Outlaw Reflections: Looking Ahead at Telluride’s Raunchy Past

Outlaw Reflections: Looking Ahead at Telluride’s Raunchy Past

Editor’s note: I am reminded of the man every day. A talented sculptor, one of his mobiles sits on the coffee table in our living room. But I had not seen or heard from Oleh Lysiak for over 20 years. Ah, the wonders of social media. We rediscovered each other earlier this month, when I also discovered the artist I knew is also a writer – at least nowadays – though making marks on paper is only one among a very long list of talents, some slightly sketchy.

O. Z. Lysiak winking

 O.Z. Lysiak has from time to time worked as a reporter, editor, columnist, photographer, public affairs officer, restaurateur, festival booth owner-operator, ski technician, carpenter, sailor, smuggler, tree planter, fishing guide, truck driver, river guide, cook, wood-cutter, trash collector, marine gravity operator, reclaimed wood broker and sculptor. He has written for The Ukrainian Weekly, The Oregonian, and closer to home, The Aspen Daily News, The Aspen Times, The Crested Butte Pilot, The San Miguel Basin Forum – and The Telluride Daily Planet. Oleh’s poetry has been widely published and his is author of  several books, including “Neighborhood of Strangers”; “Art, Crime & Lithium”; “Scars In Progress”; “Geezer Rumba.” 

Given his street cred and the fact he wrote extensively locally in the bad old days, I asked Oleh if he would mine his files for past columns that might be of interest to our readers. I am thankful he said “yes.”

A kinder, gentler Oleh with granddaughter Tulip

A kinder, gentler Oleh with granddaughter Tulip


The San Miguel County Post 1995-1996: “FISHING WITH UNCLE O”


If it weren’t for friends I never would have accomplished a fraction of the things I’ve done, or seen as much of the world as I have. I also wouldn’t have gotten into nearly as much trouble.

Getting out of trouble builds character and enlightens a person to the fact that all is never totally lost. Hope, hard work and the light of understanding conquer most anything short of a bullet through the brain.

Luckily, my friends are artists, writers, pirates, lawyers, cowboys, bikers, smugglers, hookers, debutantes, editors, adventurers, ex-cons, rascals, rednecks, scalawags, working women, men, and peripheral types who put off proper, politically correct, holier-than-thou stalwarts of mainstream society.

The people who have befriended, helped, and enlightened me enriched my life. If it weren’t for the wild women and men in my life, I might have turned out to be a “suit” with a totally boring life and an equally boring outlook.

Fat chance. Some wait for the stars to guide them. Dirk DePagter told me others create their own stars.

Just last year, a couple good friends in Basalt, one who owns and the other who manages Frying Pan Anglers, traded me an entire fly-fishing outfit for one of my mobiles deifying fish. Now I’m equipped with fishing gear the likes of which I never could afford and they have a mobile the likes of which has never been seen before.

Art Rowell took time to introduce me to the joys of fly fishing 30 years ago on the Roaring Fork. We hiked over Conundrum Pass to Crested Butte and back. I spotted a pool with rainbow trout in the shadow of the Maroon Bells, whipped out my telescoping spinning rod and caught three in the span of a few minutes with a Daredevil lure.

Art gave me hell all the way back to Aspen, swore he’d convert me to fly-fishing. We went out on the Roaring Fork. Art rigged me up. I snapped off the first few flies he tied on. Eventually I stopped snapping off flies, calmed down and hooked into a nice fish. I worked the fish to the bank. Art unhooked the fish. He let it go. I saw no reason to go to the trouble of catching fish if you’re going to let it go. I wanted to cook and eat my trout. Art’s fly rod and reel wound up in the Roaring Fork.

Ray L’Hommedieu gave me his grandfather’s split-bamboo Montague and an ancient Union-Made brass reel. Pete Symes took me out on the San Miguel and patiently taught me the basics. Pete taught me the barrel knot, which I now can tie in a blizzard by feel. I gave the Montague to Art as an apologetic gesture for tossing away his rod on the Roaring Fork. I had things to learn.

Soupy Campbell taught me you’ve got to be smarter than the worm when you’re bait fishing. Soupy is from Mississippi. He taught me the art of catching, handling and cleaning catfish. Soupy introduced me to the filet and release philosophy of conservation.

Marcus Coldsmith taught me if you’re going to catch fish you’ve got to have bait in the water. Marcus is absolutely the best fisherman I have ever had the pleasure of fishing with. He will fish for anything, anytime, anywhere, with endless enthusiasm. Bass fishing wouldn’t exist in my fishing lexicon if it weren’t for Marcus. He taught me the improved clinch knot for which I’ll be forever grateful.

Gary Waldon taught me how to rig multiple hooks for saltwater fishing, how to dive for abalone. From Gary I learned things I can’t mention here. He’ll be out of the joint soon.

Ron Brown, who unfortunately is no longer among the living, taught me how to gather ghost shrimp for cabrilla fishing off estuary beaches in Laguna Manuela, Baja. He taught me to tie imitation ghost shrimp from minute gull feathers for halibut in shallow estuary waters. Ron called me a farmer because I horsed fish. He shamed me into a softer, more artistic, more effective approach. I miss Ron Brown and occasionally take a wineglass of tequila, something we shared at the end of every fishing day.

Larry Allen is absolutely the best mechanic I have ever known, a Hell’s Angel who taught me the trucker’s hitch, without which my life as a rigger would have been hell. He also taught me that a guy’s got to have a bigger truck if he’s going to carry more stuff at a point in my life when a backpack seemed too much. Larry introduced me to the joys of Chevy 235’s and 4 speeds.

There’s more but what I’m getting at is it’s a person’s heart that counts. You love somebody in spite of who they are. That’s real.

Friends don’t always stick around, especially the adventurous ones. What you share stays with you. You can’t take that to the bank but you can depend on it.






Stayed tuned for more from Oleh.

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