Rawah Ranch

Paul Melchior

Over the first week of September I along with Daily Herald Outdoor Editor Mike Jackson, enjoyed a really delightful visit to Rawah Ranch. Located about 60 miles west of Ft Collins, Colorado, it’s an easy 3 hour drive from Denver, the last 70 miles along the very scenic Poudre Canyon.
Rawah occupies close to 400 acres of undeveloped land, bordered by over 800,000 acres of Federal and State forestland. Almost three miles of the Big Laramie River snakes through the property, plus access to many more miles flowing through remote public land adjacent to the ranch. Additional sections are leased from a nearby ranch that expand the fishery even more.
The stream is remarkable. It’s very much a western spring creek in character, easily waded, with a substantial food base that grows very large rainbow and brown trout, and the occasional brookie. Some other western ranches with similar productivity are heavily stocked. This river is self sustaining, churning out impressive numbers of 18” and larger trout with great regularity. I caught 20” plus fish every day. A broad shouldered 24” rainbow was the largest landed among our group. The lodge “record” is closer to 28”. We utilized a variety of approaches, from hoppers to small dries to swinging streamers through deep holes. While fishing was often exceptional, you couldn’t just show up and succeed. Stealthy wading and careful presentations, coupled with light tippets, were required. But when you got it right, the rewards were memorable. The guiding staff was as outstanding as the fishing, and certainly a major reason for our success.
The lodge is very inviting and comfortable, with individual, rustic but nicely appointed cabins and spacious main lodge. Rawah boasts a very talented chef who made every breakfast, lunch and dinner a special treat. The owners are personable and along with the staff, always working hard to insure every minute of your stay is top notch.
I’ve been around and been lucky enough to have had great trout fishing from Argentina to Alaska. There’s a pleasing irony to finding a special spot that’s so easy to reach and I look forward to a return visit next year.