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Pick your flies carefully

Bringing it HomeJoelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

It’s been at least 10 years since I turned in my old fishing pole, salmon eggs and tackle box for a fly-fishing rod, a fishing vest and a box of flies.Despite my excitement for the new sport and educational lessons from my dad, an avid angler, the fish obviously didn’t know about my plans to catch them.In the 10-year frame, I have caught enough fish to average out to about one per year. Most of my success came three summers ago while living in Silverton in southwestern Colorado. And I’m pretty sure the only reason I caught any fish – if they can be called fish as the largest one was a whopping 7 inches – was because I was reeling them in from beaver dams where the beavers did most of the work by trapping the fish and all I did was get younger, inexperienced fish to latch on to my fly.Although everyone keeps saying the valley has gold medal waters and the fishing is just awesome, I have yet to catch a fish in my one and a half years of living here. It’s not that I don’t believe everyone, because I have seen the pictures of beauties from the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan. I just know I’m the kind of fisherwoman that doesn’t require a net because there’s never anything to put in it.So, I decided to do something about it.Last week, I attended a beginning fly-fishing class hosted by the Roaring Fork Conservancy (RFC), an organization dedicated to “inspiring people to explore, value and protect the Roaring Fork Watershed,” at Blue Creek Ranch in Carbondale. It was a free, two-hour session, where a dozen or so people suffering from my same problem went to learn about casting, aquatic entomology and how to read the water.I quickly realized one of the biggest misconceptions was that it didn’t matter what fly I used. I just tied on a fly that I thought looked appealing and went for it.Turns out, it’s all about the bugs.After members of the RFC scooped up a net full of what’s in the river, I was absolutely amazed at what was in there. So many insects. Different sizes, stages, names – it was crazy.Kirk Webb from Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt, who was helping run the class, identified the insects for us and told us what to use to imitate them. It was a very educational class, and if anyone is having the same struggles I am, I encourage you to attend one of the many classes the RFC puts on. If you want to learn what it takes to catch a fish, or simply want to learn about the complex water systems running through the valley and how important it is to protect it, check out what it offers at http://www.roaringfork.org.With my newly acquired knowledge and a rediscovered determination to go fishing, I am bound to make this summer one to remember by actually catching a fish.I’m on a mission, out to prove the fish in this valley aren’t smarter than me.Contact Joelle Milholm at 384-9124 or jmilholm@postindependent.com.


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