Generous Strike Zone at Marabou Ranch
Selected quotes: Article by Ray Sasser - STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Pat Stefanek was giddy with excitement, and the fishing guide wasn't even holding a rod. Stefanek ran through the tall grass that ringed the meandering stream, waving his landing net like a tennis racket, flushing a swarm of oversized grasshoppers. Some of the clumsily flying insects splashed down in the tailor-made meander at Marabou Ranch. As the hoppers drifted downstream, brilliantly-colored trout rose from their lairs beneath undercut banks, rocks and roots. They ate the grasshoppers and revealed their presence in the process.
Stefanek lined up my wife on a particularly big rainbow. Emilie is a fly-fishing novice, but she'd spent the previous day under our guide's watchful eye and her casting skills had made a quantum leap. Thanks to the 20 or so big trout she'd already caught from the Elk River, her fish-fighting technique had progressed even further.
Emilie's first cast landed just a little to the left of the big trout's hideout, drifting out of the strike zone. A trout in moving water is like a batter in baseball. The fish has a strike zone that's zealously guarded. Like an overanxious batter, a hungry trout will sometimes fall for an outside pitch, but the fish mostly waits patiently until the current delivers a juicy snack right down the middle of the proverbial plate.
"Cast a little more to the right this time," coached Stefanek. And, when Emilie complied, "That's perfect. This hopper will drift right over the fish." There was a silver and scarlet flash in the water, and Emilie's fly rod was bowed by an angry fish that pushed very near the 20-inch mark. I knew Emilie was in for a lengthy battle so I left her in Stefanek's capable hands and walked to the next likely spot. I didn't even cast the oversized grasshopper-pattern – just dropped it straight below me and peeled off a little line to allow a natural drift. The fly didn't move five feet before a trout tried to eat it.
The manmade meadow meander was a perfect way to end two days of the best trout fishing I've experienced anywhere south of Alaska. In some ways, it was better than Alaska because Alaskan trout are seldom caught on surface flies. Of the 30 fish I landed in two days, more than 20 rose to a big hopper. For the rest of the article click here. Back to the Marabou Ranch Steamboat blog main page for more.