For The Porches shuttle bus driver and local fishing guide, it’s all about the catch of the day.
When Ben Krueger isn’t fishing, he’s thinking about fishing. For the young Denver native moving to Steamboat was all about the fishing. “I’ve never been a big skier or snowboarder,” he says. “Moving to Steamboat was entirely motivated by fly fishing.” Like most young locals, he works two jobs, driving the shuttle for The Porches and working as a fly fishing guide for Yampa Valley Anglers. So while he might not be the best guy to chat it up with about the snow conditions, chances are good he can tell you what the trout are biting on.
We caught up with Ben to talk about why in his world, a river runs through it.
How did you get into fly fishing?
I have five older sisters so we didn’t have a lot of money for family vacations. We always went fishing when I was a kid. I didn’t like it until I was 12 and then I really took to it and it became a passion of mine. Soon I was fishing every day and every opportunity I had.
What do you love about it?
It’s not just about catching fish, but more about having peace and quiet and to be by yourself and not worry about anything else that’s going on in your life. I also like that I learn something new every day. It’s a sport you can never really master, that’s why people become so obsessed with it. You can approach it in so many different ways. One of the things I love about fly fishing the most is there are no right answers.
Tell us about your work as a guide.
My whole job is to help people catch fish and to show them the basics of fly fishing. I work a lot with kids and beginners. I teach them how to cast, how to understand what rig they’re fishing, how to set the hook, how to watch the indicator and how to bring them in. Then I’ll net the fish for them and release it. My goal is to create a whole experience for them.
Our philosophy at Yampa Valley Anglers is about building a great experience for the client. It’s not just about fishing, but about learning and being in the area and learning about nature, animals, our water system and anything else they want to know.
What would be your advice for someone who wants to try fly fishing for the first time?
My advice is to hire a guide and go for a half day and see if you like it. It takes a lot of the frustration out of learning. A guide can untangle knots, retie flies, help and net the fish. It makes the experience a lot smoother. What makes a lot of people fall out of the sport is how frustrating it can be for a beginner.
Tell us about fly fishing in the Steamboat area and why it’s such a great place for that.
The reason I love Steamboat and the Yampa Valley so much is the actual appearance of the fish here, especially our rainbow trout. They have some of the most vibrant colors. They’re deep red in fall and lighter pink in spring. Brown trout in the fall have this fire orange stomach and red spots all down their back, but come spring, it changes to white and gold bellies with darker spots. I love fishing in the Flat Tops Wilderness. It’s only about an hour south of town but it has a ton of lakes and small streams and it’s very secluded if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of town. I love taking people up there on the boat and showing them the Flat Top mountain range. You never see another person. It’s not just about the fish but the wilderness and the seclusion. People who come here to take a break from their busy lives can really appreciate that.