What’s Happening on the Ranch?

There’s always something happening at Vista Verde Ranch. Foals are born, new recipes are created, or the wranglers are playing tricks on each other. Come here to read the latest news!

Honeymoonalways.com – September 2018

‘Tis the season for planning winter honeymoons and romantic getaways, and the folks at Honeymoonalways.com must be thinking the same thing as they put together an article about Romantic Colorado Cabins Perfect for Honeymoons and included Vista Verde as an option for either a honeymoon or romantic getaway in Colorado.  Cue the snow and read the article….

What a low water year has taught me

With last year’s lower than average snowpack and a serious lack of rain this summer we’ve been left with lower than average water levels and higher than average temps. For us anglers this has meant more challenging fishing conditions. The higher stream temperatures make the fish more stressed. This means not only are they eating less, but being caught and released can create just enough additional stress that they die. With that in mind we have been fishing a lot more of the smaller tributaries that feed in to the main river, where the water is much cooler due to it being closer to the snowmelt and springs that it originates from.

Smaller water usually means smaller fish which is something that a lot of people, myself previously included, aren’t exactly hoping for when they go fishing. Most people if given a choice would tell you they’d rather go try to catch bigger fish if there’s an option, and I’ve spent much of my time angling with the same mindset. Catch the most fish and the biggest fish you can has always been the goal.  Not having the option to do that as often has made me so much more appreciative of the simple act of going fishing, and has helped me rediscover why I fish and what it means to give a guest a great experience on the river.

Now instead of judging my day in a number of fish caught, I’m judging my days in how few other people I see. The way they ate the fly and the colors of the fish have replaced the idea of catching a trophy fish of a certain size. As a result, crystal clear, remote mountain streams have replaced more crowded stretches of tinted water. Though my days have been filled with smaller brookies rather than large brown trout, I’ve started to enjoy my time fishing more than ever.

It’s great to get back to what fishing is all about, stepping into a piece of water and feeling the world melt away as I’m surrounded by wilderness. Enjoying the simple act of interacting with an ecosystem and becoming a part of it. Slowing down and taking the time to watch as the natural world unfolds before your eyes.  And it’s been great to share that enjoyment with the guests I guide here at the ranch.

No matter what conditions we experience next year, you can find me on the most remote stretch of river I can find, enjoying the simple act of trying to convince a trout to eat a fly.

Fishing Report September 9-15

Flows: very low and clear
Hatches: Trico’s, BWO’s, Midges, October caddis, Terrestrials
Water temps: 50-60
Hot flies: Pheasant tail, Hares ear, Baetis, Flashback midge, RS2, stimulators, Pats rubber legs, Elk hair caddis, Parachute adams, Foam hoppers, san jaun worm, foamulators, parachute madam X, juju baetis, zebra midge,
Fishing has been good despite low flows and high temps. There are a good amount of whitefish around and some good trout mixed in with them. Lots of smaller streams have been fishing well.

Fly Fishing Report for Vista Verde Ranch

Fishing report: August 19-26
Flows: very low and clear
Hatches: Caddis, mahogany duns, terrestrials, starting to see some BWO nymphs
Water temps: 50-60
Hot flies: Pheasant tail, Hares ear, Baetis, Flashback midge, RS2, stimulators, Pats rubber legs, Elk hair caddis, Parachute adams, Foam hoppers, san jaun worm, foamulators, parachute madam X
Fishing has been good despite low flows and high temps. There are a good amount of whitefish around and some good trout mixed in with them. Lots of smaller streams have been fishing well.

Meet VVR Fishing Guide Andrew

As this is my first season here at Vista Verde many of you may not know me yet, so I will start by introducing myself. My name is Andrew Behrend, and until just over two months ago I have lived most of my life in Michigan. I was born and raised in southeastern Michigan, in the metro Detroit area. If you haven’t spent any time in the state you may not know it, but Michigan is absolutely littered with fantastic fishing statewide. From trout fishing pristine rivers, to trolling at depths of 100ft or more in Lake Michigan for salmon, and much more in between, Michigan offers an incredibly diverse fishery. As far back as I can remember I have been exploring all that Michigan has to offer with a fishing rod in my hand. As I entered my teenage years I was introduced to fly fishing and have not looked back since. As some of you may know, it can become an addiction and no matter what you do, the desire cannot be satisfied.

