There’s no real gray area about fishing in town. You tend to either love it (well, maybe be ok with it. Love is a strong term), or you hate it. It’s a difficult position to find yourself in, knowing that you may have great fishing in town but that the surroundings definitely won’t be the pristine river environment that you prefer on the weekends. But when it comes to squeezing in a couple of mid-week hours after work? It’s hard to ignore that stream running through downtown. I particularly like that on summer mornings, before the heat and the tubers, and the kids, and the dogs find the river that I can go there just about dawn. It’s quiet, no cars and no people. And there’s this beautiful creek right in town, filled with feeding trout.
We’re lucky that we have such good fishing in town. It means that getting into a few trout on the way home is as easy as pulling out into almost any city park and dropping a line in. The creeks and streams of the Front Range aren’t necessarily hidden gems. There are those as well, but a lot of the local stuff are the same waterways that curve through the grass alongside the city soccer fields, or link green space within the urban sprawl.
I’m an advocate for fishing in town but even I’ll admit that there are distinct downsides to the practice. You’re rarely ever alone, especially in Boulder where the Boulder Creek Path provides a convenient way for you and a few hundred others to access the creek banks. And you’ll likely spend more time than you’d like explaining what you’re doing to curious walkers, cyclists, and kids. That gentleman leaning over the bridge above you will almost surely ask if you’re catching anything. And that pack of children will insist on wandering straight into your back cast. And then there’s the trash, a woefully large amount of trash that people toss into and around city waterways. But all of that stuff isn’t bad, it’s just a part of it. Well, the trash is pretty bad. But the rest of it? It’s just part of the scene. Fishing beaver ponds means stinking muck and tamarisk. Fishing in town means people all around you. It doesn’t change the essence of the thing, there are still loads of trout and you still get to cast to them. Think of it as doing your part to increase fly fishing awareness and bring to someone’s attention that the creek they rollerblade along every morning is a living, breathing thing that is full of life despite your community’s best efforts to ruin it. Most of the time the people I speak to have no idea that there’s fish in Boulder Creek, or that it’s one of the better local rivers.
I like fishing in town because it removes the sense that fishing, specifically fly fishing, is precious, rare, something that you need to crawl up your own ass about. It can be all of those things if you’re off at an expensive lodge, or you’ve trekked miles and miles to get to a lonely high alpine lake. But it can also be the stuff of daily activity, the kind of basic feeding of the soul that we all engage in when we find a path for it. There’s no need to save up your time on the water for an epic, cleansing stay on wild waters far from home. Pull over, get your gear out of the trunk, and spend an hour, maybe two, amidst the joggers and the cyclists, the kids running through the parks. Get used to the sound of traffic on the bridge as you cast to the seams trailing from the pylons. There’s still the river. Fish awhile, leave behind what you can of your day, and go home refreshed. It’s that simple.