Fly Fishing Season

Fly Fishing Lessons in Colorado

It’s that time of the year again, the waters are fine and the fish are plentiful… It’s fly fishing season at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. If you’re thinking it seems like it’s come a tad early this year, you are correct. We are fortunate to have had some warm weather arrive early and with all of the run off, our waters are in great shape. While I’m personally new to the art and craft of fly fishing, I was able to reach out to Andrew, one of our dedicated fly fishing guides at the Ranch, and get some insight on the exciting things that we have in store for this year.

First and foremost, here at Devil’s Thumb Ranch there is a serious focus upon bringing some approachability to the sport. While getting into fly fishing can seem kind of daunting, Andrew shared, “the guides at the Ranch all make it a point to be open, welcoming, and enthused when it comes to working with beginners. There’s a real drive here to try and get more people involved,” which for me was an exciting prospect.

Secondly, our private waters offer fantastic opportunities for your fly fishing excursion. Whether you’re new to the sport, like me, or you’re an expert, our guides will make sure you are at the right place at the right time with the right tools! In conjunction with our full-service shop in Zach’s Mercantile and skilled guides on staff — who are ready to assist with everything from insect and location selection to tying instruction, to more in-depth beginner instruction — we offer an ever growing and expansive fly fishing program for our guests.

In addition to offering some intriguing classes (visit Devil’s Thumb Ranch Calendar), we’re also  continuing the annual Women’s Cast & Relax event June 10th. This event gives women of all skill levels a chance to learn about fly fishing, cast their lines on the Ranch’s private pond and stream, then relax at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch pool & sauna.

– Edward p. hill



Fly Fishing Guide Bios


Steve Cook (Ampa)

I am a Colorado native, born in Denver. I have been fishing and hunting since I was nine years old and learned my early outdoor skills from my dad. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1969 with a B.S. degree in Fisheries Biology. During my years in college, I worked summers for the Colorado Game, Fish & Parks as a research assistant for their biologists stationed in Ft. Collins, Colorado. My career path led me into real estate where I worked for 39 years in new home sales and sales management.

I have been married for 49 years to Phyllis (aka Nana) and have three children, Ken, Jeff, & Lori, and two grandsons, Brandon & Shawn. I am an avid fly fisherman and have been fly fishing for 59 years and tying my own flies for 58 years. I fish mostly in Colorado, but have fly fished in Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Minnesota, Canada, Hawaii, California and Alaska. I semi-retired in 2007 and have spent time as a guide for fly fisherman in the spring, summer, and fall, and as a snowmobile guide in the winter.

My hobbies are fly fishing (naturally), hunting, hiking, biking, camping, fly tying, working on construction projects on my home, and spending time with my two grandsons, Brandon (14) and Shawn (12), both of whom have already been introduced to fly fishing and have caught trout on our outings. My oldest grandson, Brandon, is responsible for my nickname, Ampa (he could not pronounce Grampa when he was learning to talk). So, Ampa it has always been!


Andrew herst

Andrew will be in his third season as a guide here at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Originally from Kansas City he wasn’t exposed to much fly fishing growing up, however that did not stop him from terrorizing local bass ponds with a spinning rod. His passion for fishing is rooted in early mornings spent in the Finger Lakes region with his Dad fishing for various pan-fish. His world changed (for the better) when he discovered fly fishing on a backpacking trip near Centennial Wyoming at the age of 18. Subsequent years would be spent earning a bachelors degree in neurobiology from the College of Wooster, where he would frequent local creeks chasing trout and Great Lake tributaries chasing steelhead. He was fortunate enough to “study” abroad for one semester in New Zealand, where he spent much more time fishing and traveling than he did in the classroom. Andrew really strives to have a positive upbeat attitude and feels most rewarded when people want to get more into the sport. If you’re from Kansas City or familiar with the thriving metropolis that is Wooster Ohio, have questions or just want to chat about fly fishing, don’t hesitate to call or come in and talk to Andrew.


brad johnson

Brad Johnson’s Guide BioBrad is a lifelong fisherman, having caught his first fish at the age of two. He grew up bass fishing in the Midwest and learned to fly fish while attending Kansas University. After graduating from the KU School of Business, Brad’s burgeoning interest in fly fishing led him to the trout streams of the Rocky Mountains. Brad moved to the Fraser Valley in 2009 and quickly fell in love with the Fraser and upper Colorado Rivers. Brad can be found fishing during all seasons and at all times of day, and enjoys chasing a variety of fish species with a fly rod. Brad is also an active member of the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited.


ken o’callaghan

Ken O’Callaghan grew up in the great state of Michigan.  He spent his youth in the outdoors, hunting, camping, backpacking and fishing.  Ken and his wife Christy have lived in Grand County, Colorado for over a decade.  Exploring the endless miles of rivers and streams in Grand County and central Wyoming has been a consuming passion of Ken’s since he landed in Granby, Colorado.  Ken is laid back, and a very patient and capable instructor in both fly casting and fly fishing techniques.  He loves to share his intimate knowledge of the river and the wild trout and bugs that call it home.  A day spent matching the hatch on the Fraser or Colorado rivers with Ken will surely be a day to remember.   


cyndie saffell

Cyndie has lived in Fraser and Winter Park, at the headwaters of the Colorado river, for over 30 years, during which time she has been an avid fly fisher on streams, rivers, and high mountain lakes.

She has been fishing since she can remember, following her dad up and down rivers and when she became old enough they backpacked into the high mountain lakes of Colorado and later to some very special remote settings on rivers.

Her biggest desire is to get other women interest in fly fishing … to teach them enough to get started and give them the confidence be out there in the wilderness and on a river or lake with friends or by themselves.

She has completed the certified Fly Fishing Guide Certification class offered through Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, CO. She has been guiding hiking in the Colorado Rockies for more than 15 years and she is certified in basic first aid with CPR.


rachel therkildsen

Growing up in Colorado, Rachel spent many weekends in the outdoors and always pictured herself living in the mountains next to a river and working outside. Eager to find an outdoor hobby to occupy her free time, she picked up a hand-me-down fly rod and dove into the sport. You will often find her on a small stream or up high on the mountain lakes in pursuits of a dry fly day. She hopes to guide her dad to land a trophy trout someday. With the goal to be a versatile angler, she enjoys being both the teacher and the student, and fishing as many pieces of water as possible.


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