In the spring of 2014 I took a leap of faith and decided to take my passion and attempt to turn it into a career. That spring I started working for Boyne Outfitters located in Boyne Falls in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula. That job only fueled the fire, and drove me to spend every waking second eating and breathing fly fishing. After a great four years guiding in Michigan I decided that it was time to expand my skills and knowledge by guiding elsewhere in the county, on waters that were completely foreign to me. So here I am now, two months into guiding for Vista Verde.
I knew that fishing the waters of northern Michigan would vary greatly from the mountain streams of northern Colorado, which is exactly why I moved. Wherever they are found, trout are trout, and generally behave the same. However the types of water that they are found in can vary greatly. The rivers that I was used to fishing in MI are a much lower gradient than the rivers here in the Steamboat area, as they are not flowing down out of mountains. This also means that on those rivers you do not have to deal with a significant spring runoff event as well. When it comes to river structure, the streams in northern MI are generally a sand or fine gravel bottom with a ton of wood structure. Common areas to target for fish are slower, deep bend pools and log jams. The high gradient mountain streams in CO have quite a different make up. Rather than the sand and fine gravel, these river bottoms are made up of medium to large size rocks and littered with large boulders throughout. The water is moving much quicker, and overall a bit shallower. Instead of looking for that big deep pool to target, you are looking for any piece of river that has deeper water than everything else around it. Any any large rock or boulder that creates a soft spot in the current is a perfect spot for a trout to sit, and wait for food to come floating by. Compared to MI, here in CO we are generally fishing more pocket water, which is an area within the river where a large rock or boulder disrupts the general flow of the water, with shorter drifts and casts.

When it comes to techniques used for catching these fish in CO, it is very similar to MI; however certain techniques are focused on more heavily in each place. From my experiences in MI, there is a heavy focus placed on dry fly fishing. I believe there are a multitude of factors that play into that. For one, there are incredible and very prolific mayfly hatches that occur for most of the summer season. There is usually a steady diet of bugs available on the rivers surface. It is true that the majority of a trout’s diet is consumed sub-surface, but the style and flow of the rivers in MI set themselves up nicely for presenting a dry fly to a fish. The amount of wood on the river bottoms in MI, makes it very difficult to fish nymph rigs. To be effective nymphing you generally need to fish your flies just off the bottom of the river. Nymphing is not impossible, but it becomes very difficult to do so when the river bottom is scattered with deadfall. Here in CO there is a big emphasis on nymphing. With the rivers bottoms being mostly rock, drifting a nymph rig just along the bottom of the river is very effective, since the fish seem to be sitting as deep as possible, in order to stay out of the fast current above. Getting a nymph rig right down to where these fish are sitting is often more effective than making them actively move to eat a fly. Now don’t get me wrong, I have still been dry fly fishing out here in CO as well. In my experience you just have to find the appropriate water on which to do it. It is hard for a fish to decide to eat a fly off of the surface in very fast moving water. But if you can find slower pockets and pools, you can still tempt them to the surface. I have found however, that you do not need to be quite as specific matching your flies to the natural bugs that are present. With the generally faster moving water, the fish do not seem to have as much time to decide if the fly is real or not, and must make a very quick decision. A good presentation is what really seems to be the key to catching fish.

When it comes to the type of trout that are being targeted, it is pretty much the same in both MI and CO with only a few differences. In MI the main focus was usually placed on fishing for brown trout. Brook trout are also very prevalent as well as resident rainbow trout. Here in CO browns, brookies, and rainbows are also present with the addition of cutthroat trout, and rocky mountain whitefish. So far there seems to be a heavy emphasis on rainbow trout here in CO, as they seem to be the most prevalent species in our area. As you move upstream on the Elk River and into its forks, the brook trout become most common, and can fill your day with tight lines and dry fly eats. I have not personally caught a large number of brown trout yet here in CO, but most of those that I have caught have been quality fish. Cutthroat trout are a nice surprise to here, as their numbers are not as great as they once were. Personally I have only caught one myself so far, and I was very elated to do so.

