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The 2022 Mountain West Fly Fishing Report

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Spring has brought much-needed moisture to many of our states out West. As July approaches and the sun is shining, the rivers are beginning to clear. We have fishing on our minds as we watch the water turn from the brown shades of runoff to crystalline shades of blue. Many of our Brokers, who are expert anglers, have been exploring the fishing scenes on their ranches to bring first-hand accounts for our annual fly fishing report. Read on for their fishing tips on our ranches for sale across the West.

Jackson Hole Ranch

Jackson Hole, Wyoming | 233 Acres | $35M
With the anticipated clearing of the Snake River in the weeks to come, the native fine-spotted Cutthroat Trout will be feeding on PMDs in the riffles. Ready your larger stonefly patterns for casting into the grassy cutbacks, and don’t miss your hook set from the distracting Teton Range views.

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Dancing Pine Ranch

Bayfield, Colorado | 182 Acres | $10.75M 

Dancing Pine Ranch provides discerning anglers the chance at a “trout of a lifetime” with each cast. This tailwater fishery may not have the fanfare of some other notable tailwater sections in the state, namely the Taylor River or Frying Pan. However, this is because access to this trout-factory-of-a-fishery is private downstream of the Vallecito Dam. Primarily comprised of rainbows and browns, the tailwater nature of this fishery ensures consistent cool water and abundant insect life – the “net” result is well-fed fish, aerial acrobatics, and deep runs once hooked. On a recent trip, we found fish rising to brown-bodied hoppers, elk hair caddis, and black ant imitations in the afternoon. Whereas early morning action was more consistent on the subsurface half of our dry/dropper rig. The lurking browns, which are not uncommon over 24”, can be tempted to leave the deep holding water with a dark streamer pattern in lowlight conditions. Brian Hartley, Wyoming and Colorado Broker

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Sopris Lakeview Ranch 

Glenwood Springs, Colorado | 902 Acres | $8.495M

Sopris Lakeview Ranch offers 20+ acres of entirely private stillwater fishing on the Hughes Reservoir located on the ranch. While the water has been a bit off-color in recent weeks due to snowmelt coming down the tributary system feeding the lake, these stream influences are starting to clear, and the lake will follow suit. The go-to patterns on this stillwater fishery are primarily blue damselflies and a mixed bag of terrestrials to illicit surface strikes, while bigger fish are typically found with slow-stripped leech patterns. The real beauty of this fishing experience is the wildlife you’re likely to encounter while on the water. It’s not uncommon to share the lake experience with elk, mule deer, or the occasional moose who frequent this serene retreat to the water and might even take a swim. Brian Hartley, Wyoming and Colorado Broker

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R&C Ranch 

Fossil, OR | 5,430 Acres | $6.15M Reduced

The John Day River is one of the most well-known smallmouth bass fisheries in the United States. The John Day can be “a tale of two fisheries” depending on the time of year. As the water heats up along one of the longest undammed rivers in the West, the smallmouth get active and hit flies with aggression. Fly anglers use both top water and subsurface approaches to catch these fish. On the surface, tried and true sneaky Pete’s, dalberg divers, and boogle bugs work extremely well along cut banks. When targeting the larger breeder smallies, go subsurface with wooly bugger-type patterns such as the jawbreaker by Solitude Fly Co. in any color. Tied like a wooly bugger but with a rubber tail and long rubber legs, large smallmouth cannot resist. Also, crayfish patterns work well on this river too, and for those getting into the trout spey game, you can use the same setup for smallmouth. Ryland Moore, Oregon Broker

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Bird Cloud Ranch

Saratoga, Wyoming | 640 Acres | $5.5M

Bird Cloud Ranch offers over one mile of both sides of the famed North Platte River in Saratoga, WY. As flows continue to settle out from the annual runoff event on this scenic freestone river, the typical menu of summer hatches will avail itself to the resident trout. Anglers on this stretch of river should be prepared to match primarily caddis and trico hatches to target rising fish, while the classic hopper/dropper rig will prove to be a productive tactic for trout looking upwards for large terrestrials, while covering another level of the water column with a small caddis or stonefly nymph. Brian Hartley, Wyoming and Colorado Broker

