Welcome to Beyond the Blueprints, where we get to know RTA staff beyond their work lives. Join us in discovering the passions and interests of our amazing team!
How did you get involved in fly fishing?
From a young age my dad would always take us on trips to the North Woods in Minnesota and Canada. We had week long trips where we stayed in a cabin between two lakes and we would go out and fish. I knew we had a fly rod and we had some places where you could go out and catch blue gills so I was already interested in that when I began making my own flies.
How old were you when you started making your own flies?
I began making my own flies around the age of 10. My father gave me a kit that had a vice, feathers, and hooks. My family has always been crafty. My mom painted and my dad built things and we were always making models because the winters were always snowy. Then I fished all the little streams around where we lived; everywhere I could walk or ride my bike. I continued to evolve, especially when I moved out west. I just really into fly fishing and now I fly fish for everything that swims.
How does fly fishing in Colorado differ from where you grew up?
Well, it's cold water, so it's mostly trout. In Virginia, there's plenty of little trout streams but as soon as you get down in elevation it's more like small mouth bass.
How do you find a "good spot"?
You have to go exploring and sniff it out, ask people, or spend money at a fly shop. It's a good idea to hire a guide. If I was going to Montana on a trip, for example, I'd hire a guide for the first two days and I'd ask him/her, "Where can I go on my own? Where can I take a boat? Where can I hike and fish?" There's a ton of information out there, and then there's a lot of information that's not out there. You just have to go and say, "I wonder what's up at the headwaters of this particular river" and follow the map. The fun is figuring it out.
Why do you catch and release?
There are a couple of reasons. One, you don't want to eat that many anyway. If you're going to eat the fish, they need to be put out of their misery right away and put on ice, so if you're hiking six miles from the car it's not really practical because they won't taste good by the time you get back. A lot of places, in order to protect their fishery populations, are regulated catch and release anyway.
Another cool thing about fly fishing is understanding the larger system. I learned the entomology of the streams so that I know what kind of flies to tie because the fish can be very selective in their feeding. If it's red today because there's a Red Quill hatch, they're not going to bite on yellow flies because the fish key in on their abundant prey species really carefully.
Have you ever had a Moby Dick?
Yes! Last weekend I had been fishing, catching decent fish, and I spotted a nice size trout. I saw it swimming up to a boulder and I knew it was there and it was huge! It just came up and calmly ate the fly. I jerked it right out of its' mouth I was so excited! You have to have patience and nerves of steel.
What's your favorite part about fly fishing?
The natural beauty. You're in an awesome setting and the insects themselves are beautiful. They're just these delicate little animals that only live for one day. The larva (nymphs) live under the water for a year and then in one day they emerge, they molt, they mate, they lay their eggs, and they die. The fish are beautiful, the setting is beautiful, the whole thing just fits together. It's a fun way to spend time outside.
What local resources would you recommend?