Pueblo man passionate about fly fishing

Pueblo — Ron Vanvalkenburg has an optimistic outlook on life and fly fishing in particular. — Ron Vanvalkenburg has an optimistic outlook on life and fly fishing in particular.

— Ron Vanvalkenburg has an optimistic outlook on life and fly fishing in particular.

The owner of Angler’s Addiction in Pueblo is quite a character. He has a story about everything for everyone.

First and foremost, Vanvalkenburg loves the outdoors. And fly fishing.

Born and raised in Kansas, Vanvalkenburg began fishing at a young age and hasn’t stopped. At 66, he calls himself a fly fishing expert. Talking to him makes you a believer.

“I lived on a ranch with a lake on it,” he said. “It only made sense I would fish.”

After dabbling in a number of jobs such as financial planning, securities and real estate, Vanvalkenburg decided to follow his dream. That was to move to Colorado and fly fish.

He’s been a guide at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and also for Steel City Anglers. He continues to follow his passion.

Vanvalkenburg says he’d rather fish for carp than any other fish “because of the fight they put up.”

Prior to buying the fly fishing store, he spent up to 300 days a year fishing.

Now, he gets out fewer than 100 days a year.

Someone has to watch the shop, he joked.

Vanvalkenburg’s philosophy about fly fishing is simple and to the point.

He says you have to enjoy fly fishing for the sport.

“If you want to catch (and keep) fish, use a net,” he said. “Fly fishing is a choice. If you don’t do it, you’ll never learn it. But the more you do it, the better you’ll get.”

The chase, knowing how to track fish and understanding the environment, is what spins Vanvalkenburg’s reel. Catch and release is his game. “By putting fish back makes them smarter and tougher to catch the next time,” he said. “Plus, they’ll get bigger and will fight better.”

Patience is also a virtue.

“I’ve hooked probably more than 1,000 fish over 26 inches and landed maybe 50,” he said. “If you land one in 10 you are doing well.”

The fly fishing man understands business and the Pueblo area.

“This is a working man’s town,” he said. “I can outfit someone in full gear for fly fishing for $3,700,” he said.

“I can also sell an entire outfit for $60. I want people to learn how to fly fish and want them to know how to catch fish.”

That’s why Vanvalkenburg offers fly fishing classes for free. If someone buys gear from him, he’ll make sure they know how to use it and will spend time with them to teach the sport.

“I teach classes informally,” he said. “I’ve taught people how to fly fish who have paid up to $200 for classes to learn. I do it for free.

“If a guy buys a rod, I want to make sure he can cast. Most people spend hundreds of dollars to learn what I teach for free.”

That’s just the Vanvalkenburg way. He loves what he does and wants to pass it on to the consumer.