Put on the Waders—It’s Time to Go Fishing!
Thanks to a donation by the Boone County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), who stepped in to save a local tradition in Zionsville that brings tourism to the county as well as supports a local business and ecosystem, folks can fly-fish all winter long for rainbow trout.
Fly-Fishing Promotes Tourism in Zionsville
The previous two Novembers, rainbow trout had been stocked because of former Zionsville mayor and resident Tim Haak’s initiative to obtain a stocking permit from Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and with the assistance of local enthusiasts who contributed to the budget. Haak—an avid angler—worked with Zionsville Parks & Rec and with Indiana’s DNR to obtain a permit and stock the creek, which has created quite a buzz in the fly-fishing community here locally, throughout Central Indiana and even regionally.
Located in Zionsville, Moving Water Outfitters is Central Indiana’s premier fly-fishing and kayak outfitters. Mike Exl, the general manager and co-owner of Moving Water Outfitters, operates a guide service that takes people out to three Indiana rivers: Sugar Creek, Tippecanoe River and the White River.
One can have an enjoyable experience at Eagle Creek without leaving town limits, and there are a myriad of potential educational opportunities collaborating with the local schools and youth—teaching about local ecosystems and river systems.
Helping Local Bald Eagles Thrive
In just 35 years, the bald eagle went from extirpated in Indiana to a thriving population statewide. The Natural Resources Commission removed bald eagles from the special concern list in 2020, though eagles, nests and eggs are still protected by federal laws. Bald eagles eat mostly fish such as trout.
While stocking the creek with rainbow trout is not specifically aimed at providing a food source for the local bald eagles, it does contribute to the local ecosystem and to the continued recovery of the official national bird.
Fly-Fishing’s Economic Impact
In addition to generating revenue for the local business Moving Water Outfitters, fly-fishing also has impact on tourism, bringing people into town who dine and do other things while visiting the local area.
According to Exl, the word is out, and people from all over the state drive in to fly-fish for rainbow trout right here in Zionsville.
“This is the whole reason why Tim [Haak] pursued this a couple of years ago,” Exl said. “The [trout] stocking creates a fishery for everyone to enjoy. It’s been a tremendous success. The nice thing about how Zionsville parks are laid out is that dads and moms can fish for a little bit while the kids play on the playgrounds, and then they’ll go walk through Starkey Park.”
Exl continued, “Another thing we’ve noticed is a number of clients have come in that are new to our store, and when asked how they found out about us, they tell us that they saw a couple of guys wearing [our] fishing shirts in one of the [local] restaurants. It’s been really beneficial for all of Zionsville and not just for us as the fishing shop in town. It’s also been really cool to see how it’s been working for everyone and drawing people to town—showing it off.”
Guide Services Through Winter
Moving Water Outfitters offers guide services even throughout the winter.
“What we offer is half-day lessons on the creek, introducing people to trout fishing and to using different tactics,” Exl shared. “We do these lessons out in the water, and we’ll be doing that through April .”
Indiana DNR has a “catch-and-release” regulation until the last Saturday of April—which falls on April 30 in 2022—which it refers to as “opening day.” Then anglers can catch and keep their rainbow trout.
To sign up for trout-fishing lessons, Exl encouraged folks to contact him at the store in Zionsville.
“The best thing is to call the shop and speak with myself or Ben—who’s one of my guys here,” Exl stated. “We do the lessons, so the best thing is to call us or reach out via email at [email protected].”
For general information on Moving Water Outfitters, their products and more, visit mwoutfitters.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.