The Current 2021

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SHORTLY BEFORE RETURNING TO COLORADO from Canada in 2019, I came across a book titled “A River Never Sleeps” by Roderick L. Haig-Brown. I first learned about “A River Never Sleeps” after visiting the Campbell River in British Columbia. At the time, I was a bit out of sorts trying to figure out my new home water – without much information to go on. I could reach the Campbell in a day’s drive that included a ferry ride across the Strait of Georgia. I had heard vague reports of catching sea run cutthroat trout on skaters and swung dry flies. I was also on the lookout for early returning winter steelhead and black bear known to prowl the river banks. Haig-Brown had lived on the Campbell and this was his home water – literally and figuratively. “A River Never Sleeps” explores and recaps 12 months of fishing wonder from Haig-Brown’s perspective. The high-highs, the low-lows, and the small moments of accomplishment we all experience as anglers. The book is timeless - having been first published in 1946 and I’m amazed at how many of Haig-Brown’s experiences and observations still ring true today. Here’s an excerpt from the January chapter: “I ALWAYS LIKE TO START OUT FOR THE ISLAND POOLS. THEY SEEM REMOTE FROM EVERYWHERE, AND FEW PEOPLE GO UP TO THEM, BUT FORTY MINUTES OF GOOD WALKING FROM MY HOUSE TAKES ME THERE, AND I KNOW THAT I SHALL SEE NOTHING ALL DAY LONG EXCEPT BRIGHT WATER AND HEAVY GREEN TIMBER, EAGLES, MERGANSERS, MALLARDS, PERHAPS WATER OUSELS AND ALMOST CERTAINLY FISH.” – RODERICK HAIG-BROWN I find myself going back to “A River Never Sleeps” not because of a dramatic storyline or to learn about new fly fishing techniques or to research where to fish. I go back to it because the prose captures so much of what I believe fly fishing is all about. The book is chock-full of comical anecdotes, fishing fails, challenges faced and overcome, and minute details of fly fishing only anglers get to experience – on the water – fly fishing throughout a given year. A theme in this year’s CURRENT is the exploration and the appreciation of one’s home water. One of our feature articles is a tip of the hat to Haig-Brown and his work. “The Colorado River Never Sleeps” (pg 16) is an offering to explore 4 THE CURRENT: LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

the Colorado River geographically and seasonally. If 2020 has taught me anything it is don’t take fishing options close to home for granted – whether they be the Denver South Platte outside of the shop or the Colorado, a river that reaches from high on the spine of the continental divide and stretches to the border of Utah. For many years, exploration for me meant adventures spent in new countries and crossing new borders searching for new fisheries, new species and experiences. Mexico, Bahamas, Honduras, Belize – small planes, dirt runways, and snapper sandwiches eaten on the bows of flats skiffs. While I cannot wait to experience all of those things again, 2020 was a reminder to sit up straight, open my eyes, and explore the amazing options we have here in Colorado – much as Haig-Brown did not far from the banks of the Campbell river, every month of the year. As we kick off the new year and look forward, I’m again grateful and proud to work with each one of the CURRENT 2021 contributors. Once again, we’ve reached out to a cadre of fantastic writers, storytellers, poets, artists, and subject matter experts to bring our readers and shop clients something special – something that inspires. We are taking a look at the Yampa River through the lens of Reid Baker who began a guiding career there; hearing and seeing words, images, and wisdom from photographer Kat Mueller; tuning into a chat between Kirk Deeter and Paul Puckett; exploring bass fishing close to home with Kyle Wilkinson; introducing a new photo essay series by Copi Vojta; and checking in with other bright personalities who have something to share with the Trouts Fly Fishing community. Hmmmm… carp tacos anyone? (pg 50) Although there were many cancelled and changed plans last year, it’s eye opening and rewarding to pause and explore these many fisheries and experiences we have right here on our doorstep – so very close to home.


THE CURRENT 2021 Edition • Presented by Trouts Fly Fishing














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& TUCKER LADD president ZEKE HERSH regional ALEX KASS website ecommerce manger general manager, & owner frisco Copyright © 2021 by Trouts Fly Fishing RICK MIKESELL chief store ERIC SCHMIDT regional manager, All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, operations manager denver distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the IVAN ORSIC brand& COURTNEY DESPOS director of case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain marketing manager education other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

BACK IN THE SUMMER OF 1995, my older brother and I ventured out on a weeklong road trip across Colorado. I was just gifted my first fly fishing setup for my 15th Birthday, and the premise of our trip was to fish our way across our home state before my brother had to head off to college that fall on the East Coast. Prior to departing my brother took me to his favorite fly shop to stock up for our trip. I can still remember Matt, the sales associate, helping us get the right flies and supplies for the various rivers we intended on fishing, as well as offering us some camping suggestions for the journey. Little did I know at the time, but the fly shop I walked out of that day on Old South Gaylord Street in Denver would be the same store I would purchase almost exactly 10 years later. The memories of that trip are still fresh in my mind today, and I often remark to myself how influential the entire experience was on the rest of my life. This past summer my wife and I took our four and six-year-old on our first family camping trip. As luck would have it on our second night we found ourselves camping along Spring Creek (a tributary of the Taylor River), just downstream from where my brother and I had camped and fished 25 years prior. The following evening my son and I were

fishing our way upstream from camp, and as the sun began to set behind the ridge across the valley the reality of the moment struck me: fly fishing had become the foundation of my life, and it all started in the same place where I was standing with my son. I will be the first to admit that my journey through the sport of fly fishing is unique and one-of-a-kind. But, when I look back on the last 25 years of my life, the one constant I can always remember is a need and desire to be on the water. And that need was driven by what I gained when I was fishing, as it was something that no other outdoor pastime could ever provide or fulfill. Anyone who fly fishes knows of all the tangible and intangible benefits that come from spending a day on the water, and this is the driving force behind everything provided and offered at Trouts Fly Fishing. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran, or someone just looking to get into fly fishing, always know that Trouts is committed to helping you get the most of your time on the water.



by Tucker Ladd

WE HAVE ALWAYS REGARDED the South Platte River as our “home water” so it seemed only fitting that our new Denver location be located on the banks of the Denver South Platte. But it’s not the location of the store that excites us the most, but rather all that is inside. Our goal in designing our new store was to focus on how we could enhance the experience of being in a fly shop, and ultimately make our customers’ time with us as meaningful as possible. To accomplish this, we had to rethink how we presented and sold the wares of fly fishing. This meant custom designing and fabricating everything in the store, all to ensure a truly one-of-a-kind and memorable experience. But it didn’t stop with how we were displaying the product, as we wanted to ensure that we were able to meet the evolving needs of our customers beyond just gear. So, we added a dedicated Education Center to the new store, allowing us to better assist our customers in progressing through the sport. We also wanted to ensure that we

increased the accessibility of our store, which we were able to accomplish by locating ourselves right at 8th Avenue and I-25. Outside of the new store, Trouts Fly Fishing remains committed to being #EndorsedByMotherNature. I’ve said in the past that there 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, everything that trying to catch a fish on a fly entails relies on our environment. 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. My hope is that you feel this connection as well as you thumb through this new edition of the CURRENT. In the end we trust that our customers new and old will appreciate our new store, and the experience that it ultimately offers. Always remember, our home is your home, or maybe we’ll see you on the water.



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CONTRIBUTORS Throughout the creation of this year’s CURRENT, Trouts Fly Fishing heavily relied on contributions from gifted writers, photographers, artists, and poets. 2020 was wild for all of us, so we really appreciate the time these content creators took to put their thoughts and visions on paper for you to enjoy. Please take a moment to get to know your 2021 CURRENT contributors.


REID BAKER 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.

Born in Colorado, Cameron Scott has knocked around the dusty and not so dusty west, holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona, teaches 7th-12th grade English Language Arts, and spends his summers as a fly fishing guide. His lyrical essays and poems have appeared in magazines, journals, and periodicals and in 2016 he was awarded the Blue Light Book Award for his second book of poetry, The Book of Cold Mountain. His most recent collection of poetry is Watershed, by Alice Green & Co . He has gratefully received residencies and taught over the years through Colorado Art Ranch, Chiloquin Visions in Progress, Playa, Pentaculum, and Fishtrap. If you have leftovers, he will eat them.

KAT MUELLER RUSS SCHNITZER Russ Schnitzer is an award-winning photographer and film maker. His work can be seen in a variety of contexts: supporting conservation and advertising campaigns, specialty publications, commercial applications, editorial, and more. His main motivation is using photography to tell compelling human stories in unique and impactful ways. He is graduate of the University of Idaho and is based in Denver, Colorado. 10 THE CURRENT: CONTRIBUTORS

Kat Mueller stomped her first riverbank, in brown neoprene, at the age of 11. Since then her fishing adventures have taken her around the globe — chasing trout, rooster fish, tarpon, bonefish, permit, and the occasional carp. But she’d trade it all for a cold, drizzly, fishless day on a Pacific Northwest steelhead river. Today she lives in Fort Collins, CO, with her fishy husband, kickflip-ing son, and two squirrel-crazed cattle mutts. In addition to this publication, her images can be found in The Drake, in the Simms “Fish it Well” campaign, on her website and on the ‘gram under her alter ego, @pamelasweetcakes.

KIRK DEETER Kirk Deeter is the Editor-in-Chief of Trout Unlimited’s Media Group. He’s also an editor-at large for Field & Stream, and the editor of Angling Trade, the business-to-business media group that covers fly fishing in North America. He is the author of several books, most notably The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing. His work has also appeared in Wired, Outside, Men’s Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Garden & Gun, and many other publications. Known for his offbeat, “out there” story angles, he’s covered fishing on five continents, from the tip of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina to north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, from the Tasmanian highlands to the Amazon jungle. He lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with his wife, Sarah.

COPI VOJTA Copi Brook Bear Vojta hails from the high-and-dry ponderosa pine forests of via Eastern Oregon and Northern Arizona, where he learned to stare at water and attempt to catch fish. Leaving Arizona for the trout infested waters of Colorado provided ample opportunity to forego regular adult responsibilities and live among rivers and mountains. A photographer, writer and photo editor for The Flyfish Journal, he now resides in Bellingham, Washington, where he is slightly more responsible and can be found chasing all sorts of beautiful things. You can find more of his work at and

PAUL PUCKETT Paul Puckett, a Texas native, studied art at The University of North Texas while working in a Fly Shop in Dallas, Texas called, Westbank Anglers (Blue Drake Outfitters). There, he gained a further knowledge of the Fly Fishing world. He went on to finish school in 2000 and moved to Jackson, Wyoming for 4 years where he soaked in some of the most beautiful scenery and trout that a 25-year-old could. During a brief time in Atlanta, Paul worked at The Fish Hawk and was determined to make art in the fishing world his life. Finally, moving to Charleston, South Carolina, where he currently makes his home, he is constantly pursuing the next creative challenge and gets distracted by the Low Country tides and tailing Redfish. Paul has been fortunate to fish all over the world with some of his good friends in places such as The Seychelles, Honduras, The Bahamas, Argentina, Cuba, Yucatan of Mexico and the greater US.

KYLE WILKINSON Originally from Southeast Kansas, Kyle received his first fly rod at age 10 and immediately began harassing any available fish that would eat a fly. Now, 25 years later, his love for the sport and passion for sharing the great outdoors with others continues to grow by the day. Kyle has fished extensively throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountains, as well as nearly a dozen saltwater locations. After a number of years living out West guiding, Kyle’s Midwestern roots have called him home. He currently resides in rural Indiana where you’ll find him enjoying the lack of people and abundance of bass. THE CURRENT: CONTRIBUTORS 11




