Trophy Trout Fly Fishing…Private Lakes & Big Thompson River! One Hour from Denver.

Editor’s Note: While this entry is by a season member, day guests have always been able to fly fish our private waters with at least a 1/2-day guided trip w/guides available from 12+ shops around NoCo. Support Sylvan Dale in rebuilding, but also local fly shops & professional guides who have also taken a big hit during the Colorado Floods.  Email for details.

“I enjoyed the private waters of Sylvan Dale on Wed, Sept 25 with fly fishing buddies Frank and Dave. It was a gorgeous sunny fall day with high Big Valley View from Easttemps in the mid 70s and little wind. While other parts of the ranch were hard hit by the flood, including the lower bass ponds and river, the valley was almost untouched, except for some road issues. Read more on Fly Fishing Member: “Get Your Big Fish Fix at Sylvan Dale!”…

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Craig and Fred, Mother Lake

Craig and Fred, Mother Lake

Ben Miller, professional guide out of Rocky Mountain Anglers and a favorite among guests, enjoyed a day of fly fishing for giant trout this week with his friend Craig (pictured left) and his other long-time friend, Fred (also pictured left ;-).  When he related they had a great day on the waters despite the summer heat, I asked the question all anglers want to know, “What exact fly pattern caught Big Fred? What flies were working well through the day? That is if you divulge your special flies, of course!”

Ben replied, I’m sure sporting a sly, wry smile (though I couldn’t see it through an email), “The fly in question is kinda my secret weapon out there, but I can tell you that large streamers with a fast strip was the answer. Dry droppers worked well in the morning: a juju baetis dropped below a sparkle dun. Small black leeches turned some fish as well on a slow strip.”

Classic answer from a true angling pro!  Ben and other guides who have their own “Secrets of the Hook” at Sylvan Dale’s private fly fishing waters, can be reached at Rocky Mountain Anglers if you want to have a chance at learning that “secret weapon” and other fly fishing skills!

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We are honored to have one of Colorado’s top-tier guides, Chris Eussen (of CE Flyfishing & Kirk’s Fly Shop) enjoying our private fly fishing waters with his special clients.

Check out his website link above if you want an adventure with a real pro who shares his life-long love of the great outdoors in a special way!

Way to go Mark! An acrobatic rainbow trophy trout!

Way to go Mark! An acrobatic rainbow trophy trout!

“Arrived on Mother Lake 8am on both Friday 6/7 and Monday 6/10. Lake is full, springs are running, water temps are getting warmer… big fish are still being caught! Both days fished identical. Both leading to trophies! 1st day with 3 anglers (Fred, Jared, and Jake) found fish hungry and active.

On Monday 3 anglers (Fred, Bruce, and Mark) also had a good day with plenty of action.

Fish were taken on Chironomids, Callibeates, and Damsel Nymphs. Read more on Fly Fishing Report ~ Summer Time Hog Hunting!…

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Members of the Warrior Transition Unit of Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, many still active-duty, and other American Heroes from the Cheyenne/Fort Collins Veterans Administration, enjoyed two days of fly fishing on our private waters this past weekend.

One trooper told me, “Ma’am, this is the most relaxed I’ve been in three years.  Thank the cooks, the guides, the owners, the donors and everybody behind the scenes for helping us have a much-needed break from our norm.”  You are most welcome, Sergeant Nathan!


These smiles are almost as big as the fish that were caught!
Photo by Suzette McIntyre ~ ⇱

Read more on Wounded American Heroes ~ Fly Fishing & Healing!…

"March Madness" Sylvan Dale Style ~ by Senior Ranch Guide, Bill Franz  970.635.9285

Every spring we ranch guides have annual chores to take care of before the season gets into full swing. And so it was Wednesday morning, March 20. I’d started out by working on Weldon Lake around 8:30. As I was paddling around I began to notice some midge activity and fish rising to them. I finished my work there and moved up to Island Lake to take care of a couple things. I saw a few heads there as well. After completing that chore I drove up to Mother Lake to put some tools away and start building the barley bales which keep Mother Lake free of moss all year.

At about 10:30 I looked up and the lake had erupted; midges everywhere and, I’d bet, every fish in the lake on the surface! There were rising fish from shoreline to shoreline. It didn’t matter where one stood to cast, every cast would have been at a rising fish! Did I say my rod was in the truck?
Read more on March Madness Fly Fishing…

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Thank you, Wallace Westfeldt of MudBug Co. and Front Range Anglers for this fly fishing report.  They have guided 4 trips to SDR since Wed the 13th.  For anglers who love to have the best gear, I must point out the excellent and VERY LARGE net that Wallace employs here.  Gotta have a big net for big fish!  Thanks, Wallace!

