PARK COUNTY — Shortly after the untimely passing of venerable sportsman and Denver Post Outdoors reporter/editor Charlie Meyers in January 2010, a couple of other noteworthy events took place.

That March, the Colorado Wildlife Commission unanimously decided to dedicate the so-called "Dream Stream" section of the South Platte River between Spinney Mountain and Elevenmile reservoirs in his honor, renaming it the Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area. A month later, Charlie's final offering to the outdoor world, "The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing," co-authored by fellow Colorado fishing scribe Kirk Deeter, was released posthumously by Skyhorse Publishing.

The Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area was established alongside the "Dream Stream" section of the South Platte River in 2010 as a tribute to the
The Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area was established alongside the "Dream Stream" section of the South Platte River in 2010 as a tribute to the late Denver Post outdoors editor. (Scott Willoughby, The Denver Post)

Deeter was among those called upon to remember Charlie's legacy through eloquent inscription at the memorial site. But until last Saturday, the writer who humbly claims he "rode Charlie's coattails" to the instant classic they conceived had not wet a line in the fabled stretch of stream since he had done so with his mentor several years prior.

As is so often the case, the fall morning we selected to pay homage to our lost comrade was cold and blustery, with low, clear water meandering through the open channel lacking any discernible cover beyond the profiles of a few dozen anglers. In other words, it was an ideal day to apply all "250 Tips to Make You a Better Trout Fisherman" found in the forthcoming third edition of the Little Red Book that every fly angler ought to know.


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Between casts and occasional catches, conversation revolved around fishing, writing and the icon who brought it, and us, together as no one else could. In Deeter's words:

Building "The Little Red Book"

"We both shared a belief that fly-fishing is not as complicated as a lot of people make it out to be. And with Charlie, one of his mantras in all the work he did was about making the outdoors accessible, and I think that also applied to making the information easy to understand. That's something we shared. It can be as complicated as you want it to be, but it can also be pretty simple."

"I don't think there's one tip out of the 250 in the book that stands out. Everybody has their own challenges. But there's one that Charlie and I both liked, and that was that time on the water equals fish. No matter what you read, what books or magazines or newspapers, it really comes down to fishing."

"Charlie and I had differences, and that was one of the cool things about it. We agreed on 99 percent of the book, but we have tips that contradict each other, and we decided to leave it that way. Like, Charlie was a huge fan of camo and muted colors and he'd get mad when I'd show up to go fishing in a Hawaiian shirt or something. My feeling was that the shirt is the least of your problems. You can do so much more to camouflage yourself by crouching or figuring out where the sun is and not casting shadows, not making noise and being real stealthy that way. Sometimes when you're in bright colors, you're thinking more about the things that matter most. But Charlie didn't see it that way."

The lesson left out

"I think the No. 1 mistake — and we didn't put this in the book, but it's kind of a theme throughout — is that most anglers want to impose their will on the fish. You have to be willing to let the fish set the agenda. Accept what they dictate, and apply that to the fishing.

"If you're with 30 other people on the river, most of them are going to make mistakes that you can avoid, even if you are a novice, if you just slow down. So the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to watch.

"Where's the wind? Where's the sun? Where's the wind relative to the sun? What's the flow? What are the currents doing? What are the fish doing? Do I see them moving? Do I see them rising? How fast do they spook? What can I learn from the fish I spook? How close can I get?

"If you can avoid the mistakes, you can work around the pressure of other fishermen."

Learning from the master

"He's a mentor for anybody. Charlie was a writer first who happened to fish, or ski or whatever else. And in this day and age, where people almost celebrate the fact that anyone with a computer and some spare time is a self-published blogger — and I suppose some of that's important — but the art of being a genuine communicator and the ability to stick out from the crowd is a responsibility that's even more important than ever."

"He was a real big believer in presentation, like what happens after the fly hits the water matters more than how you get it there. He was a real big stickler on those things."

On the Charlie Meyers SWA:

"I look at it like a graduate school fishery. If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere. And I think Charlie would be psyched about that, actually. It's like the graduate school building on campus. To me, it smacks of reverence for someone who understood the technical intricacies of fly-fishing to a tee."

"You pull into the parking lot in a place like this and see a line of cars like you would at the supermarket, and your heart might drop a little bit. But you're just not going to find sheer solitude here, so embrace it for what it is. Look at the glass half full. Say: 'OK, this is a place where I can learn to be a really good angler. Then I can take my game up to Alaska or Montana or the wilds of Idaho, or even here in Colorado, if I take 10 minutes to hike off the beaten path.' It's that same philosophy that you just have to work harder to distinguish yourself from others."

"All it takes is one fish. One magic presentation. One rise. One cool moment to make you want to come back."

No. 250: The most important tip

By its very nature, fly-fishing is an evolving, flowing gray mass, like a river. There are not absolute certainties, only suggestions. Hopefully, some of our tips will help you get more out of the sport. But both of us can tell you from experience that to really get something out of fly-fishing, you need to share it. Pass it on. Every angler should endeavor to replace himself. From "The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing," by Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers