Fly Gal Feature: Kaitlin Boyer
Kaitlin Boyer picked up her first fly rod in 2010; an Orvis PractiCaster gifted to her by her dad, a Montana native and avid angler. But it wasn’t until recently that Kaitlin discovered her passion for guiding and decided to pursue the Fly Fishing Guide Certification program at Colorado Mountain College Leadville.
“Guiding is something I’ve recently been interested in,” says Kaitlin, who was born and raised in Colorado, “Last summer I got a few guiding job offers but I didn’t feel competent enough to take them. I felt like there was still a lot for me to learn.”
No stranger to formal education, Kaitlin has acquired several degrees and certifications over the years. She has studied ballet at Ormao Dance School in Colorado Springs, and the Center for Movement Arts in Portland, Oregon. After receiving a certification in Pilates, she began studying nursing in Oregon, eventually transferring back to Colorado. Kaitlin received a Nurse’s Aid Certificate and an Associates at Pikes Peak Community College, but soon discovered the medical field wasn’t for her.
“I decided to switch majors,” says Kaitlin, “and now I am in the Outdoor Leadership program at Colorado Mountain College with a minor in photography at Pikes Peak Community College. If all goes accordingly, I’ll be a certified Fly Fishing Guide, and have a certificate in digital photography.”
Though up until this year, Kaitlin lacked formal guide training, she has had a few practice runs with friends and acquaintances. She’s also had the opportunity to work closely with professional guides, like fellow female anglers Courtney Despos and Michele White.
“Courtney has been a real inspiration to me as a guide, an angler, a mom, and as a friend,” says Kaitlin, “Michele White has been a proactive role model in my life; as a female guide, she was tired of experiencing sexism in shops and outfits, so she opened her own.”
Michele White, owner of Tumbling Trout — a guide service and fly shop located in Lake George, Colorado — had also completed CMC’s Fly Fishing guide program.
“Michele had asked me to guide for her,” says Kaitlin, “but I told her I didn’t quite feel ready. She told me about CMC’s Fly Fishing Guide program, and it sounded like something I wanted to do.”
The Colorado Mountain College Leadville Fly Fishing Guide Certification program is a six week intensive program designed to provide the training and education that will lead to success as a fly fishing guide. Students can choose to complete the program in a single summer session, or spread out the course load over two summers. Many fly fishing shops offer guide training programs, but it was the expansive curriculum that set Colorado Mountain College’s program apart from the rest.
“To put these credits towards a degree was very appealing,” says Kaitlin, “I also felt like the certificate would make me more desirable to hire as a guide. When an outfit looks at my resume and sees how comprehensive this program was, from the aquatic entomology to small business management to the actual field work in the guiding and outdoor leadership classes, they will know I’m competent for the job.”
The fly fish guide industry has grown significantly in recent years, creating a continual need for qualified outdoor guiding staff. The curriculum is designed as a one semester in-residence program, beginning in mid-May and wrapping up 6 weeks later. Courses include Intro to Fly Fish Guiding, Fly Tying, Medic First Aid/ CPR, Outdoor Recreation Leadership, Managing a Small Business, Aquatic Entomology and Advanced Fly Fish Guiding. Students start in the classroom, learning the basics and then take to local rivers to apply their skills.
“I am hoping to gain confidence as a guide,” says Kaitlin, “and develop a good skill set in all aspects of guiding. There are so many components and attributes that make a good guide, and I want to encompass the best of them.”