I’m finally home from a long, busy summer in Ridgway,
Colorado, where I work full-time as a professional tenkara guide and fly shop
bum at RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service
There really wasn’t much time for anything else, with days off few and far
I’ll guess that RIGS does
two-thirds of their business between June and August, so drinking from the fire
hydrant is the norm.
I was fortunate to
be surrounded by fellow guides and shop folks who take hard work to a new
We have a solid team at RIGS, led
by co-owners Tim and Heather Patterson.
The two of them set a high standard for hard work, flexibility, and perseverance
during a busy, stressful time of year.
couldn’t ask for a better place to work!
|Closing down the fly shop on my last day behind the counter in mid-August.|
|The busiest place in Ridgeway, Colorado!|
In all, I guided 25 trips, and spent the rest of the summer
working in the fly shop or shuttling whitewater raft trips.
Combined with the two tenkara weekend clinics
I put on each year, that puts my guiding up above 30 days per year.
Not too shabby, if you ask me!
|Happy clients, happy guide! |
Most of my guided tenkara trips take place in the Cimarron
Range, which is a northern extension of the San Juans.
Ridges, spires, turrets, and hoodoos form a
line, running north from Uncompahgre Peak all the way to Cerro Summit.
This is stunning country!
The drive from Ridgway over Owl Creek Pass is
arguably one of the most scenic anywhere in Colorado.
We’re permitted in the Uncompahgre
Wilderness, so my trips can be done from the extreme southern headwaters of the
three forks of the Cimarron River all the way up to the northern boundary of
the Uncompahgre National Forest, just below Big Cimarron Campground.
At the fly shop we call this entire area “The
Cimarrons”, and it provides a vast, diverse region that’s absolutely perfect
Each drainage above Silver
Jack Reservoir holds its own special qualities, and is unique.
Each one of them requires different
strategies and techniques, ranging from the wide-open lower end of East Fork,
to the brushy and intimate pools and pockets of West Fork, and the twists and
turns of Middle Fork.
One of my favorite
places to guide in late summer is the Cimarron River tailwater below Silver
It’s technically a
tailwater, but it looks much more like a freestone.
|The Cimarron River above Silver Jack Reservoir. (Photo courtesy of Stephen and Melissa Alcorn)|
Once or twice a summer, if the water is lower and clear, I
guide on the San Miguel River between Telluride and Norwood.
This summer “The Miguel”, as we call it,
turned out to be very fishable, and my clients caught some really nice
There are few things more fun
than drifting a #14 Crystal Stimulator or Puterbaugh Caddis on the far edge and
having a nice sixteen-inch rainbow crush your fly and take you for a ride.
A fish like that on a tenkara rod is simply
|The San Miguel River below Telluride.|
In all, it was a great summer season!
It’s always fun to head 200 miles southwest
to Ridgway, and it’s equally good to return home to my family each August.
To my clients this summer…THANK YOU!
I had some amazing days standing beside you
in wild water.
I hope you learned a
thing or two.
One of the most rewarding
things about guiding is spending quality time with such interesting
To do so in such magnificent
country makes it all that much better!
|My last two clients of the season, Tim and Mona. We had a stellar day fishing the Cimarron River backcountry!|
THANK YOU! Great article. See you next year.ReplyDelete
Just saw this Paul, Thanks for the kind words!!! HeatherReplyDelete
Wonderful words from an obviously very professional guide. I'm looking forward to starting my Tenkara journey this week after I receive my Iwana. You gave lots of great advice and I love the pictures.ReplyDelete