Lower Valley River: Too low to be of much use.

Main Ranch River: Clear of ice with low water. Significant midge hatch from about 10am-1pm. On Friday first dozen fish caught on #18 Adams and #22 Mole Fly fished as double dry. Later in the day caught on Poison Blue Tung and Copper Ribbed RS2. Low water limits the number of places to fish. Dining Hall riffle excellent as usual. North edge of Pyramid rock also had lots of fish rising. Not very good conditions for beginners. A reasonable cast is required.
Read more on Fly Fishing Report ~ Main River & Big Valley…

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Honest to Pete! (Who is Pete anyway?) This rainbow trout was caught in Mother Lake and measured 32 inches, folks!  Mike Kruise, co-owner of The Laughing Grizzly Fly Shop out of Longmont, was quite excited to report, and I quote, “This monster is the biggest rainbow I’ve caught ANYWHERE, EVER!” But then wryly commented that it sure sets his bar high for fly fishing the rest of the season!

He caught this on a small crawdad-orange colored squirrel leech!  (See below for more hot flies.)  Thanks for the photo, Mike, or some readers may not have believed you!

A picture is worth a thousand words...

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Read more on Fly Fishing Report ~ Monsters in Mother Lake!…

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Submitted by Ted Meredith, Ranch Guide 970.215.2816 ~ March 3:

“Mother Lake was fishing well on Friday with big trout taking light Clouser minnow patterns and crayfish worked on the bottom very slowly.  Some Chironomid action was noted with midge larva suspended below a strike indicator.  Midges were hatching on Saturday, as new adults could be seen hovering in the sunlight.

No noticeable takes from the trout were seen on the surface yet, although the fish were seeing the food activity. There is no ice on Mother Lake and the water level is at full capacity.  Island Lake still has a large percentage of ice covering the surface of the water.   Weldon Pond is 75 % open.  Long Lake, Hourglass and Big Pump are covered with ice.  For bass fishing, Little Pump and Snapping Turtle are ice free.

Big Lake is still covered with ice.   The Lower Valley River is mostly free from ice although the flow and water levels are minimal.  River fish can be spotted concentrated in pools waiting for more water to allowing them to explore to other areas.”


Happy March Angler on Mother Lake!

Happy March Angler on Mother Lake!

Read more on Fly Fishing Reports – “It’s Almost Spring!”…

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By Season Member, Glen Colton:

I fished Mother Lake twice this week realizing that the ‘good’ weather was coming to an end but I still had a few days of fishing left before it gets too cold for my liking.

I fished one day with my buddy Dave and one with Frank. On both days the weather was great; 50 degrees or so with little wind (except the wind came up late afternoon one day).

The water temperature was around 43 degrees with no ice on the lake. I tried fishing Island Lake for a short time the second day with no luck, but did not really give it a chance because the fishing was too good on Mother.

The fishing was great both days! If the lake does not freeze over, I would recommend anglers who are looking for a fishing fix to get out to Sylvan Dale soon and wet their lines!

Rainbow Trout Drawing

Rainbow Trout Drawing

Read more on Fly Fish Sylvan Dale: “Weather Cold – Fishing Hot!”…

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bald-eagle cruising fishing above a lake

American Bald Eagle ⇱

As of November 27, 2012, Mother Lake was in good shape. Water levels were full with clarity slightly off color and a noticeable covering of bottom algae was apparent.

Although the air temperature was around freezing during the late morning check, the water remains free from ice. Some shoreline crystals showed evidence of nightly freezing, however the warmer spring waters flowing into the lake on the South end were close to 46 degrees. Water temperature lowered to 42 degrees near the North end of the lake, as waters in nearby Island Lake had already frozen on approximately 75 % of the lake.

Read more on Fly Fishing Report: Competing with a Bald Eagle!…

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Glen Colton, Season Member, and his friend Dave enjoyed fly fishing Tuesday: “It was a beautiful day; overcast, with little wind. We mostly fished Mother Lake. The fish were midging most of the day — we caught some on various midge patterns during the day — challenging fishing for mostly picky fish. Dave picked up 4 in the early afternoon.

