Learning to Fly Fish (Sort of)

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Ever since I moved to Colorado 20 years ago, I have wanted to learn to fly-fish. Since we will be relocating in a year, the sense of urgency was high to git-r-done. Will there be great fly fishing in Oregon? YES, but I wanted to learn the basics in Colorado. In order to force said education to happen, one of Sean’s COVID Christmas presents was a weekend fly fishing trip on the Tarryall River outside of Colorado Springs.

The place I found was built in the 1920’s and sits on 5 miles of private waters. It’s a beautiful, rustic property surrounded by lush aspen groves and pine trees, with 7 or so small cabins (nicely appointed), shared bathrooms and family style meals. We had a private guide for the entire time which was a bonus of the the trip.

The clientele we shared meals with were really fun. A group of 10 were from Michigan – the dad was a wealthy businessman who generously footed the bill for his 4 kids and spouses to learn to fly-fish for a long weekend. One thing I found interesting is that every night before dinner, it was full on fashion show. Cowboy hats, high-heeled boots and fancy tops. Did I mention we had shared bathrooms at this place and it is a FISH CAMP? We wore flipflops, shorts and trucker hats and wondered if we somehow missed the memo about the dress code.

Anyhoo, I digress. Our first morning on the river was quite an experience. Sean caught 4 or so browns and rainbows and I managed to snag a small rainbow with the help of our guide. One thing I learned is that polarized sunglasses are a MUST. I couldn’t see squat – it was like fishing in a black hole. What’s the point??? On top of that, we were bubble fishing and I kept losing the bubble in the foamy water. For those of you newbies (like me) bubble fishing entails the use of casting bubbles which are clear plastic bubbles that attach to your main line and work as a weight for casting and an indicator when you have a catch on the line.

After a somewhat discouraging morning (at least for me) of what felt like 1,000 wasted casts, several hooked bushes and trees, and a sore shoulder, we took a lunch break and then re-grouped on a different part of the river.

Things finally turned the corner! Casting was infinitely better the second time around and borrowed polarized sunglasses improved visibility ten-fold. That in itself was a gamechanger – makes it a helluva a lot easier to know when to lift the rod and WAY more fun to see a potential catch sniffing around. I managed to catch and release 3 more fish – it was so.much.fun. Learning all the techniques was super interesting and kept it challenging. The different types of flies were dizzying – I love all the names: Woolly buggers, Burk’s Hot Flash Minnow, or the ever popular Hot Head Damsel.

It definitely took time for muscle memory to kick in but it eventually did. Will I ever end up on the Fly-Fishing Channel? NOPE. Will fly fishing become a new staple of outside activities? YEP. It’s a sport that Sean, Yogi and I can do together in our ‘older’ age and is just another excuse to plant ourselves in the middle of nature.

There is a LOT to master but I look forward to gearing up and figuring it all out. It feels like one of those sports you can make as complicated, or as simple, as you want.

“I look into … my fly box, and think about all the elements I should consider in choosing the perfect fly: water temperature, what stage of development the bugs are in, what the fish are eating right now. Then I remember what a guide told me: ‘Ninety percent of what a trout eats is brown and fuzzy and about five-eighths of an inch long.'”
~by Allison Moir, “Love the Man, Love the Fly Rod”, in A Different Angle: Fly Fishing Stories by Women~

If you ever have the opportunity to try fly-fishing – do it! Make sure the waders fit, mine were about 4 inches too short which meant it was difficult getting in and out of the river. I swear what they gave me was made for Fred Flintstone.

…i choose this…

Pam

51 comments

  1. Looks like a lot of fun in some beautiful country. I’ve always suspected that flyfishers were just using their sport as an excuse to spend time in nature, and you’ve confirmed that for me. If I ever try it, I’ll be sure to bring some polarized sunglasses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s funny. I do need to learn to tie flies and line set up and repair at some point. I went to Texas A&M and we were able to take a ski class for PE. We had a ski jump (Mount Aggie) where you could learn. I stayed away from that neck breaker.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you had the much more sensible dress code 🙂 I’ve never tried fly fishing but we love our jetty, beach and small boat fishing and yes polarised sunnies are a must! Good luck for your future fishing trips.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks like a great place to try fly fishing for the first time!
    My husband bought us fly fishing rods (and all the other interesting little “thingies”) a couple of months ago … but we still need to try it for the first time. We don’t have a guide (can only rely on Mr Google & YouTube) 😉 … we’ll see how it goes whenever we get the opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ohhh, report back! I think you might really like it, and I am sure you have some great places to fish where you are. Google and YouTube are definitely a wealth of knowledge. How did we ever get by without them??

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This looks and sounds like fun, minus the dinner fashion show. WTH with that?

    [FWIW I have prescription dark glasses that are polarized on both sides of the lenses. They cut down glare like none I’ve had before. I don’t know if they make double-sided polarized dark glass that aren’t prescription, but a thought.]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I KNOW on the outfits. It must be a family dynamic thing. The mom was decked out, so all the DIL’s must follow suit. They mentioned to bring polarized glasses on the packing list, but I just brushed it off like a dummy. I have only fished one other time before – what do I know! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  5. SUUUPER jealous! I have wanted to do this for a while. I grew up fishing with my dad, but I have never tried fly fishing. J, on the other hand, did get to try it in Wyoming a few years ago and grumbled about the slowness of it all. I think he might need to receive a whole weekend of lessons at this camp for a gift, don’t you? We can turn him right around and become semi-pro fly fishers with you two! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I am not sure Sean loves it as much as I do. It is slow – I did literally cast 1,000 times for 4 fish. LOL. But, I love the whole process of it – understanding the different flies, when to use them, casting, etc. And YES, I do think he needs a gift like this!! Bring your high-heeled boots with ya. lol. It’s the Broadmoor Fly-fishing Camp 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Curt! I have been thinking about you all. I hope you are ok with this next round of fires. ugh. I have only fished maybe once before so this was a real treat. I like the idea of meal supplements when backpacking!

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      1. So far this year, Pam, our area has avoided fires, but we are getting plenty of smoke form California. I had dinner the other night with folks from Bend and they told me that so far, the smoke from the fires north of Klamath Lake hadn’t bothered them significantly.
        The fishing during backpacking can add both fun and food. But you never want to depend on it for food! Grin. –Curt

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  6. Fun post about a fun expedition Pam! I did some fly-fishing in Alaska which was so much fun but like you it won’t become my top choice for sporting pleasure LOL. It’s great when you catch something – we actually had guides who cooked our salmon for us right there at the river’s edge which was great. I did feel kind of sorry for the fish though, gotta admit it! Loved your closing shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This sounds so cool. Glad you are making your goal come true. My boys wanted to try fly fishing when we visited Colorado this summer, but it was just crazy expensive. I should probably tell them about the camp 🙂

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