I've been backpacking the Colorado summers since I moved here in 1994. For the first ten summers or so, I never packed a rod. I just never knew much about fishing of any kind......I never had anyone show it to me. But for ten summers, I backpacked into areas loaded with trout lakes and headwater streams. And sometimes I would see trout swimming in the water and other hikers fly fishing, so I naturally had to try it for myself. But anyone I would talk to about fishing would always say, "fly fishing??? no way, that's too complicated!!" I still wanted to incorporate backcountry trout into my backpacking fun. Also, the inherit lightweight nature of fly fishing tackle was a huge lure. And I love eating seafood, especially salmon........so I envisioned myself consuming copius amounts of trout around the campfire at night.
One off season during the winter I googled something like, "fly fishing and backpacking." The first book that came up was Osthoff's - Fly Fishing the Rocky Mountain Backcountry
. I bought it off Amazon months before ever buying my first fly rod. Rich Osthoff's experience fly fishing the Rockies immediately captivated me. Not only is the guy an amazingly good bacpacker, he is an even better angler. He also has thorough descriptions of hundreds of backcountry fisheries. The man is simply a world class backcountry fisherman. I dived into the book head first and never looked back. It became my bible.
I eventually bought a cheap fly rod and reel combo, a few cheap videos, watched youtube, and taught myself the basics. I taught myself to fly fish on high-altitude backcountry lakes and small connecting streams. I was immediately hooked, mostly because of walking in Osthoff's footsteps fishing the same waters he describes in his book. Backpacking-flyfishing is now my passion. I used to go backpacking just for general fun. Now, my main short term goal in life is to hike and fish as many Rocky Mountain backcountry waters I can. Since I picked up fly fishing I have yet to do a dayhike or an extended trip that didn't target trout waters. Last summer was a down year for me but I still covered 300 miles with the pack on in three different states.
Fishing high-lakes can be an artform in itself, but mainly having fished high-lakes only, I now want to raise my skills so I can attack (big) moving water.....like the bigger rivers along the Front Range. And I would love to make it onto rivers like the Madison or Bighorn when I am traveling through Wyoming and Montana. I've never been to Yellowstone and I hope to get there next summer and spend at least two weeks hiking and fishing the spectacular backcountry rivers.
As for eating all those backcountry trout I set out to, I only eat fish when its practical and good for the fishery. Many backcountry lakes are loaded with smaller, stunted fish (especially brookies). When I am hungry for a meal of trout I do harvest from these lakes. But the better fisheries that produce fewer numbers of larger trout, I catch & release at all times and I always follow the rules & regs to a tee.