Like I mentioned earlier, when it comes down to it, trout fishing is trout fishing, wherever you may be. In order to be successful, you really have to be observant to the environment that you are in, and adjust to the changes you find in the river, and where trout are likely to be holding. It has been awesome to be in a new place, learning new waters, and continuing to build my skills as a guide and an angler. No matter where you are fishing, there is always something new to learn, or something that you can improve at. That is exactly why I decided to make the move here to Vista Verde and CO, and I have not been disappointed. The area itself is incredible and the fishing is amazing. Every day I’m learning more and more, and plan to continue to do so. If you ever find yourself complacent in your angling pursuits, and feel like you have figured it all out then you are truly not pushing yourself as an angler. Whether you are on your home waters, or somewhere completely foreign, there is always more to learn and something else to figure out. You just have to push yourself to be willing to do it.

Denver Post – August 2018

The Denver Post looks into their own backyard with an article about 11 Colorado dude ranches where you can live out the ultimate Western experience. There are so many great dude ranches in Colorado, and we’re happy that Vista Verde was included as one of the options for a luxury ranch vacation. Read the article….

Fishing Report- July 29-August 6

From the VVR fly shop, here’s the fishing report for July 31- August 6

Flows: very low and clear
Hatches: Caddis, Yellow sallies, tiny green stones, Golden stones
Water temps: 58-68
Hot flies: Pheasant tail, Hares ear, Baetis, Flashback midge, RS2, stimulators, Pats rubber legs, Elk hair caddis, Parachute adams, Foam hoppers, san jaun worm, foamulators, parachute madam X
Fishing has been good despite low flows and high temps. There are a good amount of whitefish around and some good trout mixed in with them. Lots of smaller streams have been fishing well.

summer family vacation

Peace of mind when planning your ranch vacation

Knowing that life sometimes gets the best of our guests, and that no one wins when there is a last-minute cancellation, we have teamed up with Red Sky Insurance to offer travel insurance for our guests at the time of booking. Now, some of you will choose to take a pass, but this plan is for those of you who want to play it safe and know that even if you have to cancel within days of your planned arrival, you will get your deposit refunded. It’s a win-win to work with this company to help our guests have peace of mind when planning their trips. So, if you have concerns of pending health issues, have an ailing family member whose condition might affect your travel plans, or are concerned about travel delays and weather affecting your trip, give Devyn a call at 800-526-7433 and she’ll walk you through the plan.

Awards and Nominations

This has been a summer of awards and nominations. We recently learned that we were included in the Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards for 2018. This award recognizes the comprehensive cellar wine list that Chef Chol has put together over the past several years, and it is a huge recognition. We were also nominated in the Best Family Resort category from the USA Reader’s Choice awards. This award includes daily voting until August 6, so if you get a chance we’d appreciate your vote!

Fishing Report- July 15-22

Are you looking to come on a fishing trip to Colorado?  Well, even if you’re not staying at the ranch, here are some tips from our guides on how the waters around Vista Verde are fishing.

Flows: low and clear
Hatches: Caddis, PMD’s, Flavs, yellow sallies, midges, hoppers
Water temps: 55-65
Hot flies: pheasant tail nymphs, baetis nymphs, flash back midge, hares ears, elk hair caddis, parachute adams, Hoppers, amys ant, stimulators, copper johns, foam terrestrials
Fishing has been good, the main stem of the elk, in addition to its forks have been fishing well.

Stream Report July 1-8

Fishing report: July 1-8
Flows: Normal and very clear
Hatches: Caddis, Mahogany duns, Yellow sallies, tiny green stones, Golden stones, March browns
Water temps: 52-62
Hot flies: Pheasant tail, Hares ear, Baetis, Flashback midge, RS2, stimulators, Pats rubber legs, Elk hair caddis, Parachute adams, Foam hoppers,
Fishing is heating up here along with the temps. Flows are very normal and fish are being found throughout the river. Both nymphing deep in the bigger pools and a hopper dropper rig in the shallower water have been producing fish.

advice from your fly fishing guide

So, you loved your fly fishing vacation, and now you’re ready to shop for a rod?

