Running from the Law: Anniversary Trip - Guided Fly Fishing

Monday, August 23, 2010

Anniversary Trip - Guided Fly Fishing

Part 1 - Denver & Vail
Part 2 - Hiking Vail

Before heading to Colorado, Ryan and I discussed possible activities that we wanted to do while we were there -- something fun and adventurous and outdoors, of course.  I suggested white water rafting (yay!).  Ryan suggested fly fishing (boo).  So we compromised and booked a full day guided fly fishing float on the Roaring Fork River.  Wait...I think I might have lost that compromise. 

Ryan and I had been talking about doing a guided fly fishing trip for years, so we figured this was a great time to try it.  Ryan needs no help in the fishing arena, but I'm not much of a fisher(wo)man -- I go fishing with Ryan a few times a year, but I've never really caught on to the fishing part.  I never catch anything!  I get bored/distracted easily and usually give up after about 10 minutes of trying.  Anyway, I'd much rather watch Ryan catch the fish, take pictures, read a book, enjoy the scenery, make lunch, explore the area, etc.  When we go fishing there's usually so much to do that I don't have time to fish!  Plus, I wouldn't say I'm a terrible fisherwoman, but I could definitely use some instruction to improve my casting if I'm ever going to be any good.  However, I'm absolutely unwilling to listen to anything my husband tells me to do, even though I know he's right.  I have a mental-block on taking instruction and constructive criticism from him and I turn into a stubborn, whiny, angry, "I-KNOW-WHAT-I'M-DOING-RYAN" horrible person.  Not pretty.  So we don't do that very often. 

But Ryan was not ready to give up on his dream of me becoming a world-class kick-ass fly fishing extraordinaire, so he hired Kevin from Fly Fishing Outfitters to put up with me!  Good thinking Ryan.  Kevin's job was not only to guide us down the river and show Ryan all the good fishing holes, but to teach me how to cast, untangle my line, tie my flies and deal with my impatience and general I'm-a-fly-fishing-princess diva attitude.  Poor poor Kevin - he had no idea what he had gotten himself into. 

One of the absolute worst things about fly fishing (because I'm such an expert on this) is that the best fishing is usually at dawn.  And in case you didn't know, dawn is really effing EARLY.  This does not sit well with my mandatory sleep-in-while-on-vacation policy.  Dawn and I do not mesh.  Luckily, Kevin suggested that we deliberately hold off on morning fishing so we could catch the evening green drake hatch on the river and make a late night of it.  God bless you Kevin, you're a smart man.  So Kevin picked us up at our hotel mid-morning, which gave me plenty of time to catch up on my beauty sleep, ensuring that no one would die by my hand before sunrise.

It was a beautiful crisp sunny day.  Perfect for fishing.  We drove to Beaver Creek to the fly shop to pick up some gear and sign our waivers so we couldn't sue the shop if we drowned or were eaten by a bear or something. 
By the time we got to our put-in spot in the river, the weather had dramatically changed.  It was sprinkling, then it was absolutely pouring, then came the torrential downpour of hail, then the winds picked up, then it dropped 20 degrees, then I nearly cried and begged to go home.  Seriously, what had I gotten myself into now?  I was going to die.   

The rain started letting up and we Kevin was able to get the boat in the water.
We just watched.
And then we were off!
First things first, we immediately braved some rapids.  People driving over a nearby bridge actually stopped and got out of their car to watch us make it down the river.  It was pretty thrilling.
I didn't fall out of the boat.  I'm a natural.

I was then handed a fly rod and told to get at it.  Mmmm...ok.  No clue what to do, but I gave it my best shot.  I was not having much luck, so Kevin started giving me some instruction.  Meanwhile, Ryan caught fish after fish after fish and my hatred for him grew.  Finally, as my fly line was dragging down the river (while I was distracted and holding on to the boat for dear life) I accidentally caught a fish! 

Hell yeah! 
Fishing is easy! 
Check out that beautiful brown trout!
I forgot how much fun fishing is when you actually catch something!

Of course, Ryan caught 75 fish to my 1 fish.
He basically caught something every other cast.
After a while of drifting downstream, we pulled over to do some wade fishing. 
Kevin gave me a basic casting lesson and then let me try some casting on my own.  This was the kind of fishing I was use to: cast, watch, mend, watch, mend, watch, recast and do it again.  I'm basically a pro at this.  But I never catch anything.

