Fly fishing is for the dogs |

Fly fishing is for the dogs

Collin Szewczyk
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Collin Szewczyk Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – With my dogs Ranger and Greta flanking me, I made my first cast as a fly fisherman.

The crystal clear waters of the Roaring Fork River would be my classroom, the fact that I was born with one hand, my challenge.

Learning to fly fish can be difficult, especially with one hand, so I don’t want to hear anything about “technique.”

I’ve been a fisherman since as long as I can remember, conquering small rivers in Illinois, just outside of Chicago.

Back in the day, we’d use canned corn to hoist mammoth carp from the milk chocolate-colored waters or ridiculously large lures to catch “bass.”

Bass being any fish that wasn’t a carp.

Over time, I evolved into a solid fisherman, catching large walleye (9 1/4 pounds my largest) in Wisconsin and Minnesota, muskie at college in southern Illinois and once reeling in a six-pound smallmouth bass on Lake Erie.

That one is on my bedroom wall.

I was often asked, “How can you fish with one hand?”

My usual response was to look at my left arm aghast, acting like it was the first time I realized that it wasn’t there.

Fishing came easy to me and I loved the time in the outdoors. When I moved to Colorado, a whole new world of aquatic opportunities opened up to me. But I had a new adversary to stalk.

The only trout we had in Illinois, outside of Lake Michigan, were stocked rainbows. These fish weren’t the brightest of the bunch, and proved to be an easy catch.

But in Roaring Fork Valley waterways, the trout still seem to have some wit.

I’ve caught many on spinners, drawing frowns from passing “purists,” but have always envied the grace displayed by fly fishermen.

Fishing with buzz baits in Canada for monster northern pike is like a mosh pit at a Pantera show – exciting, scary and bound to leave you sore at the end of the day.

Fly fishing the beautiful waters in western Colorado is like opera – calm, natural and relaxing.

I couldn’t believe it had taken me almost four and a half years to give it a shot.

My first cast landed well, and things were looking up. Maybe this isn’t so hard after all.

I stripped the line, to the best of my ability, using a Martin auto reel I had found on eBay.

I would strip, click the trigger, strip, trigger.

I still have no idea if I was doing this right, but it felt good.

I saw a fish begin to rise. “This is it,” I thought.

That’s when the doofus patrol arrived to see if I needed assistance.

My Akitas crashed into the water, tackling each other, and making a muddy mess of the once-pristine fishing hole.

“Well done,” I sighed.

There was no way I could catch a fish with these two romping about.

I set the pole down and watched as they frolicked in the icy waters, tongues and tails wagging about in blissful freedom.

We often forget about how much time our pets stay cooped up indoors while we attend to the duties of daily life.

I wouldn’t catch a fish on this day, but I was very content watching the dogs tear about, burning energy and checking messages left on rocks by fellow canines.

I looked at my cell phone and saw that it was after 2 p.m. – time to start back and get ready for work.

We lugged up the hillside and back to my Jeep.

Ranger and Greta both leapt inside, happy for this chance to run about in our beautiful valley.

Collin Szewczyk is a copy editor for the Post Independent. He once caught a 180-pound striped marlin off of Baja on spinning gear, which the captain of the boat told him was impossible to accomplish. You can email him fly fishing tips at

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