that will put a deeper bend in your fly rod than trout--how about Islamorada? Corpus Christi? Cabo? All are officially in North America. Oh, and there's that one place ... up north ... Alaska.
Don't be fooled by Forbes and its lists--they're great for the towns on which they shine light, but if you're itching to make travel plans, you have better options.