In 1965, even as the bluegill was being proposed as the state fish in the Michigan House of Representatives, the adoption of the “trout” as the official fish of Michigan was being promoted in the Senate, sponsored by none other than State Senator Terry L. “Troutt.”
Seemingly destined for the position, the trout easily dominated the run for “officialdom” with the more significant lobbying effort. Present during the signing of the legislation in 1965 by Governor George Romney, were Dr. Don F. Woomer (Chairman of the Michigan Council for Trout Unlimited), Mary Louise Paxton of Traverse City (National Trout Queen), and Arthur Hutchings of Rochester (National Trout King).
When the time came to document the official fish in brochures and reference materials, it soon became apparent that a major shortcoming of the law was the legislation’s failure to specify a particular species of trout. Governor Romney referred this dilemma to the State Conservation Department and the Brook Trout was assigned the job.
The Conservation Department settled on the brook trout. According to a spokesperson for the department, referring to finalists in the selection process,
“Both are fine fish, and you can certainly make a strong argument for either one. Selection of the brook trout in no way puts the laker in an inferior light. Lake trout have made great contributions to Michigan’s commercial and sport fishing. The fact that so much money and effort are being expended to restore them in the Great Lakes is proof of the esteem in which they are held.
We had to choose, and the brookie seemed a little the better bet for this particular purpose.
Michigan fishermen are fortunate indeed to have so many species of trout – all of them excellent sport fish – available in the waters of their state. The brook trout will serve as a symbol for them all.”1
In 1988, the law was amended to officially recognize the “brook trout” as the “official fish of the State of Michigan.”
The following information was excerpted from the Michigan Revised Statutes, Chapter 2, Section 15.
Chapter 2 State
Section 2.15 STATE FISH
2.15 Brook trout as state fish; use of materials containing reference to trout.
(1) The brook trout is designated as the official fish of the state of Michigan.
(2) The state shall make use of all materials previously prepared that contain a reference to the trout as the official fish of the state before it prepares or has prepared new materials that contain a reference to the brook trout as the official fish of the state.
History: 1965, Act 58, Eff. Mar. 31, 1966 ;– Am. 1988, Act 5, Imd. Eff. Feb. 5, 1988