On the Fly: Belly up to the Bar ZX | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Belly up to the Bar ZX

Justin Moore
On the Fly
On the Fly writer Justin Moore with Bar ZX rainbow trout .
Kara Lewis/Special to The Aspen Times

With runoff at our doorstep, this is when we start fishing lakes, ponds and tailwaters.

Locals and visitors alike are to have the opportunity to fish for trophy trout in a beautiful setting at the Bar ZX Ranch. The Bar ZX is owned and operated by Dean and Cathy Lampton, a 640-acre ranch perched at 7,500 feet with the Ragged Mountains towering above. Dean has created a fly-fishing paradise with over 25 ponds, all filled with trophy fish, including many different species.

Depending on which pond you fish, you can find Snake River cutthroat, Tasmanian rainbows, giant cuttbows, western rainbows, eastern and wild brook trout that can reach over 5 pounds, German browns you wouldn’t want a small child or pet near and tiger trout (brown and brook trout hybrids). The average fish landed is around 5 pounds, but the opportunity for 10-, 15- and even 20-pound trout exists, if you can land it. There are stories of trout reaching 30 pounds that have been hooked but never landed.

The season begins in May and carries through November, but we primarily utilize the ranch as a spring and fall fishery as the summer heat kicks in to gear. Each pond fishes differently and holds its own secrets. When driving through the property you will find yourself immersed in what feels like a jungle at times, with ponds tucked into the tree line. Never ignore the smaller ponds; oftentimes they hold some of the largest fish. Continuing through the property leads to a high-country feel with a backdrop to match.

There are many ways to fish the ponds, depending on the time of year. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a 10-pound trout snatch your fly off the surface. Hatches include chironomids, callibaetis, damselflies, caddis, midges and you’ll see a few terrestrials, too. If dry flies are not on the menu, having a selection of mayfly nymphs, scuds, damsels, leeches and streamers should be a productive way to get these fish to eat.

Dean and Cathy require that you are accompanied by a professional guide for the protection and well-being of these incredible fish. Rod fees apply, and the ranch is only about an hour from Basalt. Reach out to your local shop for this terrific runoff option this spring!

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.