This weekend marks the beginning of the regular fishing season for most anything that swims in southern Wisconsin (those living in the Great White North need to wait a few weeks longer, sorry). Therefore, it is my duty as angler to remind you that under no circumstances should you actually go fishing this weekend.
Yeah, I know, tough words. It’s been a long time for some of you, and for the trout bums it’s been a week of withdrawal symptoms as a combination of the closed “Silly Season” and the beautiful weather taunts us from our fly tying benches. You want to go fishing. You have to go fishing. But believe or not there are some anglers that choose to avoid a season opener, to stay away from the crowds at the boat launch and the public access points that will be wide open come next week when the excitement of a new season dies down the long days of spring and summer set in. It’ll be a long season, so don’t rush it. Instead, check out some of these outdoorsy-fishy-related things that’ll give you your fix.
Midwest Tenkara Fest
May 2-3, Coon Valley
For those of you interested in this minimalist approach to fly fishing, the Midwest Tenkara Fest is a two-day celebration of everything reel-less. Numerous vendors will be on hand plying their wares, and the list of seminars and guest speakers is rather impressive. Both Matt Sment and Mike Lutes from Badget Tenkara will be on hand giving talks, and if you haven’t had a chance to meet these guys yet give yourself the opportunity to do so now. Matt and Mike are two of the nicest rodmongers you’ll meet.
The Fest is right in the middle of Coulee Country, but you’ll be so busy attending all of the special events and seminars you’ll never think twice about casting line.
May 1-3, Orvis Madison
At the Orvis store in Madison we’re using this weekend as the focus for a bunch of fishy stuff. Friday night, May 1, is May Fly Madness, a get-together for anglers looking to tie up those last few warmwater flies before heading out for the weekend. We have Dave Barron, Bob Harrison, and Luke Annear as special guest tiers, and I’ll be serving up some smallie and panfish flies as well. Word is that Dave will be demonstrating some “killer” midge trout patterns and that Bob will be serving up a “Wally-wing-style” dry fly pattern. Luke will definitely be tying carp flies, as he is the master at it. (Be sure to check out Luke’s blog, too, if you have not already!).
Saturday afternoon I’ll be giving a talk about using online resources to scout for productive waters, entitled “Trout Recon: Making the Most of Your Time OFF the Water.” Eventually this talk might turn into a separate blog post, but if you drop by at 3:00pm on May 2 you’ll get to hear it here first!
We also have our Fly Fishing 101 (Saturday, 10:30a-1:00p) and Fly Fishing 201 (Sunday, 12:00p-2:00p) going on as well. You need to preregister for these, which you can do here.
Take A Hike in the Baraboo Hills
Devil’s Lake State Park
Natural Bridge State Park
Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area
Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area
These options aren’t necessarily fishing-related (although technicaly Parfrey’s Glen Creek is considered a trout stream, and fishing can be good at Devil’s Lake). I’m not going to bother linking to maps for these either because I assume you know how to Google. I’m also not going to pretend that all four of these locations will likely be busy, just as much so (if not more than) your local lakes and streams will be. But these four spots are absolutely spectacular natural resources, within a short driving distance of one another, and deserve your attention, so why not load up the family this weekend and make some memories?
Devil’s Lake and Natural Bridge likely need no introduction. Parfrey’s Glen is an immense gorge cut down through Precambrian and Cambrian sandstones, and the trail toward the headwaters takes your right down the middle of this fantastic structure.
Pewit’s Nest is like Parfrey’s Glen in reverse: also a massive gorge carved out through ancient bedrock by Skillet Creek, but this time the trail takes you not through the gorge but rather to it’s rim, well above the river below. I suggest first traversing Parfrey’s Glen, and then heading to Pewit’s Nest, for the proper prospective on things. There is also a rather impressive waterfall at Pewit’s Nest, along with several smaller falls (or as I like to think of them, extreme riffles) along the gorge’s length. Be careful near the gorge’s rim, obviously; it’s a long way down to a skinny creek.
So, well other ideas do you have in mind for those of us not fishing this weekend? Feel free to share them in the comments below.