While working in Monte Vista, Dave Pike was taught to fly fish by local Larry Gonzalez.
Before leaving the area, Pike said Gonzalez left him with two pieces of advice.
“After two years of helping me, Larry told me I had to take what he taught me and pass it on to others who are interested in fly fishing,” he said. “He also told me to leave my spin-casting reel at home.”
Now, more than 20 years later, Pike is still following Gonzalez’s advice by hosting an upcoming introductory fly fishing course in Craig. And, when he goes fly fishing, that spin-casting reel stays at home.
The first part of the course is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 24 at Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St. Anyone 12 and older who is interested in the sport will learn the basics of equipment, tying knots and about the flies.
“After 20 years of fly fishing, I am still learning stuff,” Pike said. “You can’t learn everything there is to know in one evening, but this will give people an introduction to the sport.”
Pike will give a hands-on lesson at 5:30 p.m. May 25 at the pond behind the Moffat County Public Safety Center, 800 W. First St., for the second part of the course.
“Fly fishing is completely different than using a spin-casting rod,” he said. “The weight balances differ, so I want to give people a hands-on presentation.”
Pike said he wanted to teach the Craig community something he has been passionate about for years.
In first grade, Pike said his parents, Robert and Marian Pike, taught him how to fish near their home in Fort Collins.
“Both of my parents were avid fishers and they taught me how to fish with worms and then lures,” he said. “While my dad took naps, my mom actually fished, so she knew a little more about fishing than he did.
“Some of my fondest memories as a child were fishing in the summer.”
About five years ago, Pike, events coordinator and director of Craig Parks and Recreation, started a class in collaboration with a fishing company in Steamboat Springs.
Because the company couldn’t help every year, he said parks and recreation took over full-time with Pike at the helm.
“For the first couple years I had help from Gene Bilodeau and he still helps when he can,” Pike said. “We’ve had anywhere from as low as six students to as high as 28 students.”
Pike said his classes are usually diverse in age, with both youth and adults attending.
The sport is an instant hit with some, he said, but for others it never catches on.
“I’ve had some guys come up to me sometime after the class and tell me they went out and bought all the equipment and go all the time,” Pike said. “Others, they never do it again. It can be a frustrating sport to learn in the beginning, and I guess it just isn’t for some people.”
Pike said when he got frustrated in the beginning, he would go back up to his truck and grab his spin-casting rod.
After awhile, however, he started remembering what Gonzalez said before he left Monte Vista.
“While fly fishing, sometimes things never work out for you and I was more accomplished with a spin-casting rod, so I could get that from my truck,” he said. “As I started to leave my old rod at home like Larry said, I started getting better and better with the fly fishing rod.”
Over the years, Pike said he has been all over the West fly fishing, from Browns Park in Utah to the Snake River in Wyoming, and every river in Yellowstone National Park.
Pike said his favorites, though, are the San Juan and the Rio Grande rivers.
“The San Juan River is where I learned how to fly fish,” he said. “The San Juan and Rio Grande rivers also have some of the biggest fish I have caught and it is competitive fishing in those areas.”
As the last of the snow goes away, Pike said he is eager to get some new students outside and learning one of his favorite pastimes.
“Fly fishing is my favorite hobby that I do,” he said. “I look forward to summers so I can get out to the water, and I just have a real passion for the sport.”
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