If you’re looking to purchase your first fly rod, you’ll likely be met with a question very early on; What weight rod do you want? Answering something like “ I don’t know, a light one”, might earn you a few laughs from the guy behind the counter, but it won’t get you very far. Fly rods, like golf clubs, have a plethora of different sizes or “weights” that are all meant to do different jobs. Unfortunately, there’s no one rod that does it all, and if you’re looking to pursue more than one type of fish, or fish in a large variety of ways, you may be looking at buying a few different rods. But let’s focus on your first rod.

Fly rods care classified in sizes ranging from 0 to 15. Smaller weight means a thinner, more delicate rod, while something like a 15 weight may feel more like a broomstick than a precision instrument. All of these rods are designed perfectly for different jobs, unfortunately there is no one weight that’s perfect for everything (this is how we can justify buying that 27th rod that we need to have.) We can however, often get away with using one weight for a variety of different jobs.

In addition to each rod’s weight, it also has a specific type of action. The action of a fly rod is essentially how noodly or stiff that certain size is. It is measured on a scale of slow to fast. A slow action rod will feel very noodly and will bend very deeply into the rod while casting. A fast action rod will feel very stiff and only bend closer to the tip. While both of these actions of the same weight will have the same strength, they each have pros and cons. A slower action rod will be less accurate casting but is often less likely to break and will be more forgiving when playing a fish. Faster action rods are more accurate, have better feel, and can be easier to cast for some, but they are more likely to break and don’t absorb as much of the shock when fighting a fish. Despite these differences, rod action is ultimately a personal preference; there’s not a right or wrong answer. So, Isaac, just tell me what rod to buy is likely what you’re thinking right now!

The first thing to ask yourself is what type of fish you plan to spend the most time going after. Rod weights 0-3 are great for pan fish or very small trout, fish weighing up to a pound or two. Weights between 4 and 6 are very versatile; they could work well for trout, bass, walleye, carp, and fish weighing from one to 6 pounds. Weights 7-10 are great for bigger or stronger fish, redfish, pike/musky, bonefish, permit, salmon, pretty much anything between 5 and 20 lbs. if you are looking to pursue a fish that could probably eat a small child or the annoying neighbor’s pet, you’ll be looking at 10 weights and above. Fish size is your primary factor in choosing your fly rod’s weight, however, what type of flies your casting is important as well.

Fly consideration is really the fine-tuning in selecting your first rod. A smaller rod is going to have a hard time throwing a bigger fly. A bigger rod is going to present a small fly about as gracefully as a fishing guide doing the two-step (excluding Miller). If you plan on fishing small flies (one inch or less) for trout and bass, a 5 weight will probably be your best bet. If you plan on fishing flies bigger than an inch, for primarily bass and maybe some trout, you’ll probably want a 6 weight.

Overall, I would suggest if you’re looking for a fly rod for trout, get a 9 foot, 5 weight, fast action rod. It will handle 90% of the trout fishing situations you encounter and will be terrific to learn on.

If you plan to primarily fly fish for bass, get a 9 foot, 6 weight, fast action rod.

If you’re looking for a more specialized fishing pursuit such as saltwater or very small freshwater fish, consult with a local fly shop for a local, expert opinion.

No matter what you are pursuing, don’t buy a high-end rod for your first, you’re likely to break it in your first few years, and its quality won’t be appreciated until you’re more experienced. The entry-level rods available today are incredible compared to what fly rods were only a decade ago, and they will more than serve your purpose.

Family Traveler – June 2018

Over at Family Traveler, they are busy sharing ideas for summer vacation for families as ’tis the season.  It’s always fun to be surprised by an article that we are included in, and that was the case for this article about 11 Ranches for Families to Horse-Around at this Summer.  Not only did they mention our summer dude ranch vacations, but they also gave a shout out to family vacations in the snow at Vista Verde.  So many options for fun at the ranch!  Read the article…..

Dude Ranch Staff- What are they up to now?

I recently heard something about one of our former staff that made me wonder about what amazing things our alum are up to these days.  After putting out the feelers, I’ve heard from a bunch of them and thought it would be fun to share what ventures they have going on with all of you.

Taylor Porter invites you to stop at Seedstack Brewery if you are coming through Denver on your way to the ranch to enjoy a pint of Czech or German brew.

