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Private Fishing Water, Fly Fishing Ranches and Fly Fishing Lodges
For those who may want a more exclusive fly fishing experience, we do trips on private water and at a few select fly fishing lodges and ranches in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado.These guided trips often become one of a fly fisherman's most memorable experiences. Along with beauty and seclusion, private fly fishing ranches and lodges usually offer an angler the best chances at catching and landing trophy sized fish. Each location has a different rod fee per angler, which will be added onto the cost of the trip. See the Fishing Trips & Rates Page.
The High Timber Ranch
Located on the upper Brazos River at 9,500 to 10,000 feet of altitude in the Brazos meadows, this ranch has 5 private miles of the river that is full of large rainbows. Along with this amazing stretch of water, there is a small tributary creek that is chock full of wild brook trout. The upper Brazos meadows is probably one of the most remote and beautiful places in all of the southern Rockies and the fishing is off the charts. At the tail end of run-off it is game on with nymphs and streamers and as soon as the flows recede, it is time for the best dry fly fishing ever. The meadows are full of grasshoppers which are the prime food source for the trout throughout the summer months. The season up here is shorter than many lower altitude rivers and streams so the fish are very aggressive and really smash most top-water presentations as they have less time to put on weight to make it through the longer winters. From June through September, this is the spot to be. As you can see from the picture, casting in the meadows is usually completely free of trees to snag a backcast on. There are also two short canyon sections that offer classic high mountain pocket-water fishing. Along with great fishing, the High Timber Ranch has amazing amounts of wildlife with abundant numbers of elk, deer, antelope and bear - a truly remarkable place. Fishing the High Timber Ranch is possible to do as a day trip from Santa Fe but it is a long drive. If you are interested in fishing this ranch, we recommend that you consider basing your trip out of Chama, at least for the night before the day you fish. A day or two at the High Timber Ranch is also available as part of our all-inclusive Quinlan Ranch package.
The Abeyta Ranch ~ Cañon Bonito
Known as the Abeyta Ranch or the Cañon Bonito water, this 2.5 mile stretch of the Conejos River in southern Colorado has great pools and runs which are inhabited by many large native browns and rainbows. Located just across the state line from New Mexico, the ranch is on one of the best and most accessible stretches of Conejos. It is easy wading and there has been a large amount of stream improvement done, creating some superb holding water. There are lots of really nice browns and a fair number of larger rainbows throughout the ranch's water. The Conejos is known for its green drake and stonefly hatches and, if you are lucky enough to be there when one is happening, you stand the chance of getting into some great dry fly action. The landscape is beautiful. This section of the river flows through open meadows with hills and cliffs off in the distance. Slightly less than a 2 hour drive from Santa Fe, the Abeyta Ranch is a great place to have a whole section of the Conejos to yourself.
The Oso Piccolo Ranches
Comprised of two sections of water on two separate rivers, the Oso Piccolo ranches offer anglers the opportunity to fish on both of these completely different fishing locations in one day. The first ranch, known as La Barranca, has 1.5 miles of the upper Chama River. Flowing through big, open meadows, this part of the Chama has very easy access, easy wading and good fishing. There are long riffle stretches, deep pools and runs that undercut the banks - all with an abundance of good sized rainbows and wild brown trout that are ready to take both nymphs and dry flies. Because the river flows through fields and meadows for the length of the ranch, long casts are not a problem.
In the summer and early fall dry hopper and stonefly patterns will often bring the larger fish to the surface, especially in the late afternoon. The second ranch (the Wolf Creek Ranch) has 3 miles of a gorgeous, high mountain stream. At an altitude of 8,800 feet and flowing through a canyon stretch, an alpine meadow and an area of aspens and pines, Wolf Creek is the quintessential Rocky Mountain trout stream. The fish are 100% wild and they are very aggressive as many have never been hooked before. In the summer small dry flies, hoppers and dry-dropper rigs are the way to go. In the early fall larger browns will move up out of the Chama (of which Wolf creek is a tributary) to spawn, giving fishermen a chance of hooking a real beauty in this smaller water. A plan for fishing on the Oso Piccolo Ranches would be to start on the La Barranca in the morning and then head up to the Wolf Creek Ranch for lunch and an afternoon's fishing - what a great day!