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Sunrise Ranch

Anatone, Washington | 2,685 Acres | $5.49M Reduced

The Grande Ronde is an incredible fishery in northeast Oregon and southeast Washington that eventually flows into the Snake River. It holds smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, a summer run of steelhead, spring chinook salmon and coho. During the summer months, those anadromous species have yet to arrive, but there is still plenty of fishing to be had between the smallmouth and rainbows. June provides a wonderful stonefly hatch that both smallmouth and rainbows attack with abandon. As the summer heats up, trout are found in deeper riffles and pools and smallmouth seem to be prevalent throughout the lower river where the Sunrise Ranch is located. The first steelhead and salmon start showing up at the onset of fall, and the fishing for these anadromous “bruisers” only increases as the end of the year approaches. Ryland Moore, Oregon Broker

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Henry’s Fork Overlook

Ashton, ID | 213 Acres | $5M

The Henry’s Fork in the Ashton area has been a bit of a mystery in 2022 for anglers hoping to catch the annual salmon fly hatch. This hatch is usually one of the best regionally and typically comes at a time when most other area fisheries are swollen with spring snowmelt. Angler friends have said, “the bugs are around, but the fish didn’t seem to be keyed in on them this year.” We are not sure if it was the weather patterns, fluctuation due to consistent cold spring rains, or the fish have simply become educated to our tricks, perhaps a combination of them all.  Many anglers found success sub-surface nymphing smaller stone flies size 6-8 “turd” with split back or smaller nymph trailer, but who wants to do that when the big bugs are around? With the tail end of the Salmon Fly hatch upon us, we are starting to see more golden stones and are eagerly anticipating the green drake hatch in the next week. As of June 15th,  fishing on Harriman State Park, known to many locals as the “Railroad Ranch” section of the river is open. Tate Jarry, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana Broker

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Blackfoot River Retreat

Blackfoot Valley, Montana | 85.25 Acres | $4.99M

After a wet spring in Western Montana, suddenly it’s summer, and we’ve traded our rain gear for sandals and shorts, and our nymph rigs for single dry flies. The Missoula area rivers are faring well and avoided much of the high-water catastrophe that our friends on the other side of the divide encountered this spring.

Currently, the very body of water that inspired Norman Maclean’s masterpiece, A River Runs Through It, is dropping into its river-wide summer-fishing glory. On the Blackfoot’s main river reaches you’ll find lingering salmonflies and goldens well into July, but expect fish to prefer smaller attractor offerings as flows drop later into summer. Upstream from the boat traffic near the Blackfoot River Retreat, the gravel bars are becoming exposed, giving wade anglers their haven for the summer. Anglers up here enjoy miles and miles of wade fishing paradise.  Expect good dry fly fishing with a varied fare, but no magic recipe across the board – throw on a single hopper and cover water. It’s hard to beat a day fishing the “‘Foot” this time of year. Dan Mahoney, Missoula Broker and Licensed Fishing Outfitter

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The Reserve on the East River
Crested Butte, Colorado | 35 Acres | $1.85M
The Reserve on the East River has abundant bug life throughout the spring, summer and fall. Starting in the spring, midges and mayflies, such as PMDs and BWOs, kick off the dry fly season as the rising water temps allow for large morning and afternoon hatches. As the water temps rise more into the summer months, caddis and stoneflies, such as golden stones and y­ellow Sallies, join the hatch. Finally, the late summer and early fall months bring terrestrials such as hoppers, ants, and beetles into the equation. This area allows for fantastic dry fly and nymph fishing. Brian Hartley, Wyoming and Colorado Broker

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