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Fishing the Wild West
September 9, 2014

Last week, I had an opportunity to get into the West Elk Wilderness, one of five wilderness areas within a 30-minute drive of Crested Butte, Colorado.  It is not hard to get away from humans anywhere near Crested Butte, and our wilderness areas are certainly no exception. With no road access and no mechanized vehicles allowed, all access is by foot and some of the best spots require off-trail navigation and sometimes tricky bushwhacking.  

I fished two streams in complete solitude, one named, the other an unnamed tributary of the first stream. Both were full of native cutthroat, many of which have never seen an artificial fly in their lives. It’s usually pretty easy to tell because when you set the hook on a fish that has never been caught, there is that second or two of pure shock after the fly bites back before they realize something is wrong and put up the fight of their lives to get free. For me there is nothing like catching fish in a spot that I saw the week before while studying maps and google Earth and thinking, “that looks hard to get to, I bet the fishing is good”. There is a lifetime of water just like this spot, from small streams and tributaries to larger streams and high alpine lakes, all of which can be accessed on foot, by car, or by a 4X4 vehicle.

If you want to experience a truly unique experience in the middle of the most remote mountains in Colorado, whether it is a hike into one of the wilderness areas or a hair-raising, expert 4X4 drive to cutthroat-filled beaver ponds near treeline, let myself or one of our other backcountry experts put together a trip for you! Please call the shop at (970) 349-1228for more information. 
Posted by Zach Kinler

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Patagonia Nano Puff: Essential for Crested Butte Summertime Adventures
July 6, 2014

In Crested Butte, Colorado, the weather can change drastically throughout the day. When you're fishing on the nearby waters, you'll want to bring a warmer layer for early-morning fishing that can be quite chilly, then discard the jacket for mid-afternoon weather that heats up to 70-80 degrees. Layer back up for cooler temperatures and occasional rain showers for late afternoon/early evening adventures. Having intimate knowledge of our local weather patterns, we here at Dragonfly Anglers make sure to stock up on our fall Patagonia products by the first of July, ensuring that visitors have ample selection for cool-weather gear, which is typically forgotten at this time of year.

A great product women will find essential is the Patagonia Nano Puff® Jacket ($199.00) or Pullover option ($169.00). This lightweight jacket is windproof and water-resistant and composed of the PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation, making it perfect for summertime chilly mornings and evenings. This piece is also compressable into its own pocket, so you can always have it with you. Stop by Dragonfly Anglers to view our variety of colors, sizes, and options for pullovers or full zip styles. 
Posted by Angela Diaz
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Offseason Explorations: Part 1
May 6, 2014


With the offseason here, I got to thinking about some of my past offseason adventures, and I realized how much I enjoy the ebb and flow of a ski town. There will be times when every hotel and condo is occupied, the restaurants are full and work is easy to find. A week or two later and it is the exact opposite. That’s life in a town like Crested Butte, and you have to love it and be prepared for it if you are going to live here.  I think it presents a great opportunity to make a living but also provides time to explore the rest of the state and beyond…

Every year in April, the ski resort closes down and Crested Butte turns into a relative ghost town. This time of year is actually quite enjoyable, the crowds are gone and town is quiet. In between snow storms, we get nice sunny days in the 50s and there can be good fishing opportunities. It is actually a great time to be around town, I don’t feel that I have to leave to escape anything; however it is also nice to enjoy some warmer climates if you have the opportunity. While it is still winter above 9,000 ft in Colorado, spring is in full swing in other parts of the country. 

I grew up in southern Missouri near the Ozark Mountains where spring starts in February and by April temperatures can be near 80 degrees.  This area has about as much water as anywhere in the states, from large lakes and rivers to smaller streams and stillwater. One great spot is the Eleven Point River. The river is fed by the 10th largest freshwater spring in the world which turns this normally warm water river into a great trout fishery. There are about 20 miles of productive trout water downstream from the spring and a wild population of rainbow trout that are very aggressive. Canoes are the most efficient mode of travel and we spent four days during the week on the river and did not see another person camping, only a few people floating through. It was April, the weather was warm, the dogwoods were blooming, and we were wet wading in our bathing suits catching wild trout in the middle of the Mark Twain National Forest. This is just one of many great places to extend your summer when the snow is still flying in the high country. 
Posted by Zach Kinler
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Lucky, the Catch and Release Superstar: Part Three
April 15, 2014

We did not make it back to Lucky before the river froze over, but I have already visited that area twice this year in search of Lucky, and I know I will have to bring my A game if I want to see him up close again. 

One way to ensure the survival of each fish is proper catch and release techniques. If done properly, mortality rate can be less than one percent, but success not only requires putting the fish back in the water at the end but also proper treatment during the landing and handling of the fish. 

