My father taught me very early on to do a lot of things on my own. As a result, I spent a lot of time fishing on my own. Few fishermen go alone.
For some, it’s a social event or a way to keep in touch with friends. For others, it’s a way to escape and rediscover the serenity of the distractions of the electronic world. Going solo on a day of angling can be the Colorado fly fishing experience that all anglers enjoy.
Why would a fly fisherman want to go fishing alone? Reasons can fill your mind for days, or empty it all at once. There’s a certain zen achieved in casting dry flies with soft rods and click-and-ratchet reels in the mountains of Colorado. The choices are limited only by your desire and your approach.
A fly fisherman can drop a finger on a map of Eagle County and just about touch some sort of stray blue line or calm turquoise-colored water. Choosing a location can dictate how an angler approaches fishing in that water – it can be a float tube or a one man boat… or you can just say to yourself, ” I’m going to wade in a little creek until the sun starts to set.” ‘ The experience is more intimate and connected. A solo rhythm allows you to slow down.
The time to teach your four-legged best friend to be an angling dog is best done alone. Other anglers don’t see the humor or feel the affection of a dog on the water when it swims through a deep hole. Teaching your dog to honor the river, lake, or stream will make him a lifelong friend that other anglers will appreciate having on the water.
Fishing alone can be done on foot, sitting on the water or by paddling. Fly anglers have plenty of choices for solo adventures. Small streams are best approached on foot, by wet wading, or from a streamside trail. Belly boats can be carried easily and launched around a smaller body of water. Kayaks, paddle boards, or one-man boats can cover moderately moving water. Some types are capable of rowing larger lakes or reservoirs to cover a larger area.
When anglers really want to disconnect, the best bet is to use a 2 or 3 weight fly rod, a pair of wet wading boots and a small box of dry flies. A small backcountry fly fishing kit lives in my truck and contains only the essentials – a few fly boxes, a float, a small hook remover and clippers. A spare tippet or rescue guide spool is also easy to pack. Everything fits in a small Orvis pack no bigger than a few cell phones.
Vail Valley Anglers offers a hiking and fishing trip for fly anglers. Going into the Colorado backcountry and catching a colorful cutthroat trout will melt a memory in your brain that you won’t soon forget.
Flies for this type of fly fishing should cover a few basic insect patterns like a parachute style for mayflies and tufted dry ones like elk hair for caddis. A few added terrestrials can also be a good idea. Ants, grasshoppers and the fly fisherman’s little secret – beetles – tempt any small water trout with a soft cast.
Casting on small streams is difficult. Anglers pushing their precise cast are sure to leave a few flies hanging in the branches or willows by the creek. Wading to catch the flies from the branch is scary, but that’s part of the experience. There is joy in small water fly fishing that anglers won’t find anywhere else.
A belly boat or U-boat allows the angler to sit on the water and maneuver with flippers. It’s a cheap and lightweight approach that can open up previously unexploited calm waters. There’s a special feeling of freedom and disconnection when you wander around an alpine Colorado lake with a fly rod in hand.
Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards (SUPs) are the one-man paddling approaches for solo fly fishing. From small calm waters to large lakes or reservoirs, both styles cover plenty of water and provide a stable fishing platform that anglers love.
Take the time to fish for yourself. You will hear, see and enjoy things you have missed in the past. Grab a fly rod and hit the water. There’s nothing like going solo.