What To Do With Winter Blues

By now most of us have probably given up the ghost and accepted the fact that the trout opener is still several months away. Now’s a great time to re-load the fly box, repair broken gear or replace worn-out waders, boots, or rods.

‘Tis also the season for fishing expos and fly tying classes. Here’s a quick rundown of what to do until it’s  time to wet a line…

Fishing Expos/Demonstrations

icebreaker ad

Southern Wisconsin Trout Unlimited Icebreaker, January 17, 2015. A long-running tradition for Madison-area anglers, SWTU is again hosting the Icebreaker the third Saturday in January at the Promega Center in Fitchburg. Mike Lawson, from Henry’s Fork Anglers, and author of Spring Creeks, is the featured speaker, but I think the real special guest of the event is Henry Cyrns. I met young Henry nearly two years ago right after he first began tying flies, and even back then his skills were evident. He has since become a fantastic tier– not just for his age, but for anybody.

The Icebreaker will also showcase many, many master tiers doing their art, a Trout 101 program, a kid’s activity room, and more than 50 raffle and silent auction prizes– including a football signed by the 2014 Green Bay Packers. Cost is $10, vets are free. See swtu.org for more details.

(Full disclosure: I am actively involved with SWTU and serve on their executive board.)


Badger Fly Fishers Spring Opener, February 14, 2015. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than drag your significant other to the Spring Opener? The other major fly fishing expo from the other major fishing club in the Madison area, the Spring Opener will return in mid-February at a brand-new location in the American Family Insurance Training  Center in Madison. Featured speaker Craig Mathews will be discussing fishing in Yellowstone as well as the use of Tenkara rods.

A few things help  distinguish the Spring Opener from the Icebreaker: 1) there is the added element of commercial exhibits showcasing fishing gear in addition to tying demos and the auction; and 2) the evening banquet which follows the event itself.  Another great event to whet your angling appetite. See Badger Fly Fishers website for all the details.

(Full disclosure: I am not actively involved with Badger but think they are a fantastic organization that puts on a great Opener.)

Madison Fishing Expo, February 27-March, 2015. In truth there’s not much going on here for fly fishers or tiers, but still plenty of opportunities to connect with other anglers and learn about new fishing opportunities in the Madison area and elsewhere. It does appear that local legend John “Pink Squirrel” Bethke will be there Friday to discuss fly fishing in the Driftless area.

Plus, last year I got to meet Dan Small of Outdoor Wisconsin fame. So that was totally worth it.

Cost is $10, kids 14 and under are free. Visit the Madison Fishing Expo website for full schedule and exhibitor list.

(Full disclosure: Dan Small  is my co-hero, alongside Robin Yount.)

Fly Tying Classes

Southern Wisconsin Trout Unlimited Fly Tying I and Fly Tying II classes, starting January 15, 2015. SWTU puts on two different clinics during the winter to get burgeoning fly tiers up-and-running. Fly Tying I is intended for the novice, and Fly Tying II for those who  already have a solid foundation for fly tying. One class is taught in Fitchburg, the other in Sun Prairie, but the scheduling is the same: classes meeting Thurdays from 7PM to 9PM beginning January 15, 2015 and continuing for eight consecutive weeks. By the end of Fly Tying I a student will have learned to tie seventeen (!) different dry and wet/nymph flies. Best of all, the CLASSES ARE FREE so long as you bring the most basic of fly tying tools with you (see their website for the tool list). Registration ends January 11, but from what I understand the Fitchburg class is already filled and Sun Prairie may soon be as well, so don’t dawdle! All the information you need can be found on the SWTU Fly Tying website.

Orvis Madison Fly Tying 101 classes, January 17-February 28. So I’ll be upfront about this: I work here. In fact, I’m in charge of these classes. That being said, they are a nice alternative to the SWTU classes if 1) you cannot commit to an eight-week long evening course; or 2) you’re not sure if you want to spend the money on fly tying tools prior to learning how to tie. Each class lasts a single session, is about three hours long, and includes all the necessary tools and materials needed to tie a couple of flies (a “practice” fly and a Woolly Bugger). There is no cost to attend, but space is limited so we ask that you register beforehand. Each attendee will also receive coupons and special offers on fly-tying equipment in-store.

In addition  to the Fly Tying 101 classes, I am also working to put together two “intermediate” fly tying classes for those looking for a little more guidance in improving their tying skills. One would focus on tying Driftless trout flies (tentative fly patterns: Elk Hair Caddis, Pheasant Tail, Pink Squirrel) and another is what I’m calling “Poppers and Hoppers” that would focus on bass bugs and terrestrials.

If any of that peaks your interest, visit our website for more details, stay up-to-date on future classes at our Instagram account (@orvismadison), or call us at (608) 831-3181 to register.

If there are other opportunities for anglers to stay active this winter that I have missed, feel free to message me and I will add them.

Whatever you do this winter season have fun, stay safe, enjoy the holidays, and keep dreaming of spring…


Author: chesleyfan

I work, I fish, I write.

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