Looking for something sweet in Austin, TX?  Erin Stanley manages a bakery and product evolution at Amy’s Ice Creams.

Need a laugh?  If you go through Indianapolis, IN, make a night at ComedySportz, but first check to make sure Ben Rockey will be on the roster!

For those of you with your own horse, Sam Papalimu has her own business now for saddle fit evaluations and sells a line of adjustable western saddles.  Happy horse, happy ride.

Passing through Holland, MI and need a snack.  Stop by Albert K’s Lakeside Cafe and say hi to Jackie Rowland.

Planning a retreat for your colleagues?  Check out WinShape Teams, where Rusty Chadwick is Assistant Director.

Maybe you’re planning a fishing trip up in Montana?  Then you need to call David Bower and schedule a guided trip through Bighorn Angler in Fort Smith and get out on the Bighorn River.

Redecorating?  Natalie Muir has her own interior design company in Utah called Vanderbilt Interiors.

Matt Moore was a wrangler back in the late-90’s, and continued his involvement with horses by becoming a very talented and successful farrier in Ohio.

Before you head to the comedy show in Indianapolis, go get your hair done at Bobby Cooper Salon and ask for Anna Mowery.

If you need a true athlete who understands aches and pains, then give massage therapist Amber Henline a visit at Performance Theraputics in Cedar Rapids, IA.

When you need a vet you can trust in Oregon, look up Crystalin Murray Christensen in McMinnville.

While not working his day job or chasing around his kids, Scot Keck has managed to find time to set up a boutique shop making really interesting items out of salvaged wood.  Check out his wares on Instagram.

Hungry while in Florida?  Definitely make the trip to Osprey Tacos in St. Augustine to say hi to Chef JT and Erica, and see how little Althea is growing up!

Finally, she created beautiful note cards while at the ranch, so no surprise that Beth Bundy has made that her profession.

So much of the mission of the ranch is to pay it forward by giving our young staff the skills they need to go out into the world and be successful leaders in whatever path they choose.  It’s fun to see what these folks are up to, and look forward to hearing stories of connections made following this post!

Stream Report June 15

For you avid anglers, we’re trying to keep you up to date on how the fishing conditions are each week at the ranch.

Flows: water is clearing up, Elk is lowering big time – still fast, but it is getting fishable very soon

Hatches: Blue Wing Olives, Stoneflies, Green Drake mayflies, Pale Morning Dun mayflies, Caddis flies

Water Temp: Morning – 45-55 degrees; afternoon – 55-65 degrees

Hot Flies: san juan worms, pats rubber legs stonefly, beadhead hares ear, pheasant tails, flashback midges, RS2 flies

See you on the river!

Leaving dude ranch life behind to fish the Green River

Set the hook” I heard Zach yell from upstream, “that’s a monster”. I looked up and saw Cholly tight on what was either a log floating downstream or a large green river rainbow trout. As it turned I saw that the latter was true. Zach stood just down stream from him, net in hand. You don’t land a fish like that without a friend. The look on Cholly’s face was pure focus. Any Angler knows that a big fish has a way of pulling a Houdini escape, given the slightest lapse of attention. As the fish came closer I could see the brilliant red, olive, and white coloration along its side. “I’m not going to try netting it until it’s completely tired” Zach said. Cholly did his best to steer the fish into the shallow slow water, despite the fish’s attempts to run out in the fast current. Finally the fish started to tire. The first chance he came close Zach scooped him up in one smooth motion. “Whoo!” cue the handshakes and high fives.

As I came up river to get a better look at the catch, I could see smiles from ear to ear on both their faces. Its not everyday you get to interact with a wild fish of this caliber and it has a way of making the rest of the world melt away. Even from a distance I could sense how special the moment was for Cholly. A busy work schedule and family life have a way of reducing time spent fishing, so each opportunity for him is that much more cherished. After a few quick pictures the fish slipped back into the turquoise depths of the pristine river. Despite being a fantastic chef (as many of you know) Cholly is also an avid conservationist, and would rather allow a fish to swim free for others to enjoy, than cook it for dinner. I couldn’t help but feeling content with my own day.