52 CARP TACOS by Will Rice

















by Will Rice

by Rick Mikesell

by Kyle Wilkinson

by Kirk Deeter

by Cameron Scott

by Katrina Brisbin

by Kat Mueller



by Reid Baker


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with John Spriggs

88 #FLIESFORANDREW by Rick Mikesell

94 NEW TO FLY FISHING? by Trouts Guide Staff






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by Will Rice


ONE OF THE FIRST CLEAR MEMORIES I HAVE of fishing the Colorado River was in mid-summer almost 20 years ago. My buddy and I were pulling on our waders as the sun was starting to come up. We had heard of a hard-to-find (but legal) access point and our anticipation was high as we approached a new section of water on Colorado’s most iconic and diverse rivers. We eventually found the tucked-away access point and bushwhacked for 30 minutes until we reached the river’s edge. As we hoped for, there was no one in sight. We started with big hopper patterns and standard droppers – small copper johns, pheasant tails and hare’s ears. We couldn’t move a fish. We then set up nymph rigs and dredged some of the deeper holes. Nothing. The temperature kept creeping higher as the hours passed – and I also realized I had forgotten to put on sunscreen… again. At some point in the afternoon my buddy hooked and lost a nice fish on a quickly stripped streamer. As the day came to a frustrating close it felt like a big bust. I remember leaning my 5 wt. against the branches of a Cottonwood and taking a break on the grassy bank. Although the fishing was tough and unproductive it was a stunning scene of summer on the Colorado River. And then… I saw a nose poke through the water’s surface. I sat and watched in silence. And then another nose…. And another. In a matter of minutes, the river exploded. The cloud of pale morning duns that appeared out of nowhere was something I had never experienced before. Fish were chowing bugs on the surface with no concern that there might be anglers in the vicinity. Just to see that sheer volume of fish in same water that we covered – pounded – all day long was both stunning and a bit astounding at the same time. By the time the “witching hour” was coming to a close, the sun had dropped and it was impossible to see the size #20 PMDs we were drifting on the water’s surface. Still, we dried and dressed our flies, made our casts, squinted and listened for the tell-tale sign of a take in the darkness. I walked back to the car in the pitch black without a headlamp, thoroughly sun burned, and exhausted thinking to myself ‘I have a lot to learn about this river.’ When you combine the sheer expanse of the Colorado River with the diverse seasonality that our state experiences through the spring, summer, fall and winter months, the river becomes an intriguing puzzle with an infinite amount of fishing options to explore – all year round. THE COLORADO RIVER TRULY NEVER SLEEPS. The river’s seasonality, topography and course are all intertwined, and together, they unlock different fishing opportunities in different places during different times of the year. The Colorado can be broken up into four or five distinct fishing sections. Although the start and end points of these sections might vary in today’s world of hyper-GPS-oriented-precision and pin drops, I’ll cover them fairly generally. The Colorado River is our state’s biggest and longest waterway and breaking it down incrementally – at least for me – makes it easier to think about and understand. As part of my research I wanted to spend time on the water with someone 18 THE CURRENT: THE COLORADO RIVER NEVER SLEEPS

with intimate knowledge and experience with the river. I’ve spent years wading and floating different sections of the Colorado and even after all that time, I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface. And what’s worse, I find myself continually going back to familiar zones. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to explore new access, I want to catch fish, so I return to sections where I’ve had success before – and I neglect to venture into new waters. Not an uncommon dilemma. Zeke Hersh is the Outfitting Manager at Trouts and I figured there would be no one better to spend a day on the river with to learn more about his home water. The plan was pretty simple: float a section of river, pick Zeke’s brain for article ideas and information that will help fellow anglers, and maybe pick up a fish or two. Hersh is a native of Washington State but he moved to Colorado in the early 1990s. Not only does Zeke love to fish and guide but he is a patient instructor – not always a trait found in the guiding ranks. What follows is an overview of the Colorado River gleaned from my personal experience, guidebooks and direct input from Hersh on the day we spent floating one of the lower sections of the river. THE MIGHTY CO The Colorado River begins high in Rocky Mountain National Park near the town of Grand Lake and runs 1450 miles through seven US states, terminating in Mexico. The river is dynamic, changing considerably as it makes its way west through Colorado toward the border of Utah. Most of the productive fishing happens between Rocky Mountain National Park and downstream reaches below Glenwood Canyon to the town of Rifle – roughly 150 river miles and river habitat. Not all sections offer public access, some sections are better suited for float fishing from a boat or raft, while others are wade accessible only. Some of the Canyon sections are not prime-time trout or even human habitat, especially at higher flows in the springtime. The Colorado River has it all when it comes to trout species – including spunky brook trout, beautiful cutthroat, punchy rainbows, and bulldogging browns. ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK TO GRANBY The headwaters of the Colorado River are located in Rocky Mountain National Park roughly 75 miles Northwest of Denver. You can access the river from the east via Estes Park and Trail Ridge Road or from the West via Grand Lake. Note that in the winter months Trail Ridge Road is typically closed between October and May due to snow and other weather conditions. This is a unique place to fish as this portion abuts the spine of the Continental Divide with the river moving east to west from the park’s northwestern corner. This section of the river is most easily accessed and productive post run off in the late spring into early summer. When the river comes into shape after high water season, caddis and pale morning duns are prevalent and large hoppers and stimulator patterns will move fish as well. “UPPER STRETCHES OF THE HEADWATERS OF THE COLORADO TEND TO FISH BEST AS THE SNOWMELT SUBSIDES, EARLY TO MID-SUMMER,” HERSH SAID. “THE GOOD FISHING CAN LAST WELL INTO THE FALL, AS LONG AS THERE IS ADEQUATE WATER IN THE RIVERS. I REALLY LIKE TO FISH SINGLE DRIES WHEN POSSIBLE. LIKE A ROYAL OR LIME TRUDES, ROYAL WULFFS, CADDIS OR STIMULATORS. DROPPER FISHING CAN ALSO BE QUITE SUCCESSFUL, ONE OF MY FAVORITE PATTERNS IS A SMALLER TUNGSTEN PRINCE NYMPH AS A GO-TO.” You should note that an entrance pass is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park and pets including dogs are very restricted. THE CURRENT: THE COLORADO RIVER NEVER SLEEPS 19

For additional information about Rocky Mountain National Park and other information to plan your fishing trip visit:


From steep canyons to wide-open meadows to jaw-dropping peaks, this section of the Colorado River is one of the best if you want to get your feet wet and explore. Here, this section is not officially navigable. It meanders through many private ranches so you won’t see any rafts or drift boats but the access for wading is still excellent. Because the fishing is solid and much of the river runs close to US 40, don’t be surprised to see other anglers fishing this section. Give them standard courtesy and plenty of space - hopefully they’ll do the same. The river traverses from Windy Gap Reservoir, just west of the town of Granby, to the confluence of the Blue River near Kremmling. It Includes 20 miles of designated Gold Medal Water as described here by Colorado Trout Unlimited. “Twenty miles of the Colorado River between the US 40 bridge (approximately three miles west of Hot Sulphur Springs) to the confluence with the Williams Fork River east of Kremmling is designated as a Gold Medal river. This stretch holds brook, brown and rainbow trout. Regulations vary along this stretch.” - Colorado Trout Unlimited. There is also designated and dispersed camping throughout this section of river making it a great place to spend a few overnights in a tent if you have the time. “This section provides some great opportunities for summer fishing on its upper reaches and also has a world class tailwater that makes a few miles of the Colorado fishable and successful through the winter,” said Hersh. “The sections above the Williams Fork (the tailwater) fish 20 THE CURRENT: THE COLORADO RIVER NEVER SLEEPS

excellent starting in April or May, with the famed salmonfly hatch making an appearance sometimes in June most years. This section will fish great well into the falluntil the cold grips the river in ice. Below the Williams Fork river the Colorado has many great highlights throughout the year. Winter offers some great escapes with the chance at catching fish on midge dries all winter long. Then in the spring, that midge hatch and other insects get on the move and so does the fish activity. As we get into summer, caddis hatches, PMD, blue-winged olives (BWOs) and more keep the river alive and hopping. Then fall offers a quieter time with some good BWO hatches, midges coming back in to play and the brown trout spawn. This section really is a go-to or at least a must-go-to at some point in your fishing adventures.” I really enjoy this section in the late winter and early spring – pre-runoff. As Hersh mentioned, from March through May you’ll find midges, baetis, caddis periodically coming off throughout different times of the day. Streamer fishing can also light fish up as they awake from their winter doldrums.


Lower down in the system below the town of Kremmling, the river becomes virtually unfishable through Gore Canyon. This is due to its steep grade, cliff drops, and white-water. This can make for extreme kayaking – but not-so-good for fly fishing. Once the canyon slows its decent, the river opens up and provides great public access to those willing to hike from the Pumphouse put-in up river. Pumphouse is also the first access point for a drift boat or raft. If you have the boat and the experience, from Pumphouse all the way down to the Catamount take-out, offers a fantastic array of day floats and the potential to camp along the river banks. Wading access is also available. Please note there are a number of rapids that

range from Class I-III during different times of the year so make sure you do your research – or take it easy and hire a guide to float this section.


The Catamount to Dotsero section of the Colorado River is probably the most unfrequented by anglers. This stretch runs roughly 27 miles and has a few technical sections that tend to steer most commercial trips and novice oarsmen to other areas of the river. There are sections for public access and wading options and I’ve had some success casting your typical go-to Colorado bugs – hopper droppers, chubbys, and big streamers.

“This is the section of river that first captivated me in the early days of living in Colorado,” said Hersh. “Once I started floating and fishing this river that year, I was hooked on the Colorado River. I forever became enamored with the sight of this ‘Emerald Beauty’ coming down the Trough Road from Kremmling. This stretch starts becoming floatable in mid-March to April most “This section fishes much like the section from Kremmling years. This time of the year large stonefly patterns and to Catamount, but with more remote access” said Hersh. nymphs are my attractors and then smaller baetis or midge “The temperatures during summer get a little warmer than patterns are always tagging along. As we come out of May, upstream, but the canyons, rapids, desolation and fishing the salmonfly hatch can happen any day. If you want to hit make dealing with the warmer temperatures well worth it. this hatch, I recommend taking two to four weeks off, mid This section really gives me a feeling of the Grand Canyon May to Mid June, and camping at Pumphouse. It’s usually and the American South West. The red rock canyon walls in this window that the hatch will leave you in awe as they happens and if you are a day glow throughout the day.” late, you might miss the window before runoff.” DOTSERO TO RIFLE From Dotsero the river runs It was obvious talking to Hersh through Glenwood Canyon that this section of the river was which does offer anglers miles a focus of his attention for many of public water and decent months throughout the access options. The more year – for good reason. popular sections of the river are further down near the town “As we get into summer the of Glenwood Springs and the river comes alive with confluence of the Roaring Fork caddis, PMDs, BWOs, red River. It’s worth noting that in quills, hoppers and more 2008 Field & Stream Magazine making for some great dry named Glenwood Springs the dropper and double dry fly “#1 Fishing Town in America,” fishing,” continued Hersh. highlighting the myriad of “Then as you get into late options throughout summer and fall, you get into all the seasons. one of my favorite times of year to fish the Colorado. The “You’d be hard-pressed to find a crowds have quieted, the better combination of Colorado weather is at its finest gold-medal water, blue-sky and the fishing is excellent. Dry climate, and stunning fly dropper fishing still is very canyonscapes anywhere in productive, look for BWO hatches and big hungry browns the world besides Glenwood Springs,” wrote the Field & and rainbows looking to fatten up for the winter. Most Stream online Editors who stack ranked 10 towns across years you can float fish well into late November and early the US. “It’s the geographic center of the best flyfishing December. As the river starts to ice up, this section still has in the state: The Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers merge some open water between the ice shelves, and there can be right in town, and the Eagle River, the Frying Pan, and the many fish stacked in these little slots of open water.” Gunnison are easy day trips. In any season (even the dead of winter), there’s always at least one This section has the potential to fish great throughout the world-class flyfishing option.” spring, summer, and fall. This is one of my favorite stretches to throw big streamers for big brown trout. Talking with Hersh on our float, it was clear he had an During the hotter days of summer, you might want to stick affinity for this section of the Colorado River as well. to the higher elevated portions of the river – although the fishing may pick up you might find increased crowds as “This section I mostly think of below Glenwood or below well. Also, if you find yourself on the river at dusk, don’t the Roaring Fork river,” he said. “There is great fishing be shy – throw a mouse pattern. in the Glenwood Canyon, but I tend to fish further down. The Roaring Fork and it’s tailwater the Fryingpan empty into the Colorado river at Glenwood Springs. This brings THE CURRENT: THE COLORADO RIVER NEVER SLEEPS 21

some more cold and clear water to the Colorado. And with it, lots of healthy bug life and fish. The fish feed heavily from March to November and you can see this in their size and spunk. As you get further down the valley the fish numbers start decreasing but the size stays about the same. The river down here is larger and sometimes the fish are not exactly where they would be up river, but this area brings such a different feel with large cottonwoods groves and the river’s long runs. I spend a lot of time down here in the spring and fall to extend my warmer weather fishing season and this is also where I come to break the boat out mid-winter as most years you can float twelve months a year with good success.” Whether you are a beginner angler just getting your feet wet and primarily wading, or an experienced oarsman who enjoys a Class III rapid at high water, the Colorado River has something between both ends of these spectrums. In addition to a wide variety of fishing conditions throughout the year, the sheer diversity of scenery, fish species, and wildlife is enough to keep any angler busy and challenged for a lifetime.

--- END ---


THERE ARE A FEW TRIBUTARIES THAT PROVIDE GREAT YEAR-ROUND OPTIONS WITHIN A SHORT DRIVE FROM THE MAIN STEM OF THE COLORADO RIVER. BLUE RIVER Hiding in plain sight between Eisenhower Tunnel and Vail Pass is the Blue River – about 1.5 hour drive West of Denver and a short 10 minute drive from Frisco. The Blue is a great option in the colder months as it is a tailwater, meaning that it is dam-fed with a consistent water temperature year-round. The Blue River flows directly from Dillon Reservoir through the town of Silverthorne and this upper section is typically ice-free yearround. In the summer it typically runs cooler than other freestone rivers and, in the winter, the water temperature stays warmer. If you plan on visiting the Blue in November, December, January or February, make sure to bring your mysis shrimp patterns and small tippets. Freshwater mysis shrimp live in the reservoir and flush through this upper section of the river year-round. Make no mistake – these fish see a lot of anglers and flies so this is as technical of a tailwater fishery you will find in Colorado. Typical flows in the winter range between 50-200 CFS. FRYINGPAN AND ROARING FORK Two other options that also feed the Colorado River are the Roaring Fork River and the Fryingpan. The Roaring Fork is a direct tributary to the Colorado River where they meet in Glenwood Springs. The headwaters of the Roaring Fork are south of Aspen high on Independence Pass. If you plan to give this river a shot in the cold of winter, check your weather and see if you can find a window of high pressure, lots of sun and a few days of sustained temperatures above freezing. Also target the lower sections of the river, directly below the Fryingpan. The Fryingpan River is a further drive if you are heading South from the Colorado River. Similar to the Blue River, the Fryingpan is a tailwater and provides ice free flows below the dam year-round. The Blue, Roaring Fork and Fryingpan all provide great options in the Spring, Summer, and Fall as well, but these can be great back-pocket fishing experiences when there is less open water to fish in Colorado’s coldest months. In the fall and spring, midges, baetis, egg patterns, and scuds can all be effective. In the summer, grasshoppers and other large stimulator patterns on the surface can be a great way to target fish. But if you are looking to trigger the explosive power of a big brown trout, don’t underestimate streamers and mouse patterns, especially at dusk.