I recommend a rubber net in order to not compromise the valuable slime layer that keep fish healthy. We fish Brodin and Gold Metal Nets, both of which possess high quality and long lasting craftsmanship. In addition, getting the fish into your net as quickly as your tippet will allow will prevent the fish from wearing itself out completely in the fight and leave it with some strength when it is returned to the water. Keeping the fish out of water for too long, letting multiple people hold the fish, or putting it on land to get a picture with your rod will severely limit the survival rate of your catch and release fishing. And of course, barbless hooks will greatly reduce the damage caused to the fish and allow you to release fish almost without touching them at all. 

Through our catch and release practices, we had a fish that was getting smarter every day, and I’m fairly certain he is not getting any smaller either.  Smart fish make smart fisherman. Thanks, Lucky. 

Below is a great video with some additional information on catch and release practices. 

Posted by Zach Kinler
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Lucky, the Catch and Release Superstar: Part Two
April 3, 2014

Needless to say, I was stoked after that first day and returned with my buddy CJ the next day to find what looked like the same fish in the spot I first hooked it. CJ stepped up and within a few minutes hooked the fish. I thought the fish had put up a pretty spirited fight the two times I hooked it but when it felt CJ’s fly, it did what any smart fish that has been hooked does and headed for the current and around a big rock as we said goodbye to that rig. The fish was evolving right in front of our eyes. 

The next day, I had a client on the Taylor, and I decided we would end our day attempting to get CJ’s flies back. By now, the fish had acquired the name “Lucky” and sure enough Lucky was back in the same area. It took a little more time this round but eventually Martin got a drift Lucky liked, and he was on the line again. After only a day, Lucky had gotten even smarter and was only on the line for a few seconds before he headed downstream at a blistering pace. No match for 5X. 

 I had to go back the next day if for nothing else than to try to get all those flies out of the fish. So the parade of fisherman continued as I returned the next day with my girlfriend and sure enough we spotted Lucky right away. It took a bit more work than the previous days but after fishing the run for a bit, Elsa got him on the line. I’ll give her credit—she did well putting the fly where it needed to be and hooking the fish but in the battle, Lucky spit the fly and got away. I was happy that we did not leave another couple flies hanging from Lucky’s mouth but Elsa was disappointed not to have a 20” rainbow in her hand. I told her there would be another day. Over the course of those few days, I witnessed Lucky becoming not only more selective to flies and drift but also learning what to do after getting hooked….
Posted by Zach Kinler
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Lucky, the Catch and Release Superstar: Part One
March 26, 2014

I have never had a problem with anyone who wanted to keep their legal limit of fish. The Division of Wildlife has set limits for each stream in order to maintain healthy populations of trout and I do respect those who take up to their limit. Hunting and gathering has been going on since the beginning of time, and there is something to be said about somebody who goes out and puts in the time to hunt and capture something that will feed and sustain them. 

I have other means of putting food on the table; however, so ever since I started fishing I have enjoyed the return on investment of catch and release fishing. Being able to see and hold a wild animal in my hands and then release it back into the wild to remain as a vital part of the water is quite fulfilling. I always tell people to let them go and then you can come back and catch them again when they are bigger and smarter. This idea was proven this last fall on the Taylor River. 

After hooking and landing a 20” rainbow, my dropper got snagged on the dorsal fin of the fish and broke off as it swam away. I went on fishing that area for a bit when I decided to work back upstream. In a hole upstream of the one that held the first rainbow, I spotted another rainbow that I thought was about 20” as well. I got a couple looks from the trout but no takes. I made a quick change and after about the 10th drift, the trout took my dropper. I managed to land this 20-incher again, only to find my dropper being kept safely in its dorsal fin. The fish had moved upstream from where I released it and was feeding actively again in that short amount of time. In the span of half an hour I had caught and released the same mature trout twice. I would have just guessed it was a different fish if not for the fly. This same fish provided me with two thrilling hook ups that I would not have gotten if I had not released him unharmed the first time. I thought that might be the end of the story of me and this fish but I was wrong….  

Photo Caption: Not Lucky, but a nice Taylor River rainbow. 
Posted by Zach Kinler
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Find yourself in Crested Butte
March 4, 2014

We all have our favorite spots to go whether it is a great place to fish, a sweet line on the mountain that we love to ski, or maybe just a quiet spot off the beaten path where we can enjoy a little peace and tranquility. Last week I found myself at a place where of all three of those met.  Standing just below the peak of Mt. Crested Butte, I looked west towards the Ruby Range and had a great perspective on some of my favorite fishing spots. I looked below to see the infamous chute named ‘Banana,’ which I was about to ski. And then I looked all around and could only see a few people skiing on the mountain hundreds of feet below me. 

