About the Fishing on Woodson Ranch
When Craig Woodson envisioned his ranch, high on his list of features was a place that supported excellent fishing, even during Spring runoff periods when other rivers might appear more like chocolate milk than prime trout habitat. Woodson Ranch offers a variety of fishing opportunities with water supporting the occasional trout in excess of 24”. From the very technical, but often rewarding Cattail Creek, to the 4+ miles of Ruby River, the several miles of Clear Creek (a braid of the Ruby), and a mile or so of Alder creek, there is ample water for even the most ambulatory of fishermen.
Access to the Ruby River can be a challenge throughout the valley, and that is one of the aspects of Woodson Ranch which makes it a unique place. While the property is privately owned by the Foundation, we provide managed access of up to four people per day. With the quantity of waters running through the property, this allows for folks to spread out and enjoy some of the solitude for which the ranch is known. This approach makes Woodson Ranch a solution to a known challenge—we provide access to the fishing, but limit it and manage the resource in a conservative way. The riparian area has been improved and the agricultural endeavors are conducted in such a way as to reduce impact on the fishery. Rarely will one find such a combination of prime fishing habitat, access on private ground, and the possibility of catching large rainbow and brown trout.
As mentioned, our approach to the fisheries on the property is designed to enhance the fisherman’s experience while sustaining a healthy fish population. One of the ways we do this is with our “beat system”. Beat systems, common on rivers in Europe, are employed as a way to spread fishermen out—this accomplishes two things: 1) fishermen are afforded a quiet experience where they are not following through the “spent” water of some prior fisherman, and 2) the fish are rested on alternate days, ensuring less stress on the fish and, therefore, healthier fish.
To use our beat system, simply “claim” your beat on the beat map near the ranch office (small log cabin next to the big red barn). The map is magnetic, and by placing your magnet on top of the beat you wish to fish, you have claimed your beat. If you move to another beat during the day, we ask that you simply move the magnet to indicate that that stretch of water is occupied.
Cattail Creek is a waterway designed specifically to remain clear during spring runoff. A series of ponds and settling areas captures sediment and leads to clearer water in the enhanced twists and turns of the creek itself. Cattail Creek is comprised of spring water and water diverted from Alder Creek. A weir stands guard of the entrance and exit of Cattail Creek. This allows the rainbows we have planted there to stay there, and to grow ever larger and larger. While the other bodies of water on the property (Ruby River, Alder Creek and Clear Creek) support only wild fish, Clear Creek’s fish are resident fish. As such, they tend to be well-educated fish, and it may take a skilled presentation of your fly to coax a rise. The opportunity to catch one of the lunkers in the ponds of the creek, as well as the challenge of presenting your fly “just so”, makes this technical river a destination spot for many of our repeat guests.
The map shows the various waters on the ranch
and the beat system numbers associated with each.
Rules and How to Reserve Your Space
As mentioned, space on Woodson Ranch for fishing is limited to four rods per day, and it is flyfishing only. We ask that you use barbless hooks only. All fishing is catch and release. Historically, we have done a mass-mailing in March of each year inviting people to reserve their space on the ranch; in 2017, we will not be sending this letter. The reason is that we have already filled many of the dates with Woodson Family and Montana Land Reliance events. We still have a few dates available and you can contact Dave to see if anything is available when you are in town.