When Jonathan Messinger (@flymessinger on Instagram) was a teen growing up in Colorado, he took up fly fishing to get out of the house. That and snowboarding.
“My mom didn’t want me just sitting around hanging out with my stoner friends,” he says. “She was into fly fishing. So, she bought me a fly rod at a Ducks Unlimited auction. I taught myself to fly fish and in the winters I went snowboarding.”
Jonathan was clearly smiling when he mentioned that he was allowed to snowboard so he didn’t hang out with his “stoner friends.”
Now 35, he’s been fly fishing for 20 years. Although he did take some time off to be a professional snowboarder in Whistler, British Columbia. Unfortunately, he was so busy that he didn’t get the chance to take advantage of the many awesome fly angling opportunities that BC has to offer.
But when he moved to Bozeman, Montana, Jonathan indulged in both of his passions.
“For eight years, I was a snow bum and a trout bum,” he says.
“I taught my wife how to fly fish about a year ago,” he says. “Last year, we went out and explored a lot of water. We probably spent more than 200 days out on the water.”
Both Jonathan and Chelsey are now earning their Colorado guide certificates. Colorado, like a handful of other western states, regulates fishing guides to ensure that clients and the environment are attended to safely and with the best practices.
They plan to guide together when they can, as well as individually.
“We want to put happy people on big fish,” Jonathan says.
And when Jonathan talks about big fish, he means the rainbow, brown, cutthroat and cutbows that can be found in Colorado’s best tailwaters. These include the Colorado, Arkansas and Eagle Rivers.
But when Jonathan and Chelsey look at guiding, they’ll be working with Minturn Anglers, with locations out of Vail and Denver. Most of their clients will be tossing flies into the waters of the South Platte basin. These include “The Dream Stream,” Cheesman Canyon and the area near Deckers.
With a mentor like Duane Redford, a Colorado fly fishing legend, Jonathan and Chelsey will be in full form to accommodate their clients on some of the state’s best fly fishing waters. At the same time, the couple wants to make sure that their fly fishing guide services are inclusive.
“We want to do more couples guiding,” Jonathan says. “But we also want to make sure that more women get a chance to experience and become more interested in the sport of fly fishing.”