Author Sherry Spitsnaugle casts a line.

My heart raced as I struggled to hold the 11-inch rainbow trout, slippery as an iPhone without a case, as I posed for a photo. I froze, spellbound by the glistening creature.

“Put her in the water until she’s calm and ready to swim away,” my guide Robert Younghanz instructed, snapping me out of my trance.

Within seconds, the iridescent beauty slid from my hands. We stood motionless and watched the fish glide upstream. Then we broke into grins and high-fived.

Robert beamed like a proud pop, and I was shaking. I had caught my first fish ever.

Camp for fly fishers

I had come to Broadmoor Fly Fishing Camp with a friend who is an experienced fly fisher. Fortunately, the secluded retreat, in a pristine Colorado mountain setting, caters to fly fishers at all levels. Located 75 miles west of the Broadmoor Resort, the private lodge sits along five miles of the TarryallRiver and borders Lost Creek Wilderness.

The camp offers seven guest cabins, which the website describes as rustic. But fluffy white towels with an embroidered signature “B,” high thread count linens, gourmet cuisine, top-shelf bourbon, and exceptional service are first-class.

After all, it is the Broadmoor.

Entrance to Broadmoor Fly Fishing Camp, 75 miles west of Broadmoor Resort

Tackling the waders

My friend and I each had our own guide, a smart decision since she was heading toward the river as I fumbled with the neoprene wonders called waders.

I climbed into the chest waders with suspenders and then put on a pair of water boots. Robert politely helped me cinch my belt and buckle my boots, like dressing a kindergartner for school.

“You must have drawn the short straw,” I teased.

At last, I was ready for the river. If nothing else, I looked the part.

The thought entered my mind that the rubbery overalls could get steamy after a day in the sun, and I flashed back to college days when my roommate and I wore silly rubber getups that were supposed to sweat off the pounds.

I thought to myself, If I don’t catch a fish, maybe at least, I’ll end up with Barbie doll thighs.

Author Sherry Spitsnaugle poses with the rainbow trout she caught at Broadmoor Fly-Fishing Camp

Ready for the river

Robert and I trekked for 15 minutes through a grassy meadow before we arrived at the river’s edge where we would cross. I hesitated as I surveyed the rushing water and slippery-smooth rocks.

My boots were a tad large, and I felt wobbly. Robert immediately offered his arm, so I could hang on as we made our way to the other side.

Robert waded into the middle of the river, overturned a couple of rocks from the bottom, and examined them for bugs. He followed with an impromptu entomology lesson.

“Knowing bugs helps me fish,” he said, as he attached a fly to the end of the line.

Author Sherry Spitsnaugle with fly-fishing gear.

He talked about the sport he loves, how to read the water, and about flies, with names like black spider and wooly bugger.

Robert holds degrees in entomology, also known as bugology, and Asian studies. Even his Instagram name is The Bug Guy.

He says he loves fly fishing because there’s always something new to learn, and because it’s a quiet, meditative sport.

“And, trout live in beautiful places,” he said, gesturing to the Rocky Mountains.

With 27 years of experience on the river, he knows every ploy possible to hook a fish. And, he has a reverence for the environment.

“The most important thing out here is respect,” he said. “Respect for the river, the fish, the land.”

Guide Robert Younghanz gives not only guidance but encouragement on the river.

Fly fishing 101 – Woo the fish

Robert showed me how to properly hold the rod and how to roll the cast.

He reviewed how to manage the strike indicator, mending, creating a delicate presentation for the fish, like we were “wooing it,” and how to set the hook if I got a nibble.

After an hour, I had snagged two twigs, a branch, and myself.

“It’s okay. You’re doing great! Robert encouraged me even as he had to untangle my line.

My mind wandered as the strike indicator floated down the river. Suddenly, Robert hollered, “SET!”

I had a nibble but didn’t secure the hook.

“That’s okay, there will be more,” he reassured.

Guide Robert Younghanz and author Sherry Spitsnaugle pose for a photo after a day on the river.

Catch me if you can

We moved to other places on the water’s edge, and I was content repeatedly lobbing my fly in the water.

Then, the strike indicator sank. This time I was paying attention.

“It’s a dance,” Robert said, talking me through how to bring the fish in. “Sometimes you have to let the tension on the line go and the fish can wander, but then you have to tighten the slack, and reel the fish back in.”

My rod bowed as the fish fought. Robert grabbed his net and scooped up the gorgeous rainbow, careful to keep her in the water. He instructed me to get my hands wet before touching the fish to protect it.

Holding the exquisite, velvety fish—even for a second—was emotional. After a quick photo, I carefully cradled her in the water, hoping she wasn’t stressed before she swam away.

We had the river to ourselves, and I watched as Robert gracefully cast his line in a figure-eight motion, looking every bit the part of Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It. I wondered if people fish as an excuse to get away from it all.

With Robert’s help, I caught two more beauties.

Stream minutes from rustic-luxe fly-fishing camp

‘Casting Flies, Telling Lies’

My friend and her guide were returning at the same time, and the four of us shared stories from the day about the fish we landed and the ones that got away. I was glad to ditch the waders and shower in time for happy hour on the sprawling porch at the main lodge.

Two more guests who had flown into Colorado Springs, rented a car, and driven to the camp, joined us, as we enjoyed wine and caviar.

The longtime buddies said they were happy to escape the heat of Texas even if it was just for a long weekend. They chose this retreat because of the standards of service of The Broadmoor.

“We knew if it had anything to do with The Broadmoor, everything would be top-notch.”

Chef Grant, dressed in whites, came out onto the porch to announce dinner. We headed for a family-style meal in the dining room, where décor included a map of the river and a sign on the wall that read, “Casting Flies, Telling Lies.”

Our gourmet dinner included Kurobuta pork chops, blackened Chilean salmon, roasted Yukon gold potatoes, roasted asparagus, and spinach salad. The meal was superb. But my favorite part of the evening was chatting with other guests.

We went around the table and shared stories about the fish that got away, the thrill of the tussle, and in one case, landing one after another.

Everyone had a fish tale. For the first time in my life, so did I.

Broadmoor Fly Fishing Camp Lodge offers a great porch where guests gather for happy hour.

Sherry Spitsnaugle is a travel writer and guidebook author, based in Denver, Colorado. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the North American Travel Journalists Association, and the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association.