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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It’s Not Too Late!

Make plans to attend Sylvan Dale’s "Timeless Romance" Fall Bridal Show, this Sunday, September 30th from noon until three.

Sunday’s free bridal show is your best opportunity to meet our wedding coordinators and meet with local wedding vendors and wedding services providers while exploring the surrounding beauty of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. And you’ll get to experience Sylvan Dale during the beautiful Fall season! Autumn at the ranch is filled with spectacular color accompanied by refreshing mountain breezes.


Autumn Wedding Ceremony by the Heart-J Pond.

Admission to the bridal show is completely free so come on out, and bring your family and friends for a fun time at the ranch.

Read more on ‘Fall in Love’ at Sylvan Dale’s Free Bridal Show…

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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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Holiday parties are a great way to celebrate and reconnect on a personal level with staff and their families…we’ve been hosting holiday parties for over 60 years, and have recently introduced a variety of fun activities for to enhance your holiday party experience:

  • Holiday campfire, with S’more and hot chocolate- nothing says “cozy” more then sitting around a campfire enjoying yummy s’mores and hot chocolate.
  • Horse drawn wagon ride- Belgian draught horses and sleigh bells make this a holiday favorite
  • Tractor-drawn hayride- a slow and easy ride along the foothills trail
  • Christmas caroling and singalongs a songfest of classics carols accompanied by piano or guitar…it’s not fancy, but it will warm your heart
  • Cowboy entertainment, singing and lots of laughter- Cowboy Jake is the funniest gunslinger around…the real deal
  • Cowboy Santa Claus- it’s the Jolly old elf himself…don’t forget your wish list
  • Face Painting for the kids -Santa’s elves bring their own brand of fun
  • Caricatures- sure it’s goofy, but a great ice-breaker too
  • Holiday Hoedown-all your dance favorites- line dancing, square dancing, two-step and Cotton Eyed Joe!
  • Holiday Karoke- here’s your chance to belt out your favorite holiday (or other) tune to the whole company… go for it!
  • Holiday Photos- add your company background or choose from different backgrounds…no charge for posing or making fun faces with the boss.
  • Holiday Crafts- create your own old-fashioned wooden Christmas ornament…we’ll supply all the materials, you supply the creativity

 We offer a choice of party rooms, tasty brunch, lunch and dinner menus and bar service featuring fine wines and Colorado brews.  Plus 50% savings off your party room rate!

If you’re unsure about your holiday party plans, give us a call or email…we’d love to help.  Cheers!


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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Another super-successful Grandparents Day celebration is over.

This year almost 270 Grand Family members attended for the Grand Families’ picnic at Daddy J’s, (which is SO appropriate, since Maurice had a large and very special place in his heart for children who struggle.)

For those who don’t know this organization, it is a support group begun by the Namaqua Center, ten years ago, for grandparents who have stepped up and are raising their grandchildren. Many of the biological parents of these children have become meth, or other kinds of addicts and alcoholics, have become abusive, are in jailor have died.

Most of these children have been traumatized repeatedly. They have been abused, neglected, abandoned and exploited. They are not easy children to raise. They range in age from 2 years through adolescence.


The number of grandchildren being raised by one or more of these grand parents ranges from one to five. The grandparents provide them with love, safety and stability, often at great cost to themselves, their financial well-being, and their own dreams. I have never heard anyone of them complain!

Read more on Grandparents Day 2012…

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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Calling all Cowgirls…get ready for another weekend of fun and riding adventure, 9/27–10/1/2012!


Lori & Susan — Ready to Ride!

While you’re at the ranch, make plans to treat your body right, too.

What’s better then a classic massage and hot-tub soak at the end of a perfect day of riding?

Massages are performed indoors or out, subject to the weather. We offer a choice of natural oils…Citrus Blend, Peppermint and Eucalyptus are current favorites. Choose a deep tissue, therapeutic massage to relieve sore muscles and rejuvenate and re-energize the body. Or try our Relaxation Massage, offering a lighter touch to relax the overall body and mind…you may even fall asleep!

Wrap up your massage experience with a leisurely soak in the hot tub as you share laughs and stories with new found friends.
Treat your body right!

For more information visit

Too book your stay or schedule your massage, call Karen at 970-667-3915.

“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

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Adults Only Dude Ranch Vacations

Adults Only Dude Ranch Vacation Week — August 19th – 25th, 2012

No doubt, kids are special — the little ones add a special spice to life with their innocence and unspoiled insight … at the same time they can be a lot of work! Everyone needs a vacation every now and then but if vacation becomes “work”, it’s no vacation at all.

Your best vacation might just mean getting away alone — no “kidding”!

We really love kids here at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch and do everything we can to make a stay at the ranch a fun and memorable experience for the little cowpokes as well as adults. We also appreciate the times you need a respite, to simply get away from the routine and re-create.

Our Adults Only Vacation may be just the ticket!

Many experts agree that there are great benefits to taking time away to relax, gather oneself, reflect and just have fun. The emergence of several new “child free” vacation websites like seems to affirm the growing trend for Adults Only getaways.

Shelly Phillips makes several thoughtful points in her article The importance of time away from your kids:

When you get time away you’re able to look at things from a new perspective. You might get some new insights into a recurring dynamic at home, or you might just relax and enjoy yourself, allowing yourself to let go and stop being responsible for another human being for a moment. When you get time away you’re able to look at things from a new perspective.

Read more on Don’t “Kid” Yourself (Adults Only Getaway)…

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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Sylvan Dale Ranch is the home of the Preston Middle School Wildlife Research Project, a project based learning program in association with International Telementor Program.

This unique project enables Preston’s students to improve wildlife habitat, learn scientific inquiry, explore web resources and, through the process, experience what it means to produce quality work.

Plus they get to see quite a bit of Sylvan Dale‘s wildlife and have allot of fun in the process.

The good folks at the Journal of the International Telementor published a full report in their Spring 2012 Issue and are kind enough to share it with you all:  

 There’s also a great video with great wildlife footage here