Western Anglers going strong after 20-plus years

Jerry Schaeffer ties a fly in his shop, Western Anglers Fly Shop. He has been in the business for 21 years.



The Beatles once sang, “It was 20 years ago today,” and nothing could be more fitting (give or take a year) to celebrate Saturday’s 21st anniversary of Western Anglers Fly Shop in Grand Junction.

Owner Jerry Schaeffer during the past two decades has earned a well-deserved reputation as an avid supporter of fly fishing and all it entails, plus the business and music scene of downtown Grand Junction.

Schaeffer’s store at 413 Main St. has survived booms and busts, massive reconstruction of the pedestrian area and countless Thursday night downtown markets.

And at least two entire generations of fly anglers have come to rely on Western Anglers as the valley’s only dedicated fly shop.

“You know, there probably are good general-type fishing stores in some of the big boxes around here, but really nothing can compare to us when it comes to specializing in fly fishing,” Schaeffer said last week. “We have the experience, advice, equipment and everything else you need for a successful time at the tying bench or on the water.

“Except the fish, of course, but we know where those are, too.”

Schaeffer was one of the early supporters of the Western Colorado Fly Fishing Expo — this year is the expo’s 17th annual event — and he continues to work with this popular spring event hosted by the Grand Valley Anglers.

“Western Anglers has served us fly fishers well for the past 20 years,” said Pat and Carol Oglesby, the first couple of fly fishing in the Grand Valley and cofounders of the expo. “They carry all the top lines of gear and equipment, and their friendly and knowledgeable staff can always be relied on for up-to-date information on current fishing conditions.”

Newcomers to the valley might not realize this town hasn’t always had a fly shop.

There was a series of shops, not all of them dedicated to fly fishing, that came and went since the early 1970s.

There were times Schaeffer had to work outside the shop to make enough money to keep it open, and more than once he dipped into his own savings, just because he believed this high-desert town deserved a real fly shop.

“There were some tough times,” Schaeffer admitted. “I worked in the oil and gas fields and even had to borrow some of my personal savings, but I figured there were enough anglers here who would support me, and they have.”

With the local economy on the rebound and business building, Schaeffer finds truth in the adage, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

“Business is good, I’m back in the shop, and things are looking up,” he said. “I’m looking forward to another 20 years.”


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