On The Fly: An epic mix of skiing and fly fishing
On The Fly
My name is Will Cardamone, and I live to ski and I love to fly fish!
The most ideal day in my mind is one where both of these artistic extensions of myself can be molded together within one amazing day. My life for the past eight years has been filled with intense skiing adventures.
This, however, is why I fly fish. Fly fishing has become a balance for me; in many ways, a meditation that counters my sometimes reckless winter mindset. This balance is quite necessary in this life of mine.
I consider myself to be lucky to have grown up in the mountains and rivers of the Roaring Fork Valley. I now reside in the Skier’s Chalet, an Aspen motel hidden in time from the golden days of ski bumming in these parts. I find myself somewhat lost within a town drastically changed by wealth while trying to find my own true roots in the place where I was born; a place where I might not be able to afford to live if not for the Skier’s Chalet anomaly.
When I think hard about this predicament, I am always grateful for my passions of skiing and fishing. These passions have allowed me to travel the world. I now realize that this amazing valley where I am lucky enough to call home is well worth it.
Here’s an example of why.
It’s a beautiful bluebird day at the end of February and I, along with a few friends — well trusted ski partners — are standing on top of a 4,000-foot vertical line off of West Hayden; a line that has serious consequences if it slides.
We have been skiing together all winter long at this point and trust each other’s instincts well. The line turns out to be absolutely epic, with buttery spring powder all the way down on top of a well-settled spring snowpack.
When we finally reach the bottom, the feeling is exhilarating. High-fives are handed out liberally, and the understanding that the mountains have let us all pass through unscathed is both deep and mutual. We make our way through the lower part of the Conundrum Valley, skating with long strides on the still-frozen, lower-elevation snow, with the effervescent buzz still pumping through our veins. We finally reach the cars, but its only 1:30 p.m.
What else is there to do but go fishing?
By the end of February, the rainbow trout in the Roaring Fork River are getting pumped-up for spawning. The water in the river is warming up more and more every day as the sun rises higher. By now, my buddy Mark and I have thrown on our waders and fishing boots, grabbed our rods and are headed to one of our many favorite spots just downstream from Aspen. After a short walk to the river and a quick re-rig, our lines grace the water and we have doubles on.
Mark lands a beautiful rainbow and myself, a spunky brown. We give each other the bro nod, release our fish and move on.
At this point in the day, it is hard to believe that we were both standing at 13,000 feet in elevation that morning on top off a dream ski line — a line that only came about with lots of planning and hard work — only to be relaxing on the river fishing for trout a few hours later. These are the days that I truly strive for. They only come once in a while, but when everything lines up, it’s like a dream for us. A dream of two amazing days mashed into one.
This is why I live here.
This column is provided weekly by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374, or at http://www.taylorcreek.com.
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The Lake Christine Fire charred thousands of acres of national forest and downed timber of three popular hiking and biking trails on Basalt Mountain. Two of those trails reopened this month thanks to the efforts of the Aspen-Sopris District trail crew.