Here are some pictures of fish caught fly fishing by myself, clients & a few friends , with everything from the lightest bamboo’s and dry flys to super fast “state of the art” graphites  &  switch and spey two handers. The vast majority of the fish shown on this page were all caught in public waters, with a few noted exceptions, two private ranches I worked on in Colorado…

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~a hungry springtime rainbow from my front yard (elk creek)~

         This page is the result of over 40 years of  learning waters and patterns,  paying water time dues… or  in the case of my  friends , their passion for the same…proving that excellent angling is available for those that just go out and find it…public water in America has some incredible possibilities, something we should never take for granted!

         Most of the streams and rivers in the photograph’s here are taken in “Catch & Release” areas , one of the main the reasons the quality of fish is so incredible…a real testimony for this practice.

please  enjoy the pictures and share the experiences & fish with me…wm

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Since this is pic #1 in my gallery it is only proper to show the first fish I caught and landed with the first prototype of the nets I started making in 2008…it was for sure a “sign” of what was to come over the next several years!

The top pics here include some of the first nets I tried making before coming up with a final model style…they went through several refinements before I came up with the version I use and make now. Initially I was really concerned obviously about strength…and as it goes sometimes anything can be overdone!

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         Working in a fly fishing shop and guiding I got a lot of opportunity to not only experience myself what was needed in a good net, but I also heard lots of feedback from other anglers as to what worked for them…the net is really the point of encounter we have other than our fly, and deserves some serious considerations as to what sort of effect we have on our precious quarry.

 

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~a springtime rainbow from the “crik” in my front yard~

 

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I wish I could say that the first fish landed with my newest creation back then I caught with one of my “organic” patterns… in reality it was on a dropper rig with a  stone fly top fly and  red copper john  dropper from the bins in the shop I worked at in Colorado back then ….either way it was one heck of a nice fish…a super fat  public water 20+”er from the South Platte …that could  easily be a “trophy of a lifetime” for many an angler…I have been pretty fortunate over the years to be able to enjoy & experience resources like this  pretty regular  !!

 

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Holding my camera  in one hand and getting my other hand wet, then trying to hold the fish up too for a pic can be more of a task than can be appreciated in just a photo! about a half second after a got the second shot, the rainbow exploded out of my hands, and darted off like greased lightning  ,  not requiring any re-acclimation  time at all…LOL…I am so glad I got the pic I did, what a moment!

 

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The net design started out a little more heavy duty than needed…I went the pendulum swing  in thickness of bow  weight vs. strength … I was tired of the ones I bought that were just too flimsy for hard core  use both guiding & just fishing for fun, especially in places where climbing up and down rocks to get to the water( where most failures take place next to tailgates and rear tires ).

 

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I tried everything   from .450″  bow thickness compared to over .750″ in the one above(the first one)…I settled on between .500 and .550″…more than enough to make me feel comfortable as to strength…and practical for usage and longevity…

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here is a collection of some nice trout and steelheads…all C&R…I hope to run into a few of them on another day!

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Prototype model # 3 or 4…… a “good ‘ole” fly fishing shop variety rainbow…the ” bread and butter ” of fly fishing for most anglers…catching a dozen or so of these is quintessential angling for me and anyone that loves to fly fish!…very healthy, beautiful colors, and headed back to home where it can live another day…

 

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on this version I was still reinforcing with fiberglass on the bows and handle juncture of the nets( if you look closely you can see the spiral wrap of the glass tape under resin)…something I eventually stopped…there are some practical limits when it comes to strength vs. just plain extra work!

 

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             Another nice rainbow landed in the first prototype 9 years ago…what a clunker!..(the net that is)LOL…I had just gotten so tired of having my nets break at the worst possible times…the predecessor to this one broke on an excursion into Cheesman Canyon…I had to slide down some rather large granite boulders to get a special pool…I made it fine…my old net did not! landing fish while holding onto a bag I managed to tie on with a bunch of #1 tippet material was no fun…

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            Back then my testing process included a full baseball style swing into a tree trunk…I eventually decided that was a bit overkill…but this prototype passed that test with flying colors

 

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~nicest fish from my 2014 season…a 23″ brown~

 

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…my friend Larry’s cure for the “summertime blues” in Wyoming…

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…my 7 & 1/2 ft. 4 wt. 2 pc.bamboo & a royal wulff make even a 13″ brown a trophy!…

