Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Side Shows

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the good fortune to spend some time in Colorado last month with good friends.So apologies in advance, this is my version of "What I Did On My Summer Vacation".

Someone get the lights...

We chased Cutthroats in their native range most days, and put some rough mountain miles on my urban assault vehicle.

However we did take some time to smell the proverbial roses.

There was the obligatory town tour of Creede, one of my favorite places in the world.

Main Street. Creede

Chris and Mark outside Ramble House

Emily and Chris with a local

Trying to blend in at the flyshop

Commodore Mine

Commodore Mine shack

We also spent one full day touring three of the better known fly fishing brands in the business, all centered around the town of Montrose.  

Our first stop was the Scott fly rod factory.I expected a pretty large facility based on Scott's slick marketing and killer fly rods...
Scott Fuzzy Dice come home to the Scott Factory

but what we found was a small (less than 40 employees) company full of people passionate about their craft, as well as the sport of fly fishing. Take a virtual tour here...

Ian, one of the sales guys (the dry fly purist one), gave us the royal treatment, taking us through the factory. He patiently answered our questions, and we got the definite impression this was one cool place to work.

Talking shop with Ian

Overview of shop floor

Blank rolling - where the process begins

Reel seat installation
Signature station in the foreground, rod finish behind the glass

This you need. Trust us - we are fly-fishermen

Scott cane - yes - I touched it. Now I want one
 By the way, the other sales guy Jake walked up and had a San Juan worm stuck  in his cap. So naturally he is henceforth known as the "dirty nympher" sales guy. Yin and Yang.

Emily humors Jake the dirty nympher

One of my favorite parts of the tour was when Ian told us that Scott has several single mothers who work there...but they aren't on site. They come in and pick up bundles of rods to be wrapped, and take them home to wrap, where they can be with their children. They are paid the same as if they were in the shop. Very cool, and it sure gives you a good feeling that they are one of those small businesses that just does good things for their customers and their employees. What a concept!
Rod wrapping
We got to lay hands on some historical Scott rods, and heard about Scott's beginnings at the Golden Gate  Casting Club, early days in Berkley, then Telluride, and finally Montrose.

Ian shows Chris and Mark some Scott history

Classic Scott Glass

Here is an interesting tidbit; Scott is owned by Bill Ford, chairman of Ford Motor Company. We were told that Bill doesn't interfere with the rod design or company operations, but does get to try out the prototypes, and gets a couple new rods each year. Good work if you can get it!

Next stop was Whiting Farms, ground zero for hackle nerds (and I was traveling with one). We toured the processing and storage areas, but it was a slow  production day so we didn't see much in action. But our host Tom Mullen showed us all he could. We weren't allowed around the chickens due to avian flu concerns. Additionally they have a lot of proprietary information they are very protective of, and rightly so.

We had a chance meeting with Dr. Tom Whiting in the hall which was an unexpected bonus. When Chris thanked him for all of his work in genetics for tying hackle. Dr. Tom replied, "thanks, but the chickens hate my guts".

Chris and Emily at Whiting Farms with Tom Mullen

We had intentions of also visiting Ross Reels,

Ross Factory

but alas, we arrived too late in the day. Perhaps we will try again next year to tour their facility.

To assuage our disappointment, we decided to turn left outside Montrose when a sign beckoned us to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park,

My first look at Black Canyon...a LONG way down!

Emily classing up the joint

Pictures can't do the canyon justice

Gunnison River barely visible near the center of the picture

We only had about an hour there, but it was jaw dropping gorgeous. It is definitely on the list for a return visit.   

Sometimes you gotta fish...and sometimes you gotta be a tourist. When you can do both, especially with good friends, it makes for an epic adventure. And so we count the days until next year...

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