I Believe I Can Fly: Local fishing expert knows all the spots

Haley Wright, photos by Andrea Paulseth

LOCAL CAST AWAY. Eau Claire Anglers, a new fishing guide service, promises to provide a positive experience whether you want to try fly or warm-water fishing.
LOCAL CAST AWAY. Eau Claire Anglers, a new fishing guide service, promises to provide a positive experience whether you want to try fly or warm-water fishing.

If you are looking for a new outdoor adventure this summer right in your own backyard, look no further than booking a guided fly fishing tour with the Eau Claire Anglers. Owner and fly fishing guru Stephen Wisner grew up fly fishing; he started locally with his father as a boy in the 1970s, and first worked as a professional fishing guide in 1983 in Idaho on Henry’s Fork of the Snake River.

Wisner is still very enthusiastic about fly fishing and the fact that it offers a true escape from modern life. “What I love about fly fishing is that it is still a pretty organic experience,” Wisner said. “We don’t use electronics. I tie most of the flies we use myself by hand. It’s quiet.”

“The future for this business is really bright because at its core, it is about connecting people not just to fish, but to the art of fly fishing and to the world around them. In this neck of the woods, the world around us is pretty awesome.” – Stephen Wisner, Eau Claire Anglers

While he has fished in different places around the country, Wisner believes Western Wisconsin offers a truly distinct fishing experience. “While Wisconsin has some great trout fishing, the really exciting resource is our warm-water fishery,” he said. “We have the highest concentration of world class smallmouth and musky fishing that you will find anywhere. The Chippewa, Flambeau, Eau Claire, Jump, and Black rivers are spectacular. Not only are they spectacular fisheries, but they are beautiful places to be.”

Wisner says decades of fishing experience, attention to detail, and a focus making the trip a valuable (and enjoyable) learning experience for participants is what makes Eau Claire Anglers unique among fishing guide services. Being a guide means much more than having a nice boat and knowing where the put-in and take-out is located. Being a professional guide means being a knowledgeable and patient instructor.

“If a person has never fly fished or is new to warm-water fishing for smallmouth or musky, I can help flatten what can be a really steep learning curve. I can help a person not only catch fish, but also understand why we’re doing what we’re doing,” says Wisner. “I also understand that being a professional guide means giving my clients an experience they probably wouldn’t give themselves. This means making sure that the small details are seen to: a delicious lunch, a nice boat, high quality rods and flies, an understanding of the history and natural history of the places we fish.”

Eau Claire Anglers offers both full-day and half-day wading trips, trips by drift boat, and trips geared toward catching specific types of fish. Each trip can be customized based on skill and desired experience, but all of them include guiding, transportation, rods, flies, beverages, and, on full-day trips, a locally sourced lunch. Eau Claire Anglers is licensed to guide in the state of Wisconsin, and they’re fully insured.

Wisner plans to continue to grow the business, and he hopes to attract fly fishing enthusiasts from around the world to cast their lines in the beautiful Chippewa Valley. “The future for this business is really bright because at its core, it is about connecting people not just to fish, but to the art of fly fishing and to the world around them,” Wisner said. “In this neck of the woods, the world around us is pretty awesome.”

To learn more or book your adventure, check out eauclaireanglers.com.

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