On October 2013 I walk another step towards my future goals and became a full time fly fishing guide on the future, the thing that really makes my soul alive.
Everything started at December 2012 to score a place in one of the greatest fly fishing guide school in Colorado at Cutthroat Anglers, you have to pay half of the course in advance to secure a spot in it. The initial plan was to do the course with my brother at the fall fly fishing guide school in 2011, but you know how is life and for one reason or another I couldn’t make it. To make this an opportunity and not a bummer I started to plan ahead to take this trip and make it a fly fishing trip also, so doing some research after the course we where fly fishing 4 states and some world famous rivers made worldwide known by some remarkable fly fishing writers.
Despite the fact that my brother already did the course, he came along. We met at the Santiago International airport heading to San Francisco California
At San Francisco we rented a car for the month and a day we where to spend learning, driving and fly fishing at USA. The reservation for the car was made before hand,the idea behind renting a car was to take advantage of the freedom that gives you to and to know better the states we have to go through form San Francisco California to Silverthorne Colorado and beyond instead of flying around missing the towns, cities and people in between.
The cheapest car we can rent was a Mazda 3:
Most of the time we drove during daylight to achieve one of the goals of the trip and enjoy the places in between:
On almost everywhere at gas stations you can fill up the tank using a credit card, another advantage was that the fuel was not as expensive as here in Chile:
A sample of the surroundings on our way to Silverthorne at south Utah state:
We travel in autumn, the curse is done at summer and autumn with a maximum of 6 students each, this gives us some advantages which are:
- just a handful of tourist
- Not to hot of a weather and all of it from snow to sun
- Almost empty camp sites
- A lot of camping sites at this time of the year are unattended so it was free to camp and all you have to do is what you pack in you have to pack it out
- A willingness of private camps and hostels to charge you less
- Almost all of the rivers are crystal clear and with normal to low CFS
Usually we stop by at towns to take a leak, drink some coffee and eat some breakfast/dinner, another interesting piece of advice is to buy a contract less SIM card for your cellphone (beware it needs to be carrier unlocked) to have Internet access,unlimited SMS and unlimited calls for near 60 bucks. The best carrier for us was AT&T, we miss some coverage in some places but it was worth it, anyway if we have WiFi coverage we used it to save the AT&T data quota.
When we finally made it to Silverthorne we stayed at a hostel only some blocks from Cutthroat Anglers fly shop, we made it a couple of days before the beginning of the curse to settle and buy some camping gear in a town near Silverthorne where REI has a store (Boulder) and to know the surroundings. Silverthorne is known because it has a lot of outlet stores in which you can find very good deals, my brother scored a Columbia rain jacket for 30 bucks.
Another good thing about the hostel was that it is besides the Blue River, which you can fish. It’s a very difficult river to fish because its shore are almost all public access and so it has a lot of fly fishing pressure. At Colorado states the fly fishing laws dictates that if some one owns both sides of the rivers they also own the bottom of the river so all of you can do is pass by on top of a boat, its trespassing if you drop anchor.
The course started on Sunday, it was a very nice day. The first day in the course is done on land near and at the store, some of is is: Purpose, what you get and what you don’t, the philosophy of guide operation, gear check, etc. In the mean time, as my brother already did the course he hit the water with some of the instructors that day
The curse revolves around:
- Give a superb customer service, whether the customer is a novice or a great fly fisherman
- Security, and for this you also need to pass the ASHI first aid and CPR certification (the ASHI certification is a must to work as a guide at Colorado State)
Also through the curse you are reinstructed at:
- Reading waters
As a personal advice, don’t expect the curse will teach you everything fly fishing related, so if you don’t know a thing about fly fishing don’t expect to become a guide in 7 days.
