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DU alum reels in fly-fishers with new book

Steve Schweitzer fishes Haynach Lake in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.

Steve Schweitzer’s new book, A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park, (Pixachrome Publishing 2010) is more than a how-to for fly-fishing — the book also is designed as a destination guide.

The book covers everything a visiting fly-fisher needs to plan a trip in Rocky Mountain National Park, from a two-hour hike to a multi-day backpacking adventure.

“I made a rule-of-thumb early in the process that I would not publish the book until I went to every fishable water myself, taking photographs and journaling,” says Schweitzer (MBA ’09).

Schweitzer includes a small topographic map and trail profile for each area with hiking conditions and detailed accounts of fishable waters. The appendix summarizes findings from more than 150 fishing locations, effective fly patterns and insect hatch charts. 

The book has photos for most locations. Schweitzer says it’s important that readers get a visual sense of an area’s features.

“Rocky Mountain National Park has plenty of fly-fishing water for everyone, even though it’s 12 percent the size of Yellowstone National Park and receives the same number of visitors,” Schweitzer says. “There are 54 lakes and over 200 stream miles. There’s no reason a fly-fisher can’t enjoy a quiet day on the water with nothing but nature as a partner.”

“It’s got a lot of basic information for less experienced fly-fishers, but it won’t bore the experienced angler with too much detail,” says Dick Shinton, an expert park guide and shop manager at the Laughing Grizzly Flyshop in Longmont, Colo.  “I think the book is nicely balanced that way. I have fished all over the park for years, and it has got me excited to try some places I never knew existed.”

Other than a few adjacent locations, the park is the only place with stocks of the greenback cutthroat trout, an endangered species that is also the Colorado state fish. Schweitzer says for this reason alone the park is a unique place to fly-fish.

“Not many people live next door to such a micro-environment where rare species can be found,” Schweitzer says.

Schweitzer has been hiking and fishing in the park for 11 years. Schweitzer has hiked more than 750 miles in the park since he began, taking some 4,000 photos of rivers, lakes and fish.

After collecting valuable data useful to other fly-fishers, he decided to compile his notes and photos to share his passion as a definitive fly-fishing resource about the park.

“There hasn’t been such an authoritative book on fly-fishing Rocky Mountain National Park published before,” Shinton says. “The book provides so much more information than previous works. It will set the standard for future books about specific fly-fishing destinations like national parks, wilderness areas, etc. I believe that anyone who sets out to write ‘the’ fly-fishing resource for, say, a Yellowstone or a Great Smokies will have to view [Schweitzer]’s book as the benchmark.”

The 256-page book was released Jan. 31, 2011 and can be purchased at local fly shops, bookstores, online, or as an e-book at

“When I think of going to Rocky Mountain National Park, fly-fishing is really the excuse, but being there is the real reward,” Schweitzer says. “Someone once asked me how far does one need to go to find trout and fly-fish with no one else around? I replied if I can see all the world’s stars and hear what silence really sounds like, then I’ve hiked far enough.”

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