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TROUTS FLY FISHING 2020


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CRUSH VARIABLES.

Edgy environmental factors like sustained wind, complex hydraulics, and natural structure all pack the potential to punish productivity. With favor stacked in nature’s corner, your ability to adapt and conquer common variables requires fishing tools forged to level the playing field. NRX+ with Dynamic Recovery Technology expands tactical opportunity in difficult fishing situations, providing power, energy transfer, and stability expected from a fastaction rod, while simultaneously offering feedback under load. This improves timing and application of power, especially when making unconventional presentations in less-than-ideal scenarios.


Delicate Domination.

Perfect, delicate drifts require slinging unconventional slack yielding casts, and drag inducing micro-currents, obstacles, and other naturally occurring variables can limit tactical opportunity. When success rests on a razor’s edge, take control with balanced fishing tools built to boost effectiveness in ultra-technical scenarios. NRX+ LP is the ultimate tool for accurate and effective dry fly presentation. Tailored for supreme versatility over a wide range of casting techniques, actions are sweet, smooth, and stable, with plenty of “spank” when conditions call for an additional pinch of power.

gloomisflyfishing.com


A hungry, hungry cutthroat can’t resist taking a couple off the surface.


A place for everything and everything in its place on the Cuban flats.


Holding onto hope at last light on the permit flats.

Photos by Ivan Orsic


Taking in all the best that Cheesman Canyon has to offer.


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR This is my first job as an editor of a print publication and I’m humbled to be working with the Trouts Team… again. You won’t find a lot of radical changes in this issue – but we are going to push a few boundaries. We’ve stayed true to our commitment of positioning Trouts as a centerpiece of this amazing pastime for our community. We’re committed to our readers and our shop customers to exceed their expectations whether it be in-store, online, on the water, or in this case - the written word. From a very young age, fishing has always been a way for me to push my own boundaries. Whether that was a new technique, a new river, a new species or flying into a country I’d never explored before, fishing has played a critical role in trying new things. Getting out of one’s comfort zone doesn’t have to be costly or exotic and you don’t have to go far from home. Pushing my boundary was sometimes as simple as traveling too far down a snow-covered forest road to get close to the river and knowing if I got stuck, I was up the proverbial creek without a paddle. When you push your boundaries, you feel it – and you know it. It’s that simple. I’m proud to work with the writers who have contributed their thoughts, expertise and stories for this year’s issue. We’ve reached out to many new writers and subject matter experts to bring you stories intended to change how you think about fly fishing – and possibly inspire you to get out and try something new. Have you ever thought about making the move from wet wading in Colorado to owning a raft or drift boat? What if you could hop on a plane and travel to Alaska, Belize, British Columbia, Brazil, or New Zealand? Where would you go first? Would you go at all? Can you take a break and pause from casting to a rising fish to get intimate with a few beautiful blue-winged olives? Just for a moment? When you are new to fishing and exploring your backyard and home water it is easy to push your boundaries. These experiences are often intense and so important to someone who is just assimilating fly fishing into their lifestyle. As anglers gain more experience and their curiosity starts to pull them into destinations further from home and force them to problem solve on a more complex level, those experiences often evolve and can be just as rewarding. What I intend to offer anglers – both new and experienced – is that small spark that sends them into the wild and something to push their own boundaries in effort to take their fishing to the next level. Will Rice – Editor

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Photo by Copi Vojta


PUBLISHER

TROUTSFLYFISHING.COM TOLL FREE 1.877.464.0034

Tucker Ladd

EDITOR

Will Rice

DESIGNER

Rick Mikesell

PHOTO EDITOR Ivan Orsic

Trouts Fly Fishing - Denver 1303 E 6th Ave Denver CO 80218 303.733.1434

CONTRIBUTORS

Chris Santella Paul Puckett Jeff Currier Kirk Deeter Tom Rosenbauer Reid Baker Courtney Despos Copi Vojta Jon Covich Geoff Roach Eric Schmidt Alex Kass Scott Dickson Jon Cave Pat Dorsey Tanner Smith Dylan Mendoza Rob Parkins

Trouts Fly Fishing - Frisco 309B E. Main St. Frisco CO 80443 970.668.2583

COVER PHOTOGRAPH & ALL PHOTOS OTHERWISE NOT CREDITED Searching the flats of Southern Belize for a willing permit.

Ivan Orsic Get in touch! We would love to hear from you. Please send your comments to shop@troutsflyfishing.com

© 2020 Trouts Fly Fishing Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

@troutsflyfishing

/TroutsFlyFishing

@TroutsCO

/TroutsFlyFishingDenver

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14 FUEL YOUR FIRE 32

ERIC’S TARPON GURGLER

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THE MAMMOTHS OF RIO MARIÉ

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EXPLORATION & DISCOVERY IN COLORADO

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YO HO HO & A BOTTLE OF GINK

FIVE PLACES TO FLY FISH BEFORE YOU…

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH TOM ROSENBAUER

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ALL ABOUT APPLICATION

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58 BLUE-WINGED OLIVES

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VANESSA’S CARIBBEAN PORK CHOPS

GUIDED TRIP INFORMATION & SERVICES

A LOVE LETTER…

EDUCATION GUIDE


THE TROUTS DIFFERENCE

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routs Fly Fishing has proudly served the greater Denver fly fishing community since the spring of 1995. Starting as a small neighborhood fly shop, Trouts has continued to grow and evolve through the years, all with the goal of continually meeting our customers’ needs and exceeding expectations. This journey has seen numerous chapters, from our time on Old South Gaylord Street, to the debut of trouts.com, to our move to our current Denver location, to the addition of an outfitting business, and most recently the addition of our Frisco location. What separates Trouts from the rest isn’t listed in any of the above chapters. Instead it’s based on our belief that the most important part of who we are is rooted in the experience of every one of our customers. Whether in our shops, on the water, or online, we are dedicated to ensuring that every interaction you have with Trouts isn’t just positive, but more importantly memorable. If you’re one of our existing customers, we thank you for your continued patronage over the years. If you’re new to the Trouts Fly Fishing brand, then we encourage you to come and see what differentiates Trouts from the rest. Always remember, our home is your home, or maybe we’ll see you on the water.

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WHY TROUTS?

routs Fly Fishing is a full-service fly shop located in the heart of Denver, CO between Downtown and Cherry Creek North. We also have shop location in Frisco, CO, located right on Main Street. We are privately owned and operated, and we pride ourselves on operating in a manner that goes against the grain of the traditional fly shop. We strive to break down the barriers that have existed between fly shop employees and patrons, ultimately trying to create an atmosphere that is inviting to all anglers whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran. In addition to selling fly fishing goods, Trouts also offers a wide selection of fly fishing classes, guided trips, and destination travel options. At Trouts Fly Fishing we understand the importance of providing a quality educational experience for those looking to get into the sport of fly fishing. The goal behind our educational curriculum is to both inspire learning and offer our customers, no matter what their age or experience level, an opportunity to learn something new about fly fishing. Whether it’s familiarizing yourself with knots and rigging, learning and mastering the art of casting, attending one of our on-the-water schools or learning to tie your own flies, we have the instructors and classes for you. At one point we have all been novice anglers, and we all understand the difficulties and frustrations that exist for beginners. Yet we also know the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from mastering this sport and becoming a self-reliant angler. It is our understanding of this unique educational process and our passion for introducing people to the sport of fly fishing that truly separates us from the competition. For those who prefer a more on-on-one learning experience, we offer a wide variety of private fishing classes including fishing lessons, casting lessons, tying instruction, and guided trips.

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“Fuel For Your Fire” touches on what motivates us to get out on the water every chance we have. In this edition, we ask the Trouts Team what serves as fuel for their fire to spend time on the water.

SCOTT DICKSON TROUTS DENVER HEAD GUIDE COURTNEY DESPOS DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

ERIC SCHMIDT DENVER REGIONAL STORE MANAGER My favorite fishing is on water that moves. I love the sounds, smells and sights of a river or creek. I live in a place with no shortage of moving water. What keeps me coming back to my favorite river is the lively pulling on the end of my line and the challenges of conflicting currents, presentation, and reading water. Casting a dry dropper rig in pocket water and catching a fish that was exactly where it should be…it doesn’t get much better.

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Like many, I went to the river to disconnect and get away. My fly fishing pursuits were often driven by the urge to remove myself, separate, and heal from some intense life events. As the years have gone by this has changed. My desire now has shifted from internal and personal - to outward and giving. My fire is fueled by giving back - to the community, my son, the next generation, conservation, and those wanting to learn. I’m invigorated by the positive, the passion and the excitement of those interactions and the power of sharing. After all, what is all of this worth if we can’t bring other people into the experience that keeps us fueled.

I’m lucky to have a career that I love. I have fun on the water and enjoy helping people. Clients get to experience what I love about fishing. But when I have a chance to fish on my own, I simply have fun. Solo trips or fishing with a few buddies is a guaranteed good time. I find fun in friendly banter with a buddy missing a fish, sharing success stories, as well as remembering fishing blunders. Enjoying the moments that are created while fishing is what brings a smile to my face. Pursuing fish of all species is something that’s brought me joy since I can remember. Some days are tough - low temperatures, uncooperative fish, thick swarms of mosquitoes, or even ferocious no-see-ums never deter me. I have fun catching fish and I’m a big fan of fun.


fuel your fire

ALEX KASS WEBSITE & ECOMMERCE MANAGER

ZEKE HERSH FRISCO REGIONAL STORE MANAGER

What gets me excited about getting out on the water is the full experience of fly fishing. From the 4 a.m. alarm clock going off to the four-hour drive in the dark, to a breakfast of a Coors Banquet and gas station pizza - all of this adds to the experience of getting out on the water. Good friends, long days, traveling to new locations, the list goes on. Fishing has brought me to so many places I would have never experienced without it. It has created memories and friends I would have never met. Although a trophy fish is always in the back of my mind when heading out the door, it is really what leads up to that moment that fuels my fishing.

For me, fishing wild places - or places of wonder - has always been what fuels my fire. As a young angler, I would study maps for areas to fish that were not readily accessible. Then as a new guide in Florida, I would spend hours on Google Earth searching these wild places out. When the day comes and you find a deserted boat ramp, or faint trail and fish on the bite, it doesn’t get much better than that. These are also some of the reasons why I love to float fish. These rivers and places are harder to access and the fish may only be fished for seconds, if at all. And then I get to wonder, ‘will there be a big brown on that bank today?

RICK MIKESELL CHIEF OPERATIONS MANAGER Life is busy, way too busy - really stupid busy. Not long ago there was just fishing. All other activities were either necessary for basic survival, or simply to fool others that I was a well-adjusted human: school, work, food, social interaction - it was gloriously simple. Now I have two wonderful young children, a beautiful, and remarkably patient wife, two vibrant and growing retail stores, and a team of the best fly fishing guides in the front range. None of which I would ever consider trading, not even for unlimited quality fishing days. But still…I need to fish… to stay balanced. Now I try to maximize the hours between - the two hours after school drop off and before the start of work. Learning the intricacies of night fishing to sneak in a few fish after shutting down the shop for the day. This new balance at its very best is fishing with my kids, seeing them experience the natural world through fresh eyes, and seeing my passion meld into invaluable time shared with my family. It is all very different, but it’s starting to feel... balanced.

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YO HO HO AND A BOTTLE OF GINK

words + photos by Reid Baker

AFTER I HUNG UP THE WADERS ON MY FULL TIME GUIDE CAREER, I FELT THE INTENSE NEED TO MIX THINGS UP.

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spent years walking the same handful of rivers with clients, and found that what had made me successful as a guide— predictability and consistency—was impacting my overall enjoyment as a “civilian” angler. Simply put, I had lost that thrill factor you get when seeing a river for the first time. Though I had a couple of destination trips planned throughout the year, what I really needed was a fresh way to approach the waters in my home state. At one point early in my guiding days I had been logging commercial miles as a whitewater raft and float fishing guide. I was also fortunate enough to have a number of friends who owned boats throughout the years, but I was always at the mercy of their schedules. It didn’t take me long to conclude that a craft of my own would open me up to a refreshed


approach to the river. I’ve now had my raft for several seasons. I can absolutely say it immediately helped broaden the rivers I could access throughout the region, and accomplished my initial goal on day one. But what I didn’t exactly expect was how I enjoyed my time on the water once I pivoted to primarily being a float angler. The following thoughts and tips have impacted my enjoyment of days on the water the most. Here are just a few of them.

FLOAT AND BE HAPPY

Starting my guiding days up in Hog Island’s HQ town of Steamboat, I always felt that credo perfectly summed up the float fishing community. It’s just always seemed more chill. There is something about meandering down a trout stream with your best fishing buds, family or dog in the seats that takes away any nagging sense of urgency. Maybe it’s because you know you have miles of water ahead of you, and all you have to do is sit back and let the river take you there as the scenery changes. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve never found myself getting bummed out floating on a trout stream if the fishing is slow, or if there are other boaters, waders, SUP’ers… or even drunk tubers. I hate to break it to you, but if you’re thinking that buying a raft or dory is going to get you away from the crowds, you are in for a big disappointment. Just go to Pumphouse on the Colorado River on a Saturday morning in July, Grey Reef in April or The Bighorn during BWO season, and you’ll quickly realize you have every bit of angler density as the Cheesman Canyon trailhead. But despite the possibility for waiting your turn at the launch or someone

anchored up on your favorite hopper bank, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find you achieve a Zen-like level of peace about it all. You’ll ask your buddy to turn up that tune on the Bluetooth speaker, or chuckle when the dude on your hopper bank hangs up on the overhanging brush. Or, even better, call out how awesome it looked when he hooked up.

