In Colorado we are used to thinking of the year in terms of seasons, and those seasons are usually based on the activities we participate in and enjoy the most. Rather than thinking of the seasons as simply winter, spring, summer, and fall, Eagle County locals get excited about snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, followed by hiking, tubing, paddle boarding, and kayaking.
But guess which Colorado outdoor activity doesn’t have a season? Fly fishing! One might ask: How is it possible to fly fish when it’s snowing? Well the short answer is that Colorado fly fisherman are hardcore – and I should know. My boyfriend Brian is an avid fisherman and, as a 23-year Eagle County local, he literally fly fishes almost any day of the year.
After so many years of watching him and his buddies fish, I’ve learned a few things:
- Fly fishing is an art form. No question about that.
- Fly fishermen always remember the fish they missed. Always. In fact, they usually talk more about the ones they miss than the ones they catch!
- Although the gear changes with the seasons, the fish continue to bite so camo shorts and t-shirts cycle into camo pants and jackets as caddisflies change to midge flies.
- Winter fishing is something to see for several reasons: As someone who is usually the photographer on the river, I’ve found that the snowy background makes for an even cooler photo! Also, the snow-blanked banks allow fisherman to walk farther out into the water making for quite a show when they have a fish on that’s a fighter!
- Many years ago, my boyfriend learned to tie his own flies which is an art form in and of itself. Knowing which materials to use and then deciding the color, size, and shape and then trying to predict which fish would be attracted to which fly is all part of the extremely complicated process. After years of observing, I’ve come to realize that tying flies is like the Project Runway aspect of the sport because one day the fish love your fly and the next thing you know none of them are biting.
- Fly fishermen are creative – they use all kinds of interesting materials, theories, and skills to catch elusive fish. Listening to their thought processes on how to outwit fish throughout the ever-changing seasons and weather patterns is an education.
- Reading the water is key whether than means finding a river eddy that hasn’t been poached or recognizing the “nervous water” in an ocean.
- Standing around doesn’t happen. Fly fishermen are constantly on the move, whether that entails jumping from rock to rock adjacent to a river or sprinting barefoot down a sandy beach. There’s no sitting back on a camping chair and waiting for the fish to come to them. Never.
While fly fishing is definitely a sport that requires skill and persistence, it also involves a lot of expensive equipment. Brian has seemingly countless rods, reels, and line, and that’s just for freshwater. He has even more for saltwater fishing! And the time spent fishing can be anywhere from an hour to several days – we’ve all heard of “island time” but there’s definitely “fly fishing time” as well. And by that I mean time just goes by when they are out there catching fish and the next thing you know they are home at dark.
So if you’re dating a guy who loves to fly fish get ready for the following:
- Endless discussion about “what the fish are eating.”
- Gear that takes over your house including rods, reels, line, and apparel.
- Waders always hanging on your shower curtain.
- Stories that start with: “I almost had him!”
- And (hopefully) end with: “It was a fight but I got him!”
- At some point your significant other will learn to tie his own flies so get ready to turn a desk, corner of your house, or an entire room into a fly-tying station. And that includes all the feathers, animal tails (yes you read that right), and bright-colored arts and crafts materials that go along with making the perfect fly.
As a fly fisherman’s girlfriend, I always keep in mind that while fly fishing is an active sport, it’s also relaxing and fun. If you’re more of an observer (like me) join your significant other by the water. It’s enjoyable to watch and you just might learn something – 365 days a year.