Kathi W.

I am happy to work with the fishing guides & guests at Sylvan Dale Ranch. Helping people enjoy fly fishing and catch big rainbow trout on our stocked lakes, native trout in the Big Thompson River or even big-mouth bass with spin-cast rods is a joy! I try to post conditions reports as well as stories & photos to show how time in the great outdoors is healing to our souls! Come out soon for some Rocky Mountain Rainbows!

I am happy to work with the fishing guides & guests at Sylvan Dale Ranch. Helping people enjoy fly fishing and catch big rainbow trout on our stocked lakes, native trout in the Big Thompson River or even big-mouth bass with spin-cast rods is a joy! I try to post conditions reports as well as stories & photos to show how time in the great outdoors is healing to our souls! Come out soon for some Rocky Mountain Rainbows!

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Thanks to Rocky Mountain Anglers and Guide Randy Hicks for this report:

“Al Ritt’s fighting craw was good out of boats with sink tips all day. Trail it with a damsel nymph.  Hopper dropper was good with chironomids and damsel nymphs underneath. Fish were cruising close til about 10 am, then moved farther out. Beetle was best dry fly. Hoppers took a few, but only on the twitch warriors, blue poison tungs. River fished great.


A Young Happy Angler on Mother Lake

Mother Lake was good from shore early, weedy in some areas. Looks like some fish are pre-spawn in some sections. Try moorish hopper from idylwilde, with black or red chironomids below. Fished Mother Lake til noon then hit the river. River was best with RS2s; rainbow warriors on the lake.”

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Thanks to Fish Acquisition Specialist, Wallace Westfeldt, for another of his helpful reports.  And check out his website with more pics of monster trout caught on Sylvan Dale Ranch’s private fly fishing waters.

“Mother Lake: Early fish were caught mostly on legless Autumn Splendors slowly stripped deep, preferably with sinking line. As the day progress, red or green snowcone Chronomids were taken. Reduce size and raise in water column as the water temp warms up.”

Ranch Member, Franky K, with his lucky CYO (Colorado Youth Outdoors) cap & a big beauty on Mother Lake, mid-August ~

Frank K rainbow float tube Zoom

Frank with a Gorgeous Rainbow Trout

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As of Friday August 24, the big Thompson was running clear near 150 CFS. Trout were seeking shaded pools as water temps were still in mid sixties. Some caddis have been seen with more prevalent midge hatches occurring.  Prince nymph patterns with black beauty dropper flies have been productive.  Dry /dropper combinations using caddis or mayfly patterns on top have brought the occasional strike. Overcast skies seem to provide the best fishing as does early morning or late afternoon.  Grasshoppers are abundant along the shoreline, so prospecting with a chernobyl ant or a joe’s hopper might be productive.

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“Mother Lake in the Big Valley continues to fish well, especially in the morning up untill early afternoon.  The damsel hatch is waning but fish can still be taken on damsel nymphs fished deep.  Terrestrials are the hot ticket for dry flies.  Grasshoppers, beetles and Chernoybl ants are working well when there is chop on the water.

Note: We are seeing dead fish due to stress of prolonged struggle and/or time out of the water for photographs. Please get the fish in as quickly as possible and keep them in the water for photos.

The river is great using attractor drys and nymphs. Elk Hair caddis, Wullfs, H&L Variants and Stimulators are working all over the Ranch. Prince nymphs, Hare’s Ears and Pheasant Tails make effective droppers below the drys. Fishing is best before mid-afternoon due to the heat.”

Greg Sheets is the ranch’s Head Guide and can be reached for guided trips at 970.667.8596 or gregorysheets@comcast.net

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Forrest, Head Guide for Elkhorn Fly Rod & Reel just up the road from the ranch’s private flyfishing waters, submitted this great report from his trip this week with a couple from Florida.

We started our day off fishing on Mother Lake around noon. We saw some risers but only got a couple takes on beetles, so we went to Island Lake for a while. The fishing was unbelievable!”

Immediately we had intense action on red chronomids. We were constantly fighting and landing fish. Between the two clients, I hardly had enough time to get one fish off the hook before the other was hooked up again! We had 6, yes SIX doubles on the day, and the smallest fish was 17″!!! Red chronomids, damsel nymphs and the occasional take on the beetle accounted for every fish landed.

After a couple hours of fun at Island and then landing a monster 25″ rainbow right at the inlet, they said they wanted a shot at some real giants in Mother.

forrest fishing w lady

Joni, of Florida, w/1 of many catches & smiles of the day!
Guide Forrest can’t help but smile as well!

By this time the clouds had rolled in and it began to sprinkle a little, which really turned the fish on. We sighted one of the 30″+ sharks in Mother Lake, but were unable to get it to take anything. No problem though, because we picked up right where we had left off earlier at Island Lake hooking fish after fish in various spots on Mother!!

