Women are the largest growing demographic in fly fishing and Steamboat Springs is no exception.
Alice Tesar knew she wanted to be a fishing guide from the moment she moved to Steamboat Springs. Not only can women learn to fly fish, says the 28-year old, they can excel at it. In fact, many of the women she’s worked with as beginners were able to pick up the basics very quickly. “My female clients tend to pick things up fast because they’re interested in the details,” Tesar says.
Tesar became interested in fishing when she began guiding canoe trips in Ontario and Quebec. Her first fly rod was an inexpensive model she’d bought at Cabela’s. It wasn’t until she fell in love with and eventually married an angler that her future as a guide was determined. “We got married and moved to Steamboat Springs. I knew right away that I wanted to work in a fly shop.” That’s when she walked into Steamboat Flyfisher, a celebrated fly shop in downtown Steamboat. “I told Johnny Spillane I was a fast learner and asked him for a job,” she says. “That summer I started working in the shop, and before long, I was guiding.” Spillane took a risk on someone who was still learning, she says. “Fly fishing is about more than fishing. There’s a community that comes with it. It’s one of the reasons we decided to settle in Steamboat and start a family here.”
Tesar says women are the fastest growing demographic in fly fishing. “It’s a common misconception that women don’t fly fish, but there are tons of women of all ages who are falling in love with the sport.” For women who are interested in trying the sport, Tesar suggests hiring a guide and letting them know you want to learn with the intention of going out on your own. If that’s not in your budget, find out when free clinics are being offered. Try going with a friend and don’t be afraid to ask questions. “Even if you are clueless and don’t have your own gear, come into the shop and we will get you up. You are our future clientele and we want you to learn and to love being on the water,” Tesar says. “Fly shops should be friendly and not deter you from getting on the water, if a fly shop discourages you find a new one.”
Everyone will tell you the culture in Steamboat Springs is community-oriented. “We’re always looking for ways to help our neighbors,” says Tesar. But don’t get your hopes up – that doesn’t mean the anglers here are going to give up their favorite fishing holes that easily. What Tesar can tell you is that “it isn’t hard to find your own favorite, low traffic, fishing spot – the Yampa and Elk rivers are filled with stunning views and rich in trout.” Mid-week she recommends checking out some of the public water accessible along the Elk River, located just west and north of downtown Steamboat. The Elk River provides lots of what Tesar calls, “sweet pocket water.”
As for the Yampa River, swing on into Steamboat Flyfisher, located on the corner of 5thand Yampa, literally steps from the river, for tips for the day. “One of my favorite parts about working on the river is learning the nuances of each section throughout the seasons.” From water levels to bug life, fishing conditions change quickly, and she understands not everyone gets to fish every day. “Fly fishing is what we do. We’ll be able to point you in the right direction with the right flies.” The Yampa River offers miles of easy access public water such as Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area and Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area. Tesar pointed out that, “summer is a wonderful time for anglers in Steamboat. One day you can fish small brookie water and then the next day catch grayling in the lakes up north.” The Flat Tops and Mount Zirkel Wilderness Areas are a quick drive from downtown Steamboat Springs and offer the angler and the hiker a remote fly fishing experience, some of the best in North America.
Tesar says the skills she’s acquired as a fishing guide have also helped her become a better mother. Her one-year-old son often accompanies Tesar when she goes out fishing, either in the backpack, or playing along the banks of the river. “It’s really taught me about patience, and about not being so caught up in the catching fish, but what it means to be out there on the river with my husband and toddler. Getting to see my son’s wide eyes when we do catch a trout is just icing on the cake.”
To find out more about fly fishing in and around Steamboat, visit the Steamboat Flyfisher website, or give them a call at 970.879.6552.