Changing Waters

By Tyler Banker



Waders? Yes. Boots? Yes. Rods and reels? Yes. Pack? Yes. Net? Oops, no, where’s my net?

You systematically place all your gear in your vehicle (Here are a couple great options for gear storage so you don’t leave anything behind: Yakoda Gear Transport and Cimarro Duffel Bag.) You’ve done this dozens of times before. But something is different this morning. There’s a chill in the air that you didn’t recognize the day before. That shouldn’t be a problem, you tell yourself. Trout live in the water year-round. After all, they don’t really “leave,” right? Right?!?

After running through your gear one more time, you begin to worry. It’s a Saturday, the river is probably going to be busy. But wait, it’s cooler, so that will surely stave off some of the fair-weather folk.

Still, there’s something that feels off to you. You check your phone to see if the flows have maintained from a few weeks ago. Chagrin sets in. The flows have dropped in a big way. You already had your day mapped out. You knew exactly where you were going, which flies you were going to fish, on which reel, and attached to which rod. You begin to wonder if your day is over. Your relaxation, reconnection, it’s all gone. Or is it?


Disconnecting to reconnect

We’ve all had those days. We get into a rhythm of fly fishing. We get to the point where we know exactly what our day is going to be like. We aren’t even surprised to see the same fish twice over a few weeks. If you’ve paid much attention, however, you know that nature is anything but consistent. In a year of wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, heavy rains, blizzards, and much more, we shouldn’t expect Mother Nature to treat us the same every day.

It’s for this reason that I’m a big fan of trying out new water and not getting too comfortable in one spot. I don’t know about you, but for me, fly fishing is a time for me to disconnect so I can reconnect when I get back to my home or office. It gives me perspective and time to think. Sure, I can get that by dredging my split shot and size 18 emergers through the same trough 30’ off of the same path and in the same flows… but there is a little less magic in that.

Part of what makes fly fishing great is exploring. Finding new waters. New runs. New troughs. New riffles. This exploration allows us to all get what we are seeking too. If you want to catch fish, sometimes you have to go where others don’t. If you want to focus on something other than work, there’s no better way than having to focus all your attention on something new.

Why change is a good thing

Is this post beginning to sound a bit like a different topic? Sure, but hear me out. So much of what makes the hobby or sport (yes, you can get exercise doing this – I’ve been told that we burn 600 calories per hour when we’re wading) of fly fishing incredible comes from the change. The change in our mental state. And, most certainly, the change in our physical environment. When Mother Nature changes, or snow falls, or people controlling the water several hundred miles away say the reservoirs are full, we can embrace that change.

Will those days be harder than your previous and predictable outings? Absolutely. But that’s what also makes fly fishing a hobby or sport worth a life-long pursuit. If you fished the same 20’ wide pond for 40 years, you would probably not have grown one bit as an angler for 39 of those years, and you’d get bored to boot.

As a side note, when I tell people that I’m an avid fly fisherman and seasonal guide, I often get this response: “Oh man, I hate fishing. Sitting on the bank watching your pole and getting eaten by mosquitos. Not my thing, man.” Is this me bashing the lake lovers? No . . . well, maybe a little. But it illustrates what can make someone dislike fishing. Stagnation. Sitting and waiting. Immobility. Too much consistency.

Embrace the unexpected

So, next time you get that unexpected cold snap, flow increase, flow decrease, heat wave, snowstorm, or whatever, see it as an opportunity. It’s a time to explore. My brother, father-in-law, and I call them scouting or exploring days. We know we may not catch a ton of fish, or any fish for that matter, but we get the opportunity to grow as anglers.

Sometimes, we try something new and don’t like it. I was at a spot recently due to flow changes that I thought would be great; not so much. But, one of my favorite fishing spots in all of Colorado came from the need to find something different and my father-in-law talking to a stranger at a gas station. Yup.

So, I encourage you, to embrace it. Embrace it when Mother Nature throws something at you. Put on an extra sweatshirt. Walk a little farther. Turn right instead of left. Throw a drift or two in a seam that shouldn’t hold fish. Talk to people. Most importantly, however, don’t let changes deprive you of whatever it is you get out of fly fishing. Embrace the changing waters.

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

About the Author

Tyler Banker

More Articles