The two most popular activities at Paradise Ranch are riding and fishing ... so why not combine the two? Yesterday I headed out on an all-day ‘fishing ride’, joining a family from Denver who wanted to combine a bit of adventure with the thrill of fly fishing in a new location.
It was a pretty gloomy morning as wrangler Quannah lead us up the ski slope on our horses onto Hunter Mesa, then back down through the forest to French Creek, bubbling through wildflower-strewn meadows at the base of Fan Rock. But the weather held throughout the day, sunshine intermittently breaking through swirling clouds to provide some relief from the bone chill.
With the horses tethered to a line of aspen, fishing guides Zac and Sean took over, giving dad Brent tips on how to read the river for the best chance at catching fish. An avid fly-fisherman, Brent didn’t need a lot of instruction; though the fish weren’t really biting during the morning session, Brent landing just one brook trout to start the tally.
Now, I’m not much of a fisherwoman ... but I do appreciate the languid consistency of fly fishing and the focus required in the quest to get a nibble. I can literally watch the process all day, hypnotised by the perpetual motion of casting, with the occasional excitement of a catch. It certainly wasn’t a hard way to kill a few hours, despite not getting behind the actual fishing pole (next time ... I used the excuse of not having a fishing license in order to participate, but I do plan on learning how to do this...)
Meanwhile, kids Carter and Sloane were in explorer mode, climbing trees, scaling rocky bluffs and disappearing up the hill. Mum Claire also wasn’t so keen on fishing, just chilling in such a gorgeous wilderness. But after lunch the whole clan got involved, remounting the horses to head downstream, before trying their luck at the beaver pond below Fan Rock.
This time, the fish were co-operating, with the children (under Zac’s expert casting tuition) hauling in eight fish - five cutthroat and three brook trout - in an embarrassment of river riches. The kids were ecstatic with each landing, gently taking the hook out of the fish’s mouth, then patting it goodbye before releasing it back into the water. It’s heartening to witness respect for nature instilled in kids so young, a subtle yet effective lesson in sustainable environmental practices which will hopefully stay with them for a lifetime.
With such a successful end to the day, we headed back to the barn by 3.30pm, with all the talk focused around hitting the hot tub. Happy days...