Three of our Orvis-endorsed Guides -- "Karbo," Anthony Surage, and Rick Forster -- share their memories of guiding in 2016.
Karbo: I had a great year of family fishing. Many of my clients were father/son, mother/children, and husband/wife trips, with many first-timers. I think every guide loves "seeing the light turn on" with a new fly fisher. But to watch the whole family "get hooked" at the same time, was absolutely awesome. Without question, watching a family enjoy their first day on the river is a treat, but knowing they have a lifetime of shared experiences waiting for them is the real gift for everyone.
Anthony Surage: What a busy year of guiding! And I am so grateful we had fabulous fishing on the South Platte, from the Dream Stream, down to 11 Mile canyon, Cheesman Canyon and down through Deckers, to provide fulfilling fly fishing experiences to fabulous clients.
I was most impressed with the willingness of folks to “get out” and fly-fish; many for the first time. As a guide of almost 30 years, and an educator of 31 years, I think it is healthy for us, both kids and adults, at least at times, to find our way to a river. We need a break from the madness of our culture and the madness of our lives. Too many of us remain “stuck” on our couches, and rarely encounter nature.
How wonderful it was to take many folks fly-fishing who were looking for a reprieve. On the river, we could talk about life, why the fish took the fly on one cast but not another, and countless other dynamics we encounter on the river. I had many great conversations with folks about hopes and dreams, along with some heartache that is also often a part of life. These intense feelings often have a way of surfacing like the emerging mayflies and perhaps the river is the best place to talk of such things.
As we casted in the river, my clients were willing to consider what was needed to increase our chances of catching a fish. Every variable under the sun was considered; from accurate casting, to proper drift, to knowing how to play a fish once hooked. We constantly problem solved.
We often even considered psychological factors. Does it help to stay positive and hopeful? Does it help to believe we are going to hook a fish? It was so exciting and rich for me to stand with folks in the river and together, while working on fly-fishing technique to contemplate these questions which, at the same time, are also the bigger questions of life.
And then how almost magical it was, even when we might have been doing everything less than perfect, and we couldn’t see a fish within the stretch of water we were fishing, and I, even as a guide was not very hopeful, a large fish found its way onto the line and was suddenly pulling out line.
Perhaps, in that moment, we were “receiving the river’s grace,” and we caught something and took home something that could never be counted, measured, or photographed.
What a great season of guiding and catching the immeasurable.
Rick Forster: Overall, it was a fantastic year of fishing, with all of our local waters fishing incredibly well, and having the privilege to fish with some amazing folks. However, I will always remember this season for two particular clients I had who brought home for me just how blessed I am to be able to guide in Colorado and work for such an outstanding shop.
The first client was a housewife from Denver who had always wanted to learn how to fly fish. Her husband had given her a guided fly fishing trip as a present for Christmas of 2015, and in the spring of 2016 she chose Angler’s Covey as the shop that she wanted to work with. Jon set me up with this couple, and I got to spend the day with them. The husband insisted that I give the majority of my attention to his wife, and he was beyond thrilled when she started landing fish! Truth is, she was a very fast learner, fearless in the water, and a sponge who soaked up every tip I could throw at her. She caught fish on nymphs, fish on dries, and even tried out Czech nymphing! What a privilege to be part of her bucket List!
The second client was a father/son team from Florida. The 16 year old son had always dreamed of fly fishing for trout, so his awesome dad put him in the SUV and drove cross country to Colorado, where they chose Angler’s Covey as THE shop they wanted to work with, with that day being his son's birthday. Again, the dad told me to focus on the son, and he was hooting and hollering with every fish his son caught. Dad caught quite a few on his own, and had an incredible time. But what makes this trip one that will stay with me forever is the final fish that the son caught. The day was over, he had his picture taken with many fine trout, but he hadn't landed one on a dry fly, nor one that was bigger than 14 inches. I pulled out my personal TFO 4 weight, put my favorite hopper on the tippet, and started working him over to a monster I had seen just a few minutes before by the far bank.
First cast, good, but three feet short of target. Had him take one step forward, next cast was one foot short of target. Baby step forward, perfect cast on target, the river EXPLODES as this beast slams the hopper and flies out of the water. This young man took the day's instruction and put it to good use, fighting this fish for over three minutes, with a couple of nice runs and a few leaps. We got the 19-inch fish in the net and the son literally begins leaping up and down shouting "I can't wait to tell my mom!" over and over. Dad is running down the bank encouraging his son the whole time, tears in his eyes as he repeatedly shouts "I am so proud of you son!" The guide is jumping up and down, fist pumping with tears in his eyes (I'll deny that in a court of law).
All in all, these two clients reminded me of just how lucky we are here in Colorado to have such an abundance of resources for our use, and how fortunate we guides are to be able to have such mind-blowing experiences as these two were.
Jon Easdon: As Director of Services, this past year was amazing in terms of growing the love of fly fishing. We were able to introduce fly fishing to hundreds of people. We had a record number of guided trips and class attendance this year. With all of our class and guide trip expansion, I see no sign of that slowing down either. There are some really cool things on tap for 2017!
Our staff and guides are some of the best in the world, and we are all truly family. I’m grateful to wade these rivers with all of you, and I look forward to seeing you out there in 2017.
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Early season stillwater Fundamentals-Classroom