At sunset as the night began to roll in, the husband, Tim, standing right next to the spring hooked up on a dandy fish. As he was fighting the fish, it decided to swim directly at him! In an attempt to keep the line taut, he began to walk backwards…and tripped. The icy spring water poured down his waders but since the water was shallow, there were no problems other than Joni and I trying to keep a straight face.

As his wife was laughing about 20 yards away, line began to scream out her reel as they hooked up on another double! Both fish were landed quickly and easily.

The wife’s fish was 21″ and the husband’s was 23″ but weighed 5 lbs! With the perfect end to a perfect afternoon of fishing, they decided to call it quits on that note. The total for the day ended up being 20+ fish landed and over 35 hooked. It was amazing, and I can’t wait to get another group out to Sylvan Dale’s private waters again soon!

Ranch Editorial:  Forrest is not only an accomplished angler and guide, he is a musician and artist, too!  We’re so glad he shared the following photo along with this note: “I just painted my 12 string guitar like a rainbow for some of my longer trips where entertainment is a must!”  WOW! If any of you would like to be serenaded in the shade a big cottonwood tree, sipping a refreshing beverage after catching a bunch of trout, call Forrest, Head Guide at Elkhorn Fly Rod & Reel.

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Fly Fishing Report 6-30-12 by Wallace Westfeldt 

Okay I’ll admit it:  I was concerned about the heat at Mother Lake. So, I talked my guest into going very early … well, we were fishing by 7:15. Early morning action was all on midges.

Dry Dropper rig with a Chernobyl on top and #20 UV midge did the trick. When the midges died down, switched to a lime green Damsel nymph. Definitely the fly of the day … all day. We were fortunate to get afternoon cloud cover so fish continued to take into the mid afternoon. Highest water temp one foot down was 68 degrees. Not bad for this weather. Springs are running well. Also caught fish on Orange Blossom Special and Callibaetis nymph.

Wallace client bent rod Mother Lake

Bent rods on Mother Lake = Big Fish!

Did see some Callibaetis spinners, but not too many takes on those. Trick of the day was Loch Style Rig from a Belly Boat. Don’t know what that is? Send me a note and I’ll tell you … or better yet let’s set a date and I’ll show you!  ~ Wallace, MudBugCo, Fish Acquisitions ~ More Pictures Here

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A couple days after JB’s previous report on this blog (scroll down), he had another great day:  “The fishing continued to be outstanding for my guests Joe and Michael on Mother Lake while sight fishing from the bank in the morning.

JB client Michael's first trout

Michael’s First Trout! ⇱

The choppy surface and slightly overcast day were perfect conditions that produced double digit numbers of rainbows taking a Chernobyl Ant trailed with a damsel nymph. The damsel bite is on!

This was Michael’s first fly fishing experience and he may be “spoiled” now by Sylvan Dale’s wonderful fishery!   The afternoon was spent up on the Main Ranch River and the fishing was good using a Pat’s Rubber Legs trailed by either a PMD or caddis larva nymph…not too many rising fish, as the sun seemed to keep them down, but a great day for Joe and Michael!”

Submitted by:  John “JB” Bruning – Guide & Sculptor – www.confluenceartsllc.com

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JB client Felicia June

Felicia’s Biggest Rainbow

“The Peterson family enjoyed another magical day of fly fishing on the lower valley lakes and ponds with Kirk Bien (Kirk’s Fly Shop, Estes Park) and John “JB” Bruning. Catching was fast and furious in the morning as several 18-24” fish were caught and released in Mother and Island Lakes.  The main medicine was trolling weighted black leeches trailed with damsel nymphs behind float tubes or suspending nymphs (red & black chironomids and damsels) four to six feet deep.  A bit of sight fishing around the bank of Mother Lake also produced a big handful of beautiful rainbows on a Chernobyl ant trailed by a damsel nymph.  The day finished down at the bass ponds where the Peterson boys found some eager largemouth bass using woolly buggers…it was a wonderful day at Sylvan Dale Ranch!”

Check out JB’s website for contact info to have him guide your next trip!

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There is something about the gentle rocking of a pontoon boat on Mother Lake during the warm, mid-afternoon hours. Maybe it’s the doldrums of the feeding action or simply the slow digestion of the noon subway sandwiches, chips and beer, as the body starts to think that a brief nap might be in order.

Trophy Trout in Hand

Trophy Trout in Hand ⇱

Such was the case last Thursday as Tommie Thompson kicked his flippers to propel his craft in the middle of the lake.