We had driven out the day before and despite the only directions being “turn left 5 miles from the Utah border” everyone had found the unmarked camp site. The group consisted of HR manager Zach, chefs Cholly and Jason (pictured here with me), adventure center manager Ben, former dining room manager Bubba, Steph’s husband Todd, Home Ranch chef Jonathan, and myself. The weekend was going to be one of our last chances to all camp and spend time together before the season picked up, and free-time no longer aligned. More importantly, it was our chance to celebrate Cholly and Todd’s birthdays. The campsite was one Cholly had been staying at for nearly 20 years and it was obviously special to him. The site was a hidden gem surrounded by cottonwoods right on the banks of the magnificent green river, an oasis in the middle of the Utah desert. Each night the cool river air carried the smell of sage through the valley. The soft sound of the river flowing by was occasionally disturbed by the honking of geese, searching for a mate. The setting sun lit the whole valley on fire as we cooked. Camping with three chefs guarantees camp food that could be served in a 5-star restaurant. Add in great fishing, perfect weather, and good friends–you can’t go wrong.

After each meal we sat around the crackling fire, watching the smoke rise into the dry desert air. We talked and laughed about our day on the water, recounting the fish that we had fooled and the ones that had gotten the better of us. After discussing our plans for the next day, the conversation usually shifted more philosophical (Put any passionate group of outdoorsmen around a fire and its bound to happen). We listened as Cholly told us some of his favorite memories from his 50 years on earth. They ranged from great meals to weeklong rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. Todd Wilson recounted his days as an Olympic ski jumper, travelling and competing. One common theme was that most of their stories involved time spent with family. Spending time with such incredible people has a way of putting things in perspective. As the flames receded into glowing coals I found myself trying to absorb as much of what they were saying as I could.

Leaving was hard. As we drove away I tried to remember as much as I could about every detail. All the jokes, the great meals, and the ultra selective green river trout. I thought about the upcoming season at the ranch and all the new staff members we were about to meet. I know that this core group is going to be there to lead and mentor them, I know as long as they’re at Vista Verde the community’s values are safe. I feel honored to be a part of that group. I know one thing for sure; we will all be back to fish the Green River again.

Fishing Report June 3-10, 2018

Spring fishing report: June 3-9
Flows: high and dirty in the rivers, receding quickly.
Hatches: blue wing olives, golden stones, green drakes, pale morning duns, grannom caddis, march browns
Water temps: 45-55
Hot flies: san juan worm, pats rubber legs, pheasant tail nymphs, baetis nymphs, flash back midge, large hares ears, elk hair caddis, parachute adams
Fishing has been good, small creeks are starting to fish well. The elk is still high but is dropping quickly; all of the lakes have been fishing well.

What Kind Of Fish Is That?!?!

When it comes to fish, there are a multitude of species that can be targeted with a fly rod. There are species all over the world that will readily and eagerly go after flies. In Colorado, many species of fish are available to target, however trout seem to be the most popular. People travel from around the world to fish in Colorado to take advantage of the incredible trout fishing and water spread throughout the state.

At Vista Verde, we have an opportunity to fish on the Elk River as well as other rivers around the area. In the Elk, you will find trout and a native fish to the area called Whitefish. Both of these species are extremely fun to catch.  A popular question that fishing guides are asked on the river is, “What kind of trout is that?” or “what kind of fish is that?” This blog post is here to clear up any confusion and is here to help those who would like to go out for a day of fishing and know what they’re catching.

Rainbow Trout: 
Rainbow trout are native to the cold water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in the United States and also parts of Northern Russia along the Pacific Ocean. These fish have been stocked in numerous countries around the globe. You can identify rainbow trout because of their red/pink stripe along the sides of their bodies. Other identifiers are red/pink gill plates, small black spots covering their bodies, and their silver body color. Rainbows are some of the most beautiful fish out there.

Cutthroat Trout:
Cutthroat trout are native to the cold water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean, Rocky Mountains, and parts of the Great Basin area of the United States. The reason they are called “Cutthroats” is because of the red/orange coloration under the lower jaw of their mouths. Other identifiers are reddish colored gill plates and lower body fins, green/yellowish colored bodies, and small black spots over their bodies–but most spots are
concentrated towards their tails. Colorado’s state fish is the Greenback Cutthroat which is endangered.

