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Free Fly Fishing Workshops at Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway

Man fly fishing.

Fly fishing photo by kasperbs via Creative Commons and flickr.

The angler's graceful art of gently placing a fly in just the right spot in a quiet pool can be a pleasure to watch, but to the uninitiated, it can also seem a bit challenging. If you'd like to learn the basics of fly fishing and you'll be in the Upper Midwest this coming weekend, perhaps you'll be interested in two free workshops being offered at Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway. The park is located along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

The events will be held the weekend of June 12 and 13 and will be led by Park Ranger John Weinberg and volunteers from the Federation of Fly Fishers. According to information from the park,

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, this is a unique opportunity to learn about basic and advanced casting techniques, as well as watershed ecology and conservation.

Participants will become familiar with equipment used in freshwater fly fishing and will observe demonstrations of tying imitations of native aquatic insects, including nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. The workshops will also provide information on how stream conservation, watershed health, and a fly fishing ethic can affect the water quality of the St. Croix River.

The workshops will be held at two separate locations this weekend. The event on Saturday, June 12, will run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at William O’Brien State Park, located 12 miles north of Stillwater, Minnesota, on State Highway 95, near the town of Marine-on-St. Croix. The park's physical address is 16821 O'Brien Trail North, Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047 (phone 651-433-0500.)

The morning session will consist of fundamentals, equipment, and fly tying. The afternoon session will focus on casting demonstrations, with hands-on instruction in small groups. Entrance to William O’Brien State Park is free on this date as part of the Minnesota State Parks annual Open House.

The second workshop is scheduled for Sunday, June 13, from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Minnesota Interstate State Park, 307 Milltown Road, Taylors Falls, MN 55084 (phone: 651-465-5711.) The park is located about one mile north of the town of Taylors Falls via Highway 8. Driving directions are available on the park's website.

The Sunday event is a shorter version of the Saturday workshop, but it will still cover the basics. There is no charge for the workshop, but an annual Minnesota state park vehicle sticker or daily pass is required to enter the park.

Equipment will be available for use by workshop participants. These are free programs and no registration is required. Participants should bring lunches and snacks. The workshops are designed for ages 13 and older. They will be canceled if there is severe weather. If you need additional information about the workshops, you can call (715) 483-2274 during regular business hours.

If you're not familiar with the park, you may wonder why the fly fishing workshops being planned by the NPS are scheduled to occur in two state parks. Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway is managed under cooperative arrangements with a number of groups. According to the park,

The Riverway includes 154 miles of the St. Croix River from Gordon, Wisconsin, to its confluence with the Mississippi River and the entire 98 miles of its Namekagon tributary. The St. Croix River is one of the last undisturbed, large floodplain rivers in the upper Mississippi River System. The Riverway is an unrivaled combination of exceptional natural and cultural resources and scenic, aesthetic and recreational values.

The Riverway boundary outlines an irregular, narrow corridor averaging about 1/2 mile wide along these two rivers. A mosaic of ownership includes the National Park Service, private landowners, the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, counties, and communities. Caring for the Riverway is a story of people and organizations working diligently over many years.

You'll find information to help you plan a visit on the park website.


Wow, this seems like a such great opportunity to show my son the basics of fly fishing. I haven't had a chance to hit the lakes lately so I am a bit rusty. Hopefully there will be room enough for us.

This has been edited to remove a link to an advertisement. -- Ed.

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