We had the good fortune of connecting with Kayla Maddox and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kayla, we’d love to hear more about your end-goal, professionally.
I honestly don’t know when I plan to end my career. I don’t really believe in “retirement.” I know I would be one of those people that declines into poorer physical and mental health if I don’t stay engaged and active. I hope to achieve a balance between managing our business, continuing to get out on the river, and some travel and volunteer work into my 70’s or beyond. Through building a solid employee base and treating those we work with well and giving back to our community, I’m working toward a model that will keep me active and engaged as long as I can physically do it. The man who trained my husband and I on the river is over 75 now and still leads whitewater guide training every year. It can be done!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At UpRiver Fly Fishing we specialize in float fishing trips on the Arkansas River and surrounding high alpine lakes. We aren’t elitist when it comes to fly fishing. We want to get young people, beginners and experienced anglers alike -out fishing! We donate trips to our local community organizations and work with small youth support groups to help introduce them to the benefits of getting outdoors and fishing. We know that through sharing the outdoors with others we are fostering the next generation of stewards for our wild and natural places. These places and creatures are important to all of our well-being and survival. We are proud of the fact that we are progressive and dynamic and as a new business we have thrived despite Covid restrictions and shut downs!
I love working for myself, yet getting to where I am today with our fly fishing company wasn’t particularly easy for me. I love the process of getting the ball rolling and doing the grunt work but I am not comfortable with monetary risks. Starting our own business has challenged me to not look at money as a security blanket, but rather a means of achieving the life you hope for. I grew up in Denver in a lower income neighborhood. My parents worked and scraped for everything and taught me to save, save save! I got my first job when I was 14, and went to college on a scholarship. I greatly value not being in debt. But that isn’t always the reality when you start a business. It takes money to make money and sometimes you just have to take that loan and hope for the best. I have learned my husband and I are a good balance as he is more comfortable with seeing money as leverage, so we seem to settle somewhere in the middle and so far it has worked. I have learned I have to be willing to step out of my financial comfort zone and not limit myself to thinking short term when it comes to finances and security.
UpRiver Fly Fishing is operated by myself and my husband Andrew. We are small scale, with highly qualified and passionate staff members who love fly fishing! We have been a part of our community for over 15 years, and believe in the importance of small businesses and supporting each other on a local level as much as possible.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In the Arkansas River Valley, where we primarily operate our fly fishing trips, there are incredible things to experience. On the north end of the county we have the town of Buena Vista, and on the south end the town of Salida. First off I would take my friends on a full day float fishing trip on the Arkansas River, probably through Brown’s Canyon National Monument. It is a very special place to me so I try and share it with everyone I can. The scenery is incredible and the rapids are enough to get the adrenaline pumping just a bit! For dinner we would dine at the Asian Palate in Buena Vista. Sushi and authentic Asian food is such a treat for us here in land-locked Colorado and chef Eddie and Brynn do it right! They are mindful in how they prepare their food and give back to and involve our community. Lastly we would finish the night with a soak at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. The creek-side pools are the best, but you’ve go to jump in one quick and claim your spot! The views of the chalk cliffs are breathtaking and the warm sulfur free water relaxes every muscle and bone after a hard day’s work or play!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to give this shoutout to Woody Good, my river mentor. Learning to read and run the river, fish and be self sufficient on multi-day river trips has formed the basis for most of my adult life. It also built my confidence and willingness to take risks. The river is the place I run to for fun, renewal, clarity, and often a piece of humble pie. Woody has an incredible way of making the impossible seem possible and even comfortable once you look at things through a different lens.

Website: www.upriverflyfishing.com

Instagram: @upriverlfyfishing

Youtube: UpRiver Fly Fishing

Image Credits
Mike Hagadorn

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.