This is certainly not the column I had planned on writing. I was suppose to be in Tennessee fly fishing for bass. And, for the price of ice cream cones, have three-quarters of the Wild Bunch tell me what a great person I am. The other quarter is in Montana, but he is already learning that Grumps is the best.
With the COVID-19 establishing itself in the Southwest, and our governor, along with other governors, issuing stay-at-home directives, many of us are now hunkered down at home. That includes fly shop owners, sales staff and guides. I know many people are trying to figure out how to adhere to the new rules but legally go fly fishing. To buy gear or licenses, you can go online. If you are gong to buy gear online, first check if your favorite fly shop has online shopping. Many do, and I know they’ll appreciate the extra effort on your part. These are going to be challenging times, but not forever.
The stay-at-home rules do not preclude anyone from going fly fishing. People are still allowed to go outside, go for walks and go fly fishing. Just be in groups fewer than 10 and stay six feet apart. Not a problem for anyone that fly fishes. However, some areas are closed to just about everything.
I checked with the Southern Ute tribe, and the reservation is closed to all non-tribal members. So, their great streams and rivers cannot be fished. San Juan County, Colorado, is on record that all non-county residences should stay away. The New Mexico side of Navajo Lake along with much of the San Juan River are closed. Since many of the rivers in National Forests are still snowed-in, even if legal to fish you can’t get to them. I suggest you call the National Forests offices to see what is and isn’t accessible for fishing.
So, what is open? To start with, grocery stores, liquor stores and my favorite cigar shop are open. Therefore, once you find a location to fly fish, your basic needs can be met.
I checked with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and was told the waters owned by the state are open, sort of. Many of the Colorado rivers flow through state parks that may be closed. The best way to find which parks are open or closed is go to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. I checked with CPW, and they told me, in our area, wherever you can legally access the Animas, Pine and Florida Rivers, those are open for fly fishing. Other fishing, also, I just don’t like to talk about that.
I have been on both the Animas and Florida Rivers and can happily say they are fishing great. And frankly, as it gets warmer, there will be more dry fly activity. I’m already seeing big moths around my house. Also, as the ice comes off the area reservoirs, fly fishing from the shoreline can produce lots of fun and excitement.
Since many of us are home, use this time as an opportunity to take a friend or family member fly fishing. Time on a river or lake with a family member or friend is wonderful. The rivers are at a great flow and shouldn’t be intimidating. Once the runoff starts, head for area ponds and lakes. Who knows, you might find a new secret place. But be sure and follow the suggested separation guidelines.
When you take the time to get out, please keep our area retailers in mind. They can’t open their doors to be of assistance to you. Once they can, be the first through their doors. Working in the fly fishing business, I have never met a retailer that wasn’t more than happy to help someone out.
Be positive; this mess will pass.
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org