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up. The X-Series design has strong beams that extend from the center to a wide line guard. These angles allow for rear spool rim protection where the reel typically contacts the ground when the rod is leaned up against a wall or a car. Available in multiple custom colors.

thrashing bass, toothy pike and and musky, jungle species like peacock bass, golden dorado and arapaima, and huge saltwater species like giant trevally and Tarpon. Pure and simple, these rods are for any fish that require extra-large fishing tools no matter the water type.

2: NAUTILUS X-SERIES FLY REEL The Nautilus X-Series is an open-frame reel designed for lightness, strength, drag smoothness, and fast line pick

3: WINSTON ALPHA+ FLY ROD A Winston rod series designed to up your game against the Alpha fish lurking in the shadows. Carnivorous trout,

4: UMPQUA PAYLOAD FLY BOX Serious anglers now have serious storage. This high capacity box will easily hold your largest streamers and bass

bugs down to any standard dries & nymphs with a “high” side and a “standard” side to offer appropriate headroom for any fly-fishing adventure. See-through lids allow for easy fly ID and magnetic lid and swing leaf (replaceable) closures offer easy access.


BACKYARD BASSIN’ by Kyle Wilkinson

THE AIR WAS THICK. ‘Sultry’ as my grandmother would say. It was still dark out, minus a faint glow of purplish-orange on the flat, eastern horizon. A freshly poured 32 ounces of coffee filled the Yeti in my left hand. Hopefully this would aid in rinsing off the events of the night prior, but then again who cares? It’s summer, and a campfire, bass fishing, and copious amounts of Busch Light seem unable to exist without one another this time of the year. With the jon boat already hitched to my truck I jump in and fire it up. A few moments later I’m headed west down a dirt road. Wheat fields to the south, Black Angus contently milling about in a pasture to the north. I’ll reach my destination in less than 5 minutes - an old quarry pond left behind from the coal mining days of the mid 1900’s. These waters support a thriving largemouth bass population that, conveniently enough, also grow exceptionally large….and they love to eat a popper cast tight to the lily pads. Game on. Growing up in Smalltown, Southeastern Kansas, I was the only person my age I knew who owned a fly rod. Why I was drawn to this sport is something I’ve spent the last 25 years contemplating. Although the Wheat State may seem like a strange place to live while perfecting your double haul cast, there were certainly no shortage of worthy opponents to let me know whether or not I was making progress. Bass, carp, bluegill, crappie, catfish, white bass, gar….you get the idea. And they all eat a fly with enthusiasm. The Midwest truly is an outdoorsman’s paradise, but during those fledgling years of my fly fishing life there was one critical, and I mean 28 THE CURRENT: BACKYARD BASSIN’

CRITICAL, component that was missing. Trout. So, I did what I’m sure many of you reading this did. I went West. And goddamn it, did I have fun. Spending the better part of a decade between Montana and Colorado, trout were never in short supply. And it was during those years between fishing with friends, guiding clients, working in fly shops, or exploring blue lines on my own, I’m confident I created memories I’ll reflect on for decades and decades to come. So, then what happened next you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Life. Life happened next and I once again found myself back in the Midwest of my youth. But I’ll also add this point, I couldn’t be happier if I tried. Do I miss the mountains, the friends, the rivers? Yes. Certainly. Do I miss the trout? I have to be honest. I really don’t. You see, the move back to Midwest reconnected me with the gamefish of my youth and re-ignited an internal spark for the sport of fly fishing that I didn’t realize had started to dim. The largemouth bass has long been touted as “America’s gamefish” and unless you have spent much time actually pursuing them, this slogan probably doesn’t mean much. What I’m here to tell you, however, is that bass are badass.

Like really, really badass. Plus, they’re abundant. In most places, way more so than trout, and probably a lot closer drive. With everything going on in the world these days I can’t think of a better time to dust off that 7 wt. and head to a local bass pond. I can promise, you’ll forget all about the spool of 6x and neatly organized boxes of midges sitting back at home the first time a four pounder crushes your popper. If you’re new to the bass fishing world the good news is, it shouldn’t take you long to start finding success. In the following paragraphs, I’ll highlight a few key tips I recommend to get your bass fishing on the fast track in a hurry. THE FISH Let’s start here because there are so many words and feelings that come to mind. Powerful. Aggressive. Acrobatic. And while those are all accurate, one descriptor might top them all: predator. Simply put, bass are predators at their core. In most places, the apex predator. For those of you more accustomed to watching a bobber suspending a team of size 20’s, this may not mean much. But think about those occasional streamer eats you’ve had from a big brown trout that nearly jerk the rod out of your hand. Now imagine that on steroids. And all the time. And from a way more pissed off fish. That’s bass fishing. Bass lurk in the shadows. They hide under lily pads. Next to fallen logs or piles of rocks. They wait in ambush and they wait to kill. If that doesn’t get you fired up, it might be time to trade in your fly rod for an oversized driver. THE WATER SIMPLY PUT: start small. I can assure you, heading to a

50 or 100-acre impoundment is going to feel intimidating, and often defeating. A one-half to three-acre pond is a good starting point. Smaller waters offer a variety of benefits, aside from the fish having less places to hide (although that is a nice bonus). Think: city parks, golf courses, public lands, backyards, farm ponds. Get on Google Earth or the onX app and start searching around. Don’t be afraid to knock on doors to request permission to fish. Your very own bass oasis could be much more attainable than you realize. READING THE WATER: The concept of ‘reading water’ is certainly nothing new to anglers who spend the majority of their time on moving water - riffles, runs, pools, eddies and how fish use these types of water is Trout 101. But what about when you’re staring at a lake and everything looks kinda, well……the same? Reading water in a lake or pond is a skill that can be mastered fairly quickly if you have a solid grasp on two key concepts - cover and structure. COVER: Being ambush predators, bass love to hang around cover. This can come in the form of stumps, fallen logs, rock piles, old tires, overhanging vegetation, or boat docks. Cover usually offers some sort of shade to help a bass hide while it waits in ambush. Cover can also be created by wind rippling the water, which will help a bass feel more comfortable to get out and roam in search of its next meal. Casting to any sort of cover is always proper bass protocol. STRUCTURE: Structure refers to changes in the bottom of a lake or pond’s contours. You’ll often find fish relating to certain types of structure throughout various times of the year such as steep drop-offs, ledges, or shallow/gradual flats. For instance, you’ll often find fish near steeper drop-offs during the peak of summer, or dead of winter. During the spring you’ll find a lot of fish roaming the shallower flats


looking for warmer water temperatures and creating spawning beds. There’s a saying, I’m sure many of you have heard, that states ‘90% of the fish live in 10% of the water’. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to fishing a small lake or pond. The conditions of the day/time of year will almost always have the majority keying into a certain part of the body of water you’re fishing. Fish a wide range of water and pay attention to the types of cover and structure that are producing results. THE FLIES Bass flies don’t have to be fancy or flashy to catch fish….even though bass will eat those as well. Heck, a size 4 clouser minnow or wooly bugger will almost always guarantee you at least a few fish throughout the day. In my opinion though, one of the best features of a largemouth bass is its willingness to eat on the surface. Make sure your fly box includes a selection of poppers and divers in brighter chartreuses, greens, oranges, as well as more natural frog colored variations. For those times when the fish don’t want to look up (think midday, under bright sun) switching over to mid to large sized flashy baitfish patterns can be a good bet. Lastly, it’s probably wise to throw a few crawfish patterns in for good measure. THE GEAR RODS: We’ll keep this brief. 6-8 weight rods are where you need to turn. This mostly has to do with being able to effectively cast the larger, more wind resistant flies you’ll often be fishing. But then again, when you tie into a 7-pounder hell bent on getting back to the root wad he came out of, you’ll be thankful for that extra backbone. FLY LINES: Most manufacturers these days have some version of a ‘bass’ or ‘warmwater’ line, and these all work great for almost all situations. I’ve also had success using many saltwater lines, outbound shorts, and titan tapers. In simplest terms, find something with a slightly shorter, heavier head and you’ll be good-to-go. LEADERS: This part of your setup couldn’t be easier. Keep it simple. A six foot piece of 10-14lb pound mono or fluorocarbon will get you by in most situations. As a blanket statement, bass don’t care about your leader. If you’re having trouble getting your fly to turnover, shorten it up. THE PRESENTATION: As is the case with trout fishing, presentation can make all the difference between a good day versus a great day. First off, you don’t need a delicate presentation. What you need is an accurate presentation. As mentioned above, bass love to hide near cover while they wait to ambush their next victim. Cast next to anything that may serve as cover for a bass. For times when you don’t have a specific target to cast to (think walking around a manicured golf course pond) I strongly recommend you make your casts/retrieves at a 45-degree angle to the bank. I’ve found this to be much more effective than casting straight out at a 90-degree angle. The reason for this is that it keeps your fly swimming through the strike zone (say 2-6 feet deep in smaller bodies of water) for a longer period of time, thus increasing your odds at getting a take. Lastly, experiment with retrieval speeds – which includes moving the fly very fast and erratically. Don’t forget, bass are PREDATORS. Often times a fast, darting, flashy fly zipping by through their field of view can be all it takes to trigger a crushing reaction bite! 30 THE CURRENT: BACKYARD BASSIN’

photos by Kyle Wilkinson & Russ Schnitzer



Underground Rivers By Cameron Scott

On the bank of the river, grass grows through old planks and boards, machinery. There are rivers I no longer visit; rivers overrun, rivers hard to reach, rivers that have become unreachable. But I still visit this river. Winding through farmland, beside freeways, falling as all rivers do. I visit this river often. For ease and familiarity. I recognize its scent, the way seasonal light shifts through its movements, reveals or hides what lies within. I’m reminded there are also rivers beneath my feet. Pushing dirt and daisies with the toe of my boot, I visit these rivers, too. They sometimes answer, in answering tell me life is not what I thought it was. Curves and arcs that bend and bend back again, hidden to sky, rivers in passing. Buried in earth, storm drains, sunken beneath scree fields or sandy depositions, unable to stand thirst of sun, listening closely I sometimes hear their song.




FLY FISHING PHOTOGRAPHY TRUTHS & TIPS by Kat Mueller I’M STANDING WAIST DEEP IN A DARK GLACIAL RIVER. It’s pouring rain. I’ve got my hat pulled down and my hood up and the only thing getting wet is my hands. And in my hands — my camera. With each step I’m careful to find footing; feeling the boulders slowly beneath my feet. I don’t want to swim today. I’m photographing my partner. He is fishing. Casting. Waiting. Standing there, too, in the pouring rain. His head is hung low and his jacket is slick black against the river surface that is alive with rain. The massive trees lining the river’s edge are hung low, too, bowing to the weight of the water. I unzip my jacket and dig through layers of Gore-Tex looking for a sliver of cotton somewhere to dry my camera lens. But I really don’t care. Because with each snap of the shutter, I’m capturing this. Today. This moment. Where I don’t think anything has ever been his wet. Photographing this space in time. Each drop. And somewhere inside them the unending hope that clings to steelheaders.


TIP No. 1 DO IT FOR YOURSELF Looking at this image, I can smell the rain. Hear the water. Remember who we were that day. And this is why I do this. Why I take pictures. There is no question that fly fishing and photography go hand in hand, given the beautiful places the sport takes us and the spectacular fish we (sometimes) catch. But what really moves you? What’s your why? Find that and then do it for you.

TIP No. 2 CAPTURE THE MAGIC There are special times in a day when natural light becomes magical. Often seen at dusk or dawn, creeping in before or after weather events — beams of light through the branches of a tree or the reflection of the sky on the water. Pay attention to these events and acknwledge them. It’s time to quickly get out your camera and shoot, because these moments are fleeting.

TIP No. 3 FRAME YOUR SUBJECT There’s a lot of “visual noise” in the sport of fly fishing: tree branches, rocks, arms, rods, and nets. It’s easy to lose your subject in the chaos. Try to carve out a quiet place around your subject by positioning yourself to get the right angle. Sometimes even a micro-adjustment can make a huge difference. An image can be incredibly powerful and loud in its silence. THE CURRENT: TITLE HERE



When you choose what you love to photograph — your why — do that. Maybe you love macro photography. Maybe it’s landscapes or drone shots. Whatever it is, embrace it and kill it. For me, my favorite subject since I first had a camera in my hands is people. More specifically my people. I love to photograph my fishing buddies. I often get called the paparazzi, as I enjoy stalking around behind them, sometimes getting in their personal space. I find these “subjects” most interesting because they are funny, quirky, and sometimes downright weird, but also skilled, graceful, and beautiful.

