We come to this sport for the fish, so we tell ourselves. We stay for the ladies. I think that is how the saying goes.

Ah who we kidding, we stay so the ladies can’t give us more honey-do’s.

I came to the sport for the camaraderie. I started fishing as a kid, and it was primarily with my dad. We had some good days at the lake.

As I have grown, the sport has morphed into more for me. First, taking up fly fishing, the harder and sexier Brad Pitt version of fishing, made this sport a bit more challenging. Also, it was a lot more accessible than investing in a bass boat. As a Colorado native, hiking and backcountry camping was another youthful hobby of mine. Just throw on some waders and poof, you merge two hobbies into one adventure vessel. It was awesome.

As I spent more time in the mountains and soaked in the silence, I realized the river taught me lots. It became my spiritual escape. A story for another day.

The other aspect of backcountry fly fishing that still stops me in my tracks, is the wildlife. It is one of the things that makes me stay.

Moose. They are true beasts.

The first time I ever saw one was from a car. It was pretty majestic, but the line of cars and wishful-of-death tourists who “just want to get a little closer” for the perfect picture, kind of ruined it. While it should be amazing, it was more like a giant zoo.

Ever since that first one, I seem to find more of them on my own while fishing. I have come across a lot of different wildlife while fly fishing: chipmunk, porcupine, deer, even elk. But moose are another level.

For their size, they are quite sneaky. They move pretty stealthily and like to keep their distance. But last year, I had one walk up on me while fishing a small creek outside of Winter Park, CO.

I knew they were in the area, as I had seen one in the distance a day prior, but this one scared the crap out of me.

I was fishing into the elbow of the river, a nice riffle, followed by a 2 foot deep hole. My favorite set up. I was focused, as I knew I was bound to catch a brookie, and seeing as this was late fall, its colors were sure to be vibrant.

I don’t know what broke my focus, because it wasn’t the noise. It moved in silence and was no louder than the gurgle of the river. Maybe I thought it was a buddy trying to sneak up and throw a rock? But not twenty feet in front of me, a large moose meandered right out of the pine forest.

This moose didn’t have a care in the world. He wasn’t there for the brookies like me, and had no need to put up a protective fight for any calves.

But when you see an eight foot beast walk out of the thicket, your heart skips a beat. I wanted to give him his space and started to back away. I was generally comfortable enough with him to get him on film, but you never know what the wild is prepared to do. We shared a brief moment together, and then the moose strolled on. I went back to fishing.

I never did catch a fish out of that elbow. But who cares?! I caught a moose!

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