A unique fly shop and outfitter has opened for business in Lake George this past February. There are many aspects of this fly shop that make it unlike any other. They carry every supply you can imagine for your fly fishing experience, from the hand-tied flies to boat rentals, waders, paddles, coolers, to the life vests as required for anyone in a boat in Colorado. Michele and Doug White have everything you need.
Did you say you prefer live bait? No problem as they can supply you with home-grown worms and they will buy-back any left-overs.
When you come into the shop you’ll be greeted with a smile as the customer service begins. Michele will ask if you have your own flies or if you need bait, and ask where you plan to fish. Go ahead and share your expectations for the day so Michele can get an idea of the experience you are seeking. She is prepared to set you up with one of their guides, or give as much or little information as suits you.
Several couples came in while we were at Tumbling Trout for the interview. Michele digs right in and offered to check out the flies customers already had with them. She’ll take a peek at your fly box and give her best advice on what they’re biting on today. We heard her say,
“They’re catching ‘em on emergers” and “this midge pattern is working well, too.”
She’s happy to share the most popular menu for the type of fish you’re looking to catch. She can also tell you what fish are “catch and release” and which fish you can take home to eat. If you don’t like to clean your fish - just ask; she’ll help you out with that task as well.
There is quite the selection of flies to choose from; each has its own capacity for success and she knows the variable that will make one fly look tastier than others to a trout for the day. She has an entire drawer just for the “sea monsters”. She has drawers full of over 100 different patterns. Of course, there are “chubbies” and “scuds” to choose from. Have you ever used “San Juan Worms”? Michele can tell you when and how to use those. Did you remember your waders? She has those available for purchase or for rent. In fact, she rents anything you could use on your trip. She has at least a dozen boats, canoes, inner tubes, along with life vests, as safety is a primary concern. Perhaps you spontaneously decide to spend the night, no worries! Michele has tents, stoves, sleeping bags, lanterns, and coolers. She’s just as happy to point you to Lake George Pizza, the local Bed& Breakfast establishments and let you know about the local businesses that can help make your stay more enjoyable.
Have you ever gone “bow-fishing”?
Michele can set you up with a bow, quiver, and arrows for those who like to keep their archery skills at their peak or for those who find themselves frustrated with a tangled line. The carp and pike tend to hang in shallow water, perfect for bow-fishing!
Michele has maps to guide you to the spot best suited for the type of fishing experience you are seeking. One map covers from Colorado Springs to Buena Vista! She has one map color-coded and has zones marked to help you zero in on your prize.
Directly opposite her front door, Michele has a board that keeps DAILY tabs on 12 local fishing spots. This board provides the venue, status, flow, method, and pattern. This valuable information comes from her Number One Advisor, Dale White, her brother-in-law.
“He goes fishing and sends me messages about water temperature, hatches, what the fish are taking and what they are rejecting. I rely on him for his regional fishing advice to update my board.”
Talk about up-to-date information! Where else can you get that kind of scuttle-butt?
Maybe it’s been a while and you’d feel more comfortable with a guide. At this time there are four guides available, all are certified in Professional Fly Fishing through Colorado Mountain College. Her guides are also certified in CPR, which is required by the State of Colorado. Additional certifications her guides possess are First Aid, Wilderness Training, and Business Ethics. Her guides are Brennan “Papa Catfish” Garrett, Tad ”Boone and Crockett” Shannon, Cameron “Backwoods” Barrie, and herself, “Mountain Michele” White. (*SIC* we have 6 guides including myself. We have Scott Gardner and Sandi Roberts as well).
Michele especially enjoys taking women in their mid-50s or older out to wet a line. She knows first-hand what it is like to go into a fly shop and become invisible, never to be waited on. Michele is way too engaged in life to allow that to happen. She especially enjoys guiding people who have never fly fished before.
“There is a different energy with women my age (over 50),” said Michele. “I always talk to them and invite them to consider trying fly fishing with me one day or maybe come up with their other women friends—make it a women’s day!” she said with a glimmer in her eye.