THE COMRADERY BETWEEN THE GUNWALES

There is something to be said about cramming two or three anglers within a 12’-16’ boat that brings people together in a unique way. As days and miles continue to grow in my log book, I find the conversations, jokes, debates, family time and

memories revolve more and more around that close proximity. Call it a focus group, social experiment or petri dish, but it’s something truly special that you can’t get when you’re spread out on foot along a sprawling run. My mother-in-law is a proud breast cancer survivor. During her treatment, she discovered the amazing catharsis and community she found through a fly fishing cancer group in her home state of Michigan. She credits the river and the people she met on it as a major factor in her recovery. But as years went on and after heavy rounds of chemo, her balance and sure-footedness began to decline, causing her to question her ability to wade. Then, after tripping over some barbed wire mid-river, she

10 QUESTIONS TO CONTEMPLATE IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT GETTING A RAFT OR DRIFT BOAT 1. How do you plan to use the boat? i.e. fishing, camping and overnights, whitewater, lake fishing, family floats? 2. How many days do you plan to be on the water? 3. Where will you store it? 4.Do you already have a trailer, how will you transport it? 5. How many people do you want to carry and fish with? 6. Do you have any rowing or river navigation experience? What types of boats have you rowed in the past? 7. Are you planning only day trips or do you want to use your raft for multiday adventures? 8. How long and how many people do you want to take? 9. New or used? What’s your budget? 10. Do you know how to identify safe flows for the rivers you intend to access, and do you have an education plan?

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faced the fact that her walk wading days needed to be behind her. Each summer her now annual float with my wife and I in Colorado is one of the highlights of her year - ours as well. Similarly, but at the same time very different, is if you’re on my short list of fishing buddies, you better have a thick skin before coming aboard the SS Baker. Heckling is, and should be, a staple in every healthy angler to angler relationship, and in my opinion, the mark of a true friendship. But I also believe a little social edge on the boat plays an essential role for both success and safety. Yes, it pushes you to fish better. More importantly, it pushes you to row your lines clean and avoid hazard. Then put anglers in the best position to hook up. The rower feels just as much a part of landing any fish as the one holding the rod, and I chalk that up to proficiency on the oars, clear lines of communication and some light ribbing from time to time. Just ask my friend, Farmer Shawn.

(Editor’s Note: here is the unofficial definition of “farming” a fish – verb - to be deprived of or cease to have or retain a fish you should have hooked and landed)

THE COOLER, OR AMENITIES IN GENERAL. BUT MOSTLY THE COOLER. Between dry boxes, boat bags filled with gear, or compartments for all your knick-knacks, there is a new level of conveniences to make your day extra prepped—provided you can stay organized, which is absolutely key. Multi day wilderness floats are

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essentially the perfect blend of backpacking serenity and peace, mixed with all the cushiness of car camping. And then there’s the cooler, oh the cooler! Gone are the days of PB&Js smashed inside your fishing vest, or long treks back to the parking lot to tailgate lunch. When the ice chest is the rower seat, or sits in the front bay of the boat, you have a whole new world of culinary experience while anchored up in your scenic float. I’ve come to truly appreciate a proper shore lunch shared amongst good people. And nothing beats the whole boat celebrating the (first?) fish of the day with cold beers straight out of the ice. I could go on, believe me. What I’ve found is the boat has a way to access

rivers differently and bring people together differently than walk wading. Not necessarily better, just different, which was everything I was looking for when I shoved off on the maiden voyage. What started out originally as a way for me to diversify the ways I approached the stream soon taught me new ways I came to enjoy my time on the water.

Special Note from the Author:

Boating, especially on rivers, is inherently dangerous. The author in no way recommends this activity without extensive training, area knowledge and well-maintained equipment. Never boat while impaired. Reid Baker is a front range weekend warrior, PTO destination angler, dedicated conservationist and a dabbling writer whose work has also appeared in The Flyfish Journal. When not fishing or planning his next trip, Reid also serves on the board of Denver Trout Unlimited.


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The Mammoths of Rio MariĂŠ

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words + photos by Jeff Currier

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ore than 350 miles west of Manaus, Brazil our float plane descended towards one of Amazon’s most far-flung fisheries. A fishery where access has been limited by the Brazilian government to very few anglers. A river the locals call “Rio de Gigantes” because its home to the largest peacock bass known to man. This is the Marié River, and I’m with Amazon fly fishing guru and friend, Rodrigo Salles of Untamed Angling. The Marié River is as remote in the Amazon as you can be. Its headwaters begin in the northwest corner of Brazil near the Colombian border. The meandering river flows for 450 miles before entering the high reaches of the Rio Negro, the second largest tributary to the Amazon. For Rodrigo and his Untamed Angling partner Marcelo Perez, running an adventurous fly fishing program in the middle of nowhere requires extensive research and there’s only one way to make such endeavors work - create a program where the local’s benefit. This means negotiating an agreement with Indian Chiefs. What Rodrigo and Marcelo have done is reward the locals more so for protecting their land by allowing high paying tourist fly fishers to visit rather than by allowing

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the outside world to rape and pillage their lands like in so many other places around the world. The Marié glistened below as it twisted through the untouched rainforest. Beautiful white sand beaches lined inside turns while river bends looked ridden with sunken trees and logs. I quivered with anticipation. This is ideal habitat for peacock bass. Soon we were skidding on top of the water up to our waiting mothership, the Untamed Amazon. The Untamed Amazon is a brand new boat specially designed for the Marié. This is the first vessel with 100% solar power generation for all electricity use. The boat has water filtration and its own sewage treatment plant. Untamed has gone out of its way with this boat considering the environment and the surrounding Indian Territory Communities. Once settled in our rooms we geared up to fish for the next six days. On the Marié our target fish is the speckled peacock bass (Cichla temensis). There are many types of peacock bass in the Amazon but the temensis is the largest species. In most of the Amazon these fish rarely exceed 15lbs, but on the Marié it’s not uncommon to catch ones of 20lbs or larger. This makes


right out of the boat if not careful. But good news, if you stay strong during the tug-a-war for about 15 seconds, most of the time you win. Throughout the week I tossed my favorite peacock fly. It’s not a particular pattern but it has plenty of red and white colors peacocks love. It’s a size 3/0. This one also has light dumbbell eyes to add sink. I fish it on the floating Jungle line and when the fly lands I start with two hard strips then let it sink five seconds. Then I pull it along with an easy strip.

this place perhaps the greatest peacock bass fishery in the entire Amazon. Eight, nine, or ten-weight rods work for peacock bass fishing. For the Marié however, forget the 8-weight because of the huge Marié fish. I brought my 9-weight Jungle Winston. And while floating lines are optimal, bring a sink tip as well. Scientific Anglers makes the Titan Jungle tapers in both floating and with intermediate tips. In my opinion these lines are mandatory. They are tapered to cast big flies like a dream and have a 60lb core strength. The reason you need the 60lb core is because rather than fish 20lb tippets like in the past, we fish straight 50lb fluorocarbon leader. It’s critical that the fly line is stronger than the leader so the tippet will break and not the fly line. Rodrigo and I, along with our local boatman Hamilton, hit the water promptly the next morning. The best places to find the huge temensis are in the oxbows. Oxbows are sort of like lakes off the main river channel. This is where fallen trees drape the edges. Peacocks hold deep inside the structure and this is where the 50lb leader proves its importance. Big peacock bass pull as hard as any fish in the world. They can yank a person

The action on a distant Amazon tributary is unreal. There are tons of fish if you’re away from humans. Here on the Marié drainage there’s no one. Not a soul. All week Rodrigo and I landed numerous butterfly peacock bass (Cichla ocellaris). They aren’t our target but are super fun to catch when the big fish aren’t easy to find. I advise fly fishing travelers to set goals for every trip. This week there are two things I hope to accomplish. The first is easy – have a great time. The second is catch a peacock bass over 20lbs. This is my 6th peacock bass trip and my biggest was slightly over 14lbs so this goal seemed almost unfathomable. But Rodrigo assured me I had a good chance. As Rodrigo and I picked our way through the butterfly peacocks the first morning I could feel we were in the presence of huge peacocks. Sure enough I connected to a beast early in and the duel was on. I won the hardest part, the beginning of the battle, but in the end as Hamilton poised with the net, my colorful fish made a gill-rattling leap and my fly dislodged. I was disappointed but reminded myself it was early in the day. I took a glance at my leader and fly to be sure all was ok and

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went back into action. It wasn’t ten casts later I was on again. And this was the fish I came for. I kid you not, after a few minutes of furry I was holding a 21 pounder. I couldn’t believe it. There’s nothing better than obtaining your hardest goal on the first day. The pressure was off before it started. The oversized cichlid measured at 85cm long and 55cm in the girth! In past Amazon trips I average two peacock bass over 10lbs in a week. Thirty minutes after the 21lber, to my disbelief, I landed another. This one was 16lbs. He chased both Rodrigo’s and my fly to the boat and ate mine as my leader entered the rod. It was a miracle I hooked him. And a marvel I didn’t break my rod when the fish exploded and spun away inches from my tip. Normally I’d keep casting but it was time to appreciate the moment. I popped a beer and kicked back. Rodrigo kept hard at work. I enjoy watching a good angler cast and hit the spots. Rodrigo is amazing. And he knew there was a big fish feeding frenzy. Rodrigo had himself braced in the position to hang on tight and torque on a giant. Sure enough as I drained my last swig of beer Rodrigo hooked up.

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Rodrigo landed a gorgeous paca. The peacock bass types can get confusing so I’ll try to explain. Once again, the big peacock bass we’re after are Cichla temensis. The common name is speckled peacock bass. When they have the dark bars on the side they call them Azul. When the bars don’t exist or are hard to see but instead there are beautiful white speckles all over, they are called paca.

IN THE AFTERNOON I ADDED A 17LBER AND 18LBER TO MY DAY, AND RODRIGO ADDED A 16LBER TO HIS. UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE! Rodrigo’s paca weighed 14lbs. Already this was the best day of peacock bass fishing I’d ever experienced. I could go on and on writing about our clashes with each big fish throughout this incredible week. But it was our last day that I’ll remember the most vividly. The Untamed Amazon had been moving its way downriver all week. The idea behind the mothership moving is so we never fish the same water twice.


Rodrigo, Hamilton and I zipped as far down river as Untamed Angling goes on the Marié. We headed for an oxbow off the main river. Rodrigo liked this spot because it had everything from deep banks with sunken trees for blind casting to a flat. A flat?

At 11am, after we’d been pounding away for three hours, I grabbed a brew and Rodrigo took a break as well. I thought we were getting ready to move but Rodrigo looked up at the sun then towards the middle of the lagoon.

Yes a flat. Rodrigo said at midday if we had enough sun we’d be sight casting to cruising peacocks across a shallow sand flat.

“See the shallow bar out there Jeff?” asked Rodrigo. “After these beers we’ll ease over and wait for fish to cross it. You are going to go nuts if it’s on…”

It all sounded incredible to me. I was in a slump and hadn’t landed a big peacock on two days. I was ready. We started at the lake mouth and eased our way in. I could tell by the intensity in which Rodrigo was fishing that I better beware for the possibility for that fish I’ve been dreaming of.

Visibility was superb. We could see across the four-foot-deep flat for a hundred feet. Sure enough, there was a hard to see peacock crossing and Rodrigo busted out a long accurate cast. I watched hoping to see the brute dart for his fly. Instead the fish sort of spooked and wheeled away in the other direction.

Rodrigo struck first and it wasn’t ten minutes into our morning. He was dredging with a sinking line. Most peacock fishing is done with the floater or intermediate sinking lines but Rodrigo wanted to give super deep a try. He had my attention as he got tugged around by his colorful contestant.

I don’t know why I make things harder on myself, but because Rodrigo had a fish in his area I looked toward the opposite side. The problem is I had the sun in my eyes and some bad cloud reflection. I could hardly see. But hardly doesn’t mean I couldn’t see at all. And I thought I saw an ungodly brute of a peacock bass.

Moments later Hamilton netted a lunker peacock. The peacock weighed 15lbs. I broke out the camera and blazed a few shots. We were in a typical big fish spot. Rodrigo and I cast towards the banks and sunken logs relentlessly but nothing more than a few of the smaller butterfly peacock species. These fish are fun and keep the energy going but every time you get hit you’re hoping for the big one.

I made a cast. Nothing. I was hesitant to cast again but then I got another glimpse. It was a fish and this time I plunked my fly close. There was no doubt I had this fish. I braced myself and after two quick strips to straighten my leader and line I began a slow deliberate retrieve. I didn’t go long before a hellacious thump.

