As the snowmelt tapers off, water levels in mountain streams are dropping to fishable flows. We asked Katie Fielder, a guide who fishes gold medal trout streams in the Vail area, for advice on technique, trip planning, and how to actually find fish.
What advice do you give to first timers?
Keep it simple as far as casting goes: try a simple roll cast or a pick-up-and-lay-down cast, which are both easy to do. It’s not going to be like “A River Runs Through it” the first time. Wading is definitely easier than floating at first. Also, I would always recommend going with a guide if you’ve never been before, because they have secret techniques, like easy ways to untangle your line, or ways to make your dry fly stay on top.
What kind of gear do you need?
You need waders, boots, a rod and reel, and a vest or a fanny pack to carry all of your little stuff, like your flies. Polarized sunglasses will be your best friend, because they’ll help you see your fly in the water much better.
Once I’m geared up where should I go?
Go somewhere where the wading is easy. Most people have a local fly shop that can provide recommendations. They’ll know the local rivers and water levels, and what flies to use.
OK, then how do I find fish?
Fish like slow-moving water because they don’t have to expend energy fighting the current, and they can still find food. You don’t want dead water, but you don’t want whitewater either. When rivers are moving fast fish get pushed to the sides. Look for pools and pockets of slower moving water.
If you could go fishing anywhere in the world where would you go?
Definitely Alaska, or the Bahamas for bonefish—I’ve heard that’s amazing. Then maybe Yellowstone, and I want to head to Chile and fish in Patagonia.
Fly fishing guides in the mountains