A Taylored Catch: A Day in the Life of a Fly Guide

Article by Sara shaw


It’s 7am as Taylor Logsdon is rolling into Scottie’s to put in is usual order for hearty sandwiches and makes one more stop for some fried chicken to accompany some fresh salads and coleslaw. After he loads up the cooler he heads down to Taylor Creek Fly Shop in downtown Basalt– but not just to pick up new flies. Here he greets his Fly Fishing companions before they venture out for the day. Many are first time customers, but often repeat anglers, who return to Taylor for his acute ability to guide them to the best catch of the day.

Taylor has been fishing since he was just a kid. He and a friend used to take their Dads’ boats out fishing for hours. He grew up in Aspen through eighth grade when his family moved to Fruita where he attended high school, and yes, still spent lots of time fishing. During college, Taylor spent every summer back in Aspen living in the basement of his friend’s mother just so he could once again fish these rivers he grew up on. After college Taylor moved back to the Roaring Fork Valley and settled in Basalt “I love to ski and fish and where else can you do both to such extremes, and mountain bike such amazing terrain? Heck I can even fly fish right in my back yard.” Taylor’s backyard includes the obstacle many Guides refer to as the “Emma Drop” where depending on the season, you have to paddle the boat strategically way to the right, or on the shallower A Taylored Catch A Day in the Life of a Fly Guide By Sara Shaw days, get out and wade to maneuver it through by hand. But all these painstaking measures are diligently executed with the care and fun of the guest as top priority. “Our guests are here for a world-class fishing experience” says Taylor “They could be golfing or hot air ballooning during their time here, but they choose fishing and we’re going to give them the best experience possible. This valley is a gem in that you have skiing and fishing within minutes of each other. In Montana, some guides drive hours to access a good fishing river, and we have 2 Gold Medal Rivers right here.”

Taylor wasn’t always a Floating guide. In 2002 Taylor started out working the retail floor at Taylor Creek Fly Shop while also working part-time as a ‘wading’ guide. Taylor had grown up float fishing but that experience wasn’t enough – there’s a lot of careful measures taken to be a Float Guide. Float guides follow the same strict and in-depth criteria as White Water Rafting Guides, and after 50 hours under a certified instructor he eventually got time as a Float Fishing Guide and started building clientele, much of it still repeat business to this day. Wading is a great way to get out on the River if floating isn’t an option. You don’t have to go far from the shore as the fish like the little soft spots near the edge, and if you do go too deep you may step them. But Floating has its advantages; one being that you can go on waters that meander through private land you couldn’t get to by wading. You can’t anchor there, though, as you can’t touch bottom on the private water ways.

Aside from the inside knowledge, skilled boat handling on some challenging river stretches, and years of experience of a certified guide, the access you get with a float fishing guide is one more thing visiting repeat clients like about a day of fishing—especially when it’s with Taylor. A day out fishing on the boat isn’t all just a relaxing float as some might think, it’s very demanding—many times Taylor rows and navigates a 14-mile run—that’s a lot of rowing. A demand that often has him working long hours, and other days, asleep from exhaustion before it’s even dark out. All that intense floating and fishing may work up quite an appetite, too, and that’s where Scottie’s comes in from Taylor’s first stop that morning. Taylor’s clients may want anything from a quick bite while fishing to a longer leisurely lunch where Taylor knows just the right spots to pull off at a picnic table, or pull chairs off the boat for a longer rest. “A good amount of our business is second-home owners who summer here that will book a trip out with me once a week all of July and August. They’re not just my clients, it’s like fishing with friends out there.” Taylor shares of his repeat anglers. They could throw on their waders and fish just about anywhere—they know how, but they are serious anglers and I can show them the right place, at the right time and with all the perfect ingredients in play— weather, fly hatchings, and river flow, they’re set up for a pretty fun day for some fishing on the river.” Says Taylor “They want to make the most of their trip and we enjoy a great day floating in some amazing spots.”

Compare this to going Backcountry skiing in an area you don’t know or hike often where you could spend hours trekking up for a good ski run down – only to be met with disappointment. With the knowledge of a guide, less goes to chance. All your efforts will land you a darn good run if you have the right guide. Same goes for Taylor. These anglers may take home the memories and stories of a good catch, but they don’t take home proof outside of selfies. These trips are for pure sport – and the day is about catch and release. “While many repeat anglers know just what they’re looking for, some first-timers don’t even know what we’re fishing for, they’re just happy for the catch. “On occasion, some of our guests will get to witness an Osprey dipping down to snatch our catch right out of the water before our eyes.” While that may be dinner for an Osprey, these anglers let their catch go. “The trout are like our little employees and we put them back to do their jobs.” Taylor comments. Defending themselves from the Osprey, well, that’s up to them.

Taylor isn’t a Guide just to make a living. He’s the perfect example of someone that gets to make money doing what he loves, even if it is just about 7 days a week during high seasons of July and August. During high season Taylor might only take 3 days off each month for a break, but not a break from fishing—many times Taylor even spends those days off floating for his own catch. On the off-seasons, he often takes trips to places where he can experience new catch in new ways; his next trip is to South America to catch Freshwater Dorado. Taylor’s fished in Belize and Florida—he’s even paid for his own guides —it’s what a serious and passionate angler does. With limited time to get the best of the sport, it’s worth every penny to pay someone, like himself, who knows the ideal situations and elements to make it the best day of sporting he can get. Fishing is a rain or shine sport and there is some great fish to be caught even in a hail storm in the middle of July. That’s happened to Taylor, too. Taylor rolls with the punches, communicates with his fellow guides and is always putting in the most effort to be sure his day floating the river is the best experience possible for his guests. “Leaning on each other is what we all do. We all love fishing and want to lead to the best we can – we do it safely, and we do it so they have fun. The other guides – we’re all friends, we hang out before and after work, we’re like a fraternity and we’ll always let each other in on good info out there.” Taylor and his fellow fishing guides all do it with a passion. Even though they do all in their power to get the best opportunities, there are just some things you can’t control when it comes to fishing.

The high fishing season runs March to November, but in mid-May to late June the feeder rivers will cause what the Guides call a “blow out” in the Rivers. The melt is just pushing all that water down and not only is it too fast to float, but the churned water can make it too dark and cloudy for the fish. Different rivers may experience this blow out at different times, so when the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers are un-fishable, Guides may take anglers to the Crystal River and vice versa. It’s not just this one time that rivers can be effected by weather, during a major rainstorm, the Red Rock up the Fryingpan to Ruedi Reservoir “can carry down the run-off and make the water so thick and discolored it’s like Campbell’s tomato soup”. That effects the fish biting and we’ll have to pick a new spot for our scheduled trips. Guides want to go to the deep spots where the water runs clearest – but in their hearts, any day that includes time spent on the River, is a good day to them. So when you see a boat afloat on the Roaring Fork with a few fishermen or women aboard, it could just be Taylor creating another memory of a lifetime. And if you’re at Riverside Grille right next to Taylor Creek Fly Shop and you see some scruffy looking sun-kissed or wind blown guys laughing over a beer, listen in —you just may hear some amazing fishing stories of another Taylored Catch!

If you’d like to book a guided fly trip via float down the Roaring Fork or Colorado Rivers with Taylor, call Taylor Creek Fly Shop and ask for him by name. Taylor will customize your day to your liking, including the right spot for the catch and just the lunch you’re looking for, so work with him to make your day a catch to remember!