By John Bleh
Sportsman’s News Pro Staff
For many fly fishermen, one of the great attractions of the sport is the variety of methods and species you can chase with a fly rod. Lots of anglers like to fish dry flies, nymphs and streamers and do so all in one trip. Different water types can add even more to the fun – lakes, rivers, ponds and small streams; hike-in mountain brooks and high-country lakes or world famous rivers. You can fish from a boat, raft or wade fish. Usually though, when you plan a trip, you have to make a few choices and focus on just one kind of fishing. Well, hold on partner, because there’s a lodge in Colorado that offers a huge range of fishing and it’s all easily accessed from one central location.
Broadacres Ranch has big river fishing on the Rio Grande River. It’s a place where anglers can wade or float fish, offering an incredible private freestone creek where browns, rainbows and cutthroats rise with abandon and reward accurate casting, along with private lakes and access to over 50 miles of back-country streams in the Rio Grande National Forest teeming with brookies, browns, rainbows and cutthroats.
The Rio Grande is, without a doubt, one of Colorado’s best kept Gold Medal Water secrets and far from the crowds that haunt the Colorado or South Platte closer to Denver. Of the 9,000 miles of trout rivers in Colorado, a scant 168 have received Gold Medal status. Flowing clear and cold from its tailwater start at Rio Grande Reservoir, 25 miles away, early season on the Rio Grande River features ideal water levels for float trips. Starting in late June, after runoff subsides, Broadacres Ranch opens for the season. Most guests at this time of year take advantage of the water levels to float the river. Much of the river has excellent fishing and the ranch floats 30 miles of the upper river, but the two and a half miles of private water at the ranch are nothing short of outstanding. Browns and rainbows averaging around 14-inches are typical, but plenty of fish are caught up to 20-inches during a day on the water and occasionally 25-inch trophies as well.
As water levels drop throughout the summer, wade fishing becomes the norm and stalking the big fish on the ranch becomes the obsession of many guests. A steady parade of hatches are coming off by the time the ranch opens to guests including stoneflies, caddis, PMDs and BWOs. For many anglers, dry fly fishing is their favorite way to fish and there’s no better place to do it than the Rio Grande. July and August bring great terrestrial action and the Green Drake hatch. There’s always a chance to fool a big brown by working the banks and deep runs with a streamer.
But big river fishing just scratches the surface at Broadacres. Shallow Creek is a beautiful freestone stream that meanders through a combination of pocket water and meadow stretches. Intensive stream restoration and habitat enhancement help hide surprisingly large trout in its mile and a half of rocks, logs and undercut banks. If you like casting a fly in tight places with big rewards, you’ll love Shallow Creek.
As if these weren’t riches enough for any fisherman, Broadacres Ranch boasts several private lakes with cruising trout. These stillwaters are perfect for the beginning angler to work on his or her cast, with the added bonus of the chance to catch a real trophy.
Many anglers are drawn to the wilderness offered by the nearby Rio Grande National Forest. Over 50 miles of streams are guided by the ranch staff in this two million acre wilderness that follows 200 miles of the continental divide. Here you’ll have your best chance to catch a Colorado Grand Slam (brown, brook, rainbow and cutthroat) in the area waters. While the fish aren’t big, the scenery is spectacular up in the mountains and there are often chances to spot elk, deer, moose and other species. It’s the ideal place to fish with a three or 4-weight rod. At 9,000 feet above sea level, the fishing season is more compressed than lower located lodges, running from the third week of June through early September. While there may be less time in the season to cast a line, it seems the fish more than make up for it by feeding hard when they get the chance.
Non-anglers will have plenty to do on and off the ranch and are welcome to wander around. In the surrounding area and nearby town of Creede, there are more attractions including shopping, museums and even the oldest repertory theatre in Colorado. Golf, hiking, birding, horseback riding and wildlife viewing are just a few of the activities available.
Good fishing lodges require more than rising fish to excel and it’s pretty clear that the folks at Broadacres Ranch understand this. When current owner, Charles Nearburg, bought the ranch in 1998, he spent three years renovating and rebuilding the ranch buildings, as well as investing in major habitat restoration on the ranch waters. The accommodations at the ranch now include six private cabins in an assortment of settings and the main lodge, which houses the dining room, library and business office with internet access for guest use. The cabins range from cozy, one bedrooms within walking distance of the main lodge, to private three bedroom cabins capable of hosting entire families. With gourmet meals, fine wines, professional guides and the wide-open, starlit Colorado sky to tuck you in at night, you can’t do much better than this fishing nirvana. Orvis recognized the quality of the ranch and its fishing experience by admitting it to their Endorsed Lodge program in 2000.
So if you’re looking for a new fishing destination that’s just a bit off the beaten path, a place where you can easily fish without seeing another angler all day or a place where you can test yourself against big, strong river trout, you should check out Broadacres Ranch. You won’t be disappointed. www.broadacresranch.com