Happy Holidays from Big River Fly Fishing
Winter is near and some reflections on another smallmouth season.
Trip Gift Certificates available and fly tying classes scheduled, see below.
Booking Now for Spring 2016.

Long casts on a warm afternoon in late September.
It's holiday time. Days are short and time on Illinois rivers looks in short supply as the cold moves in. For me, river time is now replaced with family time. My wife and I are enjoying the arrival of our little girl and getting some quality indoor time this December. Fish pics are now endless baby photos and getting outdoors is running to grab more diapers. It's great, and while unwinding with family I've had time to reflect on another year and build some plans for 2016.
Here's a quick recap of the 2015 on the water:
 After a typical spring on the Kankakee River, record rainfall and ensuing floods early in the summer led me toward a few waterways and river sections I've kept in my back pocket for years. Illinois has some truly remarkable fisheries.

By August the Kankakee had dropped to median flows and then, it was low and clear. What amazed me about this year, from March through October, was the range of conditions. So while the cartography didn't change much, river flows, depth, water temperature, visibility and barometer were almost always in flux. This is the beauty of fishing big rivers with complex ecosystems. Each week, new bugs hatch, new riparian plants and birds show up and fish react.  Big rivers are different every day and it makes them great classrooms. Set up a date with Big River Fly Fishing for 2016, get at the core of fly fishing and discover what makes a river tick.

Gift certificates are available. Trips are booking now for dates beginning in April, 2016. Email, call or use the contact page for details.

Fly tying classes are scheduled. I'll be teaching a few levels of tying classes at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters this winter. Email me or contact Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters to sign up.
Introduction to Fly Tying: Wednesdays, January 13th, 20th and 27th, 6:30 - 8:30pm. In this comprehensive three-session course, learn to tie the three major categories of flies: streamers, nymphs and dries, establishing solid fundamentals. No experience necessary.
Intermediate Fly Tying, Streamers I : Tuesday, January 19th, 6:30 - 8:30pm. Learn several of my favorite, time efficient patterns for river smallmouth, while we discuss specific
rigging and fishing methods.
Intermediate Fly Tying, 
Streamers II : Tuesday, February 2nd, 6:30 - 8:30pm. We'll work on life-like streamers, that come alive under water and turn heads of big smallmouth and trout.
Intermediate Fly Tying, Western Trout Flies:  Wednesday, February 10th, 6:30-8:30pm. In this class, we'll focus on some effective and fun-to-tie nymphs and dries for trout on freestone streams. A great class for dialing in proportions.

Friends of Langham Island workdays.  Get outside this winter. Explore and help preserve this fascinating Island, within the Kankakee River State Park. Langham Island is home to many rare and native Illinois species, including a new contender for the Illinois state flower. Visit the Friends of Langham Island FB page for details and future work days.

My most sincere thanks for all the support this year and to all who came out for a memorable 2015 season. Spending time with great people on the river and getting to know them is my biggest job perk. I look forward to more laughs, adventures and rod bends in 2016. Join me on the river.

My best for a great holiday season,

Captain Will Winans
 Big River Fly Fishing

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Summer Fishing in Illinois is Heating up

Mid-Season Update: The summer smallmouth fishing we've all been 
waiting for has finally arrived.

This year's spring months gave up some very productive river fishing on the Kankakee. Beginning in March, into April, May and early June, the Kankakee remained very stable, yielding some incredible days of streamer fishing with good numbers of fish to the boat and plenty of 18" plus smallmouth bass.

