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…