Battling the cold is a big part of fishing challenge

Shelley Walchak’s quest to fish 52 rivers in 52 weeks demanded finding open water even in the coldest months, and open water in the winter is most assured below dams.

That is why she recently spent several nose-nipping days fishing the tailwaters of the Williams Fork River when it was minus-11 degrees and the Taylor and Fryingpan rivers at not much warmer.

Her days on the Taylor and Fryingpan were shared with her friends Pat and Carol Oglesby of Grand Junction, whom she met at a fly-fishing show in Denver.

“It was so cold (on the Taylor) our waders were frozen from the knees down, and I had to waddle back to the river to thaw out the knots in my boot laces,” Pat said. “But she’s a real trooper. She went back up there the next day.”

Walchak remembered “the next day was really, really cold,” her voice shivering at the memory of 8 degrees and frozen waders. “I emailed them, “You should be really glad you didn’t come today it was so cold.’ It was a full-on blizzard.”

Yes, she could have stayed back at the warm motel, but then you don’t know Shelley Walchak.

“When I started this, I was determined to finish,” she said. “When I decide to do something, I do my best. I didn’t catch a fish, but it didn’t matter. I had a great time.”

Last week found her knee deep in the Fryingpan with the Oglesbys and guide Tim Jacobs of Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt. He soon had her hooking and landing 14-inch brown trout.

“When you get out on the river, you’re focusing on your fly or indicator, and you really do forget everything else that’s going on out there,” she said. “The ability to focus on a single thing and that rush that comes when you actually put everything together right is the epitome of what life should be about: focus and success.”


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