AURORA MAGAZINE: Cast Away and Reel In Fly Fishing Finesse — gallery and video


Doctors prescribe medications of all kinds to treat Attention-Deficit Disorder.

Fly fishing, metaphorically, is Denver native Nate McCord’s natural alternative.

McCord doesn’t actually have the disorder, but the myriad elements that successful fly fishing requires — and there are many — keeps him focused on multiple things at once time like nothing else.

“I call fly fishing a pill for my A.D.D.,” joked the 37-year-old McCord, a former guide and lifelong fisherman who has been exclusively fly fishing for 25 years.

“For me, it’s the endless amount of variables involved. It’s definitely not like traditional fishing where you can just throw a worm on a hook and sit there for four hours. There’s definitely a level of patience that you have to have to stick with it.”

McCord fished to eat during his college years, so he had a bit more urgency than the casual sportsman. He found that fly fishing offered the chance to catch bigger and better fish than traditional methods, so he quickly went “all in” on it. You could say he was, er, hooked.

Puns aside, fly fishing’s constant management of conditions, technique and equipment is perfectly suited for somebody not content to sit on a dock with a can of wriggling nightcrawlers by his side and a bobber lazily floating in the water for hours on end.

Near the top of the list of endless variables of fly fishing is access, and Colorado has that in spades. A mecca for fly fishermen either to live or just visit for a quick trip, the state boasts 6,000 miles of streams and more than 2,000 lakes and reservoir​s to fish, in addition to private lands that can also be fished — with owner permission.

Best of all, it only takes about $50 at Wal-Mart to get a basic starter kit (rod, reel, line) and move along to casting, the top fundamental of fly fishing. In calm or turbulent waters, proper casting is the key to success.

To get plenty of casting practice and some pointers, McCord suggests a half-day guided trip to get started. The Colorado Parks & Wildlife Department also offers introduction to fly fishing classes on May 6, June 12 and July 17 on a private lake near Chatfield State Park, and a variety of fly fishing shops in the Metro area teach Fly Fishing 101. Options abound.

Once you’ve built up your base, grab a buddy or two and get out there. It’s important to have company for safety reasons, McCord said, especially in the spring, when the runoff from Colorado’s annual snow melt can raise water levels in streams and rivers unpredictably. He’s nearly been swept away a few times.

The first full weekend of June is free to fish statewide, so it’s the perfect time to test those newfound skills. After that, a license purchased from the Department of Wildlife ($26 for a resident or $56 for a non-resident and available at or 1-800-244-5613) is mandatory.

While many areas of the state aren’t hard to reach, you actually don’t have to even leave Aurora.

The Aurora Reservoir and Quincy Reservoir offer the chance to catch a variety of fish without going far. The Aurora Reservoir is a free-for-all in terms of bait to go after bass, rainbow trout, yellow perch and wiper, while the Quincy Reservoir — which has trout, bass, tiger muskie, yellow perch and crappie — allows only artificial flies and bait. Call 303-326-8444 for the latest fishing conditions at the Aurora reservoirs.

Not far from Aurora is the South Platte River, which winds down near Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos, in Downtown Denver. Fly fishing for carp is currently the rage over there, with June through October the butter zone. Carp aren’t much to look at, but they grow quite large and pose plenty of challenge for vets and fly fishing newbies.

If you full go down the rabbit hole of fly fishing, you can learn to tie your own flies. It requires even more time and patience, but it comes with a whole lot of satisfaction.

McCord said there’s little or no cost savings of tying your own flies balanced against the time it takes, but the fly fishing junkie now does it himself and has become a pro thanks to constant repetition and watching countless YouTube videos.

“I quickly realized that it doesn’t really save you any money, but there’s definitely something appealing to me about creating something that is going to trick Mother Nature,” he said. “It gives you an extra edge of satisfaction of something you created on your own.”

Technology is also coming into play like never before.

A variety of new apps can be found that allow users to input pictures and the exact technical data of their prize catches, giving others intel they might have only been able to get in the past by word of mouth. Which means, now, your “fish tale” can be recorded for all perpetuity.