August 11, 2010

Take The kids Fishing at the Spring Valley Trout Farm in Dexter

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The summertime of my youth consisted solely of spending time outdoors. I would wake up and immediately leave the house not to be heard from until the street lamps went on, unless I needed nourishment or a cold beverage. My brother and I would catch bugs, wander the local elementary school fields and playgrounds, camp in the backyard or with our family, pick whatever out of the garden and pop it directly into our mouths unwashed. We were typical kids of the times; fishing, hiking and the outdoors were some of our favorite summer memories.

It is a living testament to my parents and grandparents that I have continued spending my time as an adult in much the same way, and love passing these experiences onto my children as well. We garden, camp and, as of late, gone fishing.

For my children, this consists of dropping a baited hook, which mom has carefully threaded a worm on off the edge of a dock with toes dangling in the water. I love listening to my kids squealing with delight when they ‘catch a big one”. It is a bit tiring though throwing back the smallest of the bunch. Lately my children have really wanted to keep and cook what they have caught, too. The tiny pan fish they catch wouldn’t feed us, and would hardly be worth cleaning, so what’s a mom to do? Where could we go to catch fish large enough to eat? And that’s where the Spring Valley Trout Farm came into play.

The Spring Valley Trout Farm, in Dexter, is set on a picturesque park-like setting with pavilions, a playground, and several ponds stocked with farm-raised trout and catfish. They provide everything one could need for a day of fishing including the equipment, bait and helpful staff. I couldn’t see much when driving through the front gates, however the two school buses in the parking lot and multiple cars tipped me off that it must be good. I was really impressed though when stepping through the fishing cabin onto its large covered porch with comfortable seating that overlooks several tree lined ponds and picnic pavilions. It was really quite lovely and an unexpected surprise.

The kids wanted to try their hand fishing in the children’s pond, which was really a great idea since Gabby caught part of our dinner very easily after only a few moments of trying. The kids got help from a friendly young man named Patrick. “Mom his name is the same as on SpongeBob Squarepants!” Zach said. Patrick was only part of the very helpful staff on site that day, who told us all about the farm, gave me a page of their favorite recipes and also cleaned our fish.

As kids do, they got tired of waiting for the fish to bite, so they left me to fend for myself and catch the rest of our dinner. Which I did.

I’d recommend bringing snacks and whatever drinks your family would want, and possibly chairs or blankets to relax on, although you may lean against the rails of the fence lining the ponds. I’d also suggest families bring their own life jackets for any children smaller than 54” in height. Life jackets are provided, however they are the older style with a less than comfortable fit. And don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray. What you don’t need to worry about is bringing your own equipment or cleaning your fish and bagging it in ice, as the staff will do that for you should you choose!

In all the day was wonderful for the children and myself; I was so impressed with everyone working at the trout farm and their friendly, helpful attitudes. If there were any drawbacks to the day, it was that the rain meant that everyone had to stop fishing and stay under the porch at the fishing lodge, even though it was just sprinkling. I was also unprepared to pay $5 per person older than 5 to fish. The added admission meant our fish dinner was an expensive one. I also had not realized that they are only open from only 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., making our late afternoon arrival a little more rushed.

I will say however freshly caught fish is the way to go and makes for a relaxing, educational, fun day with the family!

You can find the Spring Valley Trout Farm at 12190 Island Lake Road in Dexter or online at From Memorial Day to Labor Day they are open Wednesday through Sunday, with weekend hours in the spring and in the fall.

Hint: Make sure you sign the guest book when you visit, because the sign indicated discount coupons are sent each spring and fall!

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