The MK Ranch
Located on the upper reaches of the Navajo River just across the border into southern Colorado, the MK Ranch has about 3 miles of the prettiest fly fishing water in the West. The landscape and the views are absolutely incredible. The Navajo flows southwest out of the San Juan mountains into a beautiful valley. The MK Ranch is located near the upstream end of the valley with the mountains and San Juan wilderness off to the east. The river is full of good sized wild browns and rainbows with many in the 16 to 20 inch size range. Under the right conditions, they are voracious eaters. There are incredible numbers of cased caddis covering the rocks and these are a primary food source for the fish. Many different types of both wet and dry caddis fly patterns are effective. From mid-summer into early fall, large grasshopper and terrestrial dry flies often induce crashing hits on the surface from the bigger fish. The fall is beautiful on the MK Ranch with the aspen's and cottonwood's leaves turning gold against the dark green of the conifers. This is also when the biggest browns are thinking about spawning and become very aggressive. The ranch is a fairly long drive from the Santa Fe area (about 2.5 hours) but it is well worth the trip. Another option is to stay in the Chama area or at the Quinlan Ranch and combine a day on the MK ranch along with fishing on one of the other locations in the area for a second day.
The Spear U Ranch
Located about 9 miles downstream from the MK Ranch on the Navajo near the town of Chromo, the Spear U Ranch offers 4 miles of river and two smaller lakes that are full of large fish. This section of the river flows through a wide canyon with the bottom of the valley being lush grassland in a beautiful meadow. As you look up the river valley, you'll see Navajo Peak off in the distance. This stretch of river has some great pools but is predominantly deep runs and riffles. There are both wild rainbows and browns, many in the 16 to 20 inch size range. Nymphing works well throughout the season and, in the summer and early fall, the dry fly fishing can be awesome - caddis, large drakes and hopper patterns often bring aggressive strikes on the surface. Both of the lakes are in the meadow and offer easy casting from the shore. Stripping streamers is very effective and sight-fishing the edges for cruising fish can be a blast with large hoppers and damsel dry flies. The lakes are right next to the river offering anglers the option of fishing both a river and stillwater/lakes on one ranch, on the same day. Like the MK ranch, the Spear U is a fairly long drive from the Santa Fe area but the access is easy and the fishing is great. It is worth considering spending a night or two in the area with the Quinlan Ranch being a great option.
The Bar X Bar Ranch
The Bar X Bar offers anglers a very wild fishing location at the southern tip of The Rockies, but still within a one hour drive from the plaza in Santa Fe. Located east of the city surrounded by the Santa Fe National Forest, this 5,000 acre private ranch has incredible fishing, in a beautiful high alpine setting, with lots of wildlife to be seen as an added bonus. There are five small lakes situated throughout the length of the 600 acre Manzanares Valley. Because these lakes are in the valley's meadows, access is easy and they are full of large rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout. Along with the five lakes, the Bar X Bar has one mile of private water on Cow Creek and private access to Cow Creek Falls and the box canyon section of the stream. This section of Cow Creek has some of the best of small stream, wild trout fishing in the area. Lunkers in the lakes or wild fish in Cow Creek - the ranch offers the best of two completely different types of fly fishing waters. Along with being available for an easy day trip from Santa Fe, the Bar X Bar has a wonderful lodge building which is available for larger group trips and multi-day fishing retreats. Typically the fishing on the ranch starts to get good sometime in early April and runs through the late fall.
The Quinlan Ranch
Located just west of Chama and south of Rancho del Oso Pardo the ranch is adjacent to the renowned, state-owned Edward Sargent Wildlife Area. It is a rich alpine wilderness at the intersection of multiple ecosystems - one-third forest, one-third scrub oak and one-third meadow. There are 6 lakes and ponds on the Quinlan ranch's 17,000 acres (yes, that is correct, seventeen thousand acres!). Each one is full of large fish - mostly rainbows, with some of the lakes having browns and Snake River cutthroats as well. The largest lake is over 7 acres with the others ranging in size down to about 1 acre. The ponds are in open meadow areas so anglers can easily fish from the shore without worrying about trees to hang up a back cast. Boats are also available for our use. The Quinlan Ranch is centrally located near many of the best fly fishing streams and rivers in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. Anglers can do a day trip just to fish the ranches ponds or take advantage of the ranch's great meals and accommodations and use it as a base for a multi-day fishing adventure. Please check out the Fishing Packages page for more information on overnight and multi-day trips
at the Quinlan Ranch.