Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fly Fishing at Marabou Ranch


I went out to Marabou Ranch this morning to fly-fish with my father in-law Ted, a friend Todd and John from Marabou. If you think you know what fly fishing is like on the Elk River, think again. The level of improvements they have put into the river to enhance fish habitat is very impressive but let's get to the fishing first.

We arrived a little early so we would be ready for the hatch that has been going off between 10 and 2pm lately. It was a moderately overcast day and a little bit cool. Steve Henderson from Steamboat Fly Fishing was there to meet us and be our guide for the day. Steve is a great guy, knowledgeable fisherman and skilled guide. We started by walking up to one of the side channels of the Elk River and looked for fish. RIght away we saw a large trout on the other side about 20 feet away. Ted made a few casts and caught a smaller 18 inch Rainbow trout right away just as a much larger fish was closing in on his fly. The fish put up a solid fight and kicked off what would turn out to be a great day trying to outsmart the rest of his extended family.

Next we made our way upstream a bit and spread out over various holes and riffles. We each got several solid bites but the fish were pretty wiley and quickly returned most of our flies without the courtesy of entering our nets for a visit. Steve helped me bring up my game a bit and soon we were all rising to the challenge the fish laid down for us. The group fished up and down the area until about 2:30 when everyone left. Ted caught about a dozen fish ranging from about 12 inches to 3 large trout well over 20 inches. Todd caught about 9 with 2 twenty plus inchers. John and Steve also brought in some nice fish even though they were "working" to help us have a great day on the river. Both of them have it pretty well figured out in my book. Now that I think about it I was "working" too since I do need to understand all of the benefits of living in Steamboat Springs and each property my clients are interested in (I am pretty lucky too).

My father in-law has fly-fished all over the world and on the Elk River at and above this area before Jeff Temple put together Marabou Ranch. He loves the fly-fishing in and around Steamboat Springs to the point he often says that he knew it would be good here but never realized how good it would be. That said he wasn't very enthusiastic about what the Elk River had to offer in comparison to the Yampa River. Today really changed his mind about what was possible at Marabou Ranch. This is without without all of the extensive improvements they plan in place.

It would be one thing just to stock a river but they have hired some of the best people in the business to design and build improvements to the river. The idea is that improving the habitat will attract the largest fish in the river, grow larger fish naturally and keep all of them healthier will result in superior fishing that is suatainable over time. They have ordered generously from a large menu of ways to improve the Elk River through the ranch like adding limestone boulders for more flies to hatch from while using them to build beneficial structures. They put in just a few of the improvements in the river that are planned last winter so one has to wonder what it will be like once the habitat has time to grow some bigger fish and the full complement of improvements is in.

The list is too big to cover here but they are also adding 15 acres of ponds and streams through the property to provide a much longer fishing season that isn't blown out by the spring runoff and where the fish can cycle in and out of the river. They will keep the fish healthy by flowing 10 cubic feet per second of their water rights through the ponds and streams to keep the water cool and fresh. By the way I should mention that these pond and streams are not just holes and ditches but well thought out habitat for the trout with considerable attention to detail in their design and contsruction. It is an undstatement to say that Jeff Temple builds things right and beyond the expectations you form from the description. I have spent a good amount of time at Storm Mountain Ranch and I'm still impressed as I see how well Marabou Ranch is coming together.

One other feature of Marabou Ranch that I should mention is that they have their own private lease on 76,000 acres, giving over 40 miles of private fly-fishing on the North Platte, Michigan, Canadian and Platte Rivers near Walden Colorado. It is a reasonable drive or a very short flight by helicopter from Marabou Ranch. This fishery is well known for the quality of its fishing and stunning natural beauty since it is surrounded by the continental divide on one side, verdant pastures all around it and the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park in the distance.

Contact me if you would like to hear more about any of this or have me send you a stunning DVD that shows you more about the fishing and other amenities at Marabou Ranch. My number is 970-819-6930. Let me know if you are interested in a lot at Marabou Ranch and want to see it for yourself. I will arrange a visit to the ranch and a chance to fish it next time you are in town.

Back to the Marabou Ranch blog main page for more.

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