Michele recounted meeting her husband18 years ago while they were working at the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine. She was an entry level geologist back then. He has been there 25 years and is now the Area Geology and Exploration Manager. When he learned that she used to be a white water river runner on the Colorado River— a kayaker and rafter – he saw an opportunity.
“When my husband was courting me he made a custom rod for me and bought me the best gear for fly fishing. Then, he taught me how to fly fish. I fell in love with him and the sport,” she said, then pointed at the boat out the front window and continued, “We have spent our entire married life fly fishing out of that dory.” A smile beamed across her face lighting the room and her energy was contagious.
There is a vitality that emanates from Michele, a zest for life bent on grasping each moment and making the very best of it. This woman is no bystander. She is fully engaged in every experience the day brings; embracing each opportunity fully as she puts her mind, body, and soul into everything she does, just like she has since she was a child.
When it comes to music, Michele plays both the piano and bassoon. She first learned music during her high school years in Aurora, and was good enough to be awarded full scholarships to Boulder. She moved to New York City and became a freelance bassoonist. It was in New York City that she met a group of lively folks who she learned were all geologists.
“They were so much fun; they convinced me to take my first geology class,” reflected Michele on that earlier part of her life, “So I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Geology. Then I learned if I had a Master’s degree, I could to go on field excursions. I chose to apply at Boulder. It brought me back home. My first job with a Master’s degree was at the Cripple Creek& Victor Mining Company where I met my future husband.
Michele has a piano at the shop. She enjoys playing especially in the morning to start the day on a happy note. But Michele’s artistic talent is not limited to music. Michele has authored two books, "Between the Rivers" recounts her fly fishing (in print production - co-authored with Al Marlowe and Karen Christopherson), and "Eulogies and Dead Horses" are short stories of enlightening experiences she’s had as a traveling geologist in North Nevada. These books are published under her maiden name, Michele Murray. She has been a contributing editor for the Mountain Gazette quarterly journal for a dozen years or so, writing articles on outdoor life and fishing. Her writing doesn’t end there. She is also the ghost writer for ‘Belinda Smegler’ a fictitious character who lives in Cripple Creek, known as “The Queen of White Trailer-Trash, Cooking with Catsup and Beer”. Creating adventures for Belinda and the associated recipes is also not the end of Michele’s artistic talent.
Michele is also a painter. She painted a mural in what was the Horseshoe Saloon in Cripple Creek. She used an image of a portion of that mural for the cover of her book, "Eulogies and Dead Horses". She has a number of pieces of her art for sale and also showcases some beautiful sculptures by Shirley Logan, local artist and good friend who helped Michele transform the space into Tumbling Trout’s current space.
Michele saw the “For Rent” sign in January. Shirley was willing to lend a hand. Together, they cleared the space, and refurbished as many items as they could, transforming old items (such as doors) into a cloth-covered privacy paneled changing room. That is only one example. The creative energy these two women manifested into a renovation of the space that is truly inspiring. Dale also offered assistance and expertise as well; check out the large fly table. Her husband, Doug, made the other three tables as well. You really need to visit the shop and see what it has become.
Having the innate ability to see the utility in almost any item has served Michele well. Going beyond peg boards and reusing screws, Michele is always considering safety. She hooked up with Justin Peevler of River Runners, a whitewater rafting company of Buena Vista. Justin’s rafting company ordered brand new life vests. He is donating the old ones to Michele to promote river safety for inner tubers on the South Platte at Happy Meadows. Michele truly has everything you need for a safe and fun day on the water.
When you are seeking a day to wet a line, make your first stop Tumbling Trout. You will learn what fish are biting on which bait in 12 locations. You will have the voice of 18 years of experience on these waters freely shared in the spirit of camaraderie. Any items you may have left behind can be rented. You’ll meet some of the most interesting and knowledgeable folks on the subject ready to offer as much or as little guidance as you need. Perhaps most important, you will be 15 minutes from your fishing experience. Tumbling Trout is your one-stop-shop that assures you’ll have a whale of a good time!