As usual, I had impeccable form but caught nothing.
I was fishing with a fly that looked like some sort of little green worm-looking thing.  When I asked what kind of fly we were using, Kevin picked up a stick on the bottom of the river and pulled off this little pod.
When he opened it, there was this little green worm-looking thing that looked identical to my fly. 
That was pretty cool!  I'm always impressed by the way the flies mimic what the fish are naturally eating.  Ryan ties his own flies and I love to see what in the river inspires them.  I think it's fascinating.
After a long while (like 5 whole minutes) of zero luck fishing for me, Ryan took a turn at wade fishing.
Within 2 casts, he caught a fish.
Sometimes I really hate him.
But then he kisses a fish gets nasty fish-juice on his face and in his mouth and I fall in love with him all over again.
Plus, how can I hate the guy when he supplies all the beer?
I was determined to catch a fish, so back at it I went.
But I still didn't catch anything.
Fish hate me.
Back in the boat, Ryan caught 192 more fish.
I was bored so I got out the camera for a few pictures.
Ryan took the camera away from me so he could capture some action shots of me catching a fish on a streamer.  He loves streamer fishing and never shuts up about it, so I was excited to try my hand at this.
Don't I look excited?
Come to find out...
Streamer fishing is hard.
I was getting no love from these asshole fish.
Until...I got something!
Fish on!

Oh wait...stickfish.


But I was not giving up.
We changed tactics and went with a dry fly.
A real cast.
A real hook-set.
A real fish.
Yeah baby! 
We had to stop the boat to take a picture.
Hello lover.
That was awesome.

Around 7:00 p.m. it was time to pull over for our shore dinner of salad and sandwiches.
Ryan inhaled his food in less than two minutes and was immediately back in the water fishing.
This boy does not waste quality fishing time with minor details like eating.
I took a few minutes to stretch my legs and snap a few more pictures.
Kevin got us ready to go and we were back in the boat for our final drift.
I was ready.
I wanted/needed/craved one more fish.
Just ONE more.
It's like trout crack.
Fish on!
I'm starting to see why Ryan loves this so much.

At one point I just had to put down the fly rod and sit back and take it all in.
The river was wide and flat.
The mountains behind us were glowing.
In front of us was one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen.
It started out light pink and purple.
Then it turned blue.
Then the sky was filled with navy and magenta.
It was breath-taking.
A girl could get use to this.

During the last hour of our float we encountered the green drake hatch.
Flies were EVERYWHERE.
So thick that you couldn't open your mouth or you'd swallow them.
To me, it was kind of a nightmare.
To Ryan, it was heaven.
He caught about 317 fish in that last hour.
It got so dark that he couldn't see his fly so he was casting and fishing solely by feel.
And he caught a ton.
He's pretty darn good.
Before we knew it we were at the end.
Time to pack up the boat and go home.

Good-night fish.
Adios Roaring Fork.

Hello fireplace and room service!

To read Ryan's account of the day, check out his blog post HERE.


  1. Was it with an Orvis certified outfitter? My husband's big dream in life is to own an Orvis certified hunting/fishing lodge. He would lead the excursions (with his BFF), and I would do the marketing and cook. Hmph. I agree if I get to decorate a lodge.

    Your version of fishing is the same as mine: I have no patience with my husband to teach me, I don't really care that much and can I please just sleep in?

    My husband and his BFF drive 10 hours to go fishing for a weekend every single year. They actually enjoy living in a tent for 3 days and NOT sleeping. This makes no sense.

    You have some AMAZING pictures. And, I'd totally go white water rafting with you! The boys can fish we'll raft. Or you know, order room service and get pedicures. Whatever.

  2. So funny!! Love the sunset pictures - absolutely gorgeous!!

  3. you have the most wifely patience in the world. i would have been SO done after 4 hours.
    the pictures are great though!

  4. Hillarious! I love the play-by-play and the a-hole fish. You also get an award for being an awesome wife. I would so not be excited to be out on the water like that! And thanks for stopping by my blog!

  5. I think our husbands would get along very very well. My husband has been writing about his fly fishing trip in Colorado this week on our blog as well! You sure caught an awesome sunset while you were out there...

  6. Wow, congrats on catching your fish! That's impressive. :)

  7. The landscape and sunsets are amazing! I love the red canyons.

  8. Those sunset photos are phenomenal!!!

  9. My sister just got back from a wedding in Vail. Lovely time of year there! I am so impressed with your pictures! And hello??!!...How cute are you? You actually FISH! Way to go girlfriend! I would probably sit in the boat with my ice cold beer :) LOL