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By the swoosh on hook-up we knew this was no ordinary peacock. And by the sound of line crackling off my spool despite my drag tightened heavily on my Bauer Reel we knew. This fish was more powerful than any big fish all week. I couldn’t stop this one. Luckily, I was safe from snags because the colossal peacock ran straight across the lagoon. “You have a true monster Jeff! A MONSTER!” Rodrigo shouted as he reeled his rig in. Then he worked his way to me and slapped me on the back. “A true monster I see! Indeed this peacock was an XXXL. And this fight wouldn’t be the ordinary one or two minute big fish battle. This fish came half way to the boat then surged back out at least six times. Finally I got him close and we got a look. No doubt, this fish was bigger than my day one 21 pounder. There were a few more startling moments in battle. It’s never easy getting a mammoth of any fish species in a net. But soon we succeeded and we hovered over Hamilton’s shoulder. “To the beach immediately Hamilton,” requested Rodrigo. I couldn’t stop staring at this one. Not only was he ginormous but the colors and condition of this special peacock were beyond belief. There wasn’t a miscue on him. This peacock weighed 24.5lbs and measured 92cm. It was the longest fish ever measured here on the Marié but short a couple pounds of the river record. We shot a ton of photos. I hardly noticed Rodrigo clicking them off because I was mesmerized. Advice to everyone – when you catch a magnificent fish enjoy it. Study every inch of the beautiful creature then look deep into its eyes. And when you release them, don’t take your sights off them until they completely disappear back to the wild. This is the ultimate way never to forget the moment. It’s why we catch & release fish. I need not say much more about my trip to the Marié River in Brazil. The peacock bass fishing there blew my mind. Fishing with Rodrigo was a blast. And the services of Untamed Angling from start to finish were second to none. I haven’t even mentioned that the chef on the Untamed Amazon has delivered some of the finest meals I’ve ever enjoyed on a fishing trip. Hands down, I believe I’ve experienced the best peacock bass fishing I’ll ever see in my life! To book the Marié River one can go directly to Untamed Angling or contact Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures based out of Bozeman, Montana. Or contact our author Jeff Currier at jeffcurrier.com. It should be known that the Marié season is short due to weather and water conditions and although the fishing is still in its exploration days, it seems late-August until mid-November are the most productive times.

Or visit yellowdogflyfishing.com 28

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: With over forty years of experience fly fishing the world, Jeff Currier has quite possibly fished more countries and caught more species on a fly rod than any person alive. He’s an active lecturer, published author, a well-known artist, and the subject of numerous films, articles and media projects. He is a well sought after expert for television and commentary on radio appearing on Fishing the West, Fly Fishing the World, In Search of Fly Water, Reel Adventures, Fly Fish TV, Fly Fish America and Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio. He was also a featured angler in the popular fly fishing movies Connect, Waypoints, Soulfish 2, Carpland, Evolution, Kendjam and Atlanticus. Jeff is constantly traveling and developing new techniques for catching the most exotic fish imaginable in places where even the most avid adventurers are hesitant to go. An IGFA World Record holder, Jeff has fished in 62 countries and caught over 400 species of fish on a fly.

You can follow Jeff’s global fly fishing adventures, exploits, tips, advice, photography and story-telling on his expanding blog and informative web site:

www.jeffcurrier.com


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“What the…. That was a tarpon for sure,” I said to my guide, Carlos. We were less than 100 feet from the other boat. “That was for sure a tarpon that jumped.” “Tarpon took the fly…. spit the fly… jack was chasing and the jack picked up the bait,” Carlos said. Matter of fact. On our second night in the jungle we didn’t have pork chops, but I asked Vanessa about the recipe again. They were so good – smoky, saucy, spicy… if you could conjure Caribbean cooking in all of your senses, her pork chops were it. Once again, she declined with a polite laugh. That night we talked about a big fish I hooked that day. It was bigger than any fish we hooked all week – and most certainly the biggest fish I had ever touched in my life. It grabbed my fly mid-strip and my rod and reel were almost swallowed by the ocean. It took off in one blistering run, jumped twice and quickly separated my class tippet in between the Bimini knots of the hand tied leader. It was as if I showed up at a gun fight with a Swiss Army knife. Game over. On our second to last afternoon after fishing we sat at the wooden table trying to fix a disaster. My pal Mike had hooked and fought a tarpon we estimated to be in the 80lb range – it was a great fish. As he brought it to the boat to be landed, unhooked and released… something went wrong.

VANESSA’S CARIBBEAN PORK CHOPS

words + photos by Will Rice

W

hen I first asked Vanessa to reveal her secret recipe she just laughed.

“Why’d you stop reeling Mike?” I asked. “My reel…,” he said, and trailed off. I looked down at his reel and it had literally broken in half. I reached for the spool as it flopped to the floor spilling out fly line and backing like multi-colored florescent intestines. The fish felt something had changed, and the odds tipped in his favor. It did a massive headshake at the side of the boat, exploded the leader and almost shattered the rod. For three tarpon neophytes, we were getting our asses handed to us. As we sat at the table later that evening, trying to un-knot the

“No, no, no…” she said, and headed back into the kitchen. We had just finished up Vanessa’s Caribbean Pork Chops after taking a jungle tarpon beatdown at the mouth of the Sixaoloa, a wide, murky river that for some of its’ course, separates Costa Rica and Panama to the south. That first night my friends and I lamented about the tarpon I had watched eat a fly, get strip set by my buddy, run, jump, run again…. Pause slightly before running back to the boat. There were three of us fishing out of two pangas patrolling the inshore for rolling fish. Ten minutes after those aerial acrobatics my friend’s guide reached down into the water and retrieved a massive yellow jack – but no tarpon. We were mystified.

SCAN THE QR CODE FOR THE COMPLETE STEP-BY-STEP RUNDOWN OF VANESSA’S PORK CHOP RECIPE.


backing and fly line from the exploded spool, Vanessa sat down and began to help us out. She methodically worked on the line until most of the major tangles were out and we could put it on another reel. “We’re having pork chops again tonight,” Vanessa announced. She then brought out a pile of peppers, onions, celery, and garlic. “If you want to learn, you can start chopping.” In the end, I think she just felt bad for us. But that evening I was able to watch Vanessa through every step of the process. I took copious notes and once again we savored the flavors of the Caribbean knowing we’d have another tough day on the water to follow. It was an early lesson in my fishing career that you might not always land the fish of your dreams, but every trip you’ll find something to bring home and remember.

Epilogue. When I returned to Denver I set out to re-create the Caribbean magic. I remembered that Vanessa specified that I get smoked pork chops – not the normal chops you find in a grocery store. I searched around a bit but smoked pork chops were hard to find. Finally, I stopped down at Oliver’s Meats on 6th Avenue (in between Gilpin and Williams Street) and hit the jackpot.

About the Author: Will Rice is a Freelance Journalist and his work has been featured in The Denver Post, The Drake Magazine, The Flyfish Journal, Fly Rod & Reel, Saltwater Fly Fishing, Outside Magazine.com, and Angling Trade, among other publications. He is also Creator, Writer and Producer of Down The Path – a missing persons podcast released in the spring of 2019. Will sums up his writing this way: “I have always had one guiding philosophy for my outdoor and travel writing: I am not alone,” says Will. “If I think something is cool or have a kick ass experience, there are a ton of other folks who will be interested in hearing about it and best case entertained - and possibly even inspired to get out and do something new. Pretty simple stuff.” For questions or comments Will can be reached at williamhrice72@gmail.com.

INGREDIENTS & METHOD FOR VANESSA’S CARIBBEAN PORK CHOPS Six (6) smoked pork chops One (1) large onion (cut into strips) One (1) red bell pepper (cut into thin strips) One (1) tomato, seeded and chopped One (1) orange bell pepper (cut into thin strips) One (1) jalapeño pepper (diced) Two (2) stalks of celery (thinly chopped) Three (3) cloves of garlic (roughly chopped) Six ounces of tomato sauce (house made marinara or favorite sauce, etc) Black pepper and salt to taste

METHOD • Flash sear the pork chops in a large pan over med/high heat • Add in 2 ounces of water to steam • Remove chops after searing for 5 minutes on each side – rest chops on a plate • Add in all of the vegetables and sauté until softened • Add small portion or sauce to the bottom of baking dish • Add in pork chops • Add in peppers, onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, celery etc on top of chops • Cover the chops and vegetables with remaining tomato sauce • Finish with black pepper and salt to taste • Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees • Remove, let stand for 7 minutes • Serve with Coconut Milk Rice & Beans

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Eric’s Tarpon Gurgler

Scan the QR Code for the complete step-by-step rundown of Eric’s Fly Tying Recipe.

Pattern Design & Recipe by Eric Schmidt

Photos By Ivan Orsic

Gurglers are great flies for both warm freshwater and saltwater applications. They are fairly easy to tie and fish well with good movement and gurgling sounds to attract more attention. Through trial and error fishing for bass, I found that replacing the traditional bucktail with rabbit strips for the tail added more movement and more strikes. I also add rubber legs in the tail and on the body for even more movement. They can be tied in a multitude of colors, flashy or dull and marked up to look like any number of critters that fish eat.

Tie in three rubber legs on each side of the tail, then tie

After dressing the hook, tie in a rabbit strip at in 6 strands of krystal flash on top of the tail. Apply a the back of the hook about twice the hook length thin line of super glue to the hook shank. This will lock and trim . the foam into place in the next step. 32


After trimming the foam to shape, tie it in leaving Tie in your hackle at the base of the tail. Tie in the a small space behind the hook eye. Criss-cross Estaz at the base of the tail and wrap it to the tight wraps of thread to pin the foam to the front of the hook where the foam ends. hook.

Materials Hook

Umpqua S415 BN5x size 2/0

Thread

3/0 Uni Black

Tail

Purple rabbit strip, Blk rubber legs, Purple Krystal Flash

Underbody

Purple Estaz, Purple saddle hackle

Body

4MM Black foam

Legs

Palmer wrap the hackle to the front of the hook still leaving a small space behind the eye of the hook. Fold the foam to the front of the hook and secure with four or five tight wraps of thread to form the head of the fly. Tie in three rubber legs on each side of the fly where the thread wraps form the head of the fly. Trim legs.

BLACK RUBBER LEGS Eric Schmidt is the Regional Store Manager for Trouts Denver. Eric has been chasing anything that swims with his fly rod since his days as a middle schooler getting after Bluegill on poppers. An avid fly tyer, Eric is happy to talk about the in’s and out’s of the finer points of proper palmering. If Eric’s not in the shop, there’s a good chance he’s throwing double dries on the Arkansas River.

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

There were no photos of this epic interview captured so we asked Paul Puckett to comb the google interwebs in effort to conjure up what this meeting of the minds might have looked like. What he came back with was… well… epic.

T

om Rosenbauer wears many hats in the world of fly fishing—author, podcast host, television personality, marketer, and more. But if I had one word to describe him, I’d choose “teacher.” Even though Tom isn’t that much older than me, I’ve often semi-joked to him that he taught me to fish, and I’m certainly not alone. Odds are, you own at least one of the 28 books on the how-to approaches to angling with flies he’s written during a prolific 43-year (and counting) career with The Orvis Company. It’s fair to say that nobody not named Lefty has ever had near the cumulative audience in this sport that Tom has. He’s obviously wicked-good on the water, and I’ve seen him do things with flies on technical Catskill rivers and far-off streams in Chile that I’ve never seen anyone else do, and only sometimes am able to replicate myself. And yet Tom maintains a folksy, unassuming humility and accessibility that when matched with credibility make him uniquely effective as a teacher. I appropriately had a chance to catch up with Tom at the “School of Trout” on the Henry’s Fork in Idaho to ask a few questions.

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WITH TOM ROSENBAUER

Is teaching people about fly fishing something you planned from an early age? How did you find this niche? Teaching is something I kind of fell into. When I first started working, I had no plan for what to do with my life, but I started at an Orvis retail store, and learned that teaching people how to use the things we sold them was key to getting them to buy things in the first place. From there, I started teaching in Orvis schools, and everything built from there. Nick Lyons talked me into writing my first book, and that was 28 books ago, counting revisions. Where do you get your stuff? It seems like after that many books, you’d run out of things to say… I still learn something new every single time I go out fishing, and I mean that seriously. I learn from other anglers. I learn from guides. I learn from people who might have never ever fished, but they do something purely by coincidence, and it works. The key in this sport is to recognize these things when they happen. Sensitive subject, but one I wrestle with myself sometimes as an author—what do you say to people who think we have enough anglers, and that we don’t need more people learning about how to fish, and where to go, because we don’t need more anglers on some waters.

I say that’s total BS. People who complain about crowded streams are just plain lazy. There are thousands of miles of rivers to fish, and saltwater flats, and carp ponds and more. Walk. Get a boat. Find it. And you don’t need 10 miles to yourself to have a great day. I can go to a river like the Delaware in New York, or the Missouri in Montana on any day and find a seam, or a riffle, or some piece of

water where something interesting and challenging is happening. And I can spend hours on that one challenge and be perfectly happy, whether I solve it or not.

