By Kent Danjanovich
Fly fishermen are always looking for new waters, may it be in the form of high mountain lakes, big rivers or pristine trickling creeks. Here in the west, we are fortunate to have a great selection of all of the above.
Now, even though we have some great opportunities in my home state of Utah, some of my favorite waters are located in our adjoining state of Wyoming. Exceptional opportunities present themselves throughout the year, whether it be stripping streamers, nymphing or presenting a dry fly.
We are always looking for new and exciting operations to join our prestigious Platinum Approved Outfitters family and when we met the Director of Activities and Outfitting at Brush Creek Ranch, Matt Anderson, at the SCI Convention in Las Vegas this past February, we knew right away that we had found the gem of the west.
Arrangements were quickly made, with the dates of our visit to be May 22-25, 2017. Myself and Chad LaChance (The Fishful Thinker) would be meeting up at the resort, along with my cameraman, Sam Staudt, in hopes of gathering plenty of information for a feature story as well as plenty of footage for an upcoming edition of our Sportsman’s News Television DVD line.
We jumped in my F-150 early on Monday morning and eight hours later, found ourselves driving through the gates at the resort. A representative was waiting for us when we entered and after a quick ‘hello’ we pulled in behind him and soon found ourselves parking in front of the registration building, adjacent to the main lodge.
A host of staff members greeted us upon our arrival and after we filled out a few forms and received the customary welcome instructions, we loaded into a resort Suburban that would transport us to our cabin just over the hill. When we arrived, we found my truck parked in front of the ‘Anglers Cabin’ and our luggage and gear unloaded just inside the door.
Matt filled us in on our accommodations and schedule for the next three days and then told us to settle in a little and that he would be back in about 45 minutes to pick us up and gives us the grand tour of the property. We would soon find out just how impressive the ranch really was.
Brush Creek Ranch has become a grand destination, set upon 30,000 acres in south/central Wyoming. The ranch is situated in the heart of the famed Platte River Valley, set between the Sierra Madre Mountain range and the Medicine Bow National Forest. Activities of all kinds abound throughout the property, but our focus on this particular trip would be the fishing side of things at this highly rated, Orvis Endorsed destination.
We eventually made our way to the French Creek Sportsman’s Club, located on the beautiful Sanger Ranch section of the ranch. The finishing touches were under way, as guests would soon be arriving to partake of both the fishing opportunities as well as shooting sports, including a sporting clays range, 5-stand and long-range targets. The hunting side of things, for both big game and upland birds, would be ramping up by August 1st.
After the tour of the club, we took our seats in the dining area, as the lodge’s Executive Chef and staff thrilled us with a host of fancy creations that they were working on. Cornish game hens, succulent rib-eye steaks and crusted trout served as the main course, along with luscious appetizers, salads and picture-perfect desserts.
By 9 pm, we were back at our cabin, prepping our gear for the next days’ adventure on The Encampment River. We each then retired to our rooms to settle in for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning found us at the breakfast table at the main lodge by 7:30 am. Pastries, fresh fruit and made-to-order creations were all available for our likings and I must say, the Eggs Benedict was as good as I have ever had!
By 8 am, we were loading into the Suburban and heading to our starting point on the river. We would be floating the river on platformed rafts, as they would offer the best float on the lower flows of The Encampment. Our guides, Matt Anderson and Adam Crowson quickly set up our rods with nymphing rigs and then slid the rafts off of the trailer.
It didn’t take long for Chad to get into the action, as he hooked into a beautiful brown not 100 yards into our float. The 18” golden ball of muscle was quickly released back into the water after a valiant fight. Then it was my turn, as my strike indicator twitched to the left and I set the hook on a gorgeous rainbow. The next six hours was full of more of the same, as both of us landed over a dozen fish a piece, with sizes ranging from 16- to 22-inches.
That evening we enjoyed bison rib-eyes back at the lodge as we were able to mingle with some of the newly arrived guests. After dinner, we headed to the saloon to play a little pool and Chad and Sam took the opportunity to try a few of the bartenders’ fancy creations.
The next morning, we grabbed a quick bagel and bowl of fruit before heading out to the North Platte wilderness area for a 20-mile float. We arrived at our destination at about 8:30 am and by nine, we were on the water. This float would be totally different from our first day’s adventure, as the flows would be about double on the North Platte from those of The Encampment. Although we would be doing some nymphing, much of our day would be full of throwing cone-headed streamers, with a smaller, non-weighted fly following.
The first half of our float would be through the canyon/wilderness area of the North Platte. A spectacular setting unfolded before our eyes as we drifted through breathtaking scenery and blue-ribbon waters. It seemed like every time Adam told us to cast to a specific spot, Chad or I would hook into a fish. By the time we pulled over for lunch about half-way through our drift, we had each landed well over 20 fish.
By the end of our nine-hour float, we unloaded from our rafts with soar shoulders from casting and tired backs from fighting fish. But, the fishing was so good, I could have jumped right back on to do it all over again. And to think this was late May, with the really good river flows and hatches yet to come. Oh my!
Now, our visit to Brush Creek Ranch really just scratched the surface of what they truly have to offer. This active cattle ranch includes five properties that have been assembled to form one of the most outstanding destinations in the country. Condé Nast Traveler has rated Brush Creek Ranch as the #1 Ranch/Spa in the U.S. Their luxury accommodations, spa, food and amenities are second to none and their packages cover a wide range of activities and group sizes.
We are proud to welcome Brush Creek Ranch as one of our newest Platinum Approved Outfitters and Lodges. In fact, they will soon also be part of our Pro Membership Sweepstakes, as we are working on both a fishing adventure and also a big game hunt, hopefully during the 2018 season. The deer and elk hunting opportunities on the ranch are fantastic, merging perfectly with their outstanding accommodations and other wonderful amenities.
So, if you are looking for a unique destination, one that will satisfy an intimate couples retreat or a family or corporate outing, look no further than Wyoming’s Brush Creek Ranch. You can check them out on the web at www.brushcreekranch.com or give them a call at 307-327-5284. The ultimate in service and hospitality await!