Colorado ranch owners can capitalize on quality fishing

Fishable water abounds on Colorado ranches. Properties that possess quality trout waters, either in the form of free-flowing streams or even large, fabled rivers, enjoy added value thanks to the fishing these waters provide. 

First, intact and fishable rivers and streams likely means that overall habitat on the ranch property is in good shape. This is good for livestock, and it’s good for wildlife. And, of course, it’s good for fish and for anglers.

Colorado has long been a storied fly-fishing destination. Its high elevation and, in most years, its abundant snow, help keep rivers and streams flowing cold and clear all year long. For many anglers, a visit to a Colorado trout stream is the ideal retreat. How can Colorado ranch owners benefit from the healthy habitat on their ranches?

Fishing is business, too

There are lots of ways ranch owners and investors can capitalize on excellent trout habitat and great fishing. Colorado ranch owners can lease fishing access to guides and outfitters who, in turn, take paying clients fishing. 

Ranch owners, if the property’s infrastructure can handle it, can also host guests. These visitors pay not only for the chance to fish private water, but also for everything from lodging to meals. Fly fishers are generally well-heeled and have the disposable income to pay for quality angling experiences. 

We’ve all heard of “dude ranches,” where guests pay to experience a few days of ranch life. Why shouldn’t ranch owners in possession of excellent trout habitat and quality fishing market the fishing on their private water to visitors who can afford the experience?

Working with an outfitter

Already, many Colorado ranches work with fishing (and hunting) outfitters to host clients for a day of fishing. A quality experience might gross an outfitter or a guide upwards of $800 to $1,000 for a day depending on the fishing quality. The ranch owner, of course, gets a sizable cut of that fee. 

What’s more, the Colorado ranch owner has all of the control. They get to decide how many rods are allowed on the ranch each day. They set their own fee structure. They choose the outfitters and guides they work with. And there’s rarely a shortage of guides or outfitters who want to share excellent private-water fishing with their clients. 

Hosting anglers

Colorado is a fishing destination for anglers from around the world. Its big, sweeping rivers, like the upper Colorado, the Roaring Fork, the Frying Pan, the South Platte and the Gunnison are legendary in angling circles. Already, many outfitters lease or own Colorado ranch property, and they operate fishing lodges that cater to anglers willing to pay for an amazing fishing experience, particularly on private water. 

Colorado ranch owners who enjoy good trout habitat and great fishing might consider a lucrative “side hustle” by hosting anglers or building a full-fledged fishing lodge to serve a generally wealthy clientele. 

It’s a lot of work, but if the fishing is good — and if anglers don’t have to fight for room on the river like they might have to do on public lands — a hosted fishing operation can pay for itself in short order. 

And, the more the fishing lodge offers, the higher the rate a ranch owner can charge. For instance, a ranch owner might have a couple of small cabins on his or her property. Perhaps the ranch house has a quality, industrial-grade kitchen (many ranches do, as it takes a lot of food to keep a ranch running without a hitch). In addition to great fishing, a ranch owner could offer a package experience that includes meals and lodging. 

Obviously, the more services a ranch owner can offer to guests, the more guests would be willing to pay to visit and fish on the ranch. And, honestly, if the fishing is great, and the experience is memorable, traveling fly fishers with the means and the desire for quality will pay several thousand dollars a week for an all-inclusive experience. 

Daily rod fees

Maybe a complete fishing lodge is just too much to digest, at least at first. Another way Colorado ranch owners can capitalize on their fishing assets is to simply charge a daily rod fee for anglers who want to fish private water on their own. 

This is hardly a new idea. Some ranch owners charge in the neighborhood of $200-$500 a day for fishing access. Others, with lots of fishing to offer visiting anglers, charge upwards of $1,000 per rod, per day, to anglers in pursuit of the private-water fishing experience. 

And, so long as the habitat is good, the fish are healthy and the fishing is memorable, a Colorado ranch owner can essentially operate an evergreen business that will supplement his or her ranch’s business operations. 

The bottom line

Colorado ranch owners with fishing assets on their property are in a unique position. The state continues to grow, and there’s more and more pressure on public lands and on public fishing waters in the Centennial State. By ensuring the trout water on their property is healthy and functional, Colorado ranch owners have several options for supplementing their ranch’s business income. 

By working with guides and outfitters, Colorado ranch investors get a cut of a daily trip fee the guides charge clients. If a ranch has abundant fishing resources, and the ranch has (or can eventually have) the infrastructure, a ranch owner can start and operate an honest-to-goodness fishing lodge. Or, if the fishing is good, but the time and effort that goes into operating a lodge and hosting anglers is prohibitive, a Colorado ranch owner can simply charge anglers a daily rod fee, and let them fish the ranch on their own.

Quality trout habitat on private ranch land can translate into the “private water” experience many anglers crave. Colorado ranch owners who have the needed assets on their land can capitalize on this market and make their ranchland even more valuable. 

We have over 30 years of experience throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and New Mexico. We know these states well, including some “undiscovered” places. We are offering best hunting ranches for sale along with other premier properties
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