Is there any place that you’ve been to just once so far, and thought, “wow, I absolutely have to go back there?” Cuba. But I’ve been there twice. Still, I think that’s only scratching the surface. But it’s harder to go there now (because of the politics) and hopefully that will change. How about a place where you’ve been that you thought, “Meh… been there, done that, not in any hurry to go back,” have you had any of those? Labrador. I thought it was nice, and caught the big brook trout, but I don’t have a burning desire to go back. Even Alaska… I haven’t been to Alaska in 30 years. It’s beautiful, the fish are great, and big, and all that, but the fishing is fairly simple. To be honest with you, my favorite kind of fishing is the kind I can do right in my back-yard stream, where the fish are smaller, but very spooky, and when you do everything right, you can catch them by sight fishing with a dry or nymph. I really like sight fishing above all other types of fishing. So now you’re on to other challenges—a new television series, more with the podcast. Talk about the overall media “mix” in this day and age and how you balance print with other media. There’s a lot of information out there but a lot is not curated. You can find some cool and interesting stuff, but who has time to sort through 6,000 random YouTube videos? People have so many

By Kirk Deeter

ways to learn now, and they can pick and choose how they do that, so I try to be in tune with those things… some still like to turn pages of a book, which is great… some want to listen to a podcast as they commute to work, and that’s fine… some want to watch video, etc. A huge part of the Orvis Learning Center is organizing and making things accessible, but the important thing is to give people what they want and need to become better at fishing. Sounds to me a lot like choosing flies out of the box, making a presentation, and getting a fish to bite… Yeah… you could certainly say that.

The second season of The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing, hosted by Tom Rosenbauer, will be on television in the coming months, be sure to tune in. About the Author: Kirk Deeter is the editor of TROUT magazine. He is also an editor-at-large for Field&Stream, and the editor-in-chief of Angling Trade. A lifelong angler, he has produced award-winning stories from the tip of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, to north of the Arctic Circle in Russia. His work has appeared in WIRED, Garden & Gun, The New York Times, and elsewhere. He co-authored the best-selling Little Red Book of Fly Fishing. He lives in Colorado with his wife of 25 years (Sarah), and son (Paul).

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Exploration & Discovery in Colorado There are so many of us who live in Colorado for the beauty, the mountains, rivers, lakes and our nature-based pursuits. As more people recognize the amazing surroundings and fishing opportunities, it’s worth pointing out that there are still incredible fishing experiences to be discovered. With that in mind, here are the top five things I’ve learned while angling in and around Colorado.

words by courtney despos photos by ivan orsic 41


There are still places to be fished with few people; learn to be ok with driving and hiking.

an entire state filled with wondrous expanses and varying topography. Get out there and check it out!

Want to feel a bit more seclusion than you do at your favorite or go-to spots? Want to honestly get away and disconnect? Don’t be afraid to jump in your car and pack the necessary items to hike. Give yourself a couple hours of space from the front range and be enlightened and amazed at the scenery, water, fish and decreased population density. The front range might be feeling the population boom the most, but there still exists

There’s more than trout in Colorado. I spent years with trout blinders on, chasing browns, rainbows, and cutbows. As I expanded my fishing social circle, I started to be enticed by other challenges and species on the fly. Colorado will always be a state known for trout, but have you felt the charge and aggressive take of a bass, pike, musky, wiper or

the intense fight of a carp on the fly? If not, consider branching out, researching and putting some time into other species. I promise - you won’t be disappointed. You don’t always need to fish 6x and size 24 flies. This might be the biggest change in my overall fishing approach and technique over my years of Colorado fishing. I remember the days where everything had to be micro-small and I am thankful to be beyond those days. Are there waters, techni-

Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and outside your usual spots. There’s a lot to be had and experienced in our state. Get out, stay out, and be #endorsedbymothernature! cal approaches and times that these particularly light tippets and intensely small flies are necessary? Absolutely. However, never underestimate the power of presentation and reaching into a different section of your fly box. Particularly, in heavily pressured waters. The fish are still there and eating. A well-presented fly outside the ordinary can be just the trick. Sixty percent of the time, streamer fishing works every time.

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Of all the days I’ve spent fly fishing, getting my first eat on the strip years ago sits with me vividly. I can recall every detail of that day through netting and landing that fish. From that moment forward, I dedicated myself to getting big eats on meaty flies. I now spend more than the majority of my time on the water casting and stripping streamers. As I often get asked questions about my technique, approach, and presentation with streamer fishing, the one thing I consistently tell people is that there’s no such


thing as ‘streamer season.’ Although understanding how to properly fish a streamer is key, I fish streamers with clouds or sunshine, warmth or cold, river or still water. Take advantage of ski season and Broncos Sundays. I grew up counting down the weeks, weekends and days until my first chairlift ride up the mountain. I’m as big of a Broncos fan as the next Coloradan, but have you experienced a Colorado winter day on the water with a quiet calm and an active hatch? Challenge yourself this winter to step away from the ski slope and put the remote down to step outside with a few extra layers. Do your research and get dialed-in to the best winter flies for your target fishery and enjoy a river to yourself with hungry and active fish! Courtney Despos is the Director of Education for Trouts Fly Fishing and avid angler. She enjoys getting out on the water whether throughout Colorado, the U.S. or trying her skills at new species in other countries. Courtney uses fly fishing as a sanity balance to her typically high stress corporate gig. She loves to impact new and novice anglers by creating community and making fly fishing accessible.

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Five Places To Fly Fish

Before You…

(Oh Hell, who needs a reason!) By Chris Santella

I am frequently asked about my favorite fly fishing destinations. While I haven’t been everywhere I’ve written about in Fifty Places and Fifty More Places To Fly Fish Before You Die, I’ve been lucky enough to visit quite a few. here, I’ve shared a few favorites all special in their own way.


electricity and en-suite bathrooms, and dine in the main lodge with windows overlooking the lakes and the Wood River Mountains to the west. Each day, anglers fly out to a different river (or river section). Anglers have access to nearly all of the famed rivers of the western Bristol Bay region, including the Nushagak and Togiak drainages; the Wood River and Tikchik Lakes systems (which include the Agulipak and Agulowak Rivers); and the Kulukak River. Where and how you fish will depend on when you visit, as conditions evolve with the arrival of new runs of salmon. Aside from mousing up some fine rainbows (up to 24”), my most memorable day was targeting kings (chinook) on the Kulukak, an intimate river that spills into the Pacific. Fishing was steelhead-simple – toss a Dolly Llama to the far bank (with a 10-weight) and let it swing. I landed five kings that day to 25 pounds, and lost one that was closer to 40, all within two miles of the salt. Seeing that big fellow jump clear of the water was as astonishing as watching my biggest rainbow slash at the mouse 3 times before sucking it in.

NEW ZEALAND – PHOTO BY JON COVICH/CEDAR LODGE

SOME OF THE SOUTH ISLAND’S FINEST AND LEAST ACCESSIBLE RIVERS (LIKE THIS STREAM THAT WOULD PREFER TO BE UNIDENTIFIED) ARE IN REACH THANKS TO CEDAR LODGE’S HELICOPTER. THERE AREN’T FISH IN EVERY POOL, BUT HIKE ENOUGH MILES AND YOU’LL FIND QUALITY BROWNS TO 6 POUNDS AND MORE.

Bristol Bay, A Fancy and a Cheap Way Near Dillingham/Bethel, Alaska

All five species of Pacific salmon are available in the rivers surrounding Bristol Bay (depending on when you visit). Arctic char, Dolly Varden, and beautiful leopard rainbows—maybe up to 30” - are also potential targets. Sprinkle in the likelihood of a few brown bear sightings and the intangible frontier appeal of the vast tundra, and you understand why the Bristol Bay area is atop so many angler’s must-visit lists. I’ve been lucky enough to experience greater Bristol Bay two different ways. The first was a week at Tikchik Narrows Lodge. Tikchik sits at the eastern end of the 1.6 million acre Wood-Tikchik State Park, a roughly 30-minute floatplane ride from the fishing town of Dillingham; there are no roads in these parts. Guests stay in heated cabins with 24-hour

On the other side of the equation – at least in terms of amenities – is the DIY float. I’ve done the Kanektok four times. Twice the river blew out, which makes for a very long (roughly 90 miles) rafting trip. But two times it didn’t, and the fishing for rainbows, oversize dollies and silvers (we floated in late August) was sensational. Floating the K is as much an adventure in self-sufficiency and minimalism as it is a fishing trip. Travelers are flown into Pegati Lake and dropped off with raft and supplies. Then you’re on your own. We had to carefully weigh every item on our packing list to make the plane’s 1,200 pound limit, casting off items at the last second to reduce weight. Camp each night was on a different gravel bar (so Mr. Griz has a long sightline). Rowing is not technical, though when you reach the braid section, beware—choose the wrong channel, and you’ll run out of water. Assuming you survive the braids, the bears and a lack of beer (at least for our group, given those pesky weight limitations), you’ll have a real sense of accomplishment when you leave the river at the Yupic village of Quinhagak…and a realization that you don’t really need very much to be happy (as long as plentiful fish are involved).

Punta Gorda, Belize For many permit aficionados, Belize is considered ground zero. And for many regular visitors to Belize in search for those elusive, inscrutable scythe-tailed devils, Punta Gorda – and Garbutts’ Lodge – is the destination of choice. Why? The fish are there, and the Garbutt brothers and their extended family know how to find them. As any permit angler knows, an abundance of shots equals a greater likelihood of actually hooking up. Punta Gorda has the permit numbers. This is thanks to largely intact habitat

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in the Bay of Honduras north and east of town, and the fact that much of that habitat falls within two protected areas: Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Paynes Creek National Park. Illegal gill netters (working out of Honduras) have been poaching in the area as of late, though local guides and conservation groups are working to combat this threat. For many years, the Garbutt Brothers – Scully and Oliver – and their extended family (including Uncle Vic and cousins Yogi and Kenny) have established a reputation for finding fish and capitalizing on those opportunities. (Scully, the dean of Punta Gorda guides, has been leading anglers to permit for over 20 years.) Much of the fishing is from a panga, though there are wading opportunities on pancake flats too. It’s a family affair at Garbutts: brother Dennis oversees day-to-day operations; sister Betty prepares many of the meals. Where the lodging/dining at Ryabaga borders on the opulent (especially for the tundra), the Garbutt’s lodge is more utilitarian— though the rooms that rest upon stilts above the Caribbean have decks for taking in the sun- or moon-rise, bathrooms with hot showers and air conditioning. Any shortage of fish-inspired knick-knacks or haute cuisine is assuaged by a bottomless cooler of Belikin beer. Between the Yucatan, Cuba and other venues in Belize, I logged at least 30 days of angling before landing my first permit. Both times I fished at Garbutt’s, I landed fish. And on my most recent visit, two anglers who had never fly fished in the salt caught fish. Punta Gorda and the Garbutts deliver, sometimes in a dizzying fashion.

Garbutts Sign – photo by Chris Santella

Ponoi River

Kola Peninsula, Russia The legend “Stairway to Heaven” is carved into the steep steps that lead from the helicopter landing area on the tundra to the Ryabaga Camp on Russia’s Ponoi River, one of the world’s most celebrated Atlantic salmon fisheries. The scene as you descend the stairway is inspiring—steep, birch-blanketed banks slant down to a wide ribbon of blue that bends out of view in the distance. The red roofs of the camp poke up from the valley below. This slice of heaven comes at a rather lofty price—prime weeks can eclipse $15,000 per person, and that’s before one’s traveled to Murmansk. Yet a large percentage of guests are return visitors, having trekked to this remote region of northwestern Russia’s Kola Peninsula 20, 30, even 50 times. It’s incredibly large numbers of fish that have put the Ponoi on every Atlantic salmon angler’s bucket list since the fishery came on line in 1990. Where anglers may hope to find a handful of fish a week on many rivers in the United Kingdom and Canada – if they’re fortunate – fly fishers here during peak times can anticipate eight or ten fish in a day…and occasionally many more. (During one of my visits to Ryabaga, several anglers landed an average of over 20 fish a day!) There are ten beats stretching along 45 miles of river that are controlled by Ryabaga; anglers fish a different beat a day over the course of six days. Much of the fishing is from the boat, with guides “dropping” anglers through a given pool a few meters at a time, so all the water can be covered. The Ponoi will not yield fish in the 40 pound and above class,

For those in the know, Garbutts Lodge in Punta Gorda, Belize is the place to go to break your permit curse. The lodging ain’t fancy, but it’s clean and air-conditioned—and you’re just about guaranteed multiple shots a day. 46


though fish in the 30s are taken most years. On certain beats, they are quite receptive to skated flies. Almost 200 miles from the nearest road, the very existence of Ryabaga seems a small miracle – fishing aside. Tidy cabins with en suite bathrooms and electric heat offer respite from early and late season cold. Cocktails and meals (including medallions of reindeer and snow crab) are taken in the “Big Tent,” a canvas Quonset hut that’s heated with pot belly stoves and equipped with full bar and a fly shop in case you’ve overlooked any gear. Much of the 40+ staff have worked here for many years; during several visits, it was my sense that repeat guests come as much for the chance to visit with their Russian friends as to catch salmon. My most memorable Ponoi moment? Fishing the home pool at midnight (for much of the season, the sun never sets)…and landing eight fish in less than an hour!

