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Destined for Adventure

Sharing fishing stories over dinner with a group of anglers is not a bad way to end the day.  You can hear the satisfaction of a good day on the water, tales of the number of fish to the net or the heft of that one that “may have been the biggest I’ve ever caught.” That was the mood after Day One of our two-day mini destination trip this past weekend. Angler’s Covey hosted the trip, and Three Rivers Resort & Outfitters and Willowfly Anglers out of Almont, Colorado delivered the adventure.

Over his chicken fried steak, Jon Easdon, Director of Services for Angler’s Covey, said “for a couple of years now I have been wanting to get creative with the concept of destination trips through the shop. Destination trips are fairly common in fly shops across the world. The issue is that the majority of these trips are overseas and very expensive. So much so, that a large segment of anglers are unable to do them.”  The idea for a mini-destination trip is to “put together small, more affordable trips and offer this type of getaway to more people.”

Eight anglers headed to Almont on late Friday afternoon for two days of fishing – one day of floating the Gunnison and one day of wade/walk on the Taylor.  Two nights of lodging, Friday and Saturday nights, were part of the package deal.  The eight of us were split in to two groups – a float group of four and a wade group of four – for Saturday.  Each group of four was then divided into pairs, each pair with its own guide. We switched types of fishing on Sunday. This long explanation is just to say – we all had plenty of time on the water and received plenty of “guide time.”

I fished with Greg, a recent arrival to Colorado in January. Welcome to springtime in Colorado, Greg! On Saturday, we fished the Taylor under overcast skies, in brief snowstorms, and during those Colorado moments where the sun is shining and flakes are falling – all before lunch.  Greg may have thought we’re a bit crazy in Colorado, and he is right, but he never batted an eye or resisted making one more cast for the perfect drift. And the man was a sponge for our guide’s, Eric Grand, coaching, “I learned how to fish some more technical water, for sure.” And it paid off.  At dinner, Greg had the “big fish” story of the day.

The others on this mini-destination trip had their fish tales, too.

Jason had his father, Bruce, fly out from California for the chance to fish two of the great Colorado fisheries, the Gunny and the Taylor, on this weekend trip. Their experience on Saturday’s float trip offered up plenty of opportunities for streamer fishing on the ten miles of the Gunnison they covered.  “To see those fish flash from the bank and take the white streamer was awesome,” Jason said.

Since I’m a sucker for a great father-son story, I wanted Bruce’s perspective.  “I had a blast watching Jason and seeing how much he has progressed in his fly fishing and his knowledge.” As for Bruce himself?  “I really learned a lot from our guide, Holden.  He was awesome –very knowledgeable and very patient with me. I have not fly fished in over 20 years, and Holden helped me regain the passion for fly fishing again!”

Charles echoed the same sentiment.  “Though my physical limitations hampered me somewhat, the patience and understanding of our guide, Graysen, was exceptional and instrumental in making my experience enjoyable.”

Patrick was our group’s fourth guide.

Dan, from Colorado Springs, said “He’s the most knowledgeable, best guide I have ever had. His knowledge of the water, fish, and biology was outstanding. I would rate the trip an 11 out of 10 and will definitely be coming back for more. A big shout out to Jon and Justin (Brenner) for making this amazing trip possible.”   

Why the Gunnison River area? Easdon has been “going over to the Gunnison area for one reason or another” his entire life. “Over the years, I have met several people from Three Rivers Resort, another Orvis-endorsed outfitter. These folks became friends. It’s a shop I really respect, located in an area I love to fish.”

Easdon knew that this was going to be a fun trip, particularly since most of the eight participants had never been to the Gunnison area. “When we all arrived, the pros at Three Rivers took care of business. The accommodations, guides, and the fishing (something nobody can control) were all top notch.”

On Sunday morning, Greg and I headed out with Eric for Day Two, our float trip on the Gunnison.  Eric has been with Three Rivers for about 16 years, guiding “about 120 float trips a season” in addition to the wade/walk trips.  He had us on fish all day for both days, and his skills on the float trip were remarkable. As you might expect, he knows where fish are holding at each stretch of the river, each bank, each eddy, even down to each overhanging tree branch.

We started out nymphing and caught our fair share of fish as the water warmed and got more active toward mid-morning.  The D-midge was working but we had a lot of action with hungry, egg-eating rainbows. At around noon, we switched to our streamer rods for 90 minutes of consistent action before lunch.   Nothing like the flash before the smash with those hungry brown trout.  Some of them were a bit more wary, for sure, and turned away from the offering.

All of the participants, at the end of the day, echoed Greg’s sentiment:  “My expectations for this trip were high, and it’s hard to believe they were easily exceeded.”  Jon Easdon agreed – “This initial mini-destination trip greatly exceeded my expectations. Definitely keep your eye out for more! We plan on offering some really cool mini destination trips in the future.”

Willowfly Angler’s Guide, Eric Grand, keeps an eye on the promising run.

Yours truly shows part of the weekend’s glory.

Usually, a destination is to a physical place.  Sometimes the destination is to a new skill level. Maybe a destination can even be a rejuvenated passion for a great sport.

This weekend delivered all three.

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