I make a point to photograph my fishing group as a whole on every fishing trip. These images sum up an entire adventure for me. I choose to shoot during brief stops in the fishing, when a beer is cracked or a story told. I slip away and creep around on the outside of the group to get a natural, un-posed shot. Unless I’m photographing portraits, I do not ask people to pose or do things for the sake of a picture. However, I also love a posed group shot and am known to set up a timer and run to hop in with my crew. I recommend you do this, too. You’ll likely find that the images taken before and after the posed “perfect” shot are your favorite.


TIP No. 6 KILLER FISH SHOTS The fish picture is by far the most valuable photo you will take in a day on the water. By “valuable” I mean to the angler. It’ll be the image the angler shows to family, friends, and coworkers. It’ll be the one framed on the wall, posted on social media, and pinned down in an album. It’ll ultimately be the most viewed image you make, and in my opinion, the most difficult. Here’s why: your friend really wants this picture, you have seconds to get the shot, and you can never get it again. So, consider it your contribution to your fishing buddy. Your labor of love. “Grip and grins” or “hero shots” have taken some heat, as it is easy to make a fish look bigger than it is by using a wide-angle lens. I’d like to point out that lens distortion goes both ways. We’ve all seen a fish picture that makes the fish look smaller than it is. There’s a happy medium between “looks small” and “looks huge” that is somewhere in the realm of reality. This decision is a photographer’s choice (refer to tip No.1). It’s impossible to discuss photographing fish without mentioning the safe handling of these aquatic animals we adore (and desire to meet again). Catch-and-release anglers have a duty to practice proper and ethical techniques when handling fish, as well as knowing and following your state’s rules and regulations. As a photographer, it is your concern as well. A fish should not be harmed or killed for the sake of a picture. It should not be dropped or placed on the rocks, squeezed, carried around in a net, or deprived of oxygen to get a picture. And fortunately, a fish doesn’t need to suffer for you to get the shot. It’s important that you plan the shot, get your camera (and settings) ready, and be in position before the fish is removed from the water. No one should wait for you, especially the fish. This requires some quick thinking and maneuvering. Quickly assess the light and the setting: the water may be too swift to handle a fish, you may be backseat in a boat, the sun may be bright at the back of your angler, or any number of difficult scenarios can occur. Communication is key at this time; get your angler in position by giving them direction. I offer easy guidance to get them in position, careful to not add stress to a cool experience. Gentle coaxing can affect where the angler lands the fish, the way they place their hands to hold the fish, and/or how they position themselves behind it. When the fish is in hand and lifted (slightly or entirely) from the water, you can get the shot in seconds. Get close to your angler and eye-to-eye with the fish. The eye of the fish must be in focus, so it must be your focus. You can count one-thousand-one or hold your breath, shoot, and then the fish needs to go back in the water. Two seconds is plenty to get the shot and you’ll have captured a sexy dripping-wet healthy fish. Your angler will be stoked and the fish will be back to its happy place. THE CURRENT: TITLE HERE


photos by Kat Mueller THE CURRENT: TITLE HERE XXX

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5 waterproof, grab-and-go system for technical tailwater bugs and bushy high mountain hoppers, to smaller saltwater crabs and shrimp.

4: SIMMS WOMEN’S G3 GUIDE Z STOCKINGFOOT WADERS 1: SIMMS WOMEN’S G3 Complete with the new and GUIDE WADING JACKET innovative side-zip design, Built for and designed by the Bozeman-made women anglers, the Women’s G3 Z Waders are pro-caliber G3 Guide Jacket built from our most is cut from Gore-Tex 3L 3: ORVIS + FISHE MINI SLING PACK advanced Gore-Tex fabric fabric for fighting extreme The most popular style of for hot day ventilation, easy elements. pack from Orvis paired with on/off function, and Dolly Vee, Fishe’s Dolly convenient relief when 2: FISHPOND TACKY Varden inspired design nature calls. PESCADOR FLY BOX makes for one pack that Most days, we’re reaching truly puts the FUN in for the Pescador; a functional!


5: G. LOOMIS NRX+ FLY ROD Rolled with G. Loomis’s most advanced compound taper construction to date, NRX+ provides the power, line speed, and loop stability expected from modern fast-action rods, without compromising “feel” and finesse in the short game.


GUIDED TRIPS, OFFERINGS & RATES One 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 the shop at (877) 464-0034 or email us at

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. DURATION 4 hours of fishing (doesn’t include drive time to and from the fishing location) TRIP INCLUDES Drinks/refreshments, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippets, etc.), waders, boots, rod, and reel. 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 6-8 hours of fishing (doesn’t include drive time to and from the fishing location)

PRICING 1 Person: $350 2 People: $395 3 People: $525 SEASON Year-Round * 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.

PRICING 1 Person: $450 2 People: $495 3 People: $650 SEASON Year-Round

TRIP INCLUDES Lunch and drinks, terminal tackle (flies, leaders, tippet, etc.), waders, boots, rod, and reel. 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 6-8 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. 44 THE CURRENT: GUIDED TRIPS, OFFERINGS & RATES

PRICING 1 person: $600 2 people: $650 SEASON Year-Round

GROUP AND CORPORATE (7+ PEOPLE) FLY FISHING TRIPS Group trips can be conducted as best-of-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. 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 tail-water 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 (& tributaries), Arkansas River (Upper, Middle, Lower & below Pueblo), Blue River, Williams Fork River, Roaring Fork River, Fryingpan River, Eagle River, Bear Creek, Clear Creek, Spinney Mountain Reservoir, Pueblo Reservoir, Eleven Mile Reservoir, Antero Reservoir, and Clinton Reservoir. 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 North Fork Ranch North Fork of the South Platte River Rawhide Ranch North Fork of the South Platte River Shawnee Meadows North Fork of the South Platte River Abell River Ranch South Platte River





a review by Chris Toomey CLASS OF 2020

THERE COMES A POINT in most serious anglers’ lives where they An abundance of information was provided in the ask themselves the following question: classroom, however, for me the real learning took place on the river. Going into class, I had decades of fishing experience however minimal experience in the rowing “HOW CAN I MAKE A LIVING OUT OF FISHING?” department. The first day rowing on the river the majority This question typically leads to hours of research on of the students and I started off a little rocky however that guiding and guide schools. It doesn’t matter the walk of quickly improved. As the days went on, under the guidance life. From careerist mid-lifers to recent high school of seasoned Trouts Guides, we all logged the required graduates, anglers find themselves genuinely considering hours on the sticks and by the end of the river training this option. In my case, I led a life based upon what society portion our confidence and skills were enhanced demanded of me. School, more school, enlist in the dramatically. I particularly appreciated the emphasis military, get a job, get a better job, climb the ladder, then on river safety, regulations, and general river etiquette eventually retire all the while counting down the hours of throughout the curriculum. the week when I’d get back out to the river. Call it an early mid-life crisis, or maybe just sanity creeping in, but I found Although there are no job placement guarantees with myself really contemplating the cost of my corporate the Trouts Guide Academy our class was presented job existence and reflecting on life itself. opportunities upon completion of the course. This was not surprising as all of the students in my class had great I spent a lot of time stewing over the commitment of time attitudes and were excellent anglers and oarsmen. and money associated with attending a guide school. These schools can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars and take All of us took advantage of the opportunity to work for weeks of your time. And like most, I was navigating around Trouts in varying capacities, some full time and some a precious allotment of time off. I kept asking myself if part time. In my case, I maintained my full-time job and guide school would be worth it and whether or not I could currently work part time as a guide. I continue to log my just do it on my own instead. The truth is, if I could have personal and commercial river miles as I work towards done it on my own then I likely would have done it long Trip Leader status. ago. So the decision became clear, and I signed up to attend Trouts Fly Fishing Guide Academy and Oar The extracurricular time during the week was just as Certification. As it turns out, “being worth it” was an awesome as the schooling itself. The majority of the understatement, attending guide school was invaluable. students chose to truck camp after each day in the public land near the river. It was everything you’d expect out of The Academy is a six-day course that prepares students to guide school students camping for four days in Colorado. navigate rivers effectively and safely, meet the qualifications True friendships were made with awesome folks that I’m of a “Qualified River Guide” in the State of Colorado and still in touch with at least weekly. have the skills to apply for a job as a guide in the industry. Going into the course, this was one of my greatest desires Whether you are looking for a confidence boost as and - learning skills on the oars and exploring the unknowns of oarsman to hit the river, or if you are pursuing a career as the rivers of Colorado. The course was a mixture of both a professional fly fishing guide, I would highly recommend classroom style learning and practical training focused on attending Trouts Fly Fishing Guide Academy and Oar etiquette, safety, entomology, river knowledge, protocol Certification. Looking back if I chose to learn this (do’s and don’ts) and caring for our resource. What I knowledge on my own I wouldn’t be nearly where I am quickly came to realize is there is a huge difference today. This was truly a professional, streamlined, life between fishing yourself and the art of guiding clients. changing experience. THE CURRENT: GUIDE ACADEMY & OAR CERTIFICATION 47

SIGNATURE SERVICES Trouts 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.


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. Don’t see a destination that you want to explore? No problem, simply inquire with us here 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.


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 or weekly 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. 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 48 THE CURRENT: SIGNATURE SERVICES

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.


If you fish long enough, it’s not a matter of IF something will break, its when and how many times. Whether it’s a snapped rod, tear in your waders or a reel with a worn out drag, we have seen it all. A majority of the 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. With that said 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.


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 FOLLOWING ARE THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR TROUTS SIGNATURE ROD SERVICE: • 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 IN ITEMS #7 • TROUTS SIGNATURE ROD SERVICE IS PRESENTLY AVAILABLE FOR SCOTT FLY ROD, WINSTON, SAGE, ORVIS, AND G. LOOMIS 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. THE CURRENT: SIGNATURE SERVICES 49


CARP TACOS by Will Rice


We had simple – yet delicious - plan. “I was thinking about doing a different twist on smoked brisket: brisket tacos,” said Scott Wells over a text message. I like smoked brisket – I like tacos. Sprinkle in a few hours of fly fishing, and this year’s 2021 CURRENT ‘Kitchen-Not-So-Confidential’ was coming together. The idea was to break in the new Trouts’ Traeger grill on the shop’s back deck and sneak in a few hours of carp fishing on the Denver South Platte River. We were going to keep the day simple, tasty, and super close to home. But as plans often do, especially as they did in 2020, things change. A few hours later I received another text from Scott. “I’m also giving serious consideration to bagging the brisket and doing smoked Mahi Mahi, which could also be used for… tacos,” his text read. The audible was called and smoked tacos were now on the menu. What follows is Scott’s step-by-step method and procedures for “Smoked Mahi Mahi Tacos” and “Will’s Signature Guacamole.” It took less than an hour for preparation. While the fish was smoking, we hit the DSP during low water conditions with a stealthy approach to find a few bruiser carp to tangle with.




by Scott Wells

START WITH 3-5 POUNDS OF MAHI MAHI FILLETS, ideally these will be uniform in thickness and size so that they will smoke and cook consistently. I prefer fillets that are 1/2”1” thick, thicker fillets will require longer brining and smoking, so I’ll trim thicker pieces in order to achieve a more consistent result. Prepare the brine by dissolving 1 cup into about 4-5 cups hot water, stir until all the salt and sugar is completely dissolved. Add ice to chill the brine and cold water to bring the volume up to roughly one gallon. Once the brine is chilled submerge the fillets in the chilled brine and allow to rest for one hour. If your fish is thicker than 1” you’ll need to brine for 1.5-2 hours. Once the fillets have brined for about 45 minutes it’s time to fire up the smoke show. Most pellet smokers such as Traeger have a minimum temp of 160180 degrees, which will dry the fillets too quickly to allow much smoke flavor to penetrate the meat. In order to add a smokier flavor, cold smoke the fish for 1-2 hours before adding heat to cook the fish. To do this, I will use a discarded can (a tuna can works perfectly). I’ll use a church key to punch a series of small holes in the bottom and sides of the can to improve air flow. Add a couple handfuls of Traeger pellets to the can (I prefer the Traeger signature blend of hickory, apple and maple for fish). Using a propane or gas torch light the pellets in the can and place the can inside your smoker in a corner. Next, remove the fillets from the brine and shake a light coating of Traeger fin and feather rub on all sides. By now the pellets in your smoker can should be smoldering nicely and putting out smoke. Place the fillets on the grates of the smoker, making sure they aren’t touching each other as they’ll tend to stick together if touching and the THE CURRENT: TITLE HERE

fillets will not develop that nice smoky “bark” where they’re touching. Close the lid and leave it closed for at least 45 minutes - remember, ‘if you’re looking you ain’t cooking.’ Allow the fillets to cold smoke until the surface takes on a light golden color, approximately 1 hour, though it may take longer depending on the size of your smoker. A smaller smoker will yield the desired result in less time than a larger one will. Our Traeger pro 880 needed about 1.5 hours. Once the fillets are a nice light golden color it’s time to fire up your smoker. As with the cold smoke I prefer the Traeger signature pellets. Set the temp to 180 and allow the fillets to cook for about a half hour before checking progress. At a half hour the smallest, thinnest pieces should be done or near done. You can check them with a thermometer at this point; you’re shooting for 145 degrees in the center. You can also check them with a finger and a little light pressure. Cooked fish will feel firm, even a bit springy to the touch, uncooked fish will feel soft or even a bit mushy. I will often take pieces out of the smoker in several stages - the smaller, thinner pieces will finish first, the larger thicker pieces will need more time. After 30-45 minutes elapse I’ll check every ten minutes or so, removing the finished pieces and allowing the unfinished pieces more time to cook through. Smoked fish should remain moist inside and if left on the heat too long it can quickly go from smoked fish to fish jerky, which isn’t a bad thing, but not what we’re after when making smoked fish tacos. Break a piece open and verify that the fish is cooked through and still moist. Once the pieces are finished remove them from the heat and while still warm use fingers or a pair of forks to “flake” the fillets into small bite sized pieces. Fill a warm corn tortilla with a couple ounces of flaked fish, top with finely shredded cabbage, Pico de Gallo, guacamole and a little crumbled cotija cheese. Finish with a little squeeze of lime and enjoy with a nice cold Mexican lager.