Cutbow Trout:
Cutbow trout are a hybrid trout containing rainbow and cutthroat genetics. This hybridization can occur naturally if there are rainbows and cutthroats in the same water system. Cutbows are hard to identify because they look extremely similar to rainbows, but they have red/orange coloration under their jaws just like cutthroats. Cutbow trout are immune to certain diseases that other trout aren’t so they are able to survive in prevalent numbers in many rivers.

Brown Trout:
Brown trout hail from Europe. They were stocked in the United States around the late 1800s. These stocking efforts used brown trout taken from Scotland and Germany. Many people will refer to brown trout as “German Browns” for this reason. You can identify brown trout by their dark yellowish/golden color, and red and small black spots on their bodies. Brown trout can be very aggressive when it comes to eating flies. They
can make for an extremely fun day of fishing on the river.

Brook Trout:
Brook trout are native to the Eastern United States and Canada. Today natives can be found along rivers in the Appalachian Mountains. You will often hear brook trout referred to as “brookies”, not to be mistaken with the cookie/brownie combo. They are identified by their dark green body, a lighter marbled pattern within the green, red spots all throughout their body, with blue halos around the spots. Their belly and lower fins are reddish in color with white edges on each fin. They are very eager to take well presented flies.

Whitefish are native to northern parts of the Northern Hemipshere. There is a good population size throughout the Yampa and Elk rivers in Steamboat and Clark.  They readily take flies and are very fun to fight and catch. They are identified by their silver/shiny bodies and extremely small mouths.

Let’s go catch some fish!

Exploring Steamboat Springs

It is pretty common for our guests to ask for advice on how to enjoy Steamboat Springs, as they tack on a day or two on either end of their Vista Verde Ranch vacation. Steamboat Springs is a down-to-earth resort town with a Western heritage. Our favorite part of Steamboat is that the locals and tourists all mix in with each other—it’s a real town, not a segmented off resort. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your time in Steamboat. Chances are you’ll bump into one of us out playing on a day off!

Mariposa B&B – A small, friendly B&B close to the heart of downtown Steamboat
Steamboat Grand – Your classic upscale ski resort hotel, with great views of the ski mountain
Holiday Inn – Basic, friendly, easy, you know what you’re getting
Breakfast: Creekside or Winona’s
Lunch: Freshies or Salt & Lime rooftop
Dinner: Carl’s Tavern or E3 Steakhouse
Happy Hour: Aurum
FM Lights – boots and hat and novel Western wear
Lyon’s Drug – Old-fashioned drugstore complete with a soda fountain and $1 ice cream cones
Ski Haus – Outdoor adventurers paradise!
Steamboat Art Company – Fun gifts and interesting variety
Off the Beaten Path – There aren’t many of these small, independent bookstores around anymore…. enjoy the ambiance and a cup of coffee here!
Steamboat Art Museum – Beautiful Western art in a beautiful setting
Ohana – Devyn’s go-to for special gifts with a Steamboat flair
Hot springs – Stay close to town at the Old Town Hot Springs or head up the mountain to the Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs. The soak is a remedy for all ailments!
Rodeo – You’re in a Western town, go see a great small town rodeo on a Friday or Saturday evening! Go early for some great BBQ
White water rafting or kayaking – Why lose a day at the ranch; hit the river before or after your visit!
Farmers market – Each Saturday morning local artisans and food vendors show up in downtown Steamboat–great for people watching, eating, and shopping at the same time!
Gondola ride and brunch – Even though there isn’t any snow, you can still take a ride up the Gondola for amazing views and a family-friendly hike.
First Friday art walk – Art lovers will enjoy this mix of culture and small town charm on the first Friday of every month. Check the local paper for more information.

We hope you enjoy extending your vacation to spend some time in Steamboat Springs!

Lonely Planet – April 2018

In this article, the folks at Lonely Planet gathered ideas from some of the top family travel experts in the US, and Vista Verde Ranch made the list!  If you weren’t already inspired to plan a family vacation this summer, check out this article and it’s a good chance you’ll start dreaming of adventures with your family.  Read the article….