Paul Martinez, a Colorado Springs native and a guide for Angler’s Covey, has fished all over the world over the last 30-some years. New Zealand. Patagonia. Scotland. Ireland. He’s caught tiger fish in Africa. But when he’s asked what he wants people to get out of a guide trip with him, he says “A great Colorado experience.” Yep, there’s no place like home.
Paul and I talked over breakfast the other day about fly fishing and two things stand out: he’s loves the fly fishing experiences he has had and he loves teaching others about this great adventure. He’s got some great stories about fishing in Alaska and about his four trips to Patagonia. I had to laugh a little when he pulled out his phone to show me some pictures from his most recent trip there. I expected the typical photo of some beautiful Chilean brown trout. Instead, he showed me a picture of a huge beetle, maybe the size of walnut. “These arrive every two years and the fish just hammer them!”
Paul has been associated with Angler’s for over 30 years. Before he retired from the Colorado Springs Fire Department in 2005, he taught a few streamside classes with his buddies Neil Luehring and Mark Mahler. After his retirement, he began to guide on a more consistent basis.
“I love that fly fishing is both science and art.” The science part – knowing the rods, the technology, entomology, matching the hatch. The art – tying a nice fly, the cast, the presentation. “The art of tricking a fish to take yourimitation fly, out of maybe a 100 naturals in the water, is a beautiful thing.”
It becomes clear, though, that Paul’s passion as a guide is in teaching this sport to others. “I love working with newcomers to the sport. When they get that cast right, and a nice drift … The look on their face when they first hook up.”
When I asked Paul what he hopes his client’s walk away with at the end of a trip, he pauses for a minute. “I want them to have a great Colorado experience.” When he guides a trip, Paul gives them a taste of the region – the history of Ute Pass, the beauty of Elevenmile Canyon, the buffalo grazing across south park.
He knows, though, that this trip is about them. His first question, whether over the phone or when he meets the client at the shop, is “what are your expectations for the day?” If they want to pursue big fish, that’s what they chase. Their first time out? Paul will shape the day to be a great learning experience.
Whether guiding beginners or veterans of the sport, each client has different skill levels and interests, so “I need to change up my teaching approach each outing so the day is a successful one.”
Paul’s guiding principle? “It’s not my trip,” Paul says. “This is their day.”
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