There was not much going through my head except maybe a feeling of contentment that you can easily get in these mountains. I think that experience and feeling epitomizes Crested Butte and helped remind me what a great place this is. If you are lucky enough to have spent some time in this area, you probably know the feeling. If you are looking for a special spot to relax, have fun, and enjoy life, check out Crested Butte, Colorado. 

Let Dragonfly Anglers be the place you call or stop by for local knowledge and information about anything Crested Butte. This is what we do and we are pretty good at it. 

Photo Cred: Tom Flawn-Chopp
Posted by Zach Kinler
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Dragonfly Anglers Product Review: Patagonia Stormfront Line
February 25, 2014

Dragonfly Anglers is excited to be carrying Patagonia's new Stormfront line beginning this March. The Stormfront line integrates the simplicity and effectiveness of a 100 percent waterproof pack into a line of bags, packs, and vests. Whether you are going out for a few hours on the water or packing a bag for a two-week excursion to Mexico, the Stormfront bags will provide you all the features you need and nothing you do not. 

Check out these videos to see all that the Stormfront line has to offer and stop by Dragonfly Anglers at 307 Elk Ave or call the shop staff at 970-349-1228 for any questions or to order your own. We're now taking pre-orders!

Strormfront Roll Top Pack


Stormfront Roll Top Bag


Stormfront Sling

 
Posted by Zach Kinler
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Fly Fishing on My Mind
February 17, 2014

I wasn’t exactly sure what it was that got me really thinking about fly fishing a few days ago. The street I was walking on was ankle deep in slush, the temperature was 37 degrees, and even a few birds were chirping. That could have been it or maybe it was a timer in my head that said “you haven’t been fishing in a few months, so…”

Either way, despite almost six feet of snowfall in two weeks and some of the best turns of the season, my mind can’t help wander towards fly fishing. With sunny skies and temperatures in the 30’s, that spring-time feel is just starting to show up, and with that comes the possibility of some great early season fishing opportunities. As March approaches, so will the open water on the Gunnison, East, and Taylor Rivers, and the stage will be set for some great pre-runoff fishing. This time of year might be overlooked by most people but it can surprise you with some great days on the water. The crowds are nonexistent, the fish are hungry, and the weather can be pleasant.

If you don’t have any plans this March and April or just want to take a break from the great skiing, book a trip with one of our professional guides or come by the shop for some up-to-the-minute conditions and information. In the meantime, here is an awesome video from New Zealand to get you stoked for the fishing season. 

Damsels in Distress from Sharptail Media on Vimeo.

Posted by Zach Kinler
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Dragonfly Anglers Product Review: The Patagonia R1
February 5, 2014

The R1 was most definitely designed with the active person in mind and has all the features that such a person requires. Its sleek design and athletic fit make this a great jacket with other layers, or on its own as an outer shell. Kept close to skin, the unique grid pattern on the inside pulls moisture from your body and leaves you warm and dry. This makes it great for skiing, whether you are hiking in the backcountry, riding the resort, or touring on the skinny skis. The R1 is also a great choice for winter fishing when you need to pack on as many layers as you can fit. You can also grab it on your way out the door to Kochevars for a “Nowak” or two after a big day outdoors. Lightweight, versatile, and great for everyday life in Crested Butte, Colorado, the R1 will not disappoint.

Dragonfly Anglers carries the R1 in several colors and sizes or we can special order one from our Patagonia dealer inventory. Shop our online store, stop by our shop in Crested Butte, or call us at 970.349.1228 for your custom order. 

*All products are tested and used by Dragonfly Anglers Pro Staff and Guides

Posted by Zach Kinler
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Great Crested Butte Snowpack Foreshadows Promising Fishing Season
December 10, 2013

While most people see snowfall as good for skiing, those of us who live, work, and play in the mountains see it as not only good skiing but good livelihood. It is easy for someone who visits here to come and enjoy the great early season skiing we have, then leave and only remember the exceptional skiing.

As a kid, I was obsessed with watching the snowflakes fall in the porch light, and not much has changed. Now I think about not only skiing through those beautiful snowflakes but also standing in a river full of them next summer. With the snow starting to pile up here, we are all thankful for a good ski season, but those of us who rely on snowpack to drive this town year round have an extra special appreciation.

The Gunnison River Basin snowpack is at 134 percent of normal for this time of year, and we can’t help but think that the rivers and lakes might fill up this summer. Despite the low moisture in the past two years, fishing has been phenomenal but there has been impacts on the fishery that come from low water and fishing pressure. A good snow year will put us right back to normal and keep everything that swims very happy.

If you are still contemplating a good place to ski this winter, come on out and enjoy not only the great skiing in Crested Butte but appreciate what it will do for us in the long run as we continue to live, work, and play in this great place. If you are looking for a world-class fishery this summer, keep your fingers crossed for a big winter, but know that it will be great either way.
Posted by Zach Kinler
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