Archive for June, 2010

Our Fly Fishing program is one of our two most important outdoor activities (along with horseback riding), and is probably one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling fishing you’ll find at any ranch in the West.

We offer guided and unguided fly fishing on the ranch’s six ponds, nearly 3 miles of private water on the Smith Fork of the Gunnison, and back country streams and ponds in the surrounding Gunnison National Forest & West Elk Wilderness.  Back country fishing is directly accessible from the ranch on horseback or by hike.  All fly fishing is catch and release.

Smith Fork Ranch has one of two A rated habitats for the pure strain of wild Colorado Cutthroat.  They live in Second Creek, a mountain drainage that runs through the ranch.  These small but beautiful trout are wily – and a sportsman’s delight!

Smith Fork Ranch ponds are stocked with Colorado Rainbow Trout, Brookies, and Browns – with Rainbows and Browns of up to 22”- 24”. The Smith Fork River is host to trout up to 16”.Experienced SFR fly-fishing guides are available daily for all on-ranch fly-fishing.  They are excellent teachers for basic instruction – and happy to address more advanced fishing techniques individually or in groups. We hold clinics on a regular basis to help folks work on improving their casting.  We also have a challenging casting course on our ponds and sometimes hold casting competitions.  The ranch has a well-stocked fly-selection in Trout Central and a stocked fly tying center in the Old Elk Lodge.  We also offer fly tying instruction with our knowledgable guides.

Our ranch has top-of-the-line fishing equipment – Sage rods, Ross reels, Simms waders and boots, and Patagonia vests. The ranch is also an authorized dealer for these brands, so you may purchase the equipment you are using directly from us.

For those looking to add another famous western river to their fishing experience, great fishing can be found in all directions from the ranch.  Enjoy fishing in the Roaring Fork Valley as Mt. Sopris towers off in the distance.  The Roaring Fork River is a freestone river that holds good numbers and sizes of Rainbows and Browns as well as an occasional native whitefish.

Try a combination float of the Lower Roaring Fork and the mighty Colorado River near Glenwood Springs; or how about a scenic walk/wade trip in the red stone walls of the legendary Frying Pan River?

The Gunnison River around the North Fork confluence is a classic western fishery.  High desert canyon lands will be your views as you float on the stretch in or below the Gunnison Gorge.  If you take the jet boat ride into the Gorge, you will go where there is little fishing pressure for trout.  Be aware of the giant Salmon fly hatch early to mid June and lasts about two weeks.  The two and a half inch stonefly adults bring large brown and rainbow trout to the surface.  Walk and wade trips can be arranged here as well.

The upper Gunnison River in and around the town of Gunnison, is another home to an abundance of trout.  With 15-plus miles of water in this area, many different floats/wades can be arranged.  Every year from late August through September, Kokanne Salmon run from Blue Mesa Reservoir up the Gunnison River to the East River for their annual spawn.  Just seeing and trying to catch these wily, bright red fish is an unforgettable experience.

The salmon fly hatch and several other hatches are trips anglers the world over plan well in advance in order to snatch up one of the limited spots on the river – give us a call and we’ll help you plan your epic fishing adventure, for this year or the next.  Fly Fishing at Smith Fork Ranch will be an experience to remember!

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Last night we enjoyed fresh radishes, yukina savoy, herbs, and other veggies picked from our garden – washed and prepared only thirty minutes prior to their arrival on my plate! It doesn’t get much fresher than that. At SFR our Farmstead Garden is a very special part of our Ranch.

We never lose the thrill and exhilaration that comes with each new season here in our beautiful valley in the mountains. The SFR Garden focuses on the preservation and organic production of heirloom varietals. All visitors to Smith Fork Ranch are welcome to take part in the garden activities – wonder the rows with our gardener, learn about the seasons, techniques, and harvests, and pick a fresh, organic veg to snack on or add to the Chef’s basket for the evening meal.

Our gardener Alma Roberts and our Chef Matthew Dusharme will welcome your participation in harvesting the perfect, fresh produce – with names like graffiti cauliflower, winsor fava beans, tavera, rainbow chard, dwarf grey sugar pea tendrils, and allstar gourmet lettuce – this is not your ordinary garden.

Have fun getting your hands dirty! It’s part of the pleasure and experience of Smith Fork Ranch.

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Wilderness Whitewater Rafting is quite rare and special. At Smith Fork Ranch you have the opportunity to raft some of the greatest water in the West. We have a special relationship with a local authority on these waters and can offer first rate rafting trips through some of the incredible canyons and rivers this region has to offer. Here Owner of SFR Marley recounts his experiences on a typical rafting trip.

“First you have to get up early, grab a coffee and boxed breakfast from the ranch kitchen, and be on the road by 5:30AM. The driving part of the trip there takes about 2 hours. A third of the way there you change vehicles, and a guide takes the wheel of a really rough 4-wheeler because a normal SUV might not be able to handle the “road” ahead (it’s not really a road, but a trail that is wide enough for a tough vehicle). The next leg of the trip is basically a bumpy 7-mile, 1500’ descent from the high-country down to the startlingly beautiful Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The last part of the trip starts about 1000’ above the river. Everyone gets out and hikes the remaining mile or so (relatively easy) old Indian trail down to the river’s edge. The rafts, supplies and guides have been brought down the night before by pack mules. The guides (the best river guides in Colorado) inflate the rafts, pack in the gear, and sit everyone down to hear safety instructions. Of course “everyone” is just you and your party, the guides, and an occasional bighorn sheep or eagle looking down from above. There is no one else around.”

“The whitewater trip down the river is a truly remarkable adventure. The 11 miles of rapids are wild, and thrilling and you will definitely get wet. The difference is that the river and it’s environment is so pristine, so wild, so empty of other humanity that you quickly realize that there are very few people who have ever had an experience like this.”

“The first time I did this rafting trip I felt like I was Lewis and Clark. After rushing through 1000’ high narrow canyons and surging rapids for 11 miles, and pulling over to the shore for a relaxing lunch, the last three miles of the river trip is relaxing, through calm, easy water to the take-out area. In that 14 mile distance the landscape has suddenly changed. Now it’s barren, sagebrush covered prairie. But good news! The 40 minute ride back to the ranch is smooth and comfortable. You’ll be back in time for cocktails and dinner.”

In addition to Wilderness Whitewater Rafting, we have a tremendous variety of activities to offer including guided horseback riding and lessons, guided fly fishing of our own private waters, guided hikes, archery, horse drawn wagon rides, massage therapy, yoga, vineyard tours, float trips, or even flying a bi-plane!
We hope you can join us this summer for one of these amazing adventures, an experience at Smith Fork Ranch is something you will never want to forget!

How about you? Are you interested in a wilderness whitewater rafting trip or have you been on one? Any memorable stories? We’d love to hear them!

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