Aspen, Co was where I was first taught how to fly-fish and in particular how to nymph fish. I had one of the first Leonard GRAFTEK graphite rods – an 8’6”, 6 wt. and a Winston (Stalker) fiberglass 7’6”, 4wt. To the Leonard I attached an early Scientific Anglers system reel made in England. For the Winston, I had purchased a Hardy Featherweight with a DT line. I began fishing the Roaring Fork and the Frying Pan with both rods. I preferred the Leonard for the Fork and the Winston for the Pan. By this time Bernie and Fritz had headed for the Grand Canyon.
The only fly shop in the area was Chuck Fothergill’s Outdoor Sportsman in downtown Aspen. I frequented the shop and made many visits there for information and gear for my forays on both rivers. I became friendly with George Odier who was an accomplished angler. George taught me Chuck’s outrigger system for fishing nymphs deep on a tight line. There were no strike indicators in those days so one rigged their leader with lead twistons and bumped the fly along the bottom carefully eying where the leader butt joined the fly line.
Chuck Fothergill’s Fly Shop in Aspen, 1975
One of Chuck Fothergill’s books…
George was charming, adventurous and unassuming. He loved to smoke a pipe, holding it between his teeth while gracefully flinging that heavy rig quartering upstream. He was literally one of those fishermen who “feel” the stream bed, anticipating a strike on every cast. I watched him roll cast his flies into seams, slicks, pockets, swirling pools and every nook and cranny in the Roaring Fork. Then, he would have me repeat his actions to the best of my abilities. George was also hooked on the Scott G series rods. Scott was then a new rod company heavily supported in Colorado fly shops. I liked George, both of us had jumped (ODA 034, C Company) out of perfectly good airplanes Although he was a guide, he never asked me to pay for his time – I was his student. I enjoyed many dinners with Georges and his wonderful stories…
On my own, I would head out of the parking lot at Woody Creek Bridge when the sun was rising and fish all day to the water treatment plant on the river. At dusk, I would hike out, walk to the main highway and hitch hike to Snowmass Village where my wife and I had rented a condo for six weeks. Ilse did not fly fish and chose to play golf in the rarified atmosphere of Snowmass where a ball would travel onward infinitely. In those days, I practiced catch and release in a limited way. Both my daughter and wife enjoyed eating some of the fish I caught.
In that section of the Roaring Fork River I fished nymphs and dries. This was long before the fish became ultra selective. A # 16 Rat Faced McDougal with a yellow tail, #14 & # 16 hare’s ear and a #14, #16,and #18 partridge and herl as well as wet renegades in the same sizes were sufficient patterns. One of my most memorable evenings occurred just before dusk in a large pool just below the treatment plant. A caddis hatch was coming off; I stood in the shadows on the far side of the river intently casting upstream to a rising fish. Suddenly, the water to my upstream right exploded. A rainbow catapulted through the surface of the river and hung glistening in the fading sunlight at what seemed to be six feet over the surface. I watched it turn completely in the air now facing downstream – I swear it winked at me before it crashed into the water. It was breathtaking. I got out of the pool, sat on the bank and thought about what had occurred. I still see that fish…
The pool on the Roaring Fork where the big fish jumped!!!
FROM THE FLYTYING FORUM – 8.29.09
First Dave Lewis and then Bill Tapply, this is a sad month for long rodders. Now this.
Georges Odier, an entomologist and author who quietly changed fly fishing in a fundamental and profound manner with the 1984 publication of his book Swimming Flies (Stone Wall Publishing, ISBN 0-91327-648-0), is at the end of his life. Odier was one of the first to understand that adult caddis re-enter the water and swim to the bottom to deposit eggs directly in desirable habitat. He determined that eggs released at the surface would drift for hundreds of yards before reaching the bottom and thus was an unlikely action for a species as successfully established as the caddis. His research into the life cycle of this important insect has had a significant effect on our sport.
I received this communication from Virginia Newton, a friend of Mr. Odier:
I am writing because we just heard the news that Georges is on life support at a hospital in Salt Lake and is not expected to live much longer – the hospital is awaiting to hear formally from his family in France to turn off life support. He had a stroke after returning from one his daily walks in Moab. We Googled his name and read your wonderful piece in Fly Fish Ohio about Georges’ work on mastering the nymph fly fishing method. My husband had many fishing adventures with Georges and they were such good friends, but had seen him less since he moved to Utah. I figure you would appreciate knowing this news, sad as it is. We are in the process of helping contact his family in France to make arrangements. If you knew George I know my husband would like to hear from you.