Enter mid-June and massive rain events, one after another, brought the Kankakee to historically high levels. While the Kankakee raged over it's banks for more than a month, other venues shined. Through late June and most of July, I ran dozens of trips on the scenic Fox River, and a few other water systems in northern Illinois.
With big water being a theme throughout the first half of my season, I've witnessed countless flashes of bronze through stained water on large bright flies. And now, with levels dropping on the Kankakee and visibility increasing, it's time for the summer smallie fishing I know from years past. I've been back on the Kankakee for a week now. The wooded banks of the river are greener than I've ever seen in late July. Big-shouldered smallmouth are eager to eat flies, chasing baitfish patterns off the shorelines and actively feeding on crayfish, dragonflies and other aquatic insects. Top water fishing will only increase from here.Dates are filling fast for August and September but many are still available. I am expecting to have solid fishing through October this season, with the late onset of summer conditions. Click here or call to get a date on the calendar.

Other Mentions:
  • Friends of Langham Island, a group of folks dedicated to preserving a fascinating and unique ecosystem on a small island within the Kankakee River State Park, are hosting an open work day this Saturday, August 1st at 8:00 am. The group will work on removing invasive species from the island, while observing native plants like iliamna remota, a perennial wildflower that is solely endemic to this island, growing nowhere else on earth. A native plant sale will also take place, just a few steps down the road, along scenic Rock Creek. Click here for more details.
From the start of Big River Fly Fishing, it's been a big goal of mine, as a guide, to promote and introduce the quality of fly fishing that we have here in northern Illinois, within a short drive from Chicago. For a state not often pegged as a fly fishing destination, Illinois possesses some shockingly beautiful rivers and healthy, un-pressured fisheries. Pay a visit to the guys and gals at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters, Dupage Fly Fishing Company in Naperville and Orvis in downtown Chicago. At these shops, you'll encounter folks who are extremely friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about the sport of fly fishing. They're willing to share what they know about local fishing and they're keeping the fly fishing presence strong in Chicagoland.

I hope you all are getting in some quality water time this summer with family and friends. A huge thanks to all who've been out to share time on the river with me and for the continued interest. Here's to an epic August/September/October on the river!

And on the homefront, to make the final half of this season even more of a landmark, my wife Molly and I are expecting our first baby, due this December. That gives us until spring before casting lessons begin, maybe rowing too. We couldn't be happier about the new addition to our family!

Join me on the River.

Captain Will Winans

guided fly fishing
The Season Approaches

With a good chunk of winter in rear view, it's tough not to get excited for another season on the river. Warm days on the water are around the corner and with a little help from mother nature, March will bring some solid pre-spawn smallmouth fishing. I'll be sending fishing reports and updates for openings in March and accepting bookings for April and the 2015 season.

Early season streamer fishing can bring some of the largest fish of the year. Big bright baitfish patterns will earn aggressive takes from hungry fish. Join me on the river this spring and watch the Illlinois fishery come alive. Click here or call to book a trip for pre-spawn this spring or to get a date on the calendar for spring/summer/fall 2015.

To help tough out the remaining winter days, check out these upcoming events from Big River Fly Fishing:

Intermediate Fly Tying Class: Guide Flies for Smallmouth Bass I
Tuesday, February 10th 6:30-8:30pm
Join me at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters for this two hour fly tying class. I'll be sharing some of my subsurface smallmouth patterns in this interactive tying session. Follow the link to sign up with Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters.

Introduction to Fly Tying Class
Tuesdays Evenings, February 24, March 3rd and March 10th
Learn the Art of Fly Tying!
Join instructor, Will Winans for this comprehensive three-session class designed to introduce the fundamentals of fly tying.
In 3 classes you'll learn to tie the three major categories of flies: streamers, nymphs and dry flies.
No experience necessary. Call 312-944-3474 or follow the link to reserve your spot.

Seminar:Fly Fishing the Kankakee River
Saturday, March 7th 3:30 to 4:30pm
Stop by Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters and see my presentation on the seasons of the Kankakee River.

Intermediate Fly Tying Class: Guide Flies for Smallmouth Bass II
Tuesday March 17th, 6:30-8:30pm
The second class in this series on Smallmouth bass flies. Come learn some of my favorite summer smallmouth flies, while we focus on top-water patterns.