Jason Rieke from Winona State University was selected as one of our five top Costa Ambassadors for the fall 2017 semester. The Winona State On The Fly club located in Winona, Minnesota was founded was founded by Jason and a friend in the spring of 2016 after getting involved with their local Win-Cres Trout Unlimited chapter. From recommendation of their local chapter, Jason and his friend established a 5Rivers club. The club now has 15-20 active members who target brown trout primarily and have also helped with local stocking in the driftless area.
How is the trout fishing around Winona State University?
Winona State University is probably the most under-rated school in the nation as far as fly fishing goes. The area is an absolute mecca for the college aged fly fisherman. Winona,Minnesota is located almost smack dab in the driftless area, an area filled with cold, spring fed trout streams running between steep rolling bluffs. If you drew a 20-mile radius circle around the campus of Winona State University there are over 50 different trout streams in Minnesota alone, even more if you include Wisconsin. Many of these streams have public fishing easements on them that the local Trout Unlimited group has worked together with the Minnesota DNR to secure and a number of them have also had stream improvement projects done on them. Winona is also located right on pool 6 of the Mississippi river, a river that boasts over 200 different species of fish. There is great smallmouth bass, walleye, rough fish, and northern pike fly fishing right in and around Winona. This area is incredible and the fly fishing opportunities are nearly endless here. (Jason Rieke)
What do your club meetings normally consist of?
We have a lot of fun at our weekly fly tying meetings. It’s usually a very casual atmosphere with some sort of fly fishing video up on the projector screen and we just tie and joke around for a couple hours. We also take a number of fishing trips to the nearby streams around Winona and have a blast exploring the local waters. (Jason Rieke)
Major: Composite Materials Engineering.
In Jason’s senior design class, they are building a modular, completely carbon fiber fishing net! (except for the netting)
Hometown: Rochester, Minnesota
Hobbies: Besides fly fishing my hobbies are hiking, hunting, photography, and working out. I really enjoy anything that can get me into the outdoors and exploring God’s amazing creation and I try to stay fit and live a healthy lifestyle.
When and how you started fly fishing? First fish you caught on the fly rod?
Fly fishing didn’t enter into my life until my senior year of high school. I was in a sports biology class and one of the parts of the class was rod building. I don’t recall the reason but I decided to be the only one in the class to build a fly rod. A couple of my teachers (Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Samuell) were able to give me advise on building the rod and getting the right kind of additional gear so that I could fly fish. When college at Winona State came around I spent a lot of time in the fall semester exploring the Winona area trout streams with a spinning rod. It wasn’t until after the new year in January when I decided to try out the fly rod on the stream. Once I had landed a few fish I just couldn’t get enough of the challenge of catching fish on the fly and the obsession was born.
The first fish I ever caught on a fly rod was an average sized driftless brown trout caught on a black wooly bugger. (Jason Rieke)
Your plan after college?
I will be graduating from Winona State this spring and will be working in Estes Park Colorado as a fly fishing guide for a few months. After this summer of guiding, my goal is to land a job somewhere in the outdoor products industry (hopefully fly fishing) where I would use my passion for the outdoors and knowledge of composite materials to advance the equipment used in our outdoor sports. (Jason Rieke)
5Rivers would like to congratulate Jason on a great semester! Thanks for starting a 5Rivers club on your campus!