Wake-up Call

I remember watching the strike indicator rest motionless on the surface, when suddenly it plunged downward and the drag sounded like a siren. Tommie’s quick reaction brought the hook to a holding position and the fight was on.

I maneuvered my guide boat alongside Tommie’s pontoon and swiftly managed to net Mr. Thompson’s catch. A chunky rainbow had taken the suspended damsel nymph to the delight of yet another Sylvan Dale angler.” ~Ranch Guide Ted Meredith 970-215-2816.

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by Glen, Season Member

I went to Sylvan Dale Ranch yesterday from about 11:30–7:30pm. All the lakes in both Upper & Lower Valley, trout and bass, are fishing great! I caught about a half dozen on damsel fly dry and calibaetis emergers on Mother Lake from my pontoon boat and from shore up until 3pm.

There was some surface activity starting about 12:30, but it was kind of sporadic. I tried down and dirty for a while (meat whistle, wooly bugger, beadhead pheasant tail) with no results. [Ranch note: see previous report a few days ago that did have success “down & dirty”… fish are so finicky!]

I then caught another half dozen or so in Island lake near the inlet and in the area to the east that has been deepened, with a variety of flies – Chernobyl ant, bugger, clouser minnow. There are fish all along in that area. Then I fished Big Lake from shore and caught one nice bass, a big crappie, a bunch of smaller bass. Finally, ended up fishing Pump Lake with a popper from about 6 until 7:30. I caught over a dozen bass including a couple pretty good sized ones and some big bluegill/pumpkin seeds on a bass popper there.

Fly fishing for bass was good when it was windy and riffly, helping make the fish less wary. All in all a good day with a lot of variety of flyfishing and types of fish – but, alas, no 30 inchers.” [Ranch Note: We know you’ll be back to go for those big lunkers, but glad you had fun with “regular” sized trophy trout & any fish big enough to bend the rod! :-) Thanks, Glen!]

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by Wallace Westfeldt

“Sylvan Dale Ranch is one of those rare places where you can take a large group, in this case a family of eight, and enjoy flyfishing on a variety of waters with great fish. Both the lakes and the river fished well all day except or the mid-afternoon lull on Mother Lake. Fly of the day on Mother Lake was the Jumbo Rojo chronomid. 

Other flies that took fish on Mother Lake were:  Damsels, red and black chronomids, Meatwhistle, Blank Saver leech, Grasshopper.  Water temp 1 foot down in the morning was 58 degrees warming to 62 in the afternoon. The Main Ranch River took a variety of nymphs, but fish also vigorously rose to a Chubby Chernobyl.”

Visit Wallace’s website for stories & photos of his fishing adventures at the ranch!

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by Wallace, Master of Fish Acquisitions

“Mother Lake: A lot of fish taking smaller midges from the surface and below. Damsel Nymphs working near shore. Mid afternoon, complete shutdown as fish move towards center and down. Best catch of the day, 21 inch rainbow taking on a #20 Mother’s Lake midge on top.

Main Ranch River: Great level for the River, but unusually slow around Dining Hall. Many fish taken at the Devil’s Elbow, down deep on Poison Blue Tung and Girdle Bug. Concurrently, there was a massive PMD hatch, but no risers and no takes on nymph imitations. Go figure.”

Thanks, Wallace!  Check out his website & photos… Fish Acquisitions by Wallace Westfeldt, www.MudBugCo.com



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HOLY COW! Jason V. of Loveland switched to his sink-tip line as the refusals on the dry fly made him wonder what the fish were taking. He ran a two fly rig with an olive bead head fly on top that guide Ted Meredith had given him, and a special damsel nymph that Jason had in his own box.

Jason V with a Really Big Rainbow!

Jason V with a Really Big Rainbow! ⇱

Holy Cow! Look at the size of that fish! I need a bigger net! Wow! It’s a Donaldson! Holy Cow!

While seeing the fish take him into the backing, Jason landed the fish after a short battle.

Although the fish was not officially measured, it was certainly in the 10 pound range and measured at well over 27 inches long.

~Ranch Guide, Ted Meredith

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You may be interested in a community-wide effort to clean up Loveland area waterways!  COME ON OUT SATURDAY AND BE PART OF A SPECIAL PROJECT!  Sylvan Dale Ranch is once again joining the Big Thompson Watershed Forum’s 2011 Annual Spring Waterway Clean-up this Saturday, April 16th from 9:00am to Noon.  The City of Loveland is hosting other groups in other areas – but if you’d like to help on the Big Thompson River near the ranch, call 970-667-3915 and we’ll give you the meet-up info.  Here is a shot of ranch friends and neighbors, Connor and John, smiling with their efforts last year on a beautiful stretch of river.  More than 250 volunteers of all ages gathered up 10 tons of trash last year!  Let’s beat our own record!

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