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Anglers Covey Blog

Our Guides Look Back on 2018

12/28/18 at 08:20 AM by Vince Puzick

 

Our Guides reflect back on the fly fishing highlights of 2018. Their comments about what made 2018 memorable swirl around three themes:  working with clients, the weather and flows, and those single moments that stay with you for a long time. And they remember one of their own, lost too soon.  

 

Our Guides were in a talkative, reflective mood as we near the end of 2018, so you can click on your favorite Guide's link to read their reflection or, of course, read the whole blog.  And don't forget to add your own reflection on our Facebook page.  

 

 

Jon Easdon: Mother Nature & Her Challenges

This past year was almost surreal for me. It seemed to absolutely fly by. This year started out with all of us watching the snowpack. I remember in Nov. 2017 during elk hunting season, my cousin who is a cattle rancher on the western slope had a bold prediction. The animals were behaving strangely. His cattle did not want to come out of their range grounds and deer & elk weren't following their usual habits going into winter. It was warm and there was food and water everywhere. Due to this fact he stated "We aren't going to have a winter this year. The animals tell us everything"

 

Boy, was he right..

 

Coming into the heavy guiding season we saw pretty good flows in the rivers. This didn't last long as the water supply started to drop dramatically. This continued progression eventually led to extremely high water temperatures on a lot of our tailwaters. I’ve never seen water temps so high on our water. We were able to adjust our tactics and have extremely successful days on the water. We found out during the big flood years of a few years ago that having lots of different locations to guide was imperative. We had great options for our guests. The stillwater fishing was especially strong and remains a great option as the rivers become overcrowded. 

 

I was able to have some very memorable experiences this year, both good and some not-so-good. My trip to Alaska this summer was mind-blowing. So many good days and one in particular I’ll not soon forget. It’s funny how quickly the paradox between highs and lows can come about. This particular day in Alaska had us chasing pike with streamers the size of small dog, to trekking across the saltwater to an enchanted land not seen by many humans and some truly epic fishing -- only to end that day with the news of a great friend and colleague passing away. Earl was a friend to us all, a phenomenal guide, and an even better human being. Another reminder for me to live each day as if it was my last.

 

Kenny Romero: Growing as A Guide

One area I experienced growth as a guide was being able to enthusiastically share the water. All the rivers, streams, creeks, and lakes are all water we’ll ever have. As more people enter the sport, it is more important than ever that we share the water responsibly with our fellow anglers. Sometimes it can feel as if there are anglers everywhere and there isn’t a spot to fish when in fact there’s pretty good fishing just around the next bend. Several times, in 2018 my favorite spots were already being fished so I simply found new and often “better” spots to fish that I maybe wouldn’t have otherwise fished. 2018 was a year of discovering new productive trout habitat. And of course, the most overlooked water in terms of low angling pressure is Stillwater. We are so fortunate to have dynamite Stillwater fly-fishing in our backyard including the Catamounts and South Slope reservoirs on Pikes Peak or Spinney Mountain and Antero reservoirs in South Park. I am so excited and looking forward to sharing my favorite waters on the South Platte and Arkansas river drainages and Stillwater lakes with my clients in 2019 and equally excited to discover new waters!

 

Kaitlin Boyer: The Eagle

My favorite memory of the season was with a client who was new-ish to fly fishing. We went up to fish the Catamounts, and after many casts and a couple hours of nothing, I spotted an eagle soaring above us. When I pointed out the eagle, and my client looked up at it, a fish took her fly! She managed to set the hook despite an eagle distracting her, and she landed a nice rainbow, and several more that day. It’s those moments that really stick in your mind as a guide. Those good memories always overshadow the bad ones, and that is why we fly fish. 

 

Jon Kleis: Continuing to Grow

Every mistake, failure, or success is an excuse to grow, and I learned a lot in 2018. As an angler I picked up on a new way to approach and present a dry fly to grass carp that has somewhat evolved my view on fish behavior in general. As a guide, I rediscovered how important it is to be patient and let the client decide when they need to take a break or want to call it a day. As a photographer I’ve learned more about the metering systems on modern cameras which has helped me get better exposure for client photos. And, last but not least, as a human being I’m learning what my limits are and plan to take that knowledge and attempt to strike a better balance between my work and family life. 

 

Anthony Surage: The Spiritual Experience

Throughout the fishing season of 2018 we had both ideal and frighteningly low flows. Initially, the low flows created ideal fly fishing conditions. The fish were in the obvious runs and holes. Sight fishing with both dry flies and nymphs was amazing. However, when the flows remained low, we encountered dangerously high water temperatures. During these ‘dog days of summer,’ we could not find a fish or if we found one it was often not feeding because the water was too warm. Fishing was spotty. 

 

All in all, regardless of what wonderful fish we might have been able to briefly hold in our hands (or failed to do so), I once again considered it a great human, spiritual, and emotional accomplishment of those individuals who found the courage to try our waters. And how wonderful it was for me to stand with clients in our river, partaking in this ritual and casting with hope in our hearts. To simply make a decision to partake in this mysterious ritual was enough.   

 

Dave Herber: Stillwater Success

I remember what a fly fishing friend of mine said soon after the Hayman Fire in 2002 which impacted so many of our local rivers: “The stillwaters are the most under-utilized trout waters in our region.” 

 

That being said, my most memorable trips this year were at North Catamount Reservoir. I provided many guided fly fishing trips and instructed this year’s Orvis 201 Fly Fishing classes at the North Slope. Many students and clients landed their first trout on a fly rod at North Catamount this year, using a dry fly. They could sight-fish for trout in gin clear water. One most memorable take away: Fathers and sons in the shadow of Pikes Peak learning how to fly fish together, proud fathers landing trout for sons and sons landing trout for Dad.

 

Juan Ramirez: Versatility and Perseverance

Every year I look back and try to remember everything that took place during that year on the water.  2018’s reflection comes down, again, to the weather and flows.. The fishing was great still and many, many, great days were had on the water. The South Platte, being a tailwater, was guaranteed to have water, but just how much was the question. Overall, it was a great summer. Lots of bugs and lots of fish eating those bugs. The Dream Stream had a few issues during the summer but it bounced back as usual. The Arkansas River was dealt a major blow with another flood coming off of the Hayden burn scar adding silt and debris to the lower river which will affect it for years to come. However, it’s a resilient river and will be back to strong numbers very soon. The Arkansas River in Pueblo continues to amaze me with how difficult it can be and also how rewarding it can be. The river has changed over the years and you have to change with it. Overall, 2018 on area rivers was great, and I am hoping that 2019 will be equal or even better! 

 

Scott Hartwig: Teamwork

The past year saw an even greater need for teamwork from all of our guides at Angler’s Covey, and our team came through with flying colors, once again! First, we saw a continuing increase in the number of clients signing up for all of our offerings - among them the fishing and tying classes, half-day and full-day guide trips, and all of the retail activities there to support our customers. Our guides came through, stepping up wherever possible to cover all the bases and provide enjoyable trips for all our clients. Next, low water flows and high temperatures in many of the local stream locations made our choice of fishing locations a challenge, since we could not arbitrarily just go out to any of the desirable spots without considering the impacts to the overall health of the fish, and the environment. The result is that we have an increased portfolio of experience in new water locations and fishing adventures, along with a better educated team of guides who are increasingly sensitive to, and capable of managing our precious resources. Lastly, the Angler’s Covey team stepped up across the community to provide support to activities sponsored by others throughout the city and state. The team supported multiple clean-up efforts in the mountains on Pikes Peak, at Deckers, and the Dream Stream to name a few.  

 

Gary Karbo: Lost – and Found -- Treasures

Here’s my feel good story that I have entitled “The Ring.” I took a father and son from Kansas on a trip to Deckers. We drove to our hole, wadered up on the tailgate of my truck, and had a great day on the water with some memorable fish. 

 

We drove back to the shop and as we were saying our goodbyes, the father noticed his wedding ring was missing. We scoured my truck, checked the waders again, and found nothing. The dad and son left with mixed feelings, but vowed to return to Colorado to fish again. 