WILL’S SIGNATURE GUACAMOLE INGREDIENTS 5 ripened avocados remove pits and skins 2 small tomatoes (or one large tomato) deseeded and roughly chopped 1 jalapeño deseeded and finely chopped 1 heaping tablespoon of fresh chopped cilantro (destemmed) ¼ finely chopped red onion 3 garlic cloves finely chopped ½ fresh squeezed lime juice 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (or more to taste) 1 teaspoon kosher salt ¼ cup fresh or dried pomegranate seeds (or if you’re in a jam… Craisins… that’s right… Craisins) METHOD Once you have all of your ingredients measured and chopped, add them into a large mixing bowl in the order above. Gently “fold” the avocados together for a chunky mash (and avoid “smashing” or “liquifying” them). The goal here is to have a traditional chunky guacamole with a burst of spice and heat from the jalapeño, a dash of sweetness from the pomegranate seeds, all balanced with a healthy dose of salt to taste.




2 3




1: ORVIS HELIOS 3D FLY ROD The “D” is for distance - it’s the rod with the power to get your fly there, and the accuracy to drop it right where you want it. 2: RISING LUNKER NET 24” HANDLE The Lunker Net is designed to handle fish of all sizes with the size and shape of the hoop. The 24″ handle offers you the extra reach to land fish in personal watercraft or doubles

up as a staff when wade fishing. Use it for trout or off the skiff in the salt… The Lunker Net can handle it all. Offered in 8 different colors of anodization and made at HQ in Francis, UT USA. 3: ABEL SDS FLY REEL Winner of the best new saltwater reel at the 2016 ICAST/IFTD show, the Abel SDS (Sealed Drag Salt) takes all the power, reliability, and smoothness of its smaller counterpart and combines

them in a larger package capable of taking on gamefish of all sizes. 4: SIMMS SOLARFLEX HOODY When the sweltering sun threatens to end a long afternoon of tossing carefree casts, cover yourself with the Simms SolarFlex® Hoody for men. The quick-drying comfort and UPF 50 sun protection of lightweight COR3™ fabric lets you keep chasing that elusive 2-footer through the dog days of summer.

5: AIRFLO SUPERFLO FLY LINE Superflo is quite simply the greatest fly line we have ever produced. A floating line with almost zero memory, that casts easier, further and floats higher when required and importantly 100% lasts longer than any other flyline full stop!




extends far beyond the walls of our new HQ, and embraces the unique and vibrant fishery that is “the DSP.” This is our home water, and we hope that we can share its current merit, and more importantly its future potential with you. Pioneer of the carp-on-the-fly movement, and intrepid trailblazer of the DSP fishery, Barry Reynolds, spends his weekends here at the Zuni Mothership, helping anglers of all experience levels target “alternative species” on the fly. Barry is happy to pass on almost 40 years of DSP experience to all who wish to explore the artery that brought life to the Queen City of the Plains. This river has given so much to me over the past two decades, and provides a sanctuary from the craziness of the everyday, a mere 5 steps out our back door.

essay by Rick Mikesell

Thanks to the efforts of countless river stewards like Denver Trout Unlimited and The Greenway Foundation, the river has made unbelievable strides in recent years. The future is bright as many of the agencies with a stake in its revitalization are working to maximize the recreational potential that is just under the surface. I greatly encourage you to look past the gritty exterior of the DSP (long an acronym for the “Dirty South Platte” but quickly shedding that reality), to look past the trout-centric history of the sport of fly fishing and go fish in Denver’s home water. We are happy to help you in the adventure and are certain you’ll be pleasantly surprised. THE CURRENT: OUR HOME ON THE DSP 59








IF YOU’RE BUZZING DOWN I-25 IN DENVER and catch a fishy mural out of the corner of your eye, you’ll know exactly where Trouts Fly Fishing is. That mural featuring brown trout, tarpon, permit and carp - with a Scott Fly Rods’ logo in its center - is the handiwork of Paul Puckett, one of the fly-fishing world’s favorite artists. He’s one of my favorites for sure, and I’m particularly drawn to the niche he has carved out of matching celebrity faces with fish. These aren’t just fun to look at—they send a message, even tell a story, which is the holy grail benchmark for magazine editors. For example, I once asked writer Joe Cermele (then with Field & Stream, now with The MeatEater) to hunt down elusive brook trout in the shadows of the Garden State Parkway for a story we’d dub “Jersey Natives” in TROUT magazine, and it turned into such an interesting piece, we decided to ask Paul to capture it in a sketch for the story opener. Boom… Bruce Springsteen with a brook trout. What more did we need? I have a number of Paul’s pieces on my office wall, which I look at when I creative kick start—James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, cigar in one hand, brook trout in the other… Bill Murray as Ernie “Big Ern” McCracken from the comedic classic “Kingpin,” combover hair mussed, bowling shirt with piping, and a permit hoisted overhead in place of the bowling ball. I dunno, is there any better way to capture landing a permit on the fly than triumphant “Big Ern?” I had a chance to chat with Paul from our respective COVID bunkers to ask a few questions and talk about where we’re going to go when we get to bust loose on another story… KIRK: Tell me about the mural at Trouts… how did that come about? PAUL: Scott Wells made that connection, and it was in the peak COVID season this past spring. I had missed a couple of trips by then and was eager to do something. It’s not typically the type of work I’d do, but the thought of someone else doing it irritated me. So I hopped on a plane, we came up with some concepts, worked from some photos, and projected it on the wall. And then it we just connected the dots. K: All the writers, photographers, and artists I know typically fall into a regular routine. What’s your typical routine? P: Up at 6, 6:15… the last few years I’ve stopped doing an alarm clock. Then I do old man stuff… let the pups out, go for a couple mile walk… I get to the art studio by about 8. I spend the first half of the day drawing and illustrating. I get about 2-3 hours to do stuff I want to do. Then I ship prints, and check correspondence, do the business stuff. THE CURRENT: TITLE HERE

K: What’s on your drawing board right now? P: A painting. It’s an underwater scene of three redfish in dirty water looking for food. K: Is there a fish that’s your favorite to paint or draw? P: Tarpon. They’re robotic-esque, and they have hard lines to them. Any silver fish is very challenging. Each scale is different and every shadow is different. K: Have you always been a tarpon angler? P: I’m from Dallas, Texas, and kind of grew up trout fishing in Arkansas, I moved to Wyoming for 4-5 years and obviously did more trout fishing there. When I got married my father-in-law got me into the salt stuff. K: So how did you end up an artist, and more specifically, how did you find your niche? P: It was the typical kid thing. I’d check out comic books and started mimicking things. I went to school with the goal of being a graphic designer. In college I worked in a fly-fishing shop and I found a little side business of painting people’s trout. “Hey, you caught a nice fish… want me to make a painting of that?” I ended up in Georgia, and worked out of the Fish Hawk in Atlanta, and that’s where I fell into “Pop Culture Fish,” matching characters like Clint Eastwood with fish. And that never slowed down! K: So is there a person you’re jonezing to do as a pop culture fish piece? P: The latest idea is Chris Farley from SNL days. Usually I don’t do what others ask me to do but every once-in-a-while I hear a great idea (like this one) and think, yeah… I have to do that. E.T. with a GT would be interesting. Indeed. As for where to go to make the next story with pop culture illustration, we left that canvas blank for now, so you’ll have to be on the lookout down the road. But there’s a pretty strong chance tarpon will be in the mix. PAUL PUCKETT’S ART HAS APPEARED IN PAST ISSUES OF THE CURRENT, THIS YEAR WE COMMISSIONED PAUL FOR A SELF PORTRAIT (TOP RIGHT) THE CURRENT: OFF THE WALL 65





Whether laying down dry flies with finesse or delivering streamers at distance, the SONIC family of rods provides

S h o w n w i t h S a g e S p e c t r u m LT R e e l

uncompromised versatility.

H a n d c ra ft e d i n t h e U S A XXX THE CURRENT: TITLE HERE



LOCKDOWN: DAY… ??? We were months into pandemic remote office work. Combine this with my wife’s maternity leave, which welcomed our first into one crazy world, and things were just a little hectic in the Baker household. Suburban Front Range days were on a loop of late-night feedings, coffee, staring at computer screens, conference calls, diaper changes, sweet relief of an at-home happy hour, and newborn bedtime routines. Repeat. One evening it hit me… nothing in the cycle required we sit in Arvada. If we’re going to be home bound, why not make a temporary home base that affords us maximum sanity? The solution was easy. Steamboat Springs, where my wife and I met and got married. We have both family and friends there. And arguably most helpful to retain sanity: The Yampa River would be at our fingertips. Though short-term rentals and hotels were still shut down, city ordinance stated anything over 30 days was exempt. Seven weeks ought to do it, we thought. Within a matter of days we loaded up the truck, hitched the raft, strapped the kiddo into his car seat, and we were off. I moved to Steamboat after college to start my guiding career, which would last 8 seasons. My rookie year was nothing short of eye opening and I immediately fell in love with a river that provides a vast spectrum of fishing opportunities from headwaters down. Though I do not intend to provide much more detail than any google search, guidebook or glance at social media would yield, here are a few of the stretches that keep me coming back year after year. HEADWATERS: BEAR RIVER The Yampa is born in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, south of Steamboat Springs. Here it is called The Bear River, but only has this name for a short time. The river starts from a chain of three consecutive small reservoirs, each offering great stillwater fishing from the bank or boat. Like many headwaters in Colorado, it starts small and scenic. It’s best approached with lightweight rods and simple dry or dry dropper rigs, though nymph or small streamer setups may be necessary earlier in the year as the river is dropping into shape. The best time for scenery is by far in the fall, when aspen leaves are in full display, elk bugle, and summer crowds are dying down. Grand slams (rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook) and the mythic super-slam (add whitefish) were not uncommon on guide trips, and this has always been one of my favorite places for the more aesthetic side of fishing. Years ago, my brother, who enlisted in the Navy, came to stay with me for a week before shipping off. Given he would only be seeing the inside of a submarine for the next several months, I could think of no better place to have him catch his first trout on a fly rod. To this day we still talk about that trip, which started a mandatory fly fishing outing every time he visits. TOWN FISHING In the summertime, Steamboat residents and tourists alike find themselves downtown on the back lawn of Sunpies Bistro, with a Hurricane in their hand. This is a local rite of passage. Sitting there with your strong, sugary cocktail, you overlook the river and can’t help but think where you’d want to cast a fly. The urge to fish grows stronger with each passing sip. Town fishing remains my favorite “homewater” on the Yampa. First, it has a lot of public water that is easily accessible, key on a river that largely flows through private ranchland outside of city boundaries. Second, the river behaves like a freestone. It has awesome hatch cycles supporting healthy populations of wild strong fish of all sizes. Water types range from greasy dry fly runs to boulder strewn pocket water, and run-riffles with cut banks and gravel bars. Subsequently, 70 THE CURRENT: WORK FROM HOME(WATERS)

