MONTROSE — A Telluride fisherman is letting the nation know about one of the Western Slope's best-kept secrets — the Uncompahgre River.
Frank Smethurst, of Telluride, is the host of the Trout Unlimited's "On The Rise." He travels the American countryside to showcase great fly fishing and trout settings for his show.
"On the Rise" filmed an episode in Montrose this week, showcasing the Uncompahgre for its upcoming fourth season. The episode will air May 24 on the Sportsman Channel.
"The Uncompahgre River has potential to be one of the West's best rivers," Smethurst said. "It's a good fishery that can be a great fishery. It's already pretty impressive."
Still, the Uncompahgre River needs better regulation and better flows, Smethurst said. He said some of the "best" fish flow through the Uncompahgre from the South Canal, but fishermen take them rather than putting them back after a catch, making it difficult to fish on the Uncompahgre in the spring. The show will include segments about these issues.
The episode was shot at the Double Diamond River Ranch, Riverbottom Park and the Paco-chu-puk on the Uncompahgre, below the Ridgway Reservoir.
The episode's opening segment was shot in Telluride, in which Smethurst and his brother have a snowboard competition. The winner got the first cast on the Uncompahgre.
Smethurst was raised in Atlanta and began fly-fishing at age 6 under the mentorship of Ron Curry, an early pioneer of saltwater fly-fishing in Florida.
For several years, Smethurst worked at a fishing shop, "Fish Hawk," before attending the University of Georgia.
After graduating college with a degree in radio, television and film production, he moved to Telluride in 1989 and became a fishing guide. He pursued his studies while he fished, appearing in the film "Running Down The Man" and winning the 2004 Fly Fishing Masters along with teammate Giff Maytham. He placed third in the same event in 2003.
"He's a professional fly fisherman and has an amazing passion," said Erin Mooney, press secretary for Trout Unlimited.
Traveling to fishing spots across the country is exciting, but it was great to film an episode on "home turf," Smethurst said.
"The Uncompahgre and the Black Canyon of Gunnison are my home rivers," he said. "It was a natural story for the show, because Montrose is sitting on a gold mine. I'd like to keep it a fishing secret, but the priority is make people aware and improve the river."
The new season of "On The Rise" begins March 29. The Sportsman Channel is channel 416 for Bresnan Communications television subscribers, channel 605 for DIRECT TV subscribers and 285 for Dish subscribers.