Moonrise Autumn

Moonrise Autumn ⇱

I fished Island Lake early afternoon to midging fish as well — caught some on buggers and some on midges. About 5 o’clock, when the fishing was slow, I tied on a chartreuse/white clouser and caught three.

Towards dark I caught a few on a zoo cougar. At dark, Dave and I both used big flies on the bottom — Dave a big black bugger with rubber legs and an autumn splendor. I tied on a Kelly Galloup Big Hole bugger. From about 6 to 8pm we fished under a beautiful full moon and each caught a number of nice fish, while losing an equal number.

As usual, the fish were very nice size — my largest being a 23″ rainbow. We didn’t fish the Big T. — it was running very high — probably the source of the flows into Boyd Lake. In the late afternoon we were treated to a large herd of elk that came down to the meadow to feed and get water at Mother Lake. All in all, a great day!”

~Thanks, Glen!

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Thanks, Marty Staab of Elkhorn Fly Rod & Reel for this report.  And Deniese, a guide from the same shop, for the pics!

Denise Fishing in Big Valley

Denise Fishing in Big Valley

“Sunrise at Mother Lake featured a glassy surface and many fish sipping near shore. A Callibaetis spinner was effective until the sun got a little higher, after which the rises decreased markedly, so we switched to float tubes and deep crawbuggers trailed with an olive stillwater nymph. The fish preferred big buggers, and slow retrieves, but several nice fish preferred the smaller trailing nymph.

Midmorning, Weldon had many feeding fish, and after many swirling surface refusals of hoppers and chernobyl ant, dropping a red chironomid sealed the deal. There are still active hoppers in the grass around the lake, and I would expect working tight to shoreline to be effective in the warmer and windier parts of the day.
Read more on Fly Fishing Report, Valley & River ~ 10/8/12…

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Main Ranch River, Dining Hall upriver. Water level ~30-40 cfs. Water Temp mid 50s, 8am-Noon

Aside from early hits on terrestrial patterns not much surface action. An equal number (~12) of Browns and Bows were caught on a variety of nymphs. Biggest hitter was the Poison Blue Tung #20 followed by Egan’s Tailwater Sowbug #20.

Other flies that took fish were Red Two Bit Hookers #18, Prince Nymph #14-16, and Rainbow Warrior #18. A good plan is to start with Midge Pupa imitation (Blue Tung) and then on to the bigger nymphs.

Carmien enjoys a beginner's lesson w/Wallace.

Carmien enjoys a beginners’ lesson w/ Wallace.

Also saw Epeorus (aka Pink Lady) in abundance. This is a rare sight particularly in quantity, but I’m pretty sure about the ID. However, did not see any fish action on them. Nevertheless, next time I am taking some larger soft hackles, ginger colored and going to try some large Adams. Long casts will give you an advantage. Also, look for shade. There wasn’t much at that location that day. I expect downriver and later in the day much more dry fly action.

All the fish, regardless of size, were well fed with good body shape.

By Wallace Westfeldt, Fish Acquisition Specialist ~ 303 601-1902

For pictures from this trip and many others on Ranch, check out Wallace’s Website.

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Autumn has arrived and as usual, Mother Lake is fishing well. Midges seem to be the soup d’jour for the big trout as dorsal fins break the water while fish are sipping emergers just below the surface.

Chrononmids with red or black bodies suspended just below the surface on 5x tippet provide enough of an illusion for the picky fish. Occasionally the big boys will surface with a loud slurp to engulf adult insects getting ready for flight.
Read more on Fly Fishing Report, Big Valley ~ 10/1/12…

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Mother Lake, 2-5pm.

On arrival, it’s clear that the Callibaetis are on big time. Bunches of male Speckle Wings were bouncing on the NW (leeward) bank. That day’s hatch must have happened earlier and there were very few risers. On the other hand, fish readily took Pandemic Callibaetis nymphs and Flashback Pheasant Tails in the lower half of the water column all afternoon. However, most productive patterns were Autumn Splendors (take the yellow legs off), and brown Meatwhistles, moving low and slow. Faster retrieves also inspired a few fish, particularly after an initial “bump.”

After 4pm, fish rose regularly to very small midges in the film and on top. Those of you who can handle #22 and 6X with 20+inch fish will have a great time. Happy Landings! ~ Wallace

More photos from the trip, plus contact info, Wallace’s Fish Acquisitions website.


Retreat guest, Michelle, with one of her big trouts and big smiles!

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