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Our Guides Look Back at 2019

Every year at this time, I ask the guides at Angler’s Covey to look back and share the highlights of their year on the water. From taking on challenging conditions to growing as a fly fishing guide, their responses range from the profound to the educational. So before we welcome in 2020, here’s a moment of looking back.

Juan Ramirez: Filling the Bucket

This summer I had the privilege of guiding a gentleman who had never fly fished. He was older and had trouble getting around on his own in the water. His wife was there with him and she mentioned to me that catching a fish was in his bucket list. We fished together, throwing dry flies to rising fish, me oftentimes holding him steady and helping him cast. We hooked a fair amount of fish and landed only a few. By that time, his back was tired and he had to go. Later I found out that this was his last trip out west and he was dying of cancer. The smiles he had that day never showed he was sick, only that he was still full of life and fun. Even though I had better catching days with young and fit clients, this day was my favorite for what it taught me as a guide and person.

Bob Taylor: Variety on the River

2019 was a special year for my professional and personal fly fishing experiences. The heavy snow the West received in the winter and spring led to much higher flows throughout the summer, especially in our home Colorado waters. My guiding year started strong when I took Jonathon, an astrophysicist, to the Arkansas tailwater in April and he had, in his words, “his best fly fishing day in his life.”

Even though the waters were high, my clients and I experienced some great days on the water, such as the father-daughter trip, with Tom and his professional barrel-racing daughter, Sissy:

Later on in April, I was humbled to be a part of the team contributing to Angler’s Covey winning the 2019 Orvis Endorsed Fly Shop of the Year! It was a joy to continue providing quality guiding and instruction, including teaching Orvis 101 and 201 classes:

Overall it was a great year, highlighted with some special moments, and filled with lots of smiles, like my wife’s in this pic from a trip down the Green River at Flaming Gorge:

Neil Luehring: Communication and Conditions

I think that what stands out the most in my memory of the past guiding year was the high water we experienced for much of the summer. Runoff flows were bigger than normal and the high flows remained well into August in some areas. High water impacts the fish, the insects, and anglers, too, of course.

Because the fish move to places we are not used looking for them, good polarized sun glasses were an absolute necessity. The insect hatches occurred later than normal in many cases and some seemed to be more sporadic than usual. As for the anglers, wading and access were much more difficult and the challenges brought forth by the big water certainly made all of us refine our casting and mending skills.

As a guide I think the most important take-away for me is the importance of communication and coaching clients. The best pathway for success was in working with clients to refine their skills to effectively deal with the conditions.

While the high water can be problematic, particularly in the dry fly arena, it can be very positive for the fishery. It removes much of the build up of silt and debris from the riverbed and the fish often seem to get healthy and strong. It will be interesting to see the impacts from the big flows for the coming year.

Dave Herber: Stillwater Fishing and Out of this World Experiences

Much of this year’s fly fishing was dominated by the high flows we experienced in our streams and rivers.

Many times the right answer was Stillwater. A lot of guiding clients and fly fishing students caught their first trout on a fly rod at North & South Catamount Reservoirs this year. The dry fly fishing was excellent. As the public waters on The South Platte River get more crowded each year, we can always find our private slice of paradise on Stillwater….just hike to the next point.

One of the personal highlights of my 2019 guiding season was the privilege of introducing NASA astronaut Steve Smith to his first day with a fly rod. For a man that flew 16 million miles in space, he was very down-to-earth and a fast study with a fly rod.

Sharon Wright: The Healing Powers of Fly Fishing

A highlight from this past year was participating as a guide in our local Casting for Recovery program, a program designed specifically for breast cancer survivors. I am always so honored to take part in this program. I’ve always felt that for me, fly fishing and being on the river is therapeutic and meditative. Grateful to share my fly fishing passion with these ladies!

Anthony Surage: Waiting On the Seam Line

The guide season of 2019 had a reoccurring theme: Waiting on a seam line.

Time and time again, in water that was too high or too low, too crowded, or appeared without fish, the highlight of 2019 was to wait on a seam line with hope for a fish to take our fly, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Time and time again, I would try my best to encourage my client of that hope, that a fish might be on that seam line, in the exact place where we repeatedly casted our flies, and that it might take our fly. And while we drifted those flies, in my own mind I would reminisce, or I would simply tell my client about the large rainbow we hooked last week or last month or last year, that tumbled over the rocks and got away. And some times, while waiting on that seam line, that fish would suddenly appear, never in full view, turn, roll, and leave us with gaping mouths.

Kaitlin Boyer: Growing Into the Role

I have yet to experience a guide season without any challenges. With that being said, I can only imagine that a season without any obstacles probably wouldn’t progress me as a guide at all. 2019 was the year I started to really settle into who I am as a guide. Clients from the years prior returned, and there were many new faces who requested me, which is the biggest form of flattery for any guide.

The trip that shines the most in my mind for the 2019 season was a two-day trip with Seattle angler, Kat Keifer. Since she’s normally swinging for steelhead in the pacific northwest, Kat wanted try some different fly fishing methods that were suitable for a classic Colorado experience. Our first day, we walked the banks of the Catamounts and found a perfect point between two coves. The day was nothing short of amazing, as Kat successfully landed fish with dry flies, streamers, and nymphing!

The following day we hit Eleven Mile Canyon where Kat got to know my fiberglass 3wt and hooked into a 20+ inch rainbow on a dry fly. Watching her enthusiasm drive her to succeed was the most rewarding feeling I had experienced yet as a guide. I went into that trip as guide, and I truly felt that I came out of it as a friend.

Jeff Collins: Building a Community

2019 was my first full year of guiding and that’s my highlight. As many of you know, Angler’s Covey is the preeminent fly shop and guide service on the front range and it has been an honor to work with such a fun and positive group of people. Having spent the last 40+ years as a practicing attorney, I’ve learned that who you work with is every bit as important as what you do. The crew at the Covey, including the guides, the clients and everyone at the shop, have made the 2019 season my highlight!

Jon Easdon: Taking on The Challenge

Every year certainly brings its challenges, and 2019 was no different. In terms of fishing, it seems we have been in this cycle of “not enough water” to “way too much water.”

We saw our snowpack reach record levels in most basins in Colorado during the winter and spring. With our final snow falling in June, most of our early summer season was in runoff. The higher waters presented a different challenge, and as an angler I am always excited to adjust to the conditions. The fishing was still exceptionally good, and we had a lot of great days on the water.

I was blessed to have a wealth of my return clients come back to fish with me and I had a blast with each and every one of them. One of the coolest things about guiding people over the years is that you get to see them grow. Both as an angler and as people. You form a rapport with them and turn into life long friends.

This year also made me incredibly proud of our team here at Angler’s Covey. In April, we were chosen as the 2019 Orvis Fly Shop of the Year. This is a great accomplishment for all of us, and I couldn’t be more blessed to work with such an experienced, solid group of folks.

I know 2020 will have its fair share of challenges too, but we will welcome those challenges and continue to bring the best service in the industry. 2020 has a lot of amazing things lined up, stay tuned!

Thanks for a wonderful season, 2019.

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