A family member recently asked me why in the world we’ve been talking about issues related to the Colorado River now and again on Chi Wulff.
I thought about it a bit and answered that now and again a tussle comes along that you just can’t turn a blind eye to and that even though Colorado is ‘down south’ (at least for some of us), the issues facing the Colorado River can’t be ignored.
Said non-fishing relative stared back at me with the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights glare and mumbled something about where water comes from ‘just didn’t matter’.
After a deep, self-restraining sigh, I went on to say that we’ve also had the chance to chat with some damned interesting, intelligent and passionate people along the way.
One of those folks has been Bob Strep, father and guide at Minturn Anglers in Minturn Colorado. Bob wrote a great letter to the Governor and we posted it a few days ago; we’ve been chatting with Bob a bit since then and he agreed to let us pester him for an interview.
Though we sometimes tease our Colorado friends that they live ‘down south, there’s obviously some very nifty water in your neighborhood. How in the world did you and the family end up in the metropolis of Minturn?
My family is not cut out for city or resort living so there was really only one good choice for us up here. I work for Minturn Anglers and it’s a little family in its own right. We felt the need to be within walking distance of the fly shop and found out every thing is with in walking distance here in Minturn. Living here also gives us the opportunity to be within a few miles of the resorts where my clients stay without actually having to live there.
We love “Min-urn” because it’s “not Vail.”
What do you like the best about life in small town Colorado? The least?
There is a sense of community here in Minturn, its kind of like an old Cheers episode, everyone knows your name. I’m not even sure if the landlord gave us a key when we moved in. The only draw backs we have found is there is not a grocery store or barber, the tattoo shop moved and oh yeah, everyone knows your name.
You live right in the midst of a cluster of rivers that should be on every fishers list to see someday. What’s your favorite local water?
I’m blessed to have the opportunity to guide World Class Rivers like the Colorado, Roaring Fork and Gore Creek, my favorite is the one everyone drives by, THE Eagle River. It’s a technical row that keeps the weak of heart away, she has incredible hatches that provide great dry fly opportunities and there are some true trophies available if you put your time in. It’s a blue collar type of river that can be difficult to get along with and sometimes people look down on her because she is not necessarily wild and scenic. I guess she is a lot like me.
Strangest guide day story from last season?
Seeing the entire women’s US raft team nude on the river.
We see from your bio on the Minturn Anglers’ site that you were a carpenter in another life; how did you come to the decision to guide full time?
My first boss and mentor in the guide game Bill Perry gave me an incredible opportunity and put a lot of faith in me right from the beginning. Not everyone is given the chance to guide more than the summer months, but he saw something in me and gave me a chance. He taught me how to guide the right way and instilled many of the philosophies I use everyday. I owe him, my clients owe him and the shop I now work for owe him for every single fish I put in the net. In the end, I just never left; guiding quickly became part of me and took my passion for fly fishing to a new level. I love teaching and found along the way that participation in the sport is dwindling and we will not have trout fishing the way we love it today without new generations of interest. In a way, guiding became my way of recruiting new interest in the game to help it survive.
I jam this sport down a lot of people’s throat so I’ve been careful with him; I want him to truly enjoy it. He loves his time in the boat, has a wicked little roll cast, ties a fly now and then and lies about catching big fish already. He’s on his way to loving everything his daddy loves, that’s pretty clear to everyone, but his mother was a world class ballroom dancer. I just keep a good eye on things and pray he’s in waders or hockey skates instead of dancing shoes and tight pants. Either way he has our support to experience life to its fullest. I have learned that fly fishing is one of the best ways to do that, so I may push him in that direction just a touch.
More from Bob tomorrow. (Thanks to Bob and his team for providing the images.)