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Fly Fishing with Moose

Fly Fishing with Moose
A Moose Sighting Is a Rare Treat on a Fly Fishing Trip

Bullwinkle: the largest member of the deer family, and certainly the most dangerous.  With their poor eyesight, moose are easily startled and willing to put all 1,500 pounds behind a good trampling.  Now, before you run out to find ‘moose spray’ or buy the magnum rounds, understand that moose are rarely aggressive and generally retiring creatures.  As anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, a moose sighting can often make a good trip spectacular, but these amazing animals deserve our respect and a wide berth.  Our local newspaper recently published a short piece on interacting with wildlife in the high country that gives thoughtful advice.  Though the following article is about Alaska, this snippet from howstuffworks.com gives a pretty good overview:

How Moose Size Up in the Animal Kingdom

  • Taller than a horse — 5 to 6.5 feet tall (1.5 to 2.0 meters) from ground to shoulder.
  • Heavier than a bear — male moose, called bulls, weigh up to 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms).
  • Faster than a kangaroo — moose run up to 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour).

Several times, I have exited the water after a good day’s fishing in the high country and come upon a moose feeding quietly in a nearby marshy area.  Moose love to feed in some of the waters we treasure as fly fishers.  If you want to go fly fishing with moose, look for the lonely high-country waters.  Though they occasionally take a stroll through Vail,  we tend to see them away from people.  Look in marshy areas with dense cover nearby, where they wade and feed quietly.  Keep your eyes open and you ears perked when you come around a blind corner or climb up onto the banks: you definitely want to see it before a moose sees you.  Keep an eye out for calves or aggressive males in the fall, but mostly just avoid disturbing them and back away quietly when you do.  Flicking ears and head shakes will often be signs of disturbance that you do not want to see.  I was standing in a doorway of a restaurant at a high mountain resort when I shot this film.  I would never trade in this awe-filled moment, but as you can hear from the audio, none of us who saw this majestic bull walk by the boat house were comfortable with the experience.

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