Originally published through Vail Daily Newspaper on 10/15/2020
When I first moved to Colorado, I was excited to try all of the amazing activities and hobbies that are at our fingertips. A wise friend of mine told me to focus on two or three activities and embrace them. I was introduced to fly fishing through a friend of a friend on a rafting trip and was immediately hooked (pun intended). Fly fishing has opened up some great hobbies that I am still trying to learn. Here are a few of the activities that fly fishing has been the gateway to great Colorado adventures.
One of the easiest crossover activities to try once you start fly fishing is hiking. This activity does not require much specialized equipment and there are an abundance of trails in the local area. A daypack and a pair of hiking boots/shoes are all you need to hit the trails. For anglers, a great part of hiking in Colorado is you can find many small creeks and high mountain lakes fairly easily that hold trout that are eager to take a fly. Also, hiking is a great workout, especially hiking up the moderate to difficult trails in the mountains around us.
Want to take it up a notch? Hike in with your camp on your back and spend a few days in the high country. While hiking does not require much equipment, backpacking is a very gear-centric activity. If you car camp, you probably have a good start on the gear that is required. With backpacking specific gear, you will want to buy lightweight because you are hauling the camp on your back. There are numerous great resources for backpacking gear and references for first-time trips online. Backpacking can open up the backcountry for amazing high country fishing that will wear out your arm with the number of fish you can catch.
Whitewater rafting was one of the activities that excited me the most when I moved to Colorado. I was lucky enough to meet some friends who were guides or former guides and I was able to hop on some great rafting trips. After a scary experience getting launched out of a boat, I took a break from whitewater but was lured back in due to the fishing aspect of rafting. While rafting our local rivers takes knowledge and training, after a few years I was comfortable enough to buy my own rig and explore the area’s rivers from a boat. Not everyone is in a position to purchase their own boat but offering to pay for the shuttle and/or gas for someone that does have a boat will usually get you on the river. Float fishing is some of the most fun you can have with a fly rod (and beer) in your hand.
Hunting and fishing do not always go hand in hand, however, if you hang out with enough anglers you’ll most likely hear about hunting trips and excursions. The opportunities for hunting in Colorado are endless. Small game hunting is a great starting place for anyone new to hunting and only takes a shotgun and some decent boots. Turkey hunting in the state can be challenging but a great way to explore the country around us. Big game hunting is what Colorado is known for in the hunting world. Elk, mule deer, and pronghorn deer are all hunting tags that are easily obtainable for anyone however the effort and research to be successful is hard to earn. The first place to start if interested in hunting is taking a hunter’s safety course through Colorado Parks and Wildlife, as this is needed to buy any hunting license.
Colorado is a hub for everything outdoors and fly fishing is a great place to start exploring those other outdoor activities. There’s something for all people that love the outdoors and each activity heightens the experience of living in the Rockies. Get out there and explore!
Manager & Guide