Friday, June 22, 2012

Row vs Wade - A Wade Guide's Perspective

Row vs. Wade – A wade guides perspective

Getting in the water to cast to fish has always been special to me. I simply enjoy being in the river, feeling a part of it, letting the current, the surrounding terrains, and the fish challenge my day.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, all of our rivers can be fished on foot. Parts of the valley do hold some private land sections, but there are more public access points than can be covered in an entire year of fishing. With four rivers and high country streams to discover, fishing the Roaring Fork Valley on foot is my only way to go.

By wade fishing, an angler can experience a lot more water in a single day. The occasional bout of bad weather, a section of the river that is fishing slow; all of this can be avoided or remedied by simply moving up or down valley, whether on foot or by car. I like being mobile.

The obstacles to the wade fisherman are also what make the experience incredibly fun. A wade angler’s presentation to the fish is always being attacked by currents. Fish may be feeding under tree limbs or behind hard to reach rocks and obstructions. Trees and bushes may defend against your back cast. Fishing with these obstacles and spending a little time figuring them out is incredibly rewarding. Finally, getting that fish you worked under the tree limb for twenty minutes is not only exhilarating but it teaches you how to become a better angler at the same time.

Fishing improves with the luxury of time. Every inch of a pool can be systematically searched and every rock can be explored in the effort to locate the most or the biggest fish. This style of fishing can only be done on foot, and it can also be timed to the best time of the day and location of fish. Stalking up behind a group of rising fish is exciting! Making the right decisions to fool as many as possible ... unbeatable!

For me wading is simply the best. Beautiful scenery and the ability to access multiple rivers is something special that this valley offers. The Colorado and Roaring Fork hold trout that are violent and sometimes difficult to land. The Frying Pan has its educated, hard to fool fish that we have to face with light tippets. Our valley has everything for the wade angler on any given day of the year. Dry fly fishing as the snow falls around you or a Roaring Fork rainbow jumping in the summer setting sun can be found here. If you love wade fishing, this valley will exhaust you in what it offers.

Thomas Clennon – Head Wade Guide, Taylor Creek Fly Shops
Photos courtesy of Collin Szewczyk and Moldy Chum.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Row vs. Wade - A float guides perspective

The Roaring Fork Valley is famous for its skiing, hiking, biking and amazing mountain vistas. It is also a place where avid fly fishers gather to ply our famous waters in search of wild trout. Our valley contains varying types of water. The Fryingpan is our most famous river; a quaint tailwater that runs through one of the most picturesque valleys in the world. There are a variety of access points in the public reaches with high concentrations of fish being found throughout the river. The Fryingpan is only accessible by wade fishing as the river is too small to float. Other sections of water that can only be accessed by wading are the Crystal River near Carbondale, and the upper stretch of the Roaring Fork from Aspen to the upper Woody Creek Bridge. Both of these offer the chance of prolific fishing in spectacular settings. We also have many high country creeks and lakes available for the angler who would like to add a hike to their day of fishing. These waters too, are only available to the wading angler.

The Roaring Fork Valley is also famous for its “big rivers”. The Roaring Fork River flows from high on Independence Pass to its confluence with the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs. We break this river down into four sections, the high country, which is from Independence Pass to Aspen, the upper, which is from the town of Aspen to Basalt, the middle from Basalt to Carbondale and the lower from Carbondale to Glenwood Springs. Our other big river is the mighty Colorado. The stretch we fish is from Glenwood Springs twenty five miles downstream to the town of Rifle. Although these areas of the river do contain a lot of private land, there are many public accesses allowing for the angler on foot ample opportunity for some gold medal class fishing. Even with ample water for the masses on foot, fishing these stretches while floating in a drift boat or raft is unparalleled.

With numerous put in and take outs on both the Roaring Fork and the Colorado, you could float for a week and never see the same stretch of water. We (guides) pick the piece of water that we are going to float by taking into consideration time of year, water flows, insect activity and the weather. Good communication with your guide and fly shop can help you understand why we choose one spot over another. Some people have their favorite stretch in mind and that is okay too. There is something very peaceful about wading your favorite section of river or working a pod of risers in a given pool. But, floating opens up opportunities that cannot be had while fishing on foot.

One of the main advantages is that we can access miles of private water. While we cannot anchor or get out of the boat in many of these spots, we do get to fish through this water and on some occasions, when the water is very low, use our oars to circle and recycle an area giving us numerous shots at otherwise very unpressured fishing holes. Another benefit of float fishing is the ever changing scenery and water as you float different sections of our rivers. A trip down the Roaring Fork from Basalt to Carbondale is a completely different experience than Carbondale to Glenwood for example. The next day, a trip on the lower Colorado can make you feel like you went to a whole other world. One other positive of being in a boat is that you do not have to wade. Wading on slippery, unstable rocks can be a big challenge for many, and can make some anglers uncomfortable. The big rivers are especially tough to wade. While float fishing is an excellent way to access incredible fishing, it also includes the adventure of being in a whitewater situation. Rapids up to class 3+ can put a little more excitement into a great day of fly fishing. Rowing these boats is a skill that all of the guides at Taylor Creek take to heart. All of our guides have extensive training and a great day of fishing and the safety of all are taken into consideration every time out. Guiding in a drift boat is the ultimate in multi tasking for a fishing guide.

All types of fly fishing from dry flies, streamers and traditional nymphing techniques can be done from a boat. The one most outstanding advantage of floating is the amount of water you can cover on a given day. Floats range from seven to fourteen miles in length. Just think about all the spots you get to throw a fly in that much river! We change our methods and techniques throughout the season to conform to water levels, biology in the river and weather conditions. If you have always been a “wade fisher”, try a float sometime. It very well may just show you fly fishing in a whole new light. There have been many occasions when I have seen an angler improve their fishing techniques dramatically due to some of the new challenges float fishing offers. From beginners to experts, a day in a boat on one of our rivers will not soon be forgotten.

Regardless of whether you wade or float fish, having as much fun as humanly possible while on the water is the most important thing. Here is to more great fishing in 2012!

Kyle Holt – Head Guide, Taylor Creek Fly Shops
Photo's courtesy of Brian Bailey, Kyle Holt and Kirk Webb