Twin Cities TU Winter Retreat

A few weeks ago, Abigail and I had the opportunity to join the Twin Cities Trout Unlimited chapter down at Whitewater State Park for a weekend full of fly fishing, fly tying and meeting new friends.

Almost 40 of us made the 100-mile trek south to one of the few places open for fly fishing in the region during the winter months. Those in attendance ranged from people who had never cast a fly rod, to people who have been fly fishing for 50 years. Regardless of experience, I don’t think there was anyone that didn’t learn something new over the course of the weekend; some learned how to rig up a fly rod, some learned how to tie their first fly and others may have learned a unique technique for a specific location or species.



When you put people with the same passion together for an extended period, the stories, picture-sharing and offered tips are inevitable. It was cool to see a group of people from all different ages and backgrounds, many of whom had never met each other, get along so well. That’s another thing I love about our sport—friendships build so quickly that you can’t believe you’ve only known one another for only a short period of time.

The weather was nearly perfect with temperatures peaking around 40 degrees each day. This made for active fish, light jackets, and no need to worry about frozen guides. But it wasn’t just our group that enjoyed the park over the weekend—the warm temps brought many anglers who likely hadn’t put on the waders in months out to one of the few places available. The crowds made finding good holes to fish difficult, but the conditions were such that just being outside was all one needed to consider the day a success.

Whitewater State Park, Minnesota State Parks, Driftless Fly Fishing, Whitewater State Park Fishing
Chris Dachel with a Whitewater State Park Rainbow

For those that have never done anything like this, I would highly recommend it. These types of activities push you to get out of your comfort zone, meet lots of great new people and learn new things, all while enjoying a beautiful outdoor setting. Even the separate men’s and women’s bunk houses made for a unique experience reminiscent of junior high summer camp (although I would highly recommend ear plugs). And if you haven’t before, please consider joining your local Trout Unlimited chapter—it’s a fun way to support the future of your passion with others even if you’re different in every other way.

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