Rio Grande Fly Fishing

Back To My Beginnings

I just returned from some Rio Grande Fly Fishing in South Fork, Colorado, where I was enlisted by River Side Rio Grande Club, fractional vacation home, to enjoy a stay. Let me tell you – good work if you can get it!

I’ll get my one complaint out of the way up front so I can settle into my glowing report; the directions on the website for fractional vacation homes, RiverSide at Rio Grande, weren’t helpful because there is no road-sign for the turn-off – at all! Not realizing I was passing my destination I happily drove past it, oblivious, and I would have been highly irritated but I soon started recognizing familiar bits of my history.

There’s Wason Ranch, Cottonwood Cove, and now signs for Creede. Creede – the town responsible for the birth of my son; where I met his father on the 4th of July at the Elk’s Lodge dance back in 1987. My son’s sir name has lived for more than a century in Creede and half the town, if not more, is related. I have fond memories of the Hosselkus family and their roots so deeply planted in the picture-book mining town.

Like many Texans, Creede hosted my familial vacations for decades so we could enjoy Rio Grande fly fishing and as an ultimate result, I ended up adding to the Hosselkus lineage by begetting a son and raising him in Colorado. I asked the snack shop clerk if she knew any Hosselkus’s and she listed off about eight – including the Sherriff. Nice to know. Surely the birthing of a blood relative was good for at least one ‘get out of jail free’ card.

I looped back and saw anglers challenging Rio Grande fly fishing under a bridge and had to stop for a photo op. I started feeling a little nostalgic – these are the waters my Dad fished, my Grand-parents fished, and I had fished since I was old enough to bait a hook with a salmon egg. Mom used to tell the story that when I was about four she brought along my red goulashes ('Wellies' for you English chaps), so that I could wear them in the shallow pools and use my little aquarium net to scoop up minnows. I resisted wearing them so she told me that when I did, I would stay high and dry and they would protect me from the elements. One afternoon I pulled on my boots and promptly took off to the middle of the river; they were water-proof after all - and I very nearly drowned. When Mom tearfully questioned my actions and yelled at me I told her, “But I was wearing my Wed Wubber Boots!”

It’s cuter when Mom tells it.

I was happy to finally locate the which typically rent as a fractional vacation home, to settle in. My family had vacationed in tents, campers, and travel trailers on Marshall Campground. As our reunions grew we booked cabins at Antler’s Lodge. Part of my engrained memory for that part of the world was being cramped. This place was huge! Four bed-rooms, three baths – and me. The kitchen had granite counters, the stairs had that cool metal railing that looks like animal horns, and the furniture was over-stuffed and inviting. Who needs cramped?

I immediately changed to spandex and motored my mountain-bike around the property perimeter. It was hard to stay off the golf cart path – it seemed perfect as a bike trail. The trees along the course reflected the days of yore and mining, dripping with so much gold their branches couldn't hold it all. The golf-cart path had no threat of touring cars - so call me Shankapotomous, but let me stay on the cart path. I rode the hills until my legs burned, returned to a hot bath, and ordered in from the Lodge restaurant;not a bad welcome!

Sunday morning we met our guide for the day, Joel. The property has a mile of private water and Joel knew every hole and bend holding our best bet for a good day of Rio Grande fly fishing. We knew it was going to be tough – the water flows were at about 300 csf and during peak season the water is up at 6,000 csf – just a small matter of 5,700, but that obstacle made the prowess of a Guide all the more practical. I caught good fish, about eight all told; healthy browns and a couple of rainbows on a big Hare’s Ear fly with a Copper John dropper. I was grateful for the fish, make no mistake, but my biggest bang on this day was the information I gleaned from Joel. I always learn something when I fish new water and fishing with a Guide is the quickest way to get better.

Joel gave me sage instruction on reading the water; clearly explaining fast water, froggy water, and the target seam in-between,and reminded me that "foam is home". He helped me with my hook-set by suggesting I keep my rod-tip so close to the water it threatened to submerge: “Watch your strike indicator at all times and manage your line out of your peripheral.” His advice worked immediately.

He told me exactly where to stop my rod-tip when casting in the wind – you keep it high and power through your cast. Everything worked. But the cool thing I learned, (and insider, ‘Guides only know this stuff’, tips, are truly cool!) was a new way to tie my knots. I intend to record a video of the new technique since I didn’t get Joel recorded but here’s a teaser; you don’t use your fingers or your mouth.

Yeah, I know.

Our organizer, Vic Raol of The Tandem Resort Group, was a doting host. He provided us mostly delicious meals from the club restaurant, (the Chicken Picatta was delicious though not what I ordered and the pizza was generous, the ingredients fresh, but it was under-done on the bottom), Latte’s in the morning, and basically ensured our every need was met. We had a great group including Tucker of Trout’s.

Fly fishing Colorado continually impresses upon me the things that are important in life. This trip seeped me in family, history, and nostalgia. I can’t really find words to explain what it’s like to stand in waters that at least three of my generations have stood in and what it’s like to go from salmon eggs on a Scoobey-Doo fishing pole to a Hare’s ear on a 5 WT fly rod. I wish I could round up my entire family and bring the whole Hee-Haw gang in for a Rio Grande fly fishing experience. For now I’ll rely on the precious memories I have, and trek back to South Fork now and then to make new ones.

More fly fishing Colorado

Finished with Rio Grande Fly Fishing - take me HOME