I almost never fish the same spot in two consecutive months as the flows, bugs and weather evolve. My favorite ways to fish town (in no particular order, completely dependent on time of year): single dry, foam-dropper, and trout-spey. On an ethics and conservation note, the river does get warm on typical and low water years- which seems to be occurring more and more often unfortunately. Please pay close attention to “voluntary river closures” and water temperatures. Know when to fish elsewhere… see below, or above. On another topic: tubers. Chances are if you’re fishing town in peak summer, you will inevitably encounter the dreaded “rubber hatch” starting sometime between 10am-11am each day. Stay cool here and remember the river is for everyone. They tend to peak before and after the major hatches, and the fish aren’t usually put down by the ruckus surprisingly. I’ve seen fish continue to rise seconds after a tuber passes. There is obviously a critical mass of traffic, at which point you may be better off heading back to Sunpies. That said, the largest brown I’ve landed in this area I had to weave my fly line above and below tubers passing as the fish and I fought. To this day one of the more memorable fish I’ve ever caught for this added drama. THE WILD WEST In the late summer when the water gets low and hot, I tend to move either back to the headwaters or well west of Steamboat. Heading West, the river enters dry arid canyon lands on its way to the confluence with The Green River. There are areas here that are without doubt the wildest sections of the Yampa, of which I have only scratched the surface. Some access points absolutely require 4X4s. The second you sense rain coming, you better pull up stakes quickly to avoid getting stuck in an area that is miles from cell service. Also, boots are a must. My first trip down here years ago resulted in the closest call I’ve had to a rattlesnake bite- again miles from cell signal. But put in some time, planning, and research and you will find awesome opportunity to target warm water bruisers with your 6 or 7 wt. Pike and smallmouth are the prime target species here and the smallies are pound for pound some of the stoutest bouts I’ve had on a fly rod. When it comes to pike, make sure you have appropriate leaders, and if your flies are articulated, be sure hooks are tied with wire. Unfortunately, a recent trip to target these fish resulted in a hard pull, one large head shake and an articulated fly severed in two. Judging by the wake that continued to follow in my partial rig on my “retrieval of shame”, it was a big northern lost only because of my poor planning. Forgetting my pike fly box and trying to substitute trout streamers… I had only myself to blame. LOCKDOWN: DAY…??? + A FEW Enough bandwidth has been consumed for the week. Eyes are rotted from Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting. It’s a beautiful day in the Yampa Valley and I’m grateful to get the nod from my wife to sneak out and start the weekend right. At a familiar run, I work my way up with a foam-dropper rig. At the very head of the riffle I am startled by a dry fly eat of a fish in what could have only been 8-10” of ripping water. It’s porpoise-like rise shows me this is a fish well larger than I would have anticipated holding this shallow, and even more surprising was that it was willing to eat on top. After a bulldog fight, I land the fish and cradle him along the length of my rod in the water. It comes up only a few inches shy of my stripping guide- a mark I will later crudely estimate to be 23”. Releasing the fish, I come to the consensus the evening won’t get any rosier, and I’m reminded that tomorrow I’ll be floating the river with a long-time friend. Content, I hook up my flies and start walking back to the truck. Perhaps I’ll survive lockdown after all. photo courtesy of Reid Baker




by Copi Vojta

LOOKING DOWNSTREAM, RIVER RIGHT, at the end of the long slow run underneath the bridge the water pours shallow over a gravel bar extending halfway into the river. A small channel still runs, even in January and if you walk quietly, following the gravel shelf down and across to where the two currents start to tangle, there is a deeper pit on the left, in the main channel that’ll go on for twenty or thirty feet and some softer water coming in from the side on your right, but I won’t trample through their house. There’s a bit of a lake, which the geese like, so I’m sure they’re okay with a little commotion, but either way, I like to keep it to a minimum. Even when I’m done I try not to splash. Depending on what you’re fishing, I’d either start here

and swing or short strip a small streamer or turn around and walk the bank and wait till you see risers or if you’re into it a nymph rig. Be careful and make sure you have a good roll cast cause the bank is steep over your shoulder and it’s tough to get a good cast into the gut. It starts shallow on the bar, but drops off pretty quick, but they’re thick in there I know. It’s fast and deep enough right off your toes that you can’t wade too far in. I saw one fish hugging the edge and both rainbows I landed were in the steadier smooth current coming in from the side channel but that was three days ago. I doubt anyone’s been in there since. You won’t want to spend all day there but it’s nice for a couple hours.

EDITORS NOTE: TWELVE FROM THE VAULT SERIES Copi Vojta is a photographer and the photo editor at The Flyfish Journal and currently resides in Bellingham, WA. I first came across his photography while paging through the Drake Magazine on a road trip back in 2009 when he lived in Carbondale, CO. In a sea of fly fishing magazines that existed back then, Copi’s images were different and special – his photography stood out. Later, Copi and I later crossed paths on the first leg of the infamous “Ride With Clyde” series that spanned from 2012-2019 published by the Drake. I rode shotgun while Copi shot images of the fuzzy green dice hanging from the rear-view mirror as we bumped our way through the Roaring Fork River valley. For 2021, Trouts has commissioned Copi to dig through his old hard drives and memory cards from the days he spent fishing here in Colorado. This is his first piece in a series of twelve that you’ll find monthly on our blog at THE CURRENT: TWELVE FROM THE VALUT 73

FUEL YOUR FIRE “Fuel Your Fire” touches on what motivates us to get out on the water every chance we have. In this year’s edition, we checked in with our friends at Simms in Bozeman, Montana, to find out what fuels their fire to spend time on the water. Simms wader I see on the river triggers the thought, “How can I make it better?”. Making waders in the US has allowed me the opportunity to ask that question thousands of times, and each response informs a future wader.



The first time I touched a fly rod, I became obsessed with figuring it out. How to cast, how to fool a sipping trout, how to get the perfect drift, and each time a challenge was met I was offered another. At first I thought it was just a desire to catch a trout or a steelhead, but I soon realized that each challenge met brought a little more understanding, a little more refinement. It wasn’t about the trout at all, but a desire to improve at something I love. 25 years have passed, and I find myself in the same position. This time it’s waders instead of trout. The same focus, drive, and joy at meeting the challenge. Every 74 THE CURRENT: FUEL YOUR FIRE



What got me out on the water 30 years ago was a little different than why I go today, but there is a pattern, a consistent theme – connection. Early on, fishing was a connection with friends – river camping and a flotilla of boats. Then it was an opportunity to connect with my son, to create memories that both of us

value and will have forever. That evolved into adventure fishing with my husband to remote locations across the globe and connecting with new cultures. What a trip…literally! Now I find that I get really excited about connecting with nature, usually checking out new water, and often off the beaten path. As I read this, and thinking about 2020, I realize what really fuels my fishing passion is the ability to disconnect from the everyday stuff and connect with the fly on the end of my line, and hopefully, a fish.

overhead interrupting the current’s babble as it rushes past my legs. It’s the scandi head ripping off the surface as I rhythmically transition into a d-loop. It’s the sound of a happy pod of trico sippers, or the metallic click from the crank on a drift boat trailer. The white noise of the wind rustling through the trees or the osprey’s screech is always a reminder to pause, take a breath, and savor the moment.

water. I still find myself exploring new waters, traveling to far off places and just as stoked catching bluegill in the Bozeman “Mall Pond” as I am swinging for steelhead in the Northwest.






I fell hard for fishing. It happened in an instant. My infatuation spread quickly through my family, and soon, most of our precious memories were made in - or around -moving water. Our daughters value the experiences fishing provides, and welcome any opportunity to “get lost” in the wild. I want everyone to experience the joy, growth, and calm fly fishing has brought me. Specifically, what really fuels my fire are the sounds I encounter on the water. It’s the cooing sandhill cranes gliding

Before I could walk, I was on the stream banks of rivers and lakes riding in my father’s backpack as he and my mother plied waters in the Eastern Sierras. I was fortunate to have two parents that were avid fly anglers and enjoyed camping in places where trout lived. This quickly instilled a love for the outdoors and chasing fish of all types. Growing up my brother and I found ourselves constantly exploring bodies of water near our home at every opportunity in addition to summer trips across the west towing our tent trailer and fishing new places. These adventures in my youth shaped and formed my passion for the

Growing up fishing for bass in my home state of Georgia was fun but always seemed lacking in adventure. The little fly fishing we did kept me interested, but the allure of catching trout was always in the back of my mind. I dreamt of exploring new places, fighting giant trout, and discovering a stretch of water that had never been fished. After living in Montana for 12 years, the reason I fish has evolved. There are many different disciplines of fishing and you can fish year round here if you desire. Fly fishing for pike and bass in the spring, casting dry flies throughout the summer months, stripping streamers in the fall, and ice fishing during the winter (this might be my favorite) keep me excited as each season changes. Now, it isn’t about the epic adventures of fishing, but sharing the joy of fishing with my family and introducing my daughter to the diversity of fishing that excites me most. THE CURRENT: FUEL YOUR FIRE 75


by Will Rice

THE FIRST THREE STRIPS OF THE FLY CAUGHT THE FISH’S ATTENTION. Ka-sploosh! Ka-sploosh! Ka-sploosh! The fish quickly changed direction and made a beeline toward my fly. It hard-charged the floating bug, then abruptly hit the brakes, turned 90 degrees and swam away. Refusal! I’ve seen this before so I didn’t give up. Instead - two more strips. Ka-sploosh! Ka-sploosh! The fish turned and with an explosive burst of speed and energy blasted my fly on the water’s calm surface – like a Mack Truck hitting a MINI Cooper. BOOM!

If you haven’t spent time in the high-country exploring Colorado’s high-alpine creeks and lakes it can really be a game changer from an angling and exploration perspective. It changes how you think about fishing end-to-end. When I say end-to-end I’m talking about how you prepare for a day on the water, the amount of research you commit to, your goals for the day and how you define success. The fish that hit my fly was a gorgeous cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – the fly it demolished wasn’t a popper, it was a foam and deer hair hopper pattern. The fly floated like a cork and when stripped aggressively on a still lake with little breeze it behaved like…. well…. a micro-popper. It wasn’t the most elegant or refined approach to fishing, but it sure delivered results. And those results were fully visual, from watching the big fish slowly patrol the lake’s skinnier water, to the demolition derby that followed. What brought me to this high-country lake was a conscious decision I made in the spring to spend more time exploring lakes above 10,000 ft. The reasons were simple: 1) I knew that by putting in a little extra research and work I had a better chance of getting away from other anglers 2) I enjoy hiking and the physical aspect of reaching lakes further off the grid and 3) To me, every new lake and creek I would fish was a mystery.

I’d been a bass kid growing up and watching fish eat on the surface has always entranced me. From two and three pounders from a local golf course pond to chasing barracudas What I was able to do that summer of high alpine exploration around atolls in the Bahamas with steel leaders and gaudy and puzzle-solving was to put together a fairly standardized poppers, I could never get enough of watching the behavior approach to my research. It’s a methodology so generalized of fish who can be coaxed to kill their prey at the surface. you can apply it to almost any lake or creek you can find on a map that is within 10 or 15 miles from a Colorado river or But this was no bass pond in upstate NY, nor was it an major river basin. international destination far from home. I was standing on a rock ledge above a lake at 11,300 ft elevation after hiking If you are new to Colorado or you haven’t put miles on your 2800+ ft vertically with all of my fishing gear. boot treads with a small pack and a fly rod, here are 6 steps to think about if you are going to explore the high-country. And it was less than a three-hour drive from Denver. 76 THE CURRENT: HIGH-COUNTRY EXPLORATION

RESEARCH There is a reason why people are protective and tight-lipped about high-country creeks and lakes that fish well: they want to keep them that way. These fisheries tend to be small and they can’t support a lot of fishing pressure. This makes research even more important than just finding access points on larger rivers. Everyone’s research methodology is going to be different. I like to start by looking at major river basin (i.e. Arkansas, Colorado, Gunnison, Rio Grande, San Juan, South Platte or Yampa) and then move to a smaller tributary that feeds one of these larger rivers. From there, using Google Earth or similar app, I start looking for lakes that in turn flow into those tributaries. If I can then find a lake within my hiking range that also has a feeder creek – giving it an active inflow and outflow – I’ve likely found a solid high-country candidate. ACCESS Once I’ve found a target creek or lake within proximity to a larger river fishery, I start to look at trail access as well as other sources that could include fishing reports. The good news is that many of the lakes that fit the above criteria in Colorado, are also popular trails for hiking, biking, birdwatching and other wilderness pursuits. For example, when researching access to a lake earlier this summer, I read a recent trail report from where a trail user reported seeing a wide array of wildlife on their hike… including… a number of rising fish when they first arrived at the lake. The report was made just a few days prior to my research – bingo. RANGE & LIMITATIONS Anytime you are accessing the backcountry, especially if you are new to hiking and exploring, it is important to have an accurate assessment of your own physical ability and l imitations. Without this, you are potentially putting yourself at risk, as well as others who might end up having to extricate you from a bad situation. If you have never hiked 10 miles round trip above 8000 ft and covered 3000 vertical ft. up and down, you should rethink this type of excursion for your first outing. Put another way, start small and be reasonable. Think about exploring the backcountry as more of a personal journey over a period of time vs. a single mission with a single endpoint destination. Once you’ve tackled your first stream or lake you’ll start to gain appreciation for terms like “elevation gain” and “round trip” vs. “one way.” These are details you’ll want to pay attention to so you can reach your fishing destination successfully and more importantly, return to your trailhead safely. Once you have a few successful trips under your belt, you can think about extending your range by including a multi-day/ night backpacking element into your program. This will increase the amount of water you can cover, but it will also increase the complexity of your planning as well as your due diligence required to ensure a safe trip. Especially if you plan to explore on your own. SEASONALITY For the most part here in Colorado, high alpine fishing is best enjoyed in the summer months as well as the early fall. You can certainly start exploring in the “shoulder months” or THE CURRENT: TITLE HERE

“mud season”, but you are going to find two potential obstacles. The first is trail access where snow drifts from the prior winter make trail navigation difficult. You also may find your destination lake still in the grips of winter ice. I’ve pushed the seasonal envelope on a few occasions in the fall only to find a fast-moving winterlike storm cut my hiking and fishing plans well short of a successful day.

moving flies – so I’ll have small streamers, hopper-dropper combinations and surface poppers at the ready. I’ve also seen fish hunkered down deep so I always have a split shot available if I have to throw a depth charge to get their attention.