…I used an old school reel with this rig and dyed a flyline to match silk in color…

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…a nice springtime day on the Colorado River near Kremmling…

      Whatever style net you use for C&R, don’t use the rough nylon or cotton mesh bags…and always wet your hands and never handle trout with rough gloves…

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      The bags aforementioned are like sandpaper , and do severe damage to The Trouts protective slime  and scales, re-bag with a rubber one.  The responsibility of  properly wetting hands before handling caught fish is also a key factor in proper C&R technique. When a trout loses its protective barrier it is vulnerable to all manner of micro-organisms , infection & waterborne diseases…and that serves no reasonable purpose at all…you can pick up a very reasonable rubber bag and wooden handle net at walmart for 20 bucks if you don’t want one of my customs or similar!

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     If I don’t want to photograph a fish for myself or a client I try to not even handle the trout at all…the style net and bags I use allows me to make the fish stationary for a moment , by just squeezing the nets bag a bit, and using my free hand by itself or with forceps to remove the hook…then I open the bag in the direction of the current to allow the trout to re-acclimate to the water and eventually swim off on their own…being watched all along to insure it is moving its gills in a healthy fashion…I have noticed too over time that the bigger fish are more prone to wearing out, and need a bit more TLC getting back in the “swing of things”…and of course minimal handling is always the goal… I use barbless or crimped down hooks too to help the process, especially on public and private waters where it is required.

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       The bow on this net is 13 X 19″ ( the current version I make , this particular one is made from red oak handle and laminations) to give you an idea of this rainbows size…a real bruiser! what a tragedy to think a fish like this would be lost due to mishandling…properly executed C&R allows a fish like this to maybe be caught by another lucky angler! An incredible Rainbow from the Gunnison, during the monster stone hatch on memorial day…a Colorado public water trophy to live on another day…

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         Having guided on C&R waters for years I can tell from seeing so many injuries inflicted by the “old” style bags and rough gloves or un-whetted hands…trout with hand prints on them is not uncommon at all. Finding trophy’s thrown in the bushes or washed into reeds or rocks because they were not revived adequately…or lesions caused by disease setting into areas the protective slime has been completely removed. Not pretty sights, and for the most part, totally avoidable if some more care and concern was applied…especially when many of those trout would constitute the “best fish of my life”  for many fly fishing anglers out there.

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       Without these incredible denizens of our streams and rivers the pursuit and art form of fly fishing does not exist. It only makes sense to protect them at the point of our encounters, and allow them to live another day( and with a high quality of life), possibly having a chance to  encounter with another like minded angler…

…please scroll down to view the rest of  my gallery…

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     the”Cut-Throat” trout, the full spectrum of color’s with that incredible bullet shaped body

…of all the fish I have pursued and carved the cut throat by far has more color phases and variations than any other!…this trout is representative of ones in the Delaneys…

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…the  “Gold Rush” is still alive and well on the South Platte River…

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~a smooth getaway~

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…if trout played football…this one  would be a big linebacker!

         This fish was over 28″ and had some serious girth…it was cold, with a foot of snow on the ground…super bright sunshine…in those conditions for some reason very bright colors seem to really produce…I tied up some special “San Juans” just for the occasion, with some “hot pink” chenille…for a joke we called them “Paris Hiltons”… I used barbless hooks, since we were on waters that required that…it was the top fly on the dropper…since it was barbless you knew you had to keep that rod tip up good so it wouldn’t be spit out…what a beautiful fish!…this species of Steelhead was introduced in waters on the North Fork of the South Platte River a while back…

 

 

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 …a nice brown from a Colorado Indian Summer road trip…

 

 

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      The net used here was my first of the final prototypes, made with some left over mahogany from my cabinet shop…I landed  over a thousand fish with it…and decided after  5 prototypes this was the pattern I was going to follow in producing my own line of nets…

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    A nice rainbow caught in the Deschutes during the giant Salmon Fly hatch in May…you can tell by the darker colors here this is a migrant fish…this enormous aquatic insect hatch takes place at varying times throughout the Western States, from mid May to July depending on the climate etc.