Cedar Lodge

New Zealand, South Island For many years, aspiring trout bums have made their way to New Zealand, bought a third-hand caravan and fished and camped their way around the South Island. Brown and rainbow trout were introduced here in the 1800s, yet they hold little interest for most locals. A polite angler could knock on a door, request access to the river flowing through a sheep rancher’s land, and gain entry. A little sleuthing at the local pub might unlock other opportunities. It took a bit of work, but the camper-vanning angler could have a quality experience for a very modest outlay. Cedar Lodge is not that sort of trip. The lodge, in the village of Makaroa, is strategically situated by Mount Aspiring National Park. This affords guests fast access – by helicopter – to a number of the region’s finest rivers…rivers that might take days to be reached on foot, if they could be reached at all. (Cedar Lodge founder Dick Fraser helped pioneer heli-fishing on the South Island.) I have to say that the helicopter rides were worth the price of admission, whether we were hugging hillsides of dense beech forest or swooping over glaciers to reach seldom fished rivers on the west side of the Southern Alps. On four rivers I fished, my guide and I encountered zero other anglers. Helicopters are spendy, but they almost insure privacy. I’d always heard that the browns and rainbows of the South Island were large, few and far between and hard as hell to spot. All this proved true. Hiking upstream from pool to pool, my guide would sometimes spot a fish, sometimes not. Invariably, I did not see the fish; at least not without a good deal of guidance. But once the fish were located, they were quite responsive to a decent presentation…and none of the trout (mostly browns) that I encountered were less than four pounds.

Alaska Grizzly - photo by Geoff Roach

Brown bears are an ever-present facet of any Alaska trip, and the Kanektok is no different. On one late August float, we encountered 37 bears (at varying distances) over 8 days…a few too many for comfort! It’s quality, not quantity, at Cedar Lodge. But the quality – in terms of scenery, meals using locally sourced ingredients and overall fishing experience – is first rate.

Bulkley/Morice River Telkwa, British Columbia

Steelhead are hands down my favorite fish to pursue. Living in Oregon, I’m lucky to have many fine steelheading options in my backyard—the Deschutes, North Umpqua and John Day for summer-run fish, the Sandy, Clackamas and any number of coastal streams for winter fish…plus the fine rivers of the Olympic Peninsula less than a morning’s drive away. Yet with this embarrassment of riches nearby, my steelhead friends and I have longingly looked north to the Skeena system to slake our lust for chrome—what steelheader hasn’t? Given the (relatively) robust returns and the potential for a fish eclipsing the magic 20-pound mark, the rivers of the Skeena

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Bristol bay Mouse fishing – photo by Chris Santella

The rivers of greater Bristol Bay offer shots at all five species of Pacific salmon, but serious anglers will generally pursue leopard rainbows. Beads and flesh flies really produce—but there’s nothing like getting a rainbow to a mouse. This fish came to the fly three times before grabbing, and taped out at 24”. system – particularly the Bulkley, the Morice, the Babine, the Kispiox, the Sustut, the Copper, and the Skeena itself – are hallowed steelhead grounds. In 2001, one of my cohorts and I rented a cabin on the Bulkley. But we made the mistake of dragging our young families up there…and the river went out upon our arrival. We each hooked only one fish in six days—smallish specimens that came right in, did a death spiral and came off before we could even touch them. As it was on the same run, I’m convinced it was the same fish. Each evening, we were greeted by the baleful looks of our wives who had been left with three toddlers all day in a cold, rainy place devoid of indoor diversions beyond the tiny DVD player my wife had wisely thrown into her suitcase at the last moment. Last year we set out to set the record straight. Five of us rented a house in the village of Telkwa, drove the 950 miles north from Portland with two rafts in tow, and flogged the Bulkey and Morice for five days on our own. (DIY fishing is not permitted on weekends for out-of-province anglers.) The rivers were low and cold for mid-September, but once we switched to tips and began fishing slower water, fish were found… for some, many fish. It was not an easy trip. We did our own shuttles, which meant a lot of driving and a lot of waiting. Some of the put-ins are not put-ins at all, which meant a lot of lugging heavy rafts. But the mist-shrouded mountains, old-growth-lined banks (occasionally patrolled by black bear)

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and heavy shouldered Morice/Bulkley fish made it more than worthwhile. And the price tag – including licenses, hotels en route, gas, food, booze and house rental – came to around a $1,000 a person…a fraction of lodge rates. In fact, as I write, we are packing for this year’s Bulkley assault. Don’t bother trying to rent the River House in mid-September. We have it reserved the next few years!

About the author: Chris Santella is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Portland, Oregon. A passionate fly fisher and eager (if largely incompetent) golfer, he writes frequently on these topics…as well as many others. Chris is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post and many fly fishing publications. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker, Golf, Travel & Leisure, Travel & Leisure Golf, San Jose Mercury News, American Lawyer…and many others. When he’s not writing, casting a Freight Train in the Deschutes River for steelhead or hitting short irons dead right at Bandon Dunes, Chris plays guitar and sings (at least he calls it that) with Catch & Release.


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All About Appl


lication

T

he sport of fly fishing is a pastime of experiences. There is no determining factor of a day’s success or a measure of value to time spent on the water. We by Tucker Ladd all go fishing for our own reasons and pursuits, and it is because of this fact, that the sport of fly fishing offers such unique and one-of-a-kind experiences. Yet an often overlooked and misunderstood component of a good day on the water is the tool of the trade, a.k.a. the fly rod. As a purveyor of fly fishing goods and services for two decades, I’ve seen and experienced a great deal as it pertains to anglers and fly rods. It is my opinion that the number one determining factor in choosing a fly rod should not be the action of the fly rod, but instead the application for which the rod is to be used. In essence, you should be thinking about where and how you are going to use a fly rod, as this will help ensure you’ll get a tool that truly meets your needs on the water. To better understand this concept, we asked five Sage Elite Pros what their preferred fly rod is for their typical day on the water. 51


Russell Miller

Sage Ambassador, Team USA Traveling Member and Director of Marketing for Umpqua Feather Merchants Home Waters: Colorado Fly Rod of Choice: Sage ESN 4100-4 “What makes the ESN suited for euro style nymphing? First, the long length gives anglers the ability to reach across complex currents to keep their flies drifting at the correct speed. With so many rods, as you lengthen them out, you start to lose recovery time in the blank and you get a wobbly tip, that shakes your sighter, which makes strike detection impossible. This is not the case with the Konnetic HD material that the ESN is built with, it provides quick tip dampening and an extremely light blank to make all day high sticking easier on your shoulder. The action of the rod is designed to be able to cast long leaders and light flies, but more importantly protect extremely light tippet. There is a difficult balance between a rod that is too soft and cannot appropriately fight fish - and too heavy that you run the risk of breaking light tippet. The ESN walks that fine line perfectly. It is my go-to for double nymph rigs, dry dropper, single dry fly fishing, and jigging streamers.”

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Jon B. Cave

Pat Dorsey

Home Waters: Florida Fly Rod of Choice: Sage SALT HD 890-4

Home Waters: Colorado Fly Rod of Choice: Sage LL 490-4

Sage Ambassador and Professional Fly Fishing Instructor

“Obviously, no single fly rod will handle all fishing situations, but, if I had to rely on only one for the majority of my fishing in Florida’s waters, it would most certainly be the Sage SALT HD 8-weight. Like all SALT HD rods, it delivers exceptional performance at all distances, from the longest presentation to the shortest; throws a super smooth line with extremely tight loops; and is a delight to cast even when the wind is blowing hard. The rod also has more than enough lifting power to effectively fight big fish, yet it can quietly present a fly to a tailer without spooking them – even in calm water.”

Sage Elite Pro and Professional Fly Fishing Guide

“As a walk wade fly fishing guide that specializes in fooling finicky tailwater trout, I’m always looking for the perfect rod for technical dry fly fishing. Most of my dry fly encounters are in tight quarters, targeting super-selective surface feeders within 15-25 feet. I’ve really come to appreciate the Sage Trout LL family of rods because they stack the odds in my favor when I’m fishing with small dry flies and light tippets. The medium action aids in a smooth casting stroke with a precise, yet delicate delivery. Toss in a supple tip to protect the spider web thin tippets in the heat of battle and you really have something. My go-to rod is the Trout LL 9-foot, 4 weight.”


Tanner Smith

Dylan Mendoza

Rob Parkins

Home Waters: Colorado & Wyoming Fly Rod of Choice: Sage DART 376-4

Home Waters: Texas & Colorado Fly Rod of Choice: Sage PAYLOAD 789-4

Home waters: Idaho Fly Rod of Choice: Sage X 590-4

Sage Elite Pro and Operations and Fulfillment for Rep Your Water

“The Sage Dart is my go-to small creek rod, the 376 being my model of choice. The variety of different water small creeks present an angler, means you need a fly rod with a wide range of capabilities. Whether I need to stick a dry fly into a tight pocket between overhanging willows or air it out a little bit to rising fish in a beaver pond, the fast action of the Dart provides versatility that allows me to deliver accurate casts in any situation. It is also packed with a ton of feel. I know a lot of people associate small creeks with classic slow action rods but trust me, if you take the Dart to your favorite brookie or cutthroat stream it will become your go-to as well.”

Sage Elite Pro and Professional Fly Fishing Guide

“When I’m bass fishing in central Texas, I always find myself reaching for the PAYLOAD 789-4. The Payload is able to cast wind resistant flies, such as deer hair poppers and large articulated streamers more effectively. Its fast action tip allows you to have a powerful pickup when bank fishing, where longer and more accurate casts are needed. The rod also features a softer butt section that helps with leverage when trying to keep bass out of structure. For those advantages, that are unmatched by any other rod—I always keep a couple of these rods in the boat.”

Sage Ambassador and Public Waters Access Coordinator for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

“As an angler who usually fishes Yellowstone area rivers from a boat, I am spoiled in the way I get to choose the appropriate rod for a specific application. With no weight or space restrictions, on most days there are 3-4 rods per angler in my boat, which allows us to easily switch rods depending on what method we are utilizing at the time. Life would be simple if this was always the case. Many times, due to time constraints, water conditions or the lack of fishing partner, I set out on foot. While wade fishing larger streams such as the Henrys Fork or the Yellowstone inside the park, I prefer to be mobile and not carry additional rods with me, so I need one rod that will do everything well, such as the Sage X. Using the 9’ 5wt X I can make delicate presentations with small dries, launch long casts with streamers, indicator nymph or make accurate casts with large stonefly patterns tight to the bank. While not perfect in all cases, I feel confident that I can utilize that one rod to catch trout in most situations.”

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NEW

TROUT LL

Shown with Sage Click Series Reel

Introducing the all-new dry fly trout rod. Classic trout rod feel with precision control.

Handcrafted in the USA


DRY FLY

/

MEDIUM ACTION

sageflyfish.com


Words + Photos by Ivan Orsic


Blue-Winged Olives a love letter...


My Very Dear Blue-winged olives: Indications are very strong that you shall be the major fare for our most beautiful of trouts come spring...and again in fall. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines, that may fall under your eye when I’m fishing those wintertime midges.

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Blue-winged olives, my love for you is driftless. You serve as a source of inspiration as spring approaches and a source of reflection upon autumn’ s door. Your arrival brings light on the gloomiest of days and tempts even the ficklest of trout. If it is necessary that I should cast you downstream on the battlefield of those rising rainbows, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly a trouts’ health now leans upon the triumph of your emergence.


Do not mourn my absence this summer and ignore the fact that I am gone fishing the bigger, gaudier salmon fly hatch and tossing a flashy streamer or two. Wait for me, for we shall meet again in fall...and then again the next spring.


I have unlimited confidence in your ability to hatch prolifically on those overcast days. I know that you’ll bring every fish in the river to the surface as they’ve never done before. - sull-Ivan


YOU ARE GOING TO NEED A BIGGER NET. Air TH

Alpha+

Winston rods are designed to take your casting and fishing to the next level. INTRODUCING our newest rods for big powerful fish. THE NEW WINSTON AIR TH and THE NEW WINSTON ALPHA+ promise to have you drooling over the performance and possiblities of those giants lurking in the shadows.

TO UP YOUR GAME

WINSTON_ANGLINGTRADE_ICASTSHOW_FINAL.indd 1

winstonrods.com

VISIT WWW.WINSTONRODS.COM

11/5/19 1:51 PM


Pure feel. Pure presentation. For those who prefer to fish with a light touch. IFTD’s 2018 Best of Show Freshwater Winner. Fly Fisherman’s 2018 Best New Dry Fly Rod

WEIGHTS: 2 thru 5wt.

LINE

LENGTH

GRIP

ROD PRICE

BL ANK PRICE

2wt.

7'

CIGAR

$875

$438

GUIDES: Chrome nanolite stripper guide/chrome plated, light wire snake guides

3wt.

6'6”

CIGAR

$875

$438

REEL SEAT: Nickel Silver with figured Maple insert

3wt.

7'

CIGAR

$875

$438

STORAGE: Premium graphite rod tube with embroidered logo rod sock

3wt.

7'6”

CIGAR

$875

$438

3wt.

10’

CIGAR

$875

$438

• Advanced Boron III light line rods

4wt.

5'9”

CIGAR

$875

$438

• Moderate action with quick recovery that allows for open loops for

4wt.

7'6”

CIGAR

$875

$438

4wt.

8'

CIGAR

$875

$438

4wt.

8'6”

CIGAR

$875

$438

• Slim profile with fine grip and guide configurations for better connection to the rod

4wt.

9'

CIGAR

$875

$438

• Proprietary design puts presentation and tippet protection as the first priority

4wt.

