Our Man In Canada
September 25th, 2000

Where To Start Fly Fishing
When Away From Home

By Gerry Frederick

Sometimes "Angling in the shadow of the Rockies" can be a little overwhelming. So many waters to pick from and so little time. From New Mexico to British Columbia, the Rockies provide the best trout fishing in North America. I don't believe many fishermen wil argue with this assessment. Here in lies the dilemma. Where to start. I suggest we start at home.

As is true with all outdoor activities preparation is important. Every fisherman has a few stories to tell of fouled trips from lack of preparation. I truly believe that I hold the crown. I'm also sure the other members of the royal court come from my family. Perhaps more than anyone I can address the tragedy of poor preparation. My trouble is I'm a fly fishing nut. I get excited anticipating each trip. This excitement causes me to sometimes forget a few very important items: fly boxes, oars, fly rod, fly reels, and on and on. What I'm trying to say is, it's very easy to leave home unprepared.

Check Your Gear

Take time to check all the gear you plan to utilize on your fishing trip. It doesn't take long to check for worn out components, missing reel screws and the like. Clean and inspect very closely all the fly lines you'll bring. Don't forget to make an inventory of the fishing vest. In keeping with historical fly fishing tradition bring four of five times more stuff than you'll ever use. This small detail helps build confidence and give the outward appearance of someone who knows his or her way around the fishing hole.

If you have chosen a fishing destination that is at all remote bring some extra gear. This may include everything from underwear to complete rod and reel set ups. Extra equipment will set your mind at ease and help keep you focused on the fishing. Remember if a little is good, a lot must be better.

Pick Your Angling Destination

Location is everything. The fly fishing opportunities in the Rockies are endless. Maps, magazine articles, book and fish stories all play big factors when we are searching out new waters to fish.

In the southeast region of British Columbia where I call home, I generally know what to expect. I start with a location. I have fly fished this region for more than ten years, guided for two years. Once I decide where to fish I can draw on some of my own history. From time to time I have the good fortune to take my fly fishing obsession on the road. I always pick new water to fish. Topographic maps make this process a lot faster. The most recent updated maps if you can find them. I like to pick 3 or 4 locations in a given region. When one doesn't work out I can move on.

When traveling on fishing trips in the Rockies it's important to get as much local input as possible. The local fly fishing information we gather can help with what we can expect. Most local fly shops and tackle dealers will give us, "out-of-towners", the straight goods on hot spots and what to start with. They all have an interest in fisherman doing well in their backyard.

Trip Planning

It can't be understated, the importance of trip planning. A lot of time can be wasted if a river is closed or out of season after we have traveled three or four hours to be there. Get the info anyway you can. Time permitting, write for as much information as you can get your hands on. Sometimes the library can get us off on the right foot. I believe the map is still number one. Without a good map fishing trips away from familiar surrounds rarely go well. A popular trick in my family is to keep a good collection fo topographical maps in the "John" along with all the fly fishing magazines. Another point to remember is where you plan to stay. I strongly suggest a reservation at a campground or motel. In 1994 I went on a fly fishing trip to the Bitteroot region of Montana for five days. I started looking for a motel at 9:30 at night and at midnight found myself parked in the car at the water edge tilting the seat back for a few hours sleep. Even for a fishing nut like myself, sleeping in the car was not what I had in mind.

There was one small positive however. When I opened my eyes I was looking over the Bitteroot river and a dozen or so fish feeding near the bank. I was rigged and casting for them in a record 8 or 10 minutes.


A very large part of my fly fishing philosophy is Keep It Simple Stupid, K.I.S.S. The simple approach works well when fishing unfamiliar waters. Keeping the gear and flies down to a simple, manageable assortment. This not only helps with traveling, but helps keep us focused on the task at hand. Fishing a new region will keep us busy enough. Go with what you know. Utilize the flies and techniques that work at home.

Angling in the Shadow of the Rockies

Most fly fishers, experienced and beginners alike, don't need me to tell them to keep it simple. Sometimes we can get caught up with new gear and techniques. Learning and using new techniques is important to any advancement in individual success. I believe it's important to try new things. That can be one of the best aspects of fly fishing. However, when I suggest, go with what you know, I mean just that. Take a fly and a technique that you have the most success with and utilize it. This will keep you in your comfort zone. After all the important pre-trip preparation is done, we're ready. Ready for challenging new adventure away from home. When fishing in unfamiliar areas, maps are important as are local angling regulations. Fly fishing new waters presents an array of challenges. Most are welcome unknowns that fly fishing nuts like myself look forward to conquering. A large part of the appeal is showing off your ability to read water and catch fish. Most of the time you're only showing off to yourself. ~ Gerry Frederick

Continued next time!

Credits: From Angling in the Shadows of the Rockies by Jeff Mironuck. We thank Frank Amato Publications, Inc. for use permission!

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