As Tom Petty said, “the waiting is the hardest part.” While I’m sure fly fishing wasn’t the inspiration for this song, it translates pretty well to the sentiments of fly fishermen in Colorado and the world over.
This time of year is by far one of the hardest for a fly fisherman to endure. It’s been a long winter without much fishing. We’ve spent countless hours tying flies, watching movies and reading magazines about the sport and doing anything else to get a small fly fishing fix.
The few days that I’ve braved fishing over the past few weeks have been short, cold and I didn’t walk away with many fish to show for the effort. So, how can we fly fisherman make it through this final stretch of cold? Below are a couple of tips I’ve learned over the years.
One of the easiest ways to fulfill your fly fishing craving is to just travel to the fish. The last two weeks of March I hit the road, lived in a tent, spent quite a bit of money and put hundreds of miles on my vehicle. Was it worth it? Absolutely! I fished the Grey Reef section of the North Platte River in Wyoming, floated the Upper Colorado River and then fished the Blue River, the Yampa and the South Platte River. I only slept indoors a few nights, and took two days to go skiing. I caught some really nice fish and had a great time, even though late March can be a pretty uncomfortable time to sleep in a tent!
If you can’t travel to areas with better fishing, the other method I’ve found helpful is to get creative! Over the past couple of weeks, I decided to try and fish a private stretch of the Colorado River. The river itself is open, but the road into the property is far from passable – in a car that is! So, with the creative and adventurous spirit in mind, I loaded everything I would need for a day of fly fishing on my back and set out for a several-mile cross country ski and fly fishing adventure. Skiing into the property wasn’t too bad; however, the real work started once I had my waders on and headed down to the water: The snow was still very deep in the high country, and post-holing up and down the banks of the river was much more exhausting than any of the cross country skiing. At least the work paid off – I ended up catching quite a few fish, a couple of which were actually big ones! I really had to put forth some effort, but that just made the catching even sweeter.
No matter what you do, it won’t change the fact that April is a month in limbo. We’re on the cusp of kicking off another epic fly fishing season, but that doesn’t mean we diehard fly fisherman can’t find one way or another to get our fix.