Some of the pictures I took along the 7 days of the course:
Taking a meal along the bank (meals are included):
Knot and rigging class:
Everyday but the first day you have to give a safety speech by the river before you hop on the boat:
As I say at the beginning of this post, we have all kind of weather. Some snow falling at Silverthorne:
Ok, not everything through the curse is learning, as your classmate took his/her time at the oars you have time to improve your skills with some fishing action:
The last day of the course, as part of your test to get your certification (is a pass/fail situation), you act as a guide. You are able to put into action everything you learn, guiding a real customer and also your instructor. You have to go through the safety speech, rigging, positioning the boat, taking pictures, give instructions on where to cast, when to hook up, etc. all of it at the same time you row the boat in a fishy and safety manner.
So, making your instructor catch a brown trout like this is one step closer to pass the course
Finally, at the end of a very hard work (everyone get blisters in their hands) on your own and as a team member and applying everything you already know and everything you learn in the process I’ve got my fly fishing guide certification
Here is a picture of the rest of the class and some of the instructors
And that’s only the first week!!! lol After spending the afternoon eating some pizzas over the crib of one of the instructors and suck up all of the local knowledge of them regarding where to fish at Utah, Wyoming and Montana we headed to Utah to fish the Green River:
The green river born at the Flaming Gore dam:
And despite the fact that to our unlucky timing because of the “shutdown” and the fact that during the shutdown all of the national parks where closed, we managed to camp relatively close to the Green river at Flaming Gore town:
The Green River:
After experiencing a very good fishing at the Green River in Utah, we drove to Wyoming state to fish a section of the North Plate river. We took advantage of being near an Orvis fly shop in Casper to put to work an Orvis warranty on a Superfine Touch rod… Oh man, what a great experience, Orvis warranty is top notch and way beyond its limits. Not being able to provide a residence address they offer us to send the rod to Chile . Way to go Orvis!!!
We arrived at Casper at night
Before our pleasant experience with Orvis, we drove to Grey Reef to camp for a night (12 bucks) and fish it, it was an excellent streamer fishing!
When we set up camp (almost all of our trip since Silverthorne) we woke up early, we made breakfast, make off the tent and went to fish with a good amount of water and some snacks. Back at the end of the day we make some meals, set up the tent again, woke up, have some breakfast and then hit the road to our new fishing destination. As I mentioned earlier we try to drive during the day to get a glimpse to the great scenery along the way.
On other times we use motels as a first night on our arrival at some places to plan the next 2 or 3 days and also to take a good rest, after the North Plate River we headed to Montana. Our first motel at Montana stay was at Lazy J in Big Timber town.
On every state we hit, our first duty was to buy our fishing licenses to be able to fish its rivers and known the regulations that applies to that particular state. The amount of which every license cost was around 24 to 54 bucks for non resident anglers. We fish a lot of rivers at Montana, the first one was the Boulder river who doesn’t treated us as we expected, giving us just 2 fishes… the good thing is that we where traveling by our own and on a rented car, so we where able to “mend” our fishing situation into a better one, so after some deliberation we said: lets go somewhere else
This is one fork of the Boulder River, it wasn’t great fishing, but it was a great day nonetheless as every river we hit in Montana, so we decidedto hit the Yellowstone river next, doing a stop at the Simms factory
We also take advantage of a garage sale at the REI store located at Bozeman Montana, despite being hit by the “shutdown” some luck was smiling on us. We camp at the shore of the Yellowstone river and take advantage of the Montana regulations that states that the bottom of the river is public land, so every time you access the river through a public access you where able to fish it all the way up or down river. The good thing about buying a fishing license is that part of that money goes to support the public access sites along the rivers of Montana, with some of them allowing you to camp at them for a small fee, usually 10 bucks. The good thing about fishing this state at Autumn time is that they no longer charge you, the only work you have to do is what you pack in you must pack it out.
At the Yellowstone river in Montana we got a rain, almost all day raining on us, we have such a great time there!!!! The trick is to bring along the right clothes for the task and wear them in a layer approach. A nice cutthroat at the Yellowstone river:
After fishing the Yellowstone river at Montana we went to the Gallatin river. We camped at a section of the Gallatin National Forest besides Storm Castle creek.
