Giant Trout on the Legacy Ranch

May 3 & 4

Last week I got an email from friend
Tate Jarry of Live Water Properties, a company that specializes in finding and selling fly fishing and hunting properties. He said they had an incredible ranch for sale located in Springfield, Idaho. The ranch is teaming with spectacular hunting and fishing. There’s ducks, geese, pheasants, Hungarian partridge, deer and etc along with small lakes and spring creeks overflowing with huge trout. The name of this dream property is the Legacy Spring Creek Ranch.

Now trust me, Tate knows Granny and I can’t afford a ranch, but in my business I have plenty of well to do friends and clients that can afford such a place and might even be looking for such a property. So I asked a couple questions and before I knew it Tate asked if I could make the time and come on down to visit and fish the ranch. I made the time and before we knew it, he and I and a mutual friend, Scott Smith, were opening the gate to enter the premises. Scott is a long time friend. He worked for me in the fly shop many years ago and went on to be a fantastic guide for our shop, and although I have moved on, Scott still guides there.

This would be a two day adventure. We arrived at about 9 AM Tuesday morning and immediately chucked our stuff into the ranch house. Then Tate gave us a tour of the property on four wheelers. Wildlife was abundant to say the least. The birdlife was especially noticeable starting with both a bald eagle and a great horned owl nest right by the house. A fluffy owlet peered out of the owl nest while the concerned parents watched close by. There were pheasants everywhere along with sandhill cranes, hawks and about six different species of ducks. The place was awesome. And the spring creeks and ponds – we didn’t see any fish rising this early in the day because it was cold – were so spectacular looking, you knew just below the surface trout were munching in nymphs, leeches and minnows. And for that reason our tour sped up and soon we were wadering up.

We chose to start on one of the three lakes of the Legacy Spring Creek Ranch. The best way to approach any of these lakes is by drift boat or float tube. The three of us wanted to fish together so we hooked the drift boat up to the four wheeler (these toys come with the property) and launched. Windy and cold hardly describes the weather. This is a small lake however it was so windy that like a big lake, it was covered in whitecaps. Such conditions generally discourage most anglers, however when it comes to lake fishing, the windier it is the more chopped up the surface is, and in turn, the more fish feed securely near the surface on the stirred up food. If the fish were here, today was going to be a marvelous day of fishing.

I took the oars first and struggled with the wind trying to keep the boat steady. Tate and Scott hooked up immediately and Scott landed a solid 19” rainbow. This bow was a wild as they come and absolutely schooled him while jumping several times trying to spit his fly. I don’t think this trout had ever felt the metal of a hook in his entire life, a characteristic rarely found these days.

After we released him we switched it up and Scott took the oars. Scott’s a powerful dude and he rowed us into the teeth of the wind to a new area. Tate and I were casting streamers. I had two flies on, a black motor oil bugger and a small brown bugger three feet up my 0X Flouro leader. I was using my favorite lake line, the Scientific Angler Stillwater WF6I. This line is clear and sinks very slowly. It keeps my flies in the zone of the fish and being clear, it doesn’t scare them either. Soon I too landed a nice fish. Mine was a very uniquely colored and marked cutthroat.

We caught a lot of fish on day one. The wind never stopped, but we didn’t notice. The sun even broke through in late afternoon and the temperature warmed to the upper 40ºs. By then we were immune to the elements. We ended up fishing two of the three lakes on the property and landed approximately 30 or so trout almost all rainbows. A few were cuttbows and the only cutthroat was the one I caught first thing. Worth mentioning, two of these fish were monsters, while the rest would have been great fish on any body of water. This fishery is awesome!

If you look on a map, Springfield, Idaho and the Legacy Spring Creek Ranch are located along the west side of American Falls Reservoir. This area has always been known for its great hunting and fishing, however it gets far less use compared to the nearby waters such as the Henrys Fork and Yellowstone areas. Even though it’s easily accessible and folks know about the area, it’s still sort of “off the map” you might say.

This morning the three of us hopped in the boat early. Tate had to leave by 10 AM and wanted a couple hours fishing before he left. I’m guessing he not only wanted to fish but also had a hunch something good would happen. Sure enough, with a mere five minutes left on his watch, he landed a hawg rainbow that I’ll guess was close to 7lbs!

The sun came out as Tate left and Scott and I shed some layers and took the boat up to another lake. As we launched Scott spotted a couple mysterious surface swirls. Yesterday was too windy for us to see any trout feeding on the surface but today the lake was only slightly disturbed by a light breeze. Anywhere there was protection from the light wind, the lake was calm. Sure enough, Scott was rightfully suspicious of the swirls as several fish were eating mayfly nymphs just below the surface.

Although we’d caught a few fish already, including Tate’s monster, I felt like the random catches were not sufficient. I’d been playing with nymphs all morning with my Stillwater line trying to “crack the code” you might say. There are so many fish in these lakes that I felt we should be catching one almost every cast. An instinct I developed back in my competition days. But while experimenting I was doing even worse. No matter what pattern I used or stripping method I played with I could not figure the fish out. Finally I ditched my slow sink set up and switched over to my new Ross Rx 5-weight rod and the new floating GPX textured line WF5F. I rigged two nymphs on 2X Flouro and casted to one of the swirls. We weren’t even ten feet from the launch. Wham! I had the first fish on – a nice 18” rainbow. I released him and as I did another swirled. To make a long story short, I caught 4 in a row. The nymphs on the floating line worked so good that Scott hopped out of the boat and took the four wheeler back to his truck to grab his 5-weight floating rig. And during the next 5 hours we landed 22 rainbows up to 24-inches long! Outstanding!

Fishing was so good that at 3 PM Scott called his wife to get the good to stay late and skip dinner at home. All he was required to do was get home before his kids went too bed. But at 5 PM, we’d had our fill. We’d caught more fish than either of us will likely catch between tomorrow and July 1st and we were tired as heck from two days of banging them up. We packed her up and made the two hour drive back to Teton Valley.

All I can say is the Legacy Spring Creek Ranch is one heck of a special place. I really hope I get to fish it again. And although I’m not a great bird hunter, I’m sure even I could nail a limit of pheasants there, so perhaps that’s in my future. In the meantime I wish Tate and Live Water Properties good luck in their search of new owners for this magnificent place.

4 Responses to “Giant Trout on the Legacy Ranch”

  1. Troutdawg May 9, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    Looks like some pretty sweet water you got to fish with Scott at Legacy Spring Creek Ranch and some fat Rainbows!

  2. Erik May 9, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    WOW! Great fish… If you ever come to Boise I will see if I can get you on the Private Ranch over in this neck of the woods. Great fishing, nice that you can find a place open over there… are all of the rivers blown out?

  3. Todd May 9, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Hoo Man!! This looks like an incredible place. That cutty is amazing. I’m buying more Powerball tickets tomorrow.

  4. Jeff Currier - Global Fly Fishing May 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Hi guys,
    Our rivers are so blown out its unreal. Three days of rain over a major runoff will do it. But, I’m teaching a five day school and we are headed to some private water again today. I wont be fishing but it will be fun just helping our students. Report to come soon.

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