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…a late October spawning Kokanee Salmon…

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…my nicest wild  cut throat ever…19″…

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…faster than a bleeding bullet, a Colorado Cut-Throat…

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~Mr. FireTail~

…early spring Western Wyoming Tailwater Rainbow…

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    This was a  fun Mid September  trip to the The Yampa River tailwater near Steamboat Springs…the next morning we were fishing size 22 drys in snow flurries…weather in that region can change that time of year pretty quickly…

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…my best Wild Brook Trout ever…

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…my friend Adrian and one of his  slightly chewed up  “Classic Patterns”  that lured this Oregon migrant in…

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…”Amy’s Aunt” worked here in the Delaney Butte…

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…the perfect take…

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…a nice close up of a soon to be released rainbow…the name is so appropriate!

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…October Caddis…

…literally every color of the “rainbow”…

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…a little green flash scud…

 …a nice Male Brown trout from the “Dream Stream”…

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…a Black Stone “Kaufmann” worked well here too…

…I call him “Black Tail”…for obvious reasons…

…one of my most memorable fish ever…

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…he reminded me here of a mako…

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… Tarryall Reservoir tailwater …

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…Indian Summer Rainbow…

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…another nice rainbow netted with my first prototype in ’07…a super fat  20″ North Fork public water beauty…

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…Clear Creek spawner…

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…a nice 22″er from my Indian Summer road trip…

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…”easy does it”  for this ” Columbia  River beauty”…

…an incredible close up detail of a rainbow…

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  …the water was warmer than the air this late October afternoon…the heater in my truck felt good on the way home…at 8-9,000 feet winter and fall have a really cool connection…this ws not only a great time for some fall trout…but also some awesome mule deer hunting too…

         A feisty “Cut-Bow” from Long Meadow Ranch,  a North Fork spot I worked on a lot…the “graduate pool”, this hybrid species is an unbelievably fast and furious trout…the result of a rainbow and cut-throat mix…like Mules…unable to reproduce…

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…a nice 18″ brown in early spawn taking the top bug…

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…some beautiful Wyoming tailwater colors near Alcova…

 

…a brown trout keeping an eye on me…

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      “Northwestern Chrome”…from a place Lewis and Clark trekked over two hundred years ago mapping out the new country on a mission sent by Thomas Jefferson. The Louisianna Purchase opened up the west…and those explorers were on mision to see actually what the congress bought!

           My father worked as a Forester on land not far from there back in the early 50’s  for the USFS…the drive from Prineville to Portland went near there back then…high country desert laced with rivers…I never thought this area would be my home again later in my life. Many things have changed since then…except for one… these fish keep coming back…as they have for tens of thousands of years…

            Native Tribes like the  Chinookan, Yakima, Athapascan & Umpqua among many others counted on the yearly migration of Steelheads, Rainbow Trout that migrated up the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean, all the way to the Deschutes River every spring…it was a major staple that was counted on…similar to how the plains Tribes counted on the Buffalo…

  A nice rainbow from the Tomahawk  River just south of Fairplay…27″, caught with a hopper droper rig…w/ a tiny mosquito as the trailer and the fly that  this beauty “sipped” in.

   This is the the fish in the preceding pic right after I released him … he stayed in the water next to my boots & net for enough time for me to get my camera back out…a second after I snapped this shot, it darted off like a bullet…to live on another day…C&R when properly done is such a great thing…barbless hooks make it a lot easier to release a fish …sometimes  if I don’t want a pic I never even touch the fish…I just squeeze it with the rubber mesh bag from my net, and remove the hook w/ my forceps…then let him stay in the net and acclimate in the current until he takes off by himself…one of the main reasons I really encourage a bow with enough size to fit even a 25″ fish easily, if you are fishing waters where they exist…my nets were designed exactly for that reason!…

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    A Colorado Cut-Throat trout, the native species, no question here when you look at this picture as to why these critters were  was given that name…

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 …fish don’t have to be twenty inchers to be special…one of the first prototype nets…

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… a real “bruiser” from below the Wig-Wam Club… How…keemosaby!

OK…for you youngsters…that’s what Tonto used to say to the Lone Ranger…never mind…

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…a beautiful South Platte River November post spawn female Brown Trout…

 

                  A great  fish that really liked a rainbow warrior…between working in the shop & that super cold water, my hands were taking a beating that week! This was a prototype net that used four .090″ lamination’s instead of what I settled on, (5) .100″, for maximum strength…

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…incredible pattern on this nice brown…some natural camo!

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…the perfect take 2…

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…a Tomahawk River resident about to return whence it came…Hopper Dropper country in August…

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…a Bighorn resident…

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 …a an incredible colored 12.5 k cut-throat…

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           an Arkansas River male brown …I will never forget this day…there was a guy in a wetsuit diving & crawling around the rocks with some sort of a vacuum mining & panning  for gold…maybe he knew something we didn’t…we had a different kind of gold on our mind…

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…at the end of a hike there can be one of these waiting for you…a high country brookie…

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…a real bruiser from Boxwood Gulch Ranch in Shawnee, Colorado…

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…brook trout fin detail…

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…a sunset brown…

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…a temporary holding cell…fishing on 11 mile canyon  during a summertime  “trico” hatch…

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        A typical Fall Brown Trout on the Williams Fork, just a bit above the convergence with the Colorado River…a “super fun” size fish for a lightweight bamboo rod and a dry fly…

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…brookie detail, from a high country resident…

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…from the Taylor River…two peeping tom’s…

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…my nicest “public water” rainbow the ”09 season…28″…

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                An incredible Longmeadow Ranch Brook Trout…this fish was a rascal for sure…I had to block off an escape route this huge trout was trying to employ through an irrigation flume on the N Fork to be able to get this fish to net for a client. The flow in the tailwater was up considerably, and the funnel of the “weer” created a pretty strong current. The water was about 6-7 feet deep at the junction…and I managed to go under accidently in finally pulling the netting off…between my Simms waders and guide jacket I managed to stay pretty dry…but it was a pretty funny show for those on the bank!

           I did net and get a snapshot of this beautiful Brook Trout…and we safely released it for another time…a fish to remember for sure! just because some of the private ranches have some stocked species does not mean its all easy, by any means…This day was proof for sure of that for me…

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…super fat October 22″er…

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…a deckers beast…yes public water! below the “Wig-Wam club…

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…a rocky mountain howdy…

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… incredible colors from the Yampa tailwater…

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…no artist can reproduce this, but one…

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…an old friend with and an  incredible green humpback cut…

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…a late November slab @ Boxwood Gulch Ranch…

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                   …fattest rainbow I’ve ever caught…having his way with my net..I was by myself, it was a chore to hold him and the camera at the same time, get my hands wet…whew,   I almost gave up the idea, except this was such an incredible fish! …LOL…it was 14-15″ around…I remember how much it was to land this fish, he was caught on a barbless hook, I almost lost him a few times. The fish kept going into tree roots, and I had to use the “point the rod tip straight at ’em “  trick to keep it from getting tangled up…and with a barbless hook thats asking for trouble…for sure a fish to remember! I remember that one as “Fat Boy”

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  WM always has a good meal for his folks…the “Ghillie Shack” at Long Meadow provides a great spot for our “Rocky Mountain style” luncheon…this day it was grilled Elk steak fajitas & vegetables…some home made rolls…and a nice bottle of Guinness…an enjoyable way  to make an Octobers afternoon’s plan…

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…the present…

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…and the future…

                  The water level in the tailwater dropped overnight…and these eggs from the previous evening were left in the higher area rocks…I did my  best  to gently sweep them all back in the stream…maybe they will be nice brown fry next season…

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…fish tales…

 click here to see more about the custom line of nets I make…

…the pics shown here were  from the following locations…

                            The North Fork of  the South Platter River in Colorado both public and private… also various public access spots, The Williams Fork, The Tomahawk River, The Blue River, The Colorado River, The Arkansas River, The Taylor…  High country creeks in Clear Creek County, The Yampa River, Eleven  mile Canyon,Delaney Butte Lakes, The Big Thompson,  The Poudre River, The Upper , North  & Middle Fork of the South Platte, The Gunnison River, Grays reef ,  Alcova Tailwater in Wyoming, Cheesman Canyon, Deckers- up and downstream ,Tarryall tailwater,  The Bighorn in Montana, The Deschutes & Columbia River’s in Oregon , Rapid Creek in South Dakota, The Colorado River…and don’t forget Elk Creek, my own home pasture feeder creek to the S.Platte…a place where many evenings after work and before supper has given me countless memories……proof that an angler doesn’t have to have anymore than a license , some gas money, and a  vest full of bug’s to enjoy some  fine fly fishing !

                        here are some links for Longmeadow Ranch and Boxwood Gulch some of the fish pics shown here come from his ranch…Dan Mauritz  is a  friend , and runs a very polished operation on the North Fork in Shawnee, Colorado in Park County about two hours from Denver…I guided at his ranch’s for a few seasons and found his lodge,  beautiful North Fork River scenery and quality of fish outstanding…