The RIGS Story

Like every good guide service RIGS was built on firsthand experience by professional river guides with decades of prior fly fishing and rafting industry knowledge. With a shoestring budget, old fashion hard work, and a commitment to access quality waters in the region, RIGS received the first-ever permit for guided fly fishing and rafting in Ouray County and pioneered access on our home waters of the Uncompahgre River at Pa Co Chu Puk thus setting the stage for over 20 years in business. We choose Ridgway as our base of operation, not only because of its stunning beauty and small-town feel but its idyllic proximity to world-class trout streams with easy access and diverse benefits to the surrounding destinations like Ouray, Telluride, Silverton and Montrose; to be in the center of it all.

Founded in 2001, RIGS (Ridgway Independent Guides Service) owner Tim Patterson still finds passion for the sport of fly fishing and a desire to get outside, hike and wet a line. While it didn’t start as a family business, it soon became one when with his wife Heather, a fifth-generation Colorado native with family roots in Ridgway and the National Parks system, took the foundation of the business and started to make it a team of amazing people that are passionate about the same things – fishing, rafting and the outdoors. Prior to starting RIGS, Patterson previously led fly fishing, rafting, and eco-tour expeditions through Central America, Mexico, and the Southwestern U.S. since 1991. Tim’s degree in Recreation Management from Prescott College set the stage for a career in adventure guiding with Heather’s degree in fine art from the School of the Art Institute Chicago grew those meager beginnings into what RIGS is today. “It’s not just about the fishing, it’s about the people,” the Patterson’s says. “RIGS activities teach patience, strategy, versatility, and how to adapt to all types of conditions.” 


RIGS commitment to excellence extends beyond operating its fly shop and guide service, to an unassuming culture of well-trained professional guides and staff committed to assisting each guest achieve their personal goals. With a company ethos rooted in professionalism, quality service and the importance of giving back to the resource. The RIGS Team sets a high bar in the industry on the guest experience and our role as mentors and facilitators of education and fun. On the river, our guides focus on your safety, while ensuring your group has a productive and informative fly fishing experience.  

RIGS Certified Professional Float Fishing & Walk Wade Guide Training Courses are taught annually by Certified Guide Instructors in the State of Colorado, renowned for providing informative and intensive guide training to perspective walk wade and float fishing guides starting their professional careers. Our Gunnison Gorge team exceeds regional standards, with required Swiftwater Rescue Technician (SRT) training and Advanced First Aid/CPR certifications.  

Our Public Land Partners include US Forest Service, US National Park Service, US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Colorado State Parks & Wildlife, giving our guests a wide range of quality waters to choose from and year-round access to diverse fly fishing rivers, streams, creeks, and still waters. 


At RIGS, we prioritize sustainability, resource stewardship and protection by putting our money where our mouth is. Each year, we support and collaborate with local and national non-profits organizations dedicated to the preservation and protection of the local, regional and industry wide resources we all enjoy. Whether it’s our active participation on boards and working groups, annual film tour fundraiser to support river health, donations, good old fashion river cleanups or reinvestment’s in reducing our waste and consumption footprint at the Fly Shop and on the water, we believe in giving back.

Below is a list of some of the primary organizations we work with, appreciate and encourage you to support:

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership (UWP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the water resources of the Uncompahgre River watershed in western Colorado. The UWP works to promote healthy aquatic ecosystems and sustainable water management practices in the region through collaboration and partnerships with local communities, resource managers, and other stakeholders. The organization’s goals and activities include monitoring water quality, conducting scientific research, promoting responsible land use practices, river clean up projects and advocating for conservation policies and programs. Additionally, the UWP provides educational and outreach opportunities for people interested in learning more about the importance of the Uncompahgre River watershed and the role of responsible water management in preserving this valuable resource for future generations.

Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (CBHA) is a state chapter of the national Backcountry Hunters & Anglers organization, which is dedicated to protecting public lands and waters and the hunting and fishing opportunities they provide. CBHA focuses on protecting access to backcountry hunting and fishing opportunities, promoting responsible wildlife management, and advocating for the conservation of public lands and waters in Colorado. The organization is made up of a community of hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts who are passionate about these issues and are committed to making a difference. CBHA works with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as other conservation organizations, to ensure that the Colorado’s public lands and waters are managed in a sustainable and responsible manner providing opportunities for people interested in learning more about the importance of conserving these resources.

Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU) is a non-profit group dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. CTU is focused on preserving and enhancing the quality of Colorado’s trout streams, rivers, and lakes for the benefit of future generations of anglers and the health of the ecosystems they support. The organization is comprised of a network of volunteers and professional staff who work together to advocate for responsible and sustainable management of these natural resources. This includes conducting and supporting scientific research, promoting conservation policies, and working with local communities and stakeholders to promote healthy and productive aquatic habitats with coldwater conservation and responsible angling practices.

American Whitewater is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of the nation’s whitewater resources. The organization works to ensure that these resources are managed and protected for the benefit of future generations of paddlers, as well as for the health of the ecosystems they support. American Whitewater also provides educational and outreach opportunities for people interested in learning more about whitewater paddling and the importance of conservation and responsible river use.

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of bonefish, tarpon, and permit species and their habitats. BTT is focused on improving the understanding of these species, their ecology, and the threats they face, with the goal of ensuring that these species remain abundant and accessible to future generations of anglers. The organization works in close collaboration with scientists, resource managers, and local communities to promote responsible and sustainable management of these resources.

EcoAction Partners is a sustainability organization that tracks the regions greenhouse gas emissions and provides programs that reduce energy and waste. They currently run programs throughout the greater San Miguel County and Ouray County region to accomplish greenhouse gas reduction, focusing primarily on energy, and waste. Their staff and volunteers actively support sustainability in our community through programs such as our Green Business Certification Program, Truth or Dare Community Challenge, and Zero Waste Teams at Telluride’s festivals, regional events, and much more.
RIGS has been a Green Business with EcoAction Partners since 2011.

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