Well over a decade ago, I moved to Telluride, Colorado in my former career (if you can call it that) as a ski race coach. Summer jobs around the western US were easy to come by as a fly fishing guide so I was excited to move to this quaint little town and add yet another few rivers to my book of knowledge.
One of the first rivers I would begin to guide was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and who would be my first guide trainer, none other than Frank Smethurst himself. Fresh after a season of flipping a raft with clients in a rapid called Cable and losing the keys to their private jet, for the mile or so leading up to Cable, Frank was in my ear, “Do you see this life jacket I am wearing, it is the most buoyant one you can buy. Know why I wear this one, it is because I was wearing one like yours when I flipped and didn’t come up for nearly a minute!! You MIGHT want to consider changing yours, or not flipping.”
For a week Tee Clarkson and I got this from everyone on our rowing and fishing but no one was more tedious about it than Frank. “You aren’t actually going to fish that are you?” tone soft but condescending.
At any rate, I have known Frank for 16 years or so and when we got the chance to fish together this past week on the O.P., I was happy to see nothing had changed, fish honestly do fear him, everywhere, as he is simply the most passionate angler I have ever known and has game to boot.
While our time on the water was shortened prematurely by rain, it was a wonderful flashback in time to the good old days of Telluride and the people who helped shape who I am as a guide today. To watch Frank catch his first winter steelhead and be a part of that experience was just another page in our history together and one we won’t forget anytime soon.
Thanks Frank for coming out and as always, great to see, drink and fish with you old friend.