ON THE WATER One of the things I love about high-alpine fishing is the visual GEAR nature of the sport. If I’m fishing a small creek I’m usually casting a lone dry fly while watching a brook trout, The beauty of high-country fishing is that you don’t need a lot of gear. Don’t get me wrong, I love the warmth of waders cutt or brown trout nail my bug on the surface. If I’m walking around a lake I often get the advantage of a large and the steadiness of studded boots on a slick river bottom, outcropping where I can peer down to see cruising fish – or but I also enjoy not having to fish in them when the conditions are right. On most of my backcountry exploration I get to simply watch fish smashing insects on the top water. If I don’t have that visual luxury, I’ll usually start to probe trips, I ditch the waders and wading boots – and swap them different parts of a lake with a streamer or a skated dry fly. If out for a pair of hiking boots for my ingress and egress, and I’m fishing a streamer I’ll usually look for changes in the lake’s a pair of light sandals for when I fish. Often, I’m not even habitat, where light shallow water turns to dark deeper water getting in the water. signaling a drop off. Or, similar to bass fishing, I’ll look for structure in the form of sunken logs, rocks or patches I rarely venture out on a trip without sturdy Gore-Tex rain of vegetation. gear (jacket and pants) and a small, lightweight kit to start a fire for the worst-case-scenario where I have to spend a night Another tactic I’ve found effective is constantly trying to put in the woods. If you do end up fishing above tree line in the myself in a position to make the cast. At high elevations, summer, be cognizant of lightning and fast-moving storms. you often don’t have to worry about overhanging trees and branches. Sometimes you will. This is where the sandals and On most trips I’ll bring two rods and two reels – just in case something fails or if I accidently break a rod (been there done wet wading can come in handy and also looking for opportunistic places to position yourself to make that cast. that – I don’t need to do that again). My go-to rod is usually a 3 wt. and I have a backup 4 wt. both with weight forward floating lines. I’ll usually fish a 4X or 5X leader and I’ll bring Once you’ve finally made it to your high-country destination and found a few fish, fly selection and making that cast will a few spools of 4X or 5X tippet as well. All of my terminal tackle and flies go into a single day pack that also houses 100 probably seem like the easiest two pieces of this backcountry puzzle. Most of the hard work has gone into the preparation, ounces of water in a sealed bladder, my rain gear, sandals, research and planning of your trip as well as the physical trail snacks and a lunch. endurance it takes to put you in front of that fishing opportunity. All of my flies are in a single box and they are specifically selected for the high-country and cover a wide variety of For more information about exploring Colorado’s prolific situations. If I’m lucky enough to see fish feeding on the surface, I’ll have a combination of big foamy dry flies down to amount of backcountry streams and lakes, feel free to stop in or call the shop. We’ll be happy to answer any questions and more microscopic midge patterns. I’ll often see fish cruising get you pointed in the right direction. close to the shores of the lake. They seem to like chasing







HIGH COUNTRY 1: SCOTT G SERIES FLY ROD A reinvention of the treasured Scott G Series, this medium action, smooth-flexing fly rod conjures visions of fishing baetis to sipping trout at Deckers, tricos to pods of browns on the Bighorn, and everywhere in between.


2: ROSS REELS COLORADO The Colorado LT set the bar for lightweight click pawl reels. Our new Colorado takes it to the next level. This thoroughly updated design brings a beautiful aesthetic defined by aerodynamic shapes and surfaces. The look of this reel is different from anything on the market today. 3: A FLY FISHING GUIDE TO ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK by Steven B. Schweitzer Over 150 fishing destinations in Rocky Mountain National

carry-on or overnighter. Park have been detailed with topographic maps, trail profiles, fishing tips, destination notes and 5: SIMMS FLYWEIGHT WADING BOOT If the call of high mountain photographs. streams and the path less traveled ring true for you, our 40 oz. 4: ORVIS BUG-OUT BACKPACK Flyweight Wading Boot When it’s time to go, the Orvis Vibram Sole offers an incredibly Bug-Out fly-fishing backpack lives up to its name. Floatplane, lightweight design to help you answer the high-mountain call. jet plane, truck, drift boat, or your own two feet, this backpack The low-profile design maintains is designed to take what you need full wading boot functionality and make it easy to find it when and the Vibram Idrogrip outsole sticks to wet, mossy rocks, and you need it. It’s a fishing backpack by design, but it easily is reinforced for reliable stud retention. crosses over to travel as a THE CURRENT: GEAR GUIDE HIGH COUNTRY 79




IN JULY 2020 TROUTS FLY FISHING WELCOMED JOHN SPRIGGS TO THE GUIDE ROSTER AT OUR FRISCO SHOP LOCATION. HERE ARE 10 QUESTIONS POSED TO JOHN WHO, IN ADDITION TO BEING A PROFESSIONAL FLY FISHING GUIDE, IS ALSO A PROFESSIONAL SKIER AND A COLORADO NATIVE. WILL: For anyone who follows fly fishing here in Colorado or the ski scene internationally, they probably know the name John Spriggs and the Instagram handle @jahspriggs. For those who don’t, can you tell our readers about yourself ? JOHN: I am a Colorado native who fell in love with fishing and the outdoors at a very young age. I’ve spent the majority of my time in life either skiing and fly fishing, and feel truly blessed that I still get to do the two things I love the most all year long. I also enjoy sharing and hopefully inspiring some people to get outside and pursue their passions in life! W: What do you consider your home waters these days as well as your local mountain or terrain? J: The Colorado River, Blue River, and Eagle River is what I would consider to be my home waters, and the Gore Range is what I would consider to be my home mountain range. W: How did you get into fly fishing and did you have any early mentors who helped you along the way? Can you

talk a little bit about moving from passionate angler to being a guide professionally - and/or any advice for someone thinking about becoming a guide in Colorado? J: I loved fishing from the beginning, so the transition to fly fishing was natural. When I was 11, my family and I went to a free fly casting clinic at a local fly shop shop in Vail, and the rest was history. I spent a lot of my time just going out to the rivers by myself and taught myself a lot through trial and error and hours on the river. As I got older, I met a few friends that were into the sport as much as I was and we just helped each other learn different techniques we had picked up along the way. Transitioning from fly fishing for myself to being a professional fly fishing guide always worried me. I thought that guiding might take away from my own passion for fly fishing but if anything, it has made it stronger. I really enjoy seeing someone new to the sport, learn, progress, have fun with and fall in love with fly fishing. W: You’re now a professional fly fishing guide as well as a professional skier, how do you balance that in the winter months? Are you guiding and fishing year-round or do you THE CURRENT: FISH & STICKS 81

you hang the waders up for a few months each year? J: I usually hang the waders up for the winter season and trade them out for my powder skis and snowmobile. I still guide in the winter and I will hit the river for myself just about every month, but my river days drop off dramatically once there is some good powder snow on the ground. W: Obviously a day fishing on your own is different than a day with clients on the river, what’s your approach and philosophy as a professional guide? J: My Philosophy is: ‘Happy client, Happy guide!’ Every client is different, I like to be consistent with my guiding but I still tailor my guiding style differently for each client. If I can teach my clients at least one important technique or fact throughout the day, and show them a good time on the river, then I’m happy. W: Obviously you are a seasoned trout angler but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a few steelhead in your Instagram feed as well as other species. What other fish and/or locations get you excited about fly fishing? Do you have any fly fishing goals or places that you want to visit that keep you up at night? J: I love steelhead fishing, but unfortunately, I don’t get to do it much anymore! I was lucky enough to fish the Dean River years ago, and check that one off the bucket list. I also enjoy fishing for pike, but as for Colorado, I am obsessed with trout fishing. I really would like to go to Kamchatka, New Zealand, Patagonia, and Belize. I am headed down to Punta Allen, Mexico in a couple weeks to hit the salt for a bit, so that should be a fun trip to check off! W: In the 2021 issue of the CURRENT we’re spending time talking to anglers about their home water. Can you tell us why your home water is special? J: The mighty Colorado River is definitely my home river. It’s so special because of how healthy and amazing the water is. There is so much different structure and different style water from Granby all the way to the border of Utah. 82 THE CURRENT: FISH & STICKS

It holds some big fish and amazing scenery. It truly is a gem of the state!

EDITORS NOTE: IF YOU’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COLORADO RIVER, CHECK OUT THE FEATURE ARTICLE IN THIS YEAR’S 2021 ISSUE (PG 16). W: 2020 has been a challenging year on many fronts, what was a high-high and what was a low-low as you look back on the skiing and fishing season? J: My highest high from the ski season was from an epic sunny powder day with a bunch of my friends, I landed a huge double backflip first hit off a cliff that holds a lot of meaning to me in the backcountry of Vail. For fly fishing, it was sticking a 25” buck brown in the Colorado River on a streamer. I got to watch the eat too, such an epic fish!!! As for the lows through 2020, those aren’t lows, but things to make me stronger! W: You’ve been around the fly fishing and skiing scene for a while now, what’s your advice for anyone looking to be a professional skier or professional fly fishing guide – or both? J: Both are a lot of work… and a lot of fun. If you love it, pursue it with everything you have and have fun with it! Embrace the emotional moments that come along, whether good or bad, because they are both important in their own ways. Always persevere through the tough times and learn from your failures! W: For folks reading the CURRENT, 2021 has now arrived. What is the @jahspriggs 2021 outlook? J: I am looking to progress as a person first and foremost. Personal growth is very important to me, as much as getting better as guide or professional skier. Also, I am looking forward to the Covid era being in the rearview mirror and society moving on from a tough period in time… I HOPE!

photos provided by Johnny Kuo, Ed Clem & John Spriggs



Q&A WITH JIM KLUG & YELLOW DOG FLYFISHING ADVENTURES AT TROUTS FLY FISHING, WE LOVE TO TRAVEL AND FLY FISH, SO WE SAT DOWN WITH JIM KLUG FROM YELLOW DOG FLY FISHING TO SEE WHAT HE LEARNED IN 2020 AS WELL AS GET HIS OUTLOOK AND PERSPECTIVE FOR THE FUTURE. JIM IS DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS AT YELLOW DOG FLYFISHING ADVENTURES AND BELOW HE SHARES HIS OUTLOOK ON 2021 AND BEYOND. TROUTS: What’s the Yellow Dog outlook on domestic and international fishing travel at this point? Obviously, things are very fluid and ever changing, but what are you sharing with your clients who I’m sure are looking to Yellow Dog for advice? JIM: Right now, things are definitely looking up, and there is an open path to entry for numerous international destinations. Belize, the Yucatan, Baja, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras are all presently open, and we’ve had clients there throughout the late summer and fall months. Needless to say, the fishing has generally been fantastic! All international lodges are seeing very little traffic right now, so nearterm availability and prime guide availability is going to be great in the months ahead. People need to be comfortable traveling, but if they are, there are definitely a lot of great options out there right now. Long term we are telling people to look ahead for both 2021 and 2022. T: What are five domestic and international destinations that fly anglers could be thinking about for the Spring 2021 season any beyond? J: Obviously, the US West is where the majority of domestic options are, and – much like this past summer – we expect a lot of people will fish close to home for the coming summer. Same thing as with our international trips: plan now and book your lodge, outfitter or guide reservations much earlier than you normally would, as things are going to book up fast. Montana, Alaska, Louisiana, Idaho … now is the time to plan ahead. Right now, we are doing a lot in Belize, the Bahamas, the Yucatan, Costa Rica and Guatemala. All are presently open and the fishing has been off the charts. 86 THE CURRENT: Q&A WITH JIM KLUG

It also looks like South America will be in play and totally possible in early 2021, so there will be a season. Bolivia has also announced that the 2021 season WILL happen, so if people are interested in a golden dorado trip down there, it would be good to start now. We have a handful of prime spots still open and available in both 2021 and 2022, but they will go fast. T: How have things changed since 2020, what has Yellow Dog learned and what have outfitters and lodges learned? J: Looking back over the past year, we’ve definitely learned some valuable and important lessons. We’ve also been reminded of so many things that are important on both a personal and professional level. All told, Yellow Dog has had to navigate some tricky waters in 2020, and along the way, our team has gained (and re-gained) some valuable perspective on the importance of fishing, friendships, relationships and communication. Perhaps the biggest take-away is that having an agent working on your behalf is huge – especially when things get difficult. We saw this play out time and again in 2020. While we were not always able to immediately fix things or deliver the perfect answer for cancelled trips, we worked tirelessly for our customers – operating on their behalf and looking out for their interests. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve known that – eventually – things would get back to normal and we’d be able to get back to doing what we love most: traveling and fishing the world. Having a lodge to return to (or your favorite guide still around to fish with) is a big deal, so being supportive of this infrastructure matters. T: Thanks Jim. That’s a wrap.











AS THE WORLD REOPENS, YELLOW DOG APPRECIATES THE FACT THAT THERE WILL BE HIGH DEMAND FOR BEING THE FIRST TO FISH RESTED WATERS. WE’RE HERE TO ENSURE YOUR SAFETY AND ASSIST WITH LOGISTICS, DATES AND ALL OF THE IMPORTANT DETAILS. WHO’S READY TO FISH? WWW.YELLOWDOGFLYFISHING.COM • Toll free: 888.777.5060 Africa • Alaska • Argentina • Bahamas • Belize • Bolivia • Brazil • Canada • Chile • Cuba • Christmas Island • Cook Islands • Costa Rica • Guatemala HERE XXX Dubai • Guyana • Iceland • India • Kamchatka • Mongolia • New Zealand • Seychelles • St. Brandon’s • Tanzania • YucatanTHE• CURRENT: UnitedTITLE States & More!

#FLIESFORANDREW by Rick Mikesell


THIS PAST NOVEMBER, good friend of Trouts and all-around fly fishing and fly tying bad-ass, Andrew Grillos, suffered a massive stroke. As the future was uncertain for the avid trail runner and creator of a hoard of legendary flies (including the perennial favorite the Hippie Stomper) the fly fishing community rallied in support of Andrew and raised $145K to offset his mounting medical bills and uphill recovery via the #fliesforandrew initiative.

