Bait Dunkin’ to Lure Chuckin’ to Fly Floatin’

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Photo by Louis Cahill

By: Alice Tesar

You could say that a desire to be a trout bum was in his blood, but you’d be ignoring the fact that Tim Widmer has found his own drift.

What was in his family, specifically with his dad, was a desire to live a life that allowed for living off the land and being able to enjoy wild places. Tim’s dad never stopped dreaming of a life of living and exploring. Widmer recalls a time when his dad killed, skinned, tanned, and proceeded to sew his own clothes from an elk that the then-municipal employee had hunted, “he was doing bead work on the garments.” This intention is something Tim reflects on in times of life’s transitions. Tim credits his dad for making fly fishing into a career. You may remember Tim from “A Conversation with Fly Tier Tim Widmer” in 2014 but today we’re going to take a closer look at what it takes to be a guide, the value of mentors, and  the “natural progression” of an angler.

As a small kid growing up in Estes Park, then “Timmy’s” dad worked for the city and would come home for lunch. After they ate together Timmy would go back to work with his dad and spend the afternoons fishing the ponds behind the office — “Bait dunkin” for browns.  As he grew older, he started “lure chucking” along the Big Thompson with friends, they loved the wildness and the ease at which they’d catch fish. On an unlikely day where Timmy and his friend had been skunked, they headed back to their homes, along the way they encountered an old timer with a fly rod. They watched as he proceeded to catch six quality trout out of one hole. In awe they retreated. True to his father’s character instead of buying Timmy casting lessons, his dad bought him lessons to build a fly rod. Every day after track practice, Timmy would swing by Estes Anglers and sit with the owner and learned to build his first fly rod. Years following this, Timmy proceeded to cast this fly rod like a spin rod. He’d throw out the line and drag the dry fly in, like he’d known to do with a lure. Eventually the guides at the fly shop gave him some pointers on a better cast and some tips for fishing the Big T and lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

This is the part where “Timmy” becomes “Tim.”

Spending summer day after summer day loitering in Estes Anglers they eventually hired him to guide the high-country lakes catching green back cut throats. A simple task for a young kid hungry to learn and earn. These days, Tim expresses gratitude to then owner Dale Darling, “thank you to Dale for taking a risk on someone who didn’t know anything.” This experience sparked an interest in eco-tourism for Tim, so he decided to attend a four-year college B.S. program in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism, graduating in 2000. Following graduation, he became a ski bum in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Wanting to stick around for the summers Tim found a trout bum job at Steamboat Fishing Company (SFC) on the retail side. That summer he took SFC’s rowing course and by the end of his first summer was guiding for them. After four-owners Tim has been guiding for now, Steamboat Flyfisher, for 20+ years and he still believes, “it doesn’t get old.” You can find four of Tim’s patterns being tied by Solitude Fly Company: the Hop Indicator Series. He also teaches a guide certificate program at the Steamboat Springs campus Colorado Mountain College.


So what does Tim recommend for aspiring fly fishing guides?

1.     Educate yourself. There are lots of options for guide schools and trainings — take one. These programs work with fly shops to help place graduates into their first guide jobs.

2.     Fish with people that are better than you. Shut your mouth and listen.

3.     Take inexperienced friends fishing with the sole goal of helping them catch a fish. There is a misconception that any great angler can guide. Remember most of guiding is being able to effectively articulate the skill.


When Tim isn’t guiding, he’s showing his son and daughter around his favorite fishing spots. He sticks to flies but isn’t ashamed to help his kids explore and enjoy the world of fishing by letting them chuck lures. 

Alice Tesar
Alice guides for Steamboat Flyfisher in Steamboat Springs CO.
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
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