Reeled In

As Randy Hicks, owner of Rocky Mountain Anglers, likes to say, “Drive less……fish more.”

Article by Emily O'Brien

Photography by Phil McKenzie

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Did you know Colorado is considered to be one of the best fly fishing destinations in the country? Lucky us, right? We sat down with Randy Hicks, owner of Rocky Mountain Anglers, for an overview of how and where to start.

What’s most appealing to you about fly fishing and is this a good family sport?

To us at Rocky Mountain Anglers (RMA), fly fishing is part of living the Colorado lifestyle. It goes hand-in-hand with all of the other outdoor activities that are unique to Colorado, and it is right out the back door. For me, time on the water helps me deal with stress. I feel more alive, slightly disconnected from the daily grind, and able to think about things in a peaceful setting. 

What makes Boulder an ideal place to fly fish, and what types of fish are native?

The backyard is literally Indian Peaks Wilderness area, with Rocky Mountain National Park just to the north. Closer to town, fishing is minutes away, and an angler might catch several different species of fish in a day, simply by driving, biking, or hiking a short distance.

Many of the fish we catch today are not native species. They’ve been stocked at some point over the past 100+ years: rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, kokanee salmon, and white bass. Native species are Greenback Cutthroat trout, various chubs, suckers, and sunfish, some daces, and shiners too.

Do I need a license to fish? If so, how do I obtain one?

A fishing license is required for any angler aged 16 and old and can be obtained through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website or at any state licensing agent. We sell them at our shop too. 

What should I know before I go?

Our time on the water is often limited, so we want the most from each outing. The best thing we sell at RMA is free information. We feel that the more information we can provide on a location, the more likely we are to realize success. This would include what the local conditions are; the flow of the stream in cubic feet per second; the clarity of the water, and what hatches or bugs we might see. This helps with the selection of appropriate flies for the day. Knowing the weather can help with preparation of gear, etc. The information we receive daily from guides, friends, and other anglers helps us pick a great spot for you to spend your next day off.

Should I practice catch & release?

Catch and release is a personal question up to the individual angler. Different waters have different regulations. Some are catch and release, while others allow a modest “bag limit.”

Where are the local hotspots?

For trout, try Boulder Creek, South Boulder Creek and Saint Vrain out of Lyons up to Peak to Peak Highway. 

July brings great hatches to Boulder Creek and the dry fly fishing can be amazing.

Get some gear

"One thing we like to say at the shop is to realize a need for the product before you shop for your options," says Hicks.

  • Rod
  • Reel
  • Fly line
  • Leader
  • Fly box
  • Floating
  • Nippers
  • Pliers or forceps
  • Boots or wader
  • Tippet
  • Net (optional)

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