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Fillmore County, offering fly fishing year 'round in Minnesota, is a nationwide destination for anglers

Finding Minnesota: The Driftless Fly Fishing Company
Finding Minnesota: The Driftless Fly Fishing Company 02:58

PRESTON, Minn. -- Fishing can happen year-round in our state without using a boat or even drilling a hole through the ice.

Fly fishing in one Minnesota county has become a destination for anglers across the country.

"It's the beauty of the area. The rolling hills, the farmers' fields, the Root River," said Maria Moore, of Chatfield.

Fillmore County is one of those places that makes you feel like you're home, no matter where you're from. There are plenty of sights, sounds, and businesses. But while most people drive to work, Tim Carver walks. Instead of wearing a suit and carrying a laptop, he wears waders and carries a fishing pole. And his office just happens to be the Root River.

Carver is the head guide for Driftless Fly Fishing Company in Preston. The word "driftless" has a lot to do with why anglers from near and far come to this small town. Thousands of years ago, glaciers that were drifting across the continent essentially stopped there.

"We joke because a lot of people make fun of us and say that Minnesota and Iowa are really flat, but that's because they don't go to this part of the country where we run into those 150-200-foot beautiful limestone bluffs that run along the rivers down here," Carver said.


The bluffs and mineral deposits have created a fly-fishing paradise for brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. The fly is what Carver uses for bait. They're made to look like mayflies and other insects that trout can't resist. Carver is something of a bug expert.

"We're using the weight in the line to get the rod to bend and load. And that's what sends the fly and propels the fly forward and back," he said.

Like a pitcher trying to throw into a strike zone, the cast is all in the wrist.

There are advantages and disadvantages to fly fishing in crystal clear water. You can see the fish, but they can also see you.

"They're the most visually developed fish on the planet. They have three times as many rods and cones in their eyes as we do," Carver said.


Accuracy does matter, otherwise, you're bound to catch firewood, not fish.

Carver makes it look easy. And because this part of the river rarely freezes over, he'll be out there in January, standing literally in the middle of nature. Not a bad way to spend a workday.

"I could do this for hours, man. It never gets old," Carver said. "It's like a little victory when you catch that fish that flipped you the fin six, seven times in a row."

Carver says a few years ago a species of brook trout was rediscovered in the river, after anglers thought it had died off. And since then, they've become more common.

Driftless Fly Fishing Company offers free classes every other Saturday.

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