10’

CIGAR

$875

$438

5wt.

9’

CIGAR

$875

$438

5wt.

10’

CIGAR

$875

$438

ACTION: Medium SECTIONS: 4

HIGHLIGHTS

fine dry fly presentation along with the ability to generate faster line speed as required for different conditions • True Winston progressive action

• Ideal for light nymph and dry fly fishing applications. • Designed and Handcrafted in Twin Bridges, MT

For more information on our complete line of rods, please visit winstonrods.com


O

ne of the best aspects of fly fishing in Colorado is the abundance of fishing options and destinations, many of which are available year-round. We are proud to offer guided fly fishing trips 365 days a year. Trouts Fly Fishing is committed to offering our clients the finest guided adventures. We cater our trips to our clients’ needs to ensure that their time on the water is relaxing, enjoyable, and most importantly, memorable. Whether you are looking for a quick half-day outing, a float trip down the mighty Colorado River, or perhaps looking to organize a unique corporate event on a world-class private ranch, look no further than Trouts Fly Fishing. The following is a list of fly fishing trip options and associated pricing. To maintain a quality experience for all of our clients, we try to keep the client-to-guide ratio at 2:1, but we are happy to accommodate up to three clients for every guide. All of our trips depart rain or shine, unless the guide deems the conditions unsafe. Our trip rates are also all inclusive, meaning the only thing they don’t include is fishing licenses and any gratuity you decide to leave for your guide.

If you have any questions or you would like to book a day on the water with us, please call (877) 464-0034 or email info@troutsflyfishing.com.

ALL OR PART OF THIS OPERATION IS CONDUCTED ON PUBLIC LANDS UNDER SPECIAL PERMIT FROM U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

HALF-DAY FLY FISHING TRIPS

FULL-DAY FLY FISHING TRIPS

Half-day trips take place in either the morning or the afternoon, with the time and location of the trip fully catered to your needs. Half-day wade trips are offered year-round out of both our Denver and Frisco locations, with trips taking place on a variety of river options in and around the Denver and Frisco areas. Half day trips are ideal for families, those with limited schedules, or anyone looking for a few hours on the water.

Full-day fly fishing trips are a great way to experience the sport of fly fishing with one of our experienced professional fly fishing guides. Full-day trips are offered out of our Denver and Frisco locations and take place on a variety of rivers depending on the time of year, and the needs of our clients. These trips are ideal for anglers looking to improve their skills, or anyone who wants to enjoy a memorable day on the water.

DURATION

4 hours of fishing (doesn’t include drive time to and from the fishing location)

TROUTS IS A PROUD ORVIS ENDORSED OUTFITTER WITH LOCATIONS IN DENVER AND FRISCO COLORADO WE PROUDLY OFFER BOTH WALK/WADE AND FLOAT GUIDED TRIPS ON A QUINTESSENTIAL COLLECTION OF CLASSIC WESTERN WATERS

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DURATION

6-8 hours of fishing (doesn’t include drive time to and from the fishing location)

TRIP INCLUDES

TRIP INCLUDES

Drinks/refreshments, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippets, etc.), waders, boots, rod, and reel.

Lunch and drinks, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippet, etc.), waders, boots, rod, and reel.

PRICING

PRICING

1 Person: $350 2 People: $395 3 People: $525

1 Person: $450 2 People: $495 3 People: $650

SEASON

SEASON

Year-Round

Year-Round


FULL-DAY FLOAT FISHING TRIPS Our guided float trips are conducted out of a drift boat or raft, and are offered exclusively out of our Frisco location on the Colorado, Eagle and Roaring Fork Rivers. Float trips are ideal for anglers looking to see and fish water that they wouldn’t have access to on foot, as well as those looking for a unique and memorable day on the water. Due to the logistics of these trips, they are only offered for full-days.

DURATION

8 hours of fishing (doesn’t include drive time to and from the fishing location)

TRIP INCLUDES

Lunch and drinks, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippet, etc.), waders, boots, rod, and reel.

PRICING

1 person: $600 2 people: $650

SEASON

Year-Round

GROUP AND CORPORATE (7+ PEOPLE) FLY FISHING TRIPS Group trips can be conducted as half-day or full-day trips. They include: Lunch and drinks (cold sandwiches, although hot lunches are available upon request), terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippets, etc.), and any necessary fly fishing equipment. In addition, the cost of these trips includes a 20% gratuity for the guides, and all trips are billed in full in advance. * Lunch is available for half day fly fishing trips upon special request and for an additional fee. Please make sure to discuss this at the time you book your trip.

2020 GUIDED TRIPS

PUBLIC WATERS

Colorado has some of the finest and most extensive public water options of any state in the Rocky Mountain West. The abundance and quality of public access is unmatched. Trouts Fly Fishing is proud to offer the most in depth and encompassing resume of public water options of any outfitter in the state. Whether you’re looking for a close to town option for a quick getaway, a challenging tailwater fishery to enhance your angling abilities, or a relaxing day spent in a drift boat, we have the water and resources to meet your needs. But don’t let this list of angling options overwhelm you, as our seasoned and qualified guide staff will determine your fishing location based upon experience level, angler goals, and seasonal conditions. However, in the event you have a certain piece of water you’ve always wanted to fish, don’t hesitate to formally request one of these world-class fisheries when booking your next trip with us.

TROUTS FLY FISHING IS PROUD TO GUIDE ON THE FOLLOWING PUBLIC WATERS COLORADO RIVER SOUTH PLATTE RIVER (AND TRIBUTARIES) ARKANSAS RIVER BLUE RIVER WILLIAMS FORK RIVER ROARING FORK RIVER FRYINGPAN RIVER EAGLE RIVER BEAR CREEK CLEAR CREEK

OFFERINGS & RATES

EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES

In addition to our extensive list of Public Water offerings, Trouts Fly Fishing is pleased to offer our customers unparalleled access to some of the finest and most sought-after private properties and ranches in the state. Our list of Exclusive Properties is ever-evolving and designed to offer anglers a wide array of fishing options and experiences. Does casting dry flies to wild brown and brook trout sound like your idea of fun? What about sight fishing to trophy rainbows that could exceed 30”? Do you have a group of 20 of your best clients that you want to show a day on the water that they’ll never forget? Our extensive list of Exclusive Properties will have you covered on any of the above situations.

TROUTS FLY FISHING IS PROUD TO GUIDE ON THE FOLLOWING EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES BOXWOOD GULCH RANCH

NORTH FORK OF THE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER

LONG MEADOW RANCH

NORTH FORK OF THE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER

NORTH FORK RANCH

NORTH FORK OF THE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER

RAWHIDE RANCH

NORTH FORK OF THE SOUTH PLATTE RIVER

ABELL RIVER RANCH SOUTH PLATTE RIVER

ALL OR PART OF THIS OPERATION IS CONDUCTED ON PUBLIC LANDS UNDER SPECIAL PERMIT FROM U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

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T

routs Fly Fishing is more than just your neighborhood fly shop selling flies and guided trips. Our customers are traveling to the far reaches of the globe with a fly rod in hand. As Colorado’s premier fly fishing retailer and outfitter, we know that we need a dynamic offering of services to meet the needs of all of our customers. This is what we call our Trouts Signature Services. Trouts Signature Services are a variety of services unique to Trouts Fly Fishing, and more importantly, differentiates us from the competition. Our focus is on the goods and services we offer our customers daily. From day one, Trouts Fly Fishing has strived to do things differently, and we are confident that you will find the experience offered at Trouts is far beyond what you will find at any other fly shop.

Signature Reel Rigging

Fly Fishing Travel The staff at Trouts Fly Fishing has long enjoyed traveling the globe with a fly rod, and we are proud to offer a variety of hosted fly fishing trips to our customers, family and friends. All of these trips are planned, organized and hosted by a Trouts Fly Fishing representative, and are a great way to enjoy a world-class fly fishing trip with other like-minded anglers. Additionally, we have partnered with Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures to assist us with all our travel needs, as they are renowned in the industry as the leading experts in fly fishing destination travel. Our list of hosted fly fishing travel options is ever evolving, and we are constantly adding new destinations and itineraries. If you’re interested in learning more about fly fishing travel with Trouts, simply inquire and we’ll get you in touch with the Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Representative that is an expert on your desired location, and will be able to assist you with the entire trip booking process.

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Rental Gear Trouts Fly Fishing is proud to offer a full selection of quality rental gear. Whether for a trip to Montana for trout, Belize to chase permit, or just heading up to the South Platte with some friends, we have a wide selection of premium rods, reels, waders and boots to fit your needs. We use only the top brands to ensure that the gear you rent is of the highest quality to maximize your experience on the water. All of our rentals are available at affordable daily rates, and we only charge you for the time the equipment is being used on the water. Travel days are on us! Rentals are available on a first come, first serve basis, however gear can also be reserved in advance to ensure we have what you need, when you need it. All rentals come “ready to fish”, but things like specialty fly lines, leaders and tippets are not included and will need to be purchased separately.

Properly rigging any fly reel, whether for trout or tarpon, is a technical and highly important factor when getting ready to hit the water. Nothing will ruin a fishing trip faster than equipment failure. We believe one of the most crucial elements of a successful fishing trip is the rigging of your fly reel. While this can be done at home, we always recommend bringing your fly reel into us so that we can ensure that everything (backing, fly line, leader) is properly loaded onto your fly reel and ready to hit the water. Whether you’re headed to a local, high mountain brook trout stream, Tanzania to chase tigerfish, or the Florida Keys for migratory tarpon, our team of experts will make sure you’re fly reel is properly set up and rigged to ensure maximum enjoyment during your precious time on the water. With years of rigging experience, and countless trips across the globe to fish for a multitude of species, the staff at Trouts Fly Fishing is highly experienced and detail oriented when it comes to getting your gear ready. This is an often-overlooked aspect to any fly fishing excursion, but it is something we take very seriously. What does this service cost you? If you purchase your fly reel and/or fly line from Trouts, this service is free of charge for the life of the product. If you weren’t fortunate enough to buy your gear from us, we charge $10 to rig any trout reel, and $20 for all big game reels (saltwater, salmon/ steelhead, pike/musky, etc.). The next time you’re looking to purchase a new fly line, or just make sure your reel is ready for your next trip, be sure to bring it by Trouts Fly Fishing and let our expert staff make sure your gear is in fish-ready form.


Repairs

Services

If you fish long enough, it’s not a matter of IF something will break, its when. Whether it’s a snapped rod, tear in your waders or a reel with a worn out drag, we have seen it all. All brands we support have great warranty programs and will do whatever they can to make sure their products are fulfilling their duties on the water. We know it can be time consuming and intimidating to pick up the phone and call a company like Simms, Orvis or Sage on your own. That is where we come in. Before starting the process of any warranty, we will gauge the situation and if it is fixable without sending it to the manufacturer we will take care of it. If it is deemed that it needs to be sent back for repair, we are more than happy to help you through the process or simply handle the entire situation for you. The next time you are looking for help with a repair, come by the shop or give us a call at 303-733-1434.

The following are the terms and conditions for Trouts Signature Rod Service: • •

Signature Rod Service

WHY WOULD YOU PURCHASE A FLY ROD FROM ANYONE ELSE?

Trouts Signature Rod Service (TSRS) is a unique offering that signifies our confidence in the rod manufacturers we represent as well as our commitment to providing quality equipment and service to all of our customers. The Trouts Signature Rod Service means if your new fly rod breaks, we will cover the costs of repair (including related shipping and handling charges). It’s our way of saying congratulations to you for purchasing a fine, USA handcrafted fly rod. It works this simply: buy any fly rod that is $500 or more from Trouts, and if the rod breaks, bring it back to us and we’ll send it back to the manufacturer for repair, and cover all the associated costs.

• • •

The start date for the program is August 15, 2014 You must have purchased your fly rod from Trouts Fly Fishing TSRS program is valid only for fly rods whose retail cost is $500 or more Your repair must be processed through one of our store locations TSRS is redeemable for one (1) complimentary repair TSRS has no expiration The rod model and size, rod serial number, customer name must match Trouts Fly Fishing’s internal records Trouts Fly Fishing reserves the exclusive right to accept or deny any TSRS that does not meet the specifications disclosed above

Trouts Signature Rod Service is presently available for Scott Fly Rod, Winston, Sage, Orvis, and Epic products only There are no exceptions to the above program rules, under any circumstances whatsoever.

The next time you’re looking to purchase a new fly rod, be sure to remember that at Trouts Fly Fishing, we’re dedicated to ensuring you’re happy and pleased with everything you buy from us, no matter how long it’s been since the purchase was made.


