After graduating from Appalachian State in 2009, I headed west immediately. I landed in Crested Butte, CO for a couple years and in May of 2012 I was in Telluride, CO and got a job with The Telluride Angler. Fishing had been my focus up to that point, then it became my livelihood and the rest is history.
Gunnison, Dolores and San Miguel Rivers
local fly shop
The Telluride Angler
All the trouts
1 rod for the area 590 X, 1 rod for the Gunnison 597 X, 1 rod for the Dolores and San Miguel 486 X
Being able to make a living doing something that I’m passionate about in a place that I am passionate about. I get to talk fly rods and take people fishing. That’s what I do every day, and I get to keep my skis leaned up in the back of the fly shop in the winter time.
San Miguel Valley Floor Restoration. Our local Trout Unlimited Chapter and several local conservation groups are working on restoring the San Miguel River through the Telluride Valley Floor to its natural course. The miners who settled the box canyon in the late 19th century channelized the river to carry refuse and mine tailings out of town. The first mile of the river was finished in the Fall of 2016. Not five days after the restoration of the first mile was complete, I walked the section and found wild spawning fish already sparring for spawning territory that had not been available to them in over one hundred years. It is truly beautiful to see what can be achieved when like-minded people and organizations put their minds, resources and efforts together to create change for the benefit of the environment and future generations.
philosophy on fly fishing
Don’t take this thing we do too seriously and do not take the places where we fish for granted. Too often in our sport I find anglers measuring fish egos and fish incorrectly. I want to see the sport to continue to be more inclusive, and this begins with every angler. The angler who does not want anyone in their favorite hole feels this way because he found a beer can tossed out beside his favorite run, or someone posted the exact spot on Instagram and he found more beer cans the next time. The fish and the river are more important than a grip and grin and a like. It is our job as fly fisherman to protect, preserve and nurture the places we fish, and to have fun while we are doing this. Measure your day by the experience that you had rather than the fish you caught and you are a true angler. This is the greatest gift our sport affords.
one tip to improve one's fishing
Patience. Fish with your eyes first and your rod second. The little moments in fly fishing are what I live for. Figure out what moments are the most special to your fishing and seek them out. These moments are what you will remember and build upon throughout a lifetime on the water. Grip and grins will follow, but they will fade far sooner than the knowledge you have gained by walking humbly beside the river and listening to the world and the water.
In the captain’s seat of my boat watching the fish rise, oars or rod in hand, either one, but neither takes precedent. Being there in the moment is all I can hope for.
a good fishing story
This past summer I had an evening off after work and I convinced my girlfriend to take a walk with me into my favorite creek. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I had a pretty good idea of what we would find. This creek is a beautiful free flowing gem that carries the life-blood of the Dolores River from the San Juan Mountains. The cold, clean and crystal-clear water washes over a slate-colored river bed, hued more in soft blues and tans than the typical cobble-colored conglomerate found in most creeks. This is a streambed where you see the fish’s shadow first. The fish are wild Colorado River Cutthroat. Fire-throated, illustriously spotted and possessing the propensity to look up that a friendly cutthroat is known for; these fish are treasures of a wild world.
We made our way up the creek, working through tangles, trees and the resulting fleeing fish until we reached the hole. We stopped, had a come-to-Jesus with Lenni the dog, and we waited and we watched. I didn’t tell Cara when I saw the first fish rise, or the second. I let her find the third rise on her own and I caught that unmistakable smile. The one you see on a fisherman’s face when they realize there is a feeding fish in casting distance, breaking out of his underwater world and into ours. It is the same look you see on a kid’s face when you turn him loose in a candy shop and let them know it is for real, have fun in there and I’m buying.
Cara readies her 3 weight, makes a backcast and comes forward to the dead sharpness of her fly tightened into a willow limb behind her. I free her fly, tell her to take a deep breath and watch the fish. He eats again, and I watch her head as she tracks the rise form. She’s on it. She’s ready. Her next cast lays out beautifully, but behind the trout. For the life of me I cannot remember how many casts it took, but one fell into place and landed with the lightness of a leaf on a windless day, and the fish ate. She set the hook and the silence of a focused fight ensued, a nervous moment fueled by the life in the rod and the desire to see what is on the end of the line. Then all giggles and a cutthroat trout in the net. It was her first fish on a fly rod. That was my favorite fish that wandered into my net last year, and a moment that only happens once. A fly fisherman’s first fish, and I am so fortunate to have been there for that moment.