Grillos’ reputation in the angling community is nothing short saintly. While most known for his indestructible, and ridiculously effective “guide-style” flies, his enduring legacy was that of, as Ivan Orsic of Trouts puts it: “The President of the Good Dudes Society.” Countless stories have been shared of Andrew’s unsolicited encouragement of many young tyers and industry professionals, and his unchecked generosity with fishing and tying knowledge, techniques and tactics. Grillos constantly went out of his way to bolster those in our community and shared his passion for the sport with all he came into contact with. Thankfully he has made amazing strides in his recovery process, and has been able to now tackle the difficult task of relearning to tie flies, run and fish (of course he has already crushed the things we take for granted: talking, walking, eating, etc). He has inspired so many of us with his dedication, innovation and genuine kindness, and it is so good to see him on the road to a full recovery. Andrew has always had a tongue-in-cheek approach to creative tying, and his patterns and pattern names showcase his non-traditional take on the sport. My favorite Grillos pattern is a prime example of that unique perspective on tying.


THE GRILLOS PIZZA FLY. Lots of toppings, lots of foam, and very little traditional fly-tying stuffiness, this pattern works as a hopper, gurgler or in any other splashy, floaty endeavors. Andrew has been feeding trout pizza since 2005, and we are glad to spread that message to anglers everywhere. THE CURRENT: #FLIESFORANDREW 89

Decisions, decisions.









NEW TO FLY FISHING? WHERE YOU SHOULD START AT 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. 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. Here are a few gear essentials to consider. 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. 94 THE CURRENT: NEW TO FLY FISHING?

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 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 your 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.



by Courtney Despos

NO ONE CAN DENY IT: the year 2020 changed us all in one way or another. With all the adjustments, multiple new normal(s), and continuing uncertainty most of us looked to the outdoors to get away, disconnect, and find peace. Tired of the endless virtual meetings, stress of ever changing reports and often a more flexible remote work lifestyle more and more people are going to the river to fly fish. Some with years of experience behind them and others having never picked up a rod before. We were fortunate to experience more stories, adventures, and inquiries through our customers as they started or continued these journeys. One of the amazing things about fly fishing is that everyone’s drive and story with the fly fishing lifestyle is personal. However, based on my own journey as a fly angler, one thing I have come to see is that many who are just beginning to fly fish travel a very similar path…


CURIOSITY The interest pops up. You see a movie, a snap chat, Instastory, post, or article and your interest is peaked. What is fly fishing? Where can you fly fish? What can you fly fish for? How could I learn to fly fish? You begin to research and start your learning. ACTION You move your interest and curiosity into action. You’ve done some research, talked to friends and/or family, and are ready to commit to learning. You are ready to catch a fish on a fly – maybe one you’ve tied! You start to seek out classes, education, mentors, guide trips. You begin to invest in equipment, terminal tackle, and gear. OBSESSION As you start to regularly catch and land fish, you quickly move to wanting to catch a lot of fish. The lifestyle becomes an obsession. You day dream about it, go to bed thinking of it, start negotiating the importance of real income against just giving it all up and going fishing permanently. You begin to take interest in differing techniques, approaches, entomology, and the small details that result in more rod bends and successful landings. PRACTICE/KNOWLEDGE Now you can catch all the fish, but you start to seek quality over quantity. You want the grip n’ grins, the fish fighting stories, and the celebratory cheers after all the new personal bests. You use your learned techniques to adjust and target, you start dialing in sight fishing and will fish to what you want versus what’s around. EXPERIENCE WITH GROWTH You have the personal best in size for your local and commutable fisheries. Next, you want to chase the out of state, out of country, other climate species. You want to cast an immeasurable amount of feet from a skiff, or risk malaria and yellow fever in jungles, cast into difficult and small spaces, fish salt, fresh, stillwater. You want them all and you want to travel to all the places to get them. CONTINUATION OF LEARNING THROUGH TEACHING & PEACE Finally. You have the numbers, personal bests, grip n’ grins, travel and exotic species stories. Now, you just want to get out to fish. Take in the company, the road trip, the weather, the river beers and lunches. You want to enjoy the disconnection from reality and the connection to the outdoors. In my opinion, this is the pinnacle and the best place to be. Enjoying and sharing something from a place of passion and love. As we all travel this journey, we may move through different stages at different times or circle back to early stages with new opportunities. As mentioned before, our life in fly fishing is a personal story. For each of us, it will be unique and memorable based on our priorities and focus. At the end of the day, wherever you are in stages, places, or goals don’t forget to stop, breath, and take it all in. Slow down ‘the chase’ and love the moment. Disconnect from life and connect to nature.


EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS It has been said by countless anglers that one of the greatest aspects of fly fishing is that you’re never truly 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. With all of this in mind, we have curated a comprehensive educational curriculum designed for ALL anglers, at all levels. 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.

FLY FISHING 101 Fly Fishing 101 classes are the perfect class for beginners of any ages. In our 101 class we cover an array of information starting with setting up your fly rod, terminal tackle, basic fly selection, knot tying, and reading the water. We understand that fly fishing can be frustrating and at times intimidating, we want to remove those for you. We want to be an integral part of you becoming a self- reliant, accomplished angler. With this in mind, the goal of our 101 class is to provide people the opportunity to successfully wade into the sport of fly fishing. For upcoming dates, check our Customer Events Calendar. PRICE: $50 PER PERSON • LOCATION: DENVER • DURATION: 2 HOURS

BEGINNER CASTING Fly Casting is the cornerstone of the sport of fly fishing and a necessary skill for any proficient angler to master. With that said, there is something unnatural about the fly casting motion. As a result, learning the correct form, action, and muscle memory up front is important to the success of any angler. In our Beginner Casting Class, we strive to make learning the art of fly casting an enjoyable process. To do this, we have curated our Beginner Casting Clinics to be an encompassing experience that provides value to anyone who participates. We will focus on the primary casting types and approaches to set you up for success on any trout water. PRICE: $50 PER PERSON • LOCATION: DENVER • DURATION: 1 HOUR

BUGS FOR BEGINNERS At one point or another, we have been on the water and watched fish seemingly jumping all around us, gorging themselves on the thousands of bugs. As fly anglers, we have heard the expression ‘Match the Hatch’, yet we continue scratching our heads while casting to fish uninterested in our flies. Without question, a better understanding of a trout’s diet will help improve your success with fly fishing. Our Bugs for Beginners class will help demystify the major food sources trout key in on throughout the year. We will focus in on Midges, Mayflies, Caddis, Stoneflies, Terrestrials, and general attractors. Our class is designed and purposed to help you better understand the major insect groups including how to effectively identify and fish them. You will leave our class with the capabilities to successfully ‘Match the Hatch’. PRICE: $50 PER PERSON • LOCATION: DENVER • DURATION: 2 HOURS 98 THE CURRENT: EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS

ONE-DAY BEGINNER SCHOOL Our One-Day Beginner Fly Fishing School is the perfect culmination of our Beginner Fly Fishing Series (101, Bugs for Beginners, Beginner Casting). This on-the-water day is built around the goal of 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 out our Frisco, CO location. PRICE: $250 • LOCATION: FRISCO • DURATION: ONE FULL DAY WADE 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 back-to-back days. By immersing oneself in fly fishing for this time, participants can expect to leave this class as novice self-sufficient anglers that are ready to spend a day on the water. Classes are held out of our Frisco location. Lodging, equipment, terminal tackle, and flies not included. PRICE: $595 • LOCATION: FRISCO • DURATION: TWO FULL WEEKEND 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 collaborate 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 out of our Denver location. COST: $50 • LOCATION: DENVER • DURATION: 2 HOURS

FLY TYING 201 If you’ve started your journey into fly tying and feel comfortable with general terminology, tool identification, application, basic materials and their uses, our 201 class is your next step! In our Umpqua Fly Tying 201 class, you’ll build on your foundation by spending the class learning versatile, box filling, fish-catching, fly patterns that will expound upon your burgeoning fly tying knowledge base. Each Umpqua Fly Tying 201 class will take place over the course of two hours. Registration and price includes a Renzetti Apprentice Vise and Umpqua tool kit for you to take home as your own. PRICE: $225 • LOCATION: DENVER • DURATION: 2 HOURS

SALTWATER PREP SCHOOL To help ensure our customers are ready for their upcoming saltwater adventures, we started our saltwater prep school to provide our clients with the necessary skills to make sure your presentation counts. During this class, we will cover loop formation, line speed, double-haul casting, and most importantly PRESENTATION! We will review best practices that help you and your guide work as a team. This school is offered exclusively out of our Denver location. PRICE: $250 • LOCATION: DENVER • DURATION: 6 HOURS

DRY FLY SCHOOL For most of us, it’s hard to beat classic dry fly fishing. The visual appeal of seeing the eat is addictive and just flat out fun! Many refer to this type of angling as ‘purist’ as it is one of the most classic presentations to learn and implement on the river. In this class you will learn dry fly rigging options, set ups, the ability to recognize and ‘match the hatch’, and education and training on an effective cast and presentation to get you those top water sips and eats. We will hold these throughout the spring and summer months allowing us to teach to varying hatches based on season, month, and temperature. Bring your dry fly fishing game up to the next level through our skilled focused experiences! PRICE: $325 • LOCATION: FRISCO DURATION: FRIDAY NIGHT CLASS & FULL DAY SATURDAY

STILLWATER SCHOOL Stillwaters are often overlooked by fly anglers. These bodies of water are dynamic, insect-filled, trophy trout holding areas that can produce some of your most memorable days fishing from a boat or on foot. Stillwaters aren’t just an escape from the high flows of runoff. Often these water fish the majority of the year and are a fruitful choice for your next day out! If you’ve been looking to dial in stillwater fly fishing here in Colorado, then make sure to make room in your schedule for our Stillwater School. The school is designed around a full day float or wade (dependent on conditions) on one of Colorado’s stillwater fisheries with our very best Guides. During the class, our guide instructors will teach you the basics of fly selection, presentation and other details you need to know when it comes to fly fishing these bodies of water! PRICE: $325 • LOCATION: FRISCO DURATION: FRIDAY NIGHT CLASS & FULL DAY SATURDAY THE CURRENT: EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS 95

CARP SCHOOL Catching carp on a fly rod is considered the ultimate freshwater challenge by many anglers. These fish are smart, spooky, and at times downright challenging! During this on-water school, our expert instructors will provide you with the knowledge and tactics to increase your success when pursuing this worthy gamefish. In order to provide the best experience to this very specific species, we limit our class size to provide the best learning environment. This class will begin with an approximate 1-hour presentation the night before the on-the-water portion of the class to include appropriate gear and flies. Following this pre-presentation, you will spend the full day following at the designated location focusing on presentation and tactics. The remainder of the class will be spent targeting and catching our quarry. Bring your favorite 6 or 7 weight rod, appropriate reel, and the recommended flies for a great day dialing in a difficult species! PRICE: $325 • LOCATION: DENVER DURATION: FRIDAY NIGHT CLASS & FULL DAY SATURDAY WADE STREAMER SCHOOL As one of the most exciting ways to chase trout, “hucking meat” or streamer fishing is becoming a well-known phrase around Colorado. Hooking a fish on a streamer is a detailed memory you will maintain for years to come. Have you recently found yourself looking at your fly boxes and thinking something is missing? Or, why don’t I have anything that’s big, flashy, and articulated in here? If these are things that you contemplate, then you will be excited to know we have just the class for you! Streamer School is designed around a full day float with some of our best Frisco Guides! During the float, our guide instructors will teach you the basics of fly selection, retrieval methods, presentation and setting, fighting, and landing a trout on a streamer. As one of our most popular schools, we suggest signing up early to grab one of our limited spots! PRICE: $325 • LOCATION: FRISCO DURATION: FRIDAY NIGHT CLASS & FULL DAY SATURDAY FLOAT

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 have been looking to chase the so-called ‘Water Wolf ’ here in the Centennial State, then make sure to make room in your schedule for our Pike Schools. These classes begin with an in-store presentation Friday evening including seasonality, fishing locations, fish behavior, appropriate gear and flies. Saturday morning, class will resume at a designated location and cover presentation, and tactics on the water. The remainder of the day will be spent targeting your quarry. PRICE: $325 • LOCATION: DENVER DURATION: FRIDAY NIGHT CLASS & FULL DAY SATURDAY WADE NYMPH FISHING SCHOOL When we begin to approach the colder months, we tend to see less dry fly activity. Although this may be the case, this should not keep you from getting out to fish. It’s no secret that trout spend upwards of 80% of their time feeding subsurface. In order to more successfully fish to the subsurface trout, nymphing is the most common and productive technique. Nymphing School will introduce and dial you in to rigging, roll casting, presentation, mending, and proper drifting techniques. Our goal is to create anglers who are more confident in their nymphing technique and improve success on the river! PRICE: $325 • LOCATION: FRISCO DURATION: FRIDAY NIGHT CLASS & FULL DAY SATURDAY 100 THE CURRENT: EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS

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 ARE FLY POP-UP EVENTS In addition to our regularly scheduled classes, stay tuned-in through our email newsletter and social media outlets for our Women Are Fly (WAF) events scheduled 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 and meet other like-minded lady anglers seeking information and community! THE CURRENT: EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS 101





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