Melvin Hayner stands at the front of his store that will open on Friday, April 4.  BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Melvin Hayner stands at the front of his store that will open on Friday, April 4. BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
With spring on the approach and snow melting, businesses and citizens prepare for recreation and fun in the great outdoors. Anglers and other sportsmen and women experience excitement for their activities to soon begin.

As the month of March transitions into April, Preston will see the opening of a new business, Driftless Fly Fishing. This business is owned and operated by Melvin Hayner, a lifelong fly fisherman.

To Hayner, who is originally from Oregon, fly-fishing is not just a mere hobby. Rather, it is a lifelong passion. He began tying flies when he was 9 years old and eventually passed on the sport to his numerous children. "One of the fondest memories I have is taking my kids fly-fishing when they were little," he stated.

Hayner is affiliated with the international company, Orvis, as a guide in this area for the past 10 years. Since he began guiding, he has dreamed to have a fly shop in Preston and the Root River area.

Not long ago, Hayner moved from his home in Winnebago to Preston as the pieces fell into place to coincide with his dream. He had been employed for 18 years at Winnebago as an alcohol and drug counselor for young people.

"I enjoy teaching young people how to fish," he related.

Then, he found the same work as a counselor in Rochester, which enabled him to move to Preston. Around that time he also found a building that fit his needs for the business and signed a contract in June of last year.

His fiancé has been supportive of the transition as well. She is from Mankato and currently is the director of nursing at Caledonia Care and Rehab. They will be married in June and live in Preston.

"I have been fishing here for 22 years and a guide for 10 years. The timing to begin this business was the right place at the right time," Hayner declared. "I want to be involved with the National Trout Center here in Preston and would like to be an asset to the community by bringing in more people."

People from out of the area will soon be traveling to the Root River area to participate in the fishing season. One such group is the Fly Fishing Women of Minnesota. Hayner's sister is involved with this group and they will be traveling to Preston for courses with him. In addition, one manager from Orvis spent a day fishing with Hayner as a prerequisite for the Orvis endorsement for both guiding and outfitting.

"He said Preston is an undiscovered gem for fishing," Hayner excitedly related.

Orvis endorses lodges, guides and outfitters from across the globe. "I am the only endorsed outfitter in southern Minnesota with this shop opening up," he said. "I have also guided people from Argentina and Chili who have come to Rochester for Mayo. This will add to the business as a destination to go to rather than just a shop."

In May, Hayner will be speaking at one of Orvis' shops in Chicago about the Preston area and his new shop, hoping to help attract more people here.

When he began his guiding business, Hayner soon thought about moving to Preston and advancing to the next level of expansion as an Orvis outfitter. Once he found the building and signed the contract, he renovated the inside of the shop during the cold winter months. Not long ago he received the store's merchandise and will soon be ready for the opening day and ribbon cutting on Friday, April 4.

"This has been a natural progression of a dream being realized. It will be really awesome to have this business opened," he emphasized.

For the grand opening, Hayner will have drawings for T-shirts, fishing equipment and other merchandise for prizes.

"I will be supplying Orvis equipment pertaining to the Root River area and stock terminal tackle, weights and gear. I will also provide weight repair, fly tying and the materials for fly tying. Everything in the store is stuff I have used and would recommend," he added.

Once the store opens, the hours will be from 7 to 9 p.m. on weeknights and all day on Saturdays and Sundays until Memorial Day. Afterwards, the hours will hopefully be expanded to 7 a.m. through 9 p.m.

The front part of the business will be his retail area. In the back, he will entertain people coming for a guided tour of the area. There, he will educate them on fly-fishing prior to going outdoors.

Hayner hopes his business will grow well to the point he may hire a few employees. He sees Preston as having the potential to grow and he desires the chance to be an asset to the community. He also hopes to preserve and promote the resources Preston and the Root River area have to offer.

Hayner pointed out that Orvis has a commitment to conservation and five percent of the pre-tax profits are donated every year "to protecting nature, supporting communities and advancing canine health and well-being," according to their conservation statement. Hayner also supports this through his products.

Preston looks forward to the new addition to its business community. Driftless Fly Fishing will have its grand opening on Friday, April 4, at 9 a.m. The business is located at 208 St. Paul Street Southwest in Preston, next to Chic's Pizza.