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!

project-healing-waters-group-shot-river

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

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

Amigo

April Horse of the Month — Amigo

Foaled in 1999, Amigo arrived at Sylvan Dale in 2006 with Cisco and LaGarita from LaGarita Ranch.

Amigo is a sorrel gelding with 3 socks and a blaze. He’s a great big friendly horse as well as a steady and hardy trail climber.

Amigo heads up our Adventure Rider Program with Krista as his beloved rider.

He also enjoys working with cattle, taking out trail rides, or winning Barrel and Pole events at our Friday afternoon Gymkhanas during the summer season. Amigo’s best friend is Pardner.

Visit our Horse of the Month page

"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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Tee Cross Baron

March Horse of the Month — Tee Cross

Foaled in 2004, “Tee Cross” is a nice big stout bay gelding.

For such a big guy, he has the sweetest little pony face that you could just hug and kiss him all day long. I’m not sure he would like that so I wouldn’t recommend trying. He thinks he’s a big tough cow horse.

Tee Cross is proving to be a wonderful trail horse, very solid and sure footed. He really likes to go on the cattle drives the best, and is bred to be a great cow horse. His mother is “Tivios Cross Bar” aka. “Cassie” or “Mama Cass” as I call her. She has been one of our best guest horses since her retirement from being a broodmare.

Tee Cross’ sire is “Gold Dust Trail” a palomino stallion whose bloodlines go back to one of Sylvan Dale’s foundation sires, “Baronet Bar.” Tee Cross has a full brother, a palomino named “Sparkie Bar Rancher” and a full sister, a bay named “Sugar Tee Trail.”

Visit our Horse of the Month page

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.”

THANKS TED!

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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Heart-J Lady

Feb. Horse of the Month — Heart-J Lady

Heart-J Lady was born on May 12, 2007 the morning of the services held for Mayme Jessup who had passed away January 9th. All the Jessup family and friends were there to honor the memory of Mayme and her beloved Maurice, who’s services were held on May 12, 1993.

It was a beautiful bright sunny morning and I came out early to see if Sun Sails had foaled. There she was, a beautiful little palomino filly, peeking out from behind her mother. She had long straight legs and large dark eyes fringed with beautiful white eyelashes. She was very shy just like her two sisters before her. Right away I thought we should name her “Heart-J Lady” in honor of Mayme Jessup. Mayme was known as the Heart in the Heart-J brand.

Heart-J Lady’s bloodlines trace back to three of Sylvan Dale’s best sires, Sparkie Y Sweet, Baronet Bar, and Thirsty’s Sandy. Her mother “Sun Sails” carries the blood of many famous cow horses. Heart-J Lady has two full sisters, “Foxy Trail West,” and “Silky Trail West,” both are beautiful palominos. There is one baby brother, a sorrel named “Gold Dust Rustler.”

I really enjoyed halter training and doing the kids program with Heart-J Lady as she is kind, willing and likes attention. Our trainer Barry McAleenan completed Heart-J Lady’s training and has turned her over to the wranglers to finish her trail training before our guests begin riding her.

She is a smart sensitive horse who should be great at trails and cattle work. Guests should be riding her sometime in 2013.

Visit our Horse of the Month page

Sundance Kid

Horse of the Month — Sundance Kid

“Sundance Kid” was foaled in 1990 near North Platte, Nebraska, and was originally registered as “Bar L Chip’s Victor” — quite a mouthful!

“Kid” and his older half brother,”Bar L Nu-Mario” came upstream to Sylvan Dale in 1993 as “Newt” and “Vic,” two tons of magnificent Belgian horses.

Both seemed mighty relieved to get their new western names and get down to work.

Sadly, “Kid’s” half brother “Butch Cassidy” died in 2007.

“Kid” continued to work with new partners, pulling countless hayrides for “Dude Ranch” and holiday guests, family reunions, retreats, and company picnics …and harrowing the Main Arena and the occasional pasture.

Hundreds of folks from around the world have had their first introduction to “heavy horses” guiding him around the small arena with “gee” and “haw” and the slightest touch of those long lines…or hitching him to the training cart for a jog around the Main Ranch.

Now semi-retired, gentle and willing as ever, “Kid” is the ideal “lesson horse.”

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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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Goodbye Fall, Hello Winter…for today anyway!
Colorado is known for its unique "summer today, winter tomorrow" weather. Yesterday was a comfortable light-shirt day — today, no so much.

While locals were enjoying the temperate weather in the 70s just days ago, beginning last night, the region received its first "official" snow of the season.

I waited too late to capture the white frosting fully covering the grounds early this morning but here’s a few samples of what still lingered on the leaves, and lawn and beyond. By the time you see these, the snow will have all but vanished!

Blue Spruce by Rainbow Lake

Blue Spruce by Rainbow Lake

Jesse King

Jesse King

About this same time in 2010, the waters at Sylvan Dale underwent a minor transformation as Bonfils-Stanton’s Jesse King rescued a dozen submerged river rocks, placing their natural talent for grace and balance on display. Of course, it was really Jesse’s talent being showcased, but he couldn’t have done it without Sylvan Dale’s stable stones! ;-)

The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation’s team returned this year for another group event and once again Jesse returned to the river, fishing the cool waters to find the best candidates to upright, building another ephemeral testament to the beauty of simplicity. View the photos from this year and 2010 below.

Read more on Return to “Sylvanhenge” – Rise of the Rocks…