Photos: Fly Fishing With Elk

Things got a little too close for comfort when a first time fly fisherman, Matthew LaGrange, encountered four cows and one very amorous bull elk in the Big Thompson River near Estes Park, Colorado. See how LaGrange got chased out of the river by a rutting bull elk in this photo series.
LaGrange, the chairman of Dallas Christian College's psychology department, was attending a church conference when two friends suggested they use their four-hour break to do some fishing. Although LaGrange had never fly fished before, he eagerly agreed. En route to the fishing spot, LaGrange saw some elk in the river and remarked to his friends how cool it would be to see them up close. Little did he know…
The men had barely hit the water when they heard an elk bugle, but they thought it was off in the distance. The call was followed by a cow elk wading into the water some 25 yards away from LaGrange. A few short moments later, another cow appeared from the woods. Followed by another. And another. At one point, LaGrange said there were cows walking within 20 feet of him.
Although LaGrange said he was in awe at the spectacle before him, he was slightly nervous and unsure of what to do. "I was thinking, ok, do I need to get out of here?" Shortly after one of his friends said it was fine, the men heard a loud rustling from the woods.
LaGrange and the others turned to see a monster bull exit the woods to enter the water. When the bull got to a cow less than 10 feet from him, LaGrange made the decision to leave. Quickly.
LaGrange spun around only to slip on a rock. He somehow kept from falling and continued his hasty retreat. LaGrange said the entire encounter lasted about a half hour but his interaction with the bull lasted less than a minute.
A reporter from the Denver Post, Joe Amon, drove by just in time to snap photos of the event. When he later asked LaGrange what he was thinking when he saw the bull, LaGrange replied, "I'm a pastor, so I can't say what I was thinking, but it started with Holy." LaGrange said it was only later that he realized just how dangerous the situation was. "Yeah, I was told it was the mating season and that's not a good time to be in front of a bull elk," he said.
LaGrange said the encounter was an incredible experience. "I was just in awe at the sight of them. Just a dream come true," he said. But as for his fly fishing, he said, "I didn't catch a fish. But it was the best fly fishing trip I've ever had." Note: The "No Trespassing" sign seen in the photos is on the opposite side of the river from where LaGrange and his friends entered. One side of the river is public land, the other private. Also, LaGrange did not get his line tangled in the bull elk's antlers. That's an illusion caused by the telephoto lens.

A first time fly fisherman gets an up close and personal encounter with elk while wading the Big Thompson River in Colorado. See the amazing photos here.