A section of the Gallatin river near Castle Creek:
As the fishing was good, we stayed another day to try another section near Big Sky
When the evening was coming to an end, and taking into account that we were near the west entrance of the Yellowstone National Park, we drive to it to look if we are lucky enough to get in, hoping for that the “shutdown” was over. On the way there, we saw a sign of the park and thought that we where lucky enough
But sadly it was still closed, we plan our next move in a pinch and headed through the road to the Madison river by the Hebgen lake. We cannot make it to the river because the night was upon us, so we camped in a campsite located between the Hebgen and the Earthquake lake. Because of the altitude the cold night was hard on us, but it really worth it as we where like 30 minutes from the Madison river famous public access, the Three Dollars Bridge… AS you can see at the following picture there was snow over the table and ice between the table and the snow
Not even a good dish of beans save us from the cold
Enough talking… at this time of the year the browns that inhabit the Earthquake lake goes into the Madison river to be ready to spawn, so you can find good sized browns at the Madison below the Earthquake lake. Here you can see a big brown caught at the Raynolds pass access
To avoid the colds that we go through at the higher campground between the Hebgen and Earthquake lakes we searched for another campsite near Three Dollars Bridge campsite to the north of the Madison, like 10 minutes from it. We also make a campfire to cook steaks to try to use the proteins to warm our bodies.
Rested, we headed to the Three Dollars Bridge access. The name was given because the owner of the lands to access the river charged three dollars to get to it through his property. So later a lot of organizations among them TU and Orvis bought the land to make this access free. From then on the fisherman are asked for a voluntary contribution per vehicle to keep the maintenance and future development of the access
As the name state, there is a bridge there… here you have a view from the bridge, what a beautiful place
While we where fishing at Raynolds pass we talk to the fisherman that came and go about the classic fisherman talk, and as we still was hoping the “shutdown” was over we asked about it. To our surprise that night some kind of voting where about to take place and hopefully the park will open their doors to the public. So we moved to West Yellowstone town, bought our fishing licenses (24 bucks) and the entrance fee and drive to Mammoth Hot Springs, one of the to campsites that where open at this time of the year. Mammoth Hot Springs became our neuralgic spot for the next 6 days
There are animal on the road, so be careful while driving.
Here is a picture from the bathroom at the camping site beside Mammoth Hot Springs (10 bucks a day)
To make the story short at the park we fished:
- Yellowstone River
- Slough Creek
- Lamar River
- Gardner River
- Firehole River
- Madison River (inside the park)
We take some opportunities to visit non fishing sites like the petrified trees and the geysers
From the park we went to Two Bridges town MT where there are 3 rivers that pass by, the Beaverhead, Ruby and Jefferson. We also take the opportunity to visit Sweetgrass rods shop, build by two iconic Winston rod builders. The shop is great, the rods are awesome and the owners where there explaining us the process by which they make this beautiful rods, they also take the extra mile and told us where to fish for Grayling. So we headed to where the Ruby born to see if we where lucky enough to catch the elusive Grayling
On many of the rivers we fished we make some grand slams, fishing all the fish species that lives in them, for instance at the Ruby river we caught whitefish, cutthroat and grayling…
Finally and as a way to said goodbye we fished the river known at Montana because the size the trout’s that lives in it… The Beaverhead!
You can’t write down a month of experiences, learning, fishing, travel and experiences in a single post. The idea behind this post was to share the experience.
- We drove 8700 km (5400 miles)
- We where at 7 states
- Besides brown and rainbow trout we fished grayling, whitefish, cutthroat and cutbows
- We where at the Yellowstone park for 7 days
- We spend 3 days buying stuff for friends at Chile…. they get that stuff cheap, but what about our time and money!?
- We go through all kind of weather: snow, cold, sun, rain, hot and in between
- We visited 2 shops, the Simms Shop and Sweetgrass rods
- The best motel was Best Western at West Yellowstone
- The best warranty and customer service is Orvis
- At the Yellowstone park we saw everything animal related but bears and marmots
- The fishing is greater down here in Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia!