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Vail Valley fishing report

Brody Henderson
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyThe first catch is always big, but fly fishing is a sport in which a person can develop his or her goals.
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All fly fishermen start as beginners, and they all had to develop skills and techniques that grew and expanded in order to be successful catching the fish they were after.

Fly fishing is such a great sport because the learning never stops and there’s really no such thing as a true “expert.” We start at point A, flailing away on the river, getting tangles and spooking fish and eventually with hard work and dedication we’ll hopefully get to the point where we catch some fish with regularity and confidence.

For most of us we go through an evolution of sorts as we spend more and more time on the water. Somewhere along the line, we look for more challenging situations and eventually we may just sit on the bank watching the fish rise, in no particular hurry to catch them.

There is a lot that happens from the first time someone cast a fly rod until the time they get to the point where landing the fish might not be the most important part of their fly fishing. The timeline is different for everyone. Most anglers start out just wanting to catch a fish – any fish.

All the practice and frustration of learning is rewarded with that first fish, and it is a great experience to be there when someone lands their first trout. A lot of us forget what it is like to be a kid but it is easy to remember when someone’s face lights up with that first example of success.

After the first fish, the next step is usually to catch as many fish as possible. The more trout one catches the more they learn and the more they want to catch. Putting a significant number of trout in the net is not only fun, it tells an angler they have reached the point where they are doing things right and all the hard work is paying off. There is nothing quite like the early days of losing count of all the fish you caught.

Somewhere in this stage catching large fish also becomes important. Bigger is better. A lot of big fish is the best. In other words, it becomes a numbers game, and at first this if fun, but it can also become a bad thing if an angler gets too caught up in the numbers and size of the fish they catch. Slow days become unsuccessful days and small fish become a waste oftime.

Eventually, and thankfully, though most fly fisherman move beyond this stage. If you find yourself getting upset by the fact that you are not catching fish, it might time to get off the water and rethink things. You might be stuck in a rut where the only gauge of success is whether you you’re able to tell your fellow anglers about the “20 fish over 20 inches” you heroically landed.

The next stage is where most anglers begin to relax and move beyond the numbers game. They will seek out a single “smart” fish that presents a challenging situation or they’ll catch a few fish and not feel the need to hammer the water all day long-just being where the fish are makes for a good day. Losing a fish is not the end of the world either.

Others will seek out solitude and hike into the backcountry where small fish are the norm but the scenery, wildlife and the fishing combine to make for a great experience. Still others will take to sharing fly fishing with friends and family and they get their fly fishing fix through teaching others. They fish vicariously and do not need to be the one holding the rod.

The end result of all this leads to a situation where the experienced angler is simply happy to be on the water regardless of whether the fishing is good or not. Often they will also be more concerned with the resource and environment than the actual fishing. The health of the river and the trout become a concern as well.

It takes a while to get to this stage, but it also makes those days when the fishing is great and the trout come to the net in numbers and size that much more enjoyable. Remember, the goal of fly fishing should simply be to have fun.

Brody Henderson is the manager of Alpine River Outfitters. He can be reached at 970-926-0900.


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