 

The following day, fellow guide Greg Blessing took his clients to Deckers and fished the same hole as me and while getting into their waders, looked down and saw a wedding band laying in the dirt. He returned to the shop that evening and asked me if any of my clients ever lost a wedding ring. 

 

After some backslapping and handshakes, I called my clients already back in Kansas, and shared the good news. A sigh of relief, followed by his wife saying “okay” to future trips, and a happy ending to this unlikely treasure hunt. 

 

Neil Luehring: Inspiration through New Experiences

In 2018 I spent 80 plus days on the water, basically half of those days guiding and half fishing on my own. I guided clients from age 6 to 86 and from as far away as Europe. We had awesome dry fly fishing early on the Dream Stream, through the magic summer months in 11 Mile Canyon, and through the fall in the Deckers area. Many nice fish, many nice people, and lots of smiles.

 

The 2018 Colorado Fly Fishing Guide Academy had a full roster which led to a very busy week. This is still one of my very favorite experiences in the fly fishing arena; these folks inspire me through their enthusiasm for the sport.

 

My personal experiences included some awesome April trout fishing in North Carolina and a 3-day float through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The Gunnison float was one trip in Colorado I had always wanted to do; stunning scenery, nice fish, and very few anglers. All in all it has been another great year.

 

Bob Taylor: Sharing the Passion

2018 was my 4th year as a professional guide, and I felt it was my best year guiding to date. Although we had some lower water flows on the South Platte river sections and some higher than desired water temperatures by mid-summer, by staying on top of the flows, and fishing early each trip, I was able to find productive water and put my clients onto fish. I also made good use of a local resource, the Catamount reservoirs on Pikes Peak, for several trips. I was also able to make many new friends and introduce folks to fly fishing through instructing the Orvis 101 and 201 classes for Angler's Covey. 

 

Personally, I had a very successful year fishing our local waters with my favorite fishing buddy, my wife. In addition, we took a trip up to Idaho, fishing the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, and then Montana, hitting the big Salmonfly hatch on the Madison River. We also fished in the small streams and lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park with the rutting elk, where my wife caught both a Greenback Cutthroat trout and a Colorado River Cutthroat trout.

 

Greg Blessing: Endurance

It was a good year and I survived another season! Let’s hope for more water in our rivers! It’s great guiding with such a good group of people!!! Looking forward to another season with all of you!!!

 

Steve Gossage: Accept the Challenge

Reflecting back on 2018, it was a pretty solid year on the South Platte tailwaters considering we were in a drought year. Cheesman releases stayed pretty consistent, volume- and temperature- wise, which made the fishing much better than most low-snowpack year.  The Arkansas Freestone fished terrifically most of the year, as it does in drought years.

 

Remembering Earl Hecker

When the news came about the death of Earl Hecker, all of the Covey family was hit hard.As Steve Gossage said, “2018 was a very trying year in that we lost one of our best friends, excellent guides, and a great person in Earl Hecker. Earl shadowed me on his first guide trip. I knew he was going to be a solid addition to the guide staff right from the get go. Saying he will be missed would be a grotesque understatement.” Those sentiments were echoed by many. Jon Kleis added that “Earl’s was a sobering reminder of how important it is to cherish every moment, spend as much time as possible doing what makes you happy, and share your passions with the ones you love.” 

 

At the funeral services, Gary Karbo’s eulogy reminded us all that Earl served as a Scout in the Army, providing the commanders with intelligence on the battlefield.  In essence, Scouts are the eyes and ears for the commanders. It seems Earl was born to guide and lead – no matter what role he may have been in.

 

As an informal and lasting memorial to Earl, Juan Ramirez suggested that Guides begin referring to one of Earl’s favorite stretches at Deckers as “Earl’s Run.” Rest in peace, brother.

 

Looking Forward

Jon Easdon, Director of Services, says, “As 2018 comes to a close I am again reminded of how grateful I am to be able to work with some of the best folks out there. Our team is diverse and committed to exceeding satisfaction with every customer we meet. I look forward to pushing the bar again in 2019. We have some great things in store!”

 

 

 
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