#ENDORSEDBYMOTHERNATURE

T

here aren’t many sports that are as dependent on nature and our environment as fly fishing. From the water to the fish and their aquatic environments, just about everything fly fishing entails relies on good old Mother Nature. In the end, this is the key element that makes fly fishing such an amazing past time, as you are completely immersed in nature every time you go fishing. Our sport depends on our environment and this is a fact that is often overlooked by anglers. I can admit that I have been a culprit at more than one point in my angling career. The turning point for me, was when I became a fly fishing guide in 2000, and all of a sudden my livelihood was 100% dependent on our environment. Too little or too much snow in the winter can spell trouble for business months down the road, and this volatility became a stark reality very early in my career. Fast forward to 2015, and we were in the midst of a “brand update” where we were trying to better communicate with our customers what makes Trouts different from other fly shops. It was during this exercise that we adopted the brand slogan Endorsed By Mother Nature (#endorsedbymothernature) to help bring recognition to our belief in giving back to the resources that provide us so much. What we didn’t realize at the time was how this simple slogan would ultimately change how we perceive what it meant to truly give back to Mother Nature. Previous to #endorsedbymothernature, our conservation efforts centered primarily around fundraising for Trout Unlimited and other non-profit organizations. We knew that our monies were going to good causes, and it was a refreshing way for us to ultimately give back. But

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post #endorsedbymothernature, our vision expanded, and we realized that in order to truly facilitate change, you have to adopt change yourself. So we started to examine ways that we could help ensure that the next generation of anglers gets to enjoy the same resources we love today. From Kicking Plastic with our partners Yeti and Costa, to river clean-ups, to growing our fundraising efforts, #endorsedbymothernature has been an internal guide to how we at Trouts can do our part to take care of the resources we love so. In the end we want

#endorsedbymothernature to be a calling for us all to do more in our day to day lives to take care of Mother Nature. She’s been a pretty remarkable host to us all, and we see it as the least we can do to say thank you for the time we get to spend on the water.

TUCKER LADD PRESIDENT & OWNER

TROUTS FLY FISHING


We

Make Fly Fishing Possible. TROUT UNLIMITED has thousands of volunteers throughout the country, protecting and fixing the cold, clean, fishable water that makes fly fishing possible in the first place. We restore miles of trout rivers every year and work to improve fishing for generations to come.

STEVE BRUTGER

JOSH DUPLECHIAN

Please join us. Support us. Help make fishing better.


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EDUCATION GUIDE 2020

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NEW TO FLY FISHING?

WHERE SHOULD YOU START?

By The Trouts Guide Staff t Trouts, our goal is to help our customers break down the pre-conceived notion that fly fishing is challenging to learn and cost prohibitive. This is hardly the case as our sport has become more user-friendly and accessible than ever before.

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New or novice anglers will often begin doing research in stores or online and end up with more questions than answers. What is the basic gear required to get started on the water? Where is a good river to learn the basics of casting and reading water? What flies work best for different fisheries? Rest assured, we’ve all been there and asked the same questions. Well, where should you start? First and foremost, at Trouts, we believe in keeping it simple. Nothing ruins a great day on the water more than over-thinking it. Fly fishing should always be fun and relaxing. Although fly rods come in countless configurations, if you could only have one single fly rod to effectively fish in Colorado, a 9-foot, 5-weight will provide the most versatility. A corresponding reel and appropriate 5-weight floating fly line will suffice. Tapered leaders are another gear essential. Leaders are what anglers use to connect their fly line to tippet and flies. The most common leader configurations are 4X, 5X, & 6X in either 7-½ or 9 foot lengths. Flies are used to get the desired reaction or strike from the targeted species. Many are already familiar with a fly floating on the water called a dry fly. In reality, as much as 80% of a fish’s diet takes place under the surface of the water. Subsurface flies are called nymphs and should never be overlooked before heading out to the water. Although it can be a bit intimidating, keep it simple when selecting the appropriate flies for a day of trout fishing. Be observant. If you see fish feeding on the surface, pay close attention to the size, shape and color of the insect the trout are feeding on. Although fly selection is important, you’ll find that a good presentation will often trump having the right fly. One of the most enjoyable aspects of fly fishing is simply being on the water. Although it’s not always necessary, you’ll find that a pair of breathable chest waders and boots are a good investment if you plan to fish in the Rockies. Waders and boots allow you to cover an abundance of water all while

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staying dry and comfortable. Appropriate soled boots provide much-needed stability while walking on un-even terrain or wading across slick boulders. Another essential piece of fishing gear often overlooked, is a good pair of polarized sunglasses. Sunglasses are essential for both form and function; you should never risk the potential of an errant cast ending with a hook in the eye. In addition to protection, polarized sunglasses also cuts down surface glare and allows you to see into the water in effort to better target fish. Lastly, a solid pair of shades are indispensable when navigating the river and seeing where you’re walking and staying solid on your feet. Remember, there are more than 6,000 miles of rivers and streams and 200 lakes and reservoirs in Colorado with many open to fishing 365 days a year. There is no shortage of places to fish. For a quick check-list before you head out on the water, here’s the essential gear to consider for a successful day of fly fishing in Colorado:

* * * * * * *

9 FOOT, 5-WEIGHT FLY ROD, REEL AND LINE TAPERED LEADERS & TIPPET DRY FLIES, NYMPHS, AND STREAMERS BREATHABLE WADERS AND WADING BOOTS POLARIZED SUNGLASSES LINE NIPPERS PLIERS

Finally, just add water have fun and remember at Trouts, we’re always here to help.


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EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS 2020

t has been said by countless anglers that one of the greatest aspects of fly fishing is that you’re truly never done learning. We also understand that fly fishing certainly isn’t the easiest pursuit to venture into, and we respect the complexities facing any novice angler. It is with all of this in mind that we curated a comprehensive educational curriculum designed for ALL anglers. Whether you are brand new to the sport, have travelled the world countless times over with a fly rod, or fall somewhere in between, we are confident you won’t find a better selection of lessons, seminars, and schools anywhere.

CLASSES & LESSONS

Fly Fishing 101 | Offered throughout the year, our Fly Fishing 101 classes are the perfect way to immerse yourself into the world of fly fishing. These classes are mindfully built for beginner and novice anglers and cover basic terminology, fly selection, rigging and knot tying. Class size limited to 10 students. Offered at our Denver and Frisco locations. Receive a $25 gift card with participation to use in store toward your terminal tackle needs. Cost: $25 Duration: 1 hour Beginner Casting | Fly casting is the cornerstone of the sport of fly fishing, and a necessary skill for any proficient angler to master. At Trouts Fly Fishing, we strive to make the art of fly casting an enjoyable process to learn, and have curated our Beginner Casting Clinics to be an encompassing experience that provides value to anyone. Offered at both our Denver and Frisco locations. Check our Customer Events Calendar for details on date/time/location. Receive a $25 gift card with attendance to apply toward your needs in the shop. Cost: $25 Duration: 1 hour

Bugs For Beginners | Have you ever felt confused about what fly you should be fishing? Ever been overwhelmed on whether to reach for a size 18 versus a size 20? Beadhead or non-beadhead? Flash or no flash? If so, this class is for you. Our Bugs For Beginners class is designed to help take the mystery out of fly selection. You will walk away from this class a more confident and knowledgeable angler when it comes to fly selection. Classes are held at our Denver location. Receive a $30 gift card with attendance to apply toward shop purchased of flies. Cost: $30 Duration: 1 hour One-Day Beginner School | Our One-Day Beginner Fly Fishing school is the perfect culmination of our Beginner Fly Fishing Series. This day on the water is built around empowering you as an independent angler. Our Guide Instructors will meet you on our permitted water to assist you in putting into action the skills you have learned through our previous beginner classes. This class will allow you to practice and apply your skills with the support of a knowledgeable instructor while focusing on rigging, safe wading practice, fighting and landing fish! Come to the water with your skills and gear and walk away feeling confident in your ability to get out independently or with friends. Class size limited to six anglers and is offered at our Frisco, CO location. Cost: $250. Duration: 8 hours. Two-Day Beginner School | Our Two-Day Beginner School is designed for anyone looking to fast track their introduction into fly fishing. We have taken everything that one would learn in our Fly Fishing 101, Beginner Casting, Bugs For Beginners, and our One-Day Beginner School, and condensed it into two days. By immersing oneself in fly fishing for this time, participants can expect to leave this class as self-sufficient anglers that are ready to spend a day on the water. Classes are held out of our Frisco location, and are limited to 6 anglers. Lodging is not included. Cost: $495 Duration: 2 days Fly Tying 101 | Have you always wanted to learn how to tie flies? There’s never been a better time. Trouts is excited to partner with Umpqua Feather Merchants to offer introductory classes geared towards the budding fly tier. Topics covered include general terminology, tool identification and application, basic materials and their uses, and tying flies. Upon completion of the class you’ll walk away with several hand-tied fly patterns that are ready to fish on our local waters. Offered at both our Denver and Frisco locations, December through March. Class size limited to 6 tiers. Receive a $25 gift card with participation to use in store on your fly tying needs. Cost: $25 Duration: 1 hour. Fly Tying 201 | Do you understand the basics of fly tying but you are now ready to take your tying to the next level? Join us November through March as we partner with Umpqua Feather Merchants to tie a featured fly each month. A Renzetti Vise, Umpqua Dream Stream tools and material will be provided with the class and the students to keep post completion. Offered at our Denver location. Class size is limited to 6 tiers. Cost: $180 Duration: 1 hour.

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SPECIALTY SCHOOLS Carp School | Catching a carp on a fly rod is considered the ultimate freshwater challenge by many anglers. They’re smart, spooky, and can at times be downright challenging. During this on-water school, our expert instructors will provide you with the knowledge and tactics to increase your success when pursuing carp. Class size limited to 9 anglers and will be offered through our Denver location. Cost: $250 Duration: 8 hours Streamer School | Streamer fishing can be one of the best ways to catch the largest trout of your life. During this school you’ll have the opportunity to float down the Colorado River as our expert instructors teach you the basics of fly selection, retrieval methods, presentation and more. After Streamer School, you’ll be a much more confident and knowledgeable streamer fisherman. Class size limited to 6 anglers and will be offered through our Frisco location. Cost: $325 Duration 8 hours Pike School | Pike can produce some of the most explosive and entertaining eats of any fish that calls Colorado home. Fly fishing for pike is one of the most addicting pursuits in the sport. While they can be aggressive, pike can also be difficult to catch. If you’ve been looking to chase the so-called ‘Water Wolf ’ here in the Centennial State, then make sure to make room in your schedule for Trouts 2020 Pike Schools. These classes begin with a 2-hour in-store presentation Friday evening and include seasonality, fishing locations, fish behavior, appropriate gear and flies. Saturday morning, class will resume at a designated location and cover presentation, and tactics on water. The remainder of the day will be spent targeting your quarry. This class will be offered out of our Denver location. Cost: $325. Duration: 10 hours (including evening presentation)

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Nymph Fishing School | It’s no secret that roughly 80% of a trout’s diet takes place underneath the surface of the water. This class is designed to introduce you to NEW techniques and strategies that include rigging, drag-free drifts, high stick and long line nymphing, reading water and most importantly – nymph presentation. Class is limited to 6-anglers and will be offered out of our Frisco location. Cost: $250 Duration: 8 hours Saltwater Prep School | Do you have a saltwater trip on the books? This full day class is designed to provide casting, presentation, and retrieval tips to ensure success on your next saltwater adventure. Taught by our Outfitting Manager and veteran captain Zeke Hersh, this class will help ensure your time on the flats is spent chasing fish, not learning the ropes. Class size is limited to 8 students and will be offered through our Denver location. Cost: $250 Duration: 2 hours Private Lessons | Aside from our extensive list of classes, lessons, and schools, we are proud to offer a variety of private lessons designed around what you are hoping to accomplish in your fly fishing education. From casting to fly-tying, rigging to improving your on-water skills, give us a call and tell us what you’re looking for. We’ll be more than happy to design a program tailored to your exact needs. Private lessons are offered through both our Denver and Frisco locations. Group/Corporate Lessons | Whether it be for a corporate outing, team building, or just a group of friends looking to get into fly fishing, we are pleased to offer custom group and corporate lessons. From fly tying, to fly casting, to a full day spent on the water with our Professional Guides, we’re pleased to assist in planning your next group outing. Group/ Corporate Lessons are offered at both our Denver and Frisco locations.


WOMEN’S ONLY CLASSES The wonderful and unique aspect of fly fishing is that it is a pursuit that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. If you have a desire to catch a fish on the fly, we believe that there should never be anything holding you back. In 2018 Trouts Fly Fishing partnered with Simms Fishing Products to develop a women’s specific program. Titled “Women Are Fly” (W.A.F.), the motivation behind this program is to develop an opportunity for women anglers to learn, socialize and fish together, all in an environment that is more approachable to our female customers.

EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS 2020

In many ways, we like to think of our “Women Are Fly” programs as an added door into Trouts Fly Fishing, where we are curating a new path to learning the art of fly fishing. We have always believed that fly fishing should be the most inclusive sport possible, and our hope is that the “Women Are Fly” programs are an inviting addition to our educational, social and community engagement offerings. W.A.F. Fly Fishing 101 | Offered throughout the year, our Fly Fishing 101 Classes are the perfect way to immerse yourself into the wonderful world of fly fishing. These classes are mindfully built with the novice angler in mind and cover basic terminology, fly selection, rigging and knot tying. Class size limited to 10 students. Offered at our Denver location. Receive a $25 gift card with participation to use in store toward your terminal tackle needs. Cost: $25 Duration: 1 hour W.A.F. Beginner Casting | We strive to make the art of fly casting an enjoyable process to learn, and have curated our W.A.F. Beginner Casting Clinics to be an encompassing experience that provides value to women who participate. These classes are one hour long, limited to six students, and usually take place at Little Cheesman Park in Denver. Check our Customer Events Calendar for details on date/time/ location. Receive a $25 gift card with attendance to apply toward your needs in the shop. Cost: $25 Duration: 1 hour W.A.F One-Day Beginner Fly Fishing School | Our W.A.F. One-Day Beginner Fly Fishing school is the perfect culmination to our Beginner Fly Fishing Series. This day on the water is built around empowering you as an independent angler. Our Guide Instructors will meet you on our permitted water to assist you in putting into action the skills you have learned through our previous beginner classes. Unlike a guided trip, this class is meant to allow you to practice and apply your skills with the support of a knowledgeable instructor. Come to the water with all your skills and gear and walk away feeling confident in your ability to get out independently or with friends. Class size limited to six anglers and offered through our Denver location. Cost: $250. Duration: 8 hours W.A.F Pop-Up Events| In addition to our regularly scheduled WAF classes, stay tuned-in through our email newsletter and social media outlets for regularly planned WAF events throughout the year. We will host women from Denver and the surrounding areas to come socialize, learn, and build relationships in a comfortable, accessible, and non-intimidating environment. Come to meet other like-minded lady anglers seeking information and community

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Get to know the Bugs

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ew anglers often scratch their heads trying to better understand and identify the insects that play such a crucial role in a trout’s diet here in Colorado and throughout the west. As anglers, we often hear the simple phrase “match the hatch.” In reality, budding anglers tend to experience information-overload when it comes to entomology, which often leads to frustration causing them to lose some of their new-found passion for the sport. The good news is we’ve all been there. One of the best attributes about fly fishing is you never stop learning. EVER. The best advice we can pass along is to keep it simple. Often, we over-think the process of fly identification and fly selection. There is no need to go into a Master’s level course in entomology, it’s better to concentrate on a more simplistic approach – SIZE, SHAPE, and COLOR - when trying to match-a-hatch. Simply put, if you have box of flies and no clue as to what to use, spend five minutes doing nothing but taking in your surrounding environment. Do you see any insects? If so, what size shape and color are they? Are you seeing fish rising?

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By The Trouts Guide Staff Fly fishing success depends largely on our visual acuity. You set the hook when you see a fish eat your dry fly or when your indicator goes upstream. Take a similar approach when selecting your flies. In most cases, trout are constantly telling us what they are eating each day. We just have to take the time to look at our surroundings or under a few rocks in the river.

Below is what most consider the five most prolific insect groups that trout eat throughout the year:

MIDGES A small two-winged insect group found virtually everywhere around water here in Colorado. Midges are in the water 365 days a year and play an important role in a trout’s diet, especially in the winter months. The most effective sizes are 18 – 24. Try using larger sizes 10 – 14s for still water fishing. Grey, red and black are always great color choices.

MAYFLIES (BWOS, PMDS, DRAKES, TRICOS) Easy to identify, mayflies have a transparent wing post that looks like a sailboat. Most mayfly patterns can be imitated with the same pattern just by using different sizes and colors.

CADDIS Very abundant in Colorado, caddis can tolerate all types of water and can be the most abundant stream-bottom insect in most of our rivers.

STONEFLIES Considered to be a primitive insect, stoneflies are easily recognizable by their size, and are the largest of the aquatic insects. Their presence in a stream or still water is usually an indicator of good or excellent water quality.

TERRESTRIALS Terrestrials, or land-based insects, are another staple in diets of trout. Terrestrials include grasshoppers, crickets, ants, beetles, and just about any other bug that might get knocked down into the water. On your next visit to the river, leave your fly rod in the car for a half hour or so. Spend some time just observing your environment. You’ll be amazed at what you see and learn. And most importantly, trout don’t speak Latin, but they do recognize size, shape and color. You just have to feed them!


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The Current 2019 GTX Reel 12.5.19.indd 1

12/5/19 11:22 AM


The Rest of Denver The South Platte River Edition

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by Will Rice

hadn’t waded the banks of Denver’s South Platte River in four years but I knew where the fish were. Or at least… where they should be. Old habits die hard and I was finally back on my home turf after a long time away. After being in another country chasing steelhead, salmon, bull trout, and sea-run cutthroat trout, I felt like a stranger in a strange land walking what had been my home water for almost 20 years. Where had the fish gone? As I continued along the bike path that hugs the river, I’d stop along bridges or elevated pedestrian foot paths and scan the water for the slow moving tankers that in some cases could weigh 20+ pounds. But each time I came to one of my favorite spots – and there are a quite a few on this section of the South Platte – I came up empty. The water was high and the visibility was low, a common challenge that can occur on this urban fishery during the spring and early summer. I finally moved to an area with a small tributary dumping in clear water. As I looked down from above, I finally found what I was looking for. An active pod of carp ranging from 8-20 pounds cruising, finning, tailing… and eating. And just like riding a bike, things came back to me. Before long I was listening to the cackle of my reel as the fish I fed bull dogged my six weight and I watched him take line in fiery bursts.

about anywhere in the United States, and you should set your expectations accordingly. This is not Brad Pitt and ‘A River Runs Through It’ type of experience – it’s more like Mel Gibson and ‘Mad Max - Beyond the Thunderdome.’

Finding fish on Denver’s South Platte River is not a difficult task – especially if you put in your time. But if you’ve never fished the river before and specifically tried sight fishing for carp, this article might just be the edge you need if you want to explore one of the most challenging carp fisheries in the United States.

Fly anglers used to think of carp strictly as a trash fish but things have changed. For many locals, carp have developed a cult-like following in D-Town.

For any seasoned fly angler who enjoys stalking wary or wise fish in shallow salt waters or freshwater water flats, there are a number of reasons you might want to think about giving The Denver South Platte – or the DSP as it is affectionally known locally - a test drive. The river provides a sight fishing experience with big fish in moving water in a hyper-urban environment – all easily and quickly reachable from downtown Denver and other access points to the north and south. Make no mistake – this is as urban a fishery as you will find just

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“The urban DSP is the birthplace of carp on the fly. Barry Reynolds & Brad Befus pioneered the genre in the 80’s, and it has served as the hub of the culture since,” said Rick Mikesell who manages Trouts Fly Fishing not far from the river. “The diversity of the fishery, the major strides in stream improvement, and the abundance of public access makes it universally appealing. It is potentially fishable 365 days a year,


and - traffic contingent - less than 15 minutes from home or work for me, so always an option when fishing time is limited.” The range of the DSP spans from Chatfield Reservoir on the south side of town and careens north past I-270 with decent fishing all the way north to 120th Avenue. There are at least 10-15 well identified access points and the majority of this stretch can be traversed easily and efficiently by bike – or more slowly and deliberately on foot. Also take note: fly fishing for carp in the South Platte River is not easy. Sight fishing to an actively feeding carp in a flowing river takes quite a bit of skill, a little bit of luck, clear water conditions, and a fundamental understanding of this species’ finicky behavior and quirks. If you’ve fished for carp before you have an advantage. Most likely you know how to spot a feeding fish vs. a cruising fish or a sunning fish – and this is probably half the battle. “Often people come at a new fishing destination looking for the best ‘spots’,” said Mikesell when asked about strategy and

tactics. “The Denver South Platte is highly counter to that mentality, especially for carp, as fish movement throughout the system is highly variable hour-by-hour, far beyond seasonality or condition dependent as we see in traditional trout scenarios. Carp are otherworldly efficient feeders, and will move constantly to find the best feeding opportunities. A flat that holds fish at 8am, may be completely vacant at 12pm.” Like most river fishing in Colorado, Mikesell also likes to keep an eye on the flows. “For Carp specifically, overall flow has little impact, however clarity is critical, as it is 100% sight fishing,” he said. “Often during very high flows, you can find carp actively feeding on soft edges with just a little bit of edge clarity. As for other species like trout or smallmouth, lower flows will always be more favorable, as the trout and bass density is quite low and they will certainly concentrate as flows decrease. My favorite flow window for carp (at the Denver Gauge) is between 200 and 350 cfs, as it tends to be the best balance between fish concentration and available feeding structure.”

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If you’re new to the river and want to give sight fishing for carp a shot, this is what you need from a gear perspective. “For the majority of the year, a fast action 6 or 7wt fly rod, floating line, and reel with a high-quality drag will cover most fishing scenarios on the river,” said Mikesell, the same advice he doles out to customers in the shop. “The quality of the reel mostly pertains to carp, as it is not uncommon to see backing during the summer months, and with the abundance of man-made structure, slowing them down can be critical. In almost all instances, I use 12-16lb fluorocarbon tippet when fishing for carp.” It’s an urban fishery but low key and laid back from a gear perspective. Bring your wading boots – steer clear of open toed wading shoes. Waders are optional. Throw a box of flies and spool of tippet in your pocket and head out the door.

As far as fly selection goes, you’ll want to think just like a Cyprinus carpio. “The primary forage in the river is crayfish and small baitfish. The high protein nature of the huge crayfish population makes the menu choice #1 for most of the river’s residents,” said Mikesell. “Streamer fishing for smallmouth, walleye and

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trout can also be highly effective, and an excellent way to cover water effectively. The most important factor to consider in carp flies is weight. As you are dealing with current, heavier flies are essential, as the feeding zone is so tight, that there is little luxury to wait for a fly to overcome the current and land in the substrate.” In some ways, sight fishing for carp with light tippet is not much different than fishing for bonefish or permit. You can find crawfish patterns online or speciality carp patterns in local shops here in Denver. But I’ve caught them on crazy charlies, black wooly buggers, clouser minnows, stonebombs, bonefish sliders, swimming nymphs, the kwan, and even the kung fu crab pattern. For me, using a highly visible fly that I can see from the moment it hits the water to when the fish actually eats it is a key differentiator between success and failure. Carp are a challenging species, but the river they inhabit in Denver has problems like few others in Colorado. Many metropolitan rivers across the country have similar challenges: water temperature, physical habitat, sediment deposition, and in Denver’s case, trying to maintain a somewhat consistent stream flow with many downstream users and water right owners. Denver Trout Unlimited has engaged with the community and various organizations to help improve the river.


carp – and others on bass or walleye. It’s challenging at times but we’re seeing awesome progress by being open to partnership and collaboration. At the end of the day if we keep the water quality, quantity and habitat in mind, everyone can win on some level.” And it seems this approach of collaboration, partnership, and community might just be working.

Photo by Will Rice

“Our home river is probably unique among Trout Unlimited Chapters,” said John Davenport, President of the Denver chapter of TU. “We start as a trout friendly tailwater and flow 30 miles through a city emerging as a wide shallow high plains warm water fishery. The transition makes for interesting fishing to 15 different species. The chapter has learned that if we focus on making it a healthy river we can get along with all competing interests.” The good news is that the South Platte River from Chatfield downstream through the City of Denver and even beyond has shown signs of improvement over the years and some species are thriving – like carp and smallmouth bass. This can be attested by statistics generated year-over-year by the Denver South Platte Pro/Am Carp Slam hosted by Denver Trout Unlimited with many local and national sponsors. Each year dozens of carp are caught as well as smallies and trout – some brown and rainbows pushing 20”+ in length. The original carp slam was conceived by members of Denver Trout Unlimited to raise awareness about the river’s challenges and to raise money for improvement projects intended to change and improve the South Platte as we know it today. “DTU is in a unique and exciting place in water and habitat conservation,” said Reid Baker, a DTU Board Member and the Operations Manager of the Pro/Am Carp Slam. “We are laser focused on an urban mixed-use fishery that encompasses three counties and supplies water to a metro population of almost 3 million people. This requires us to strike a collaborative balance with fellow conservation groups, anglers, general recreators, municipalities, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Army Corp of Engineers and other regulatory agencies. Even developers-- which is not something usually thought to go hand and hand with conservation. Within the Denver angling community specifically, we seek to protect a fishery that has avid gear and fly anglers-- some targeting trout, some exclusively focused on our world class

“Fly shops are very supportive of efforts to improve our mixed fishery. Trouts Fly Fishing and their clients have contributed over $22,000 to enable environmental releases during low flow periods,” said Davenport. “Local guide operations love putting clients on the DSP carp which take them into their backing. Their high mountain three weight won’t cut it on a big DSP catfish, walleye, trout, bass, or carp. We have photographic and data proof that fish can and do grow large in our home river. A healthier river will increase their numbers and the opportunities for all those young anglers to hit the river and the fly shops.” With all of the challenges that Denver’s South Platte inherently has, populations of fish continue to endure. And it’s those hardy fish that lure anglers – both locals and visitors - to venture out for the first time to stalk this water and the species that put this section of the river on the angling map. And many return again-and-again, seemingly hooked by the wily, challenging, and elusive nature of the DSP carp. A version of this story was originally published by Angling Trade magazine in the Fall 2019 Issue. It has been reproduced here with the permission Angling Trade’s Editor. Angling Trade is the only independent media group in the world specifically dedicated to covering the business of fly fishing in North America, and has been for the past decade. Angling Trade magazine is printed twice a year.

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Profile for Trouts Fly Fishing

the CURRENT 2020  

The CURRENT is an annual magazine published by Trouts Fly Fishing, an independently owned and operated fly fishing outfitter based out of Co...

the CURRENT 2020  

The CURRENT is an annual magazine published by Trouts Fly Fishing, an independently owned and operated fly fishing outfitter based out of Co...