Commercial fishing now available on Piney River in Eagle County
July 13, 2018
WOLCOTT — For most anglers, access to a half-mile stretch of private water would be a dream come true.
With Sage Outdoor Adventures, you can now fish 7 miles of private water at the Piney Valley Ranch, a 30,000-acre area that surrounds the Piney River in Eagle County.
The term "private water" doesn't refer to the water itself, of course; private water means the banks surrounding the water are private land. Piney Valley Ranch is part of Swedish shipping magnate Magnus Lindholm's Piney Valley Land Trust, and recently the area was only available on a membership basis, with a fee that would make many private country clubs a bargain by comparison.
While the river is teeming with large trout, it has not been available for commercial fishing in recent years, but Sage was able to lease the land this year, and an exploration of the property began immediately by Sage employees Sky Young and Joe Tomasic. What they found blew their minds.
“It’s a cool way to see a lot of the river and a lot of the ranch. You see a lot of wildlife and it’s a cool experience.”Sky YoungSage Outdoor Adventures employee
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"It's a real privilege to be able to go out there and see this area that has never been available to the general public before," Tomasic said from the property in June. "I had driven past it a hundred times on Highway 131 and never thought I would be able to see what's back here."
FLOWS FROM PINEY LAKE
While there aren’t many anglers who have fished Piney River, many are familiar with its source, Piney Lake near Vail. The river flows from the high-alpine lake into the ranch, where a healthy riparian area keeps much of it shaded and cool. On Friday, July 13, Tomasic said they had not seen temperatures exceed 64 degrees yet this summer, and during most parts of the day, the temperatures are in the high 50s to low 60s.
In some areas of the county, where water temperatures are reaching the high 60s, fishing is off limits due to the danger it poses for the fish, which cannot survive the catch-and-release process in warm water. So while the nearby Colorado River may be unfishable most of the day, in the Piney River, catch and release is still relatively safe for trout.
Sage is offering trips for $385 per person, a far cry from the "six-figure entry, six-figure yearly dues," as described by Tomasic, which once applied to anglers who wanted to join the private club and fish the Piney River.
Getting to the water is an adventure in itself. Sage takes you on a tour of the property using a side-by-side utility terrain vehicle, until the terrain becomes too rugged for the machines. Singletrack hiking trails provide access to some of the more remote sections of the river; however, there are also plenty of sections where the vehicle will take you right up to the riverbanks. For large groups looking to have a quiet afternoon all to themselves, Sage's Piney Valley trip offers an excursion that can cater to patrons from all levels of mobility.
Veteran angler Young said in all his years of guiding, he never expected he would get to take guests into an area like Piney Valley.
"You pull over at one hole, catch a few fish, then hop back in the Maverick and take off and head to the next hole, and each spot gets prettier and prettier," Young said. "It's a cool way to see a lot of the river and a lot of the ranch. You see a lot of wildlife and it's a cool experience."
If you catch a fish in the Piney River, then it's likely a fish that has never been caught before, Young said.
"These fish are very aggressive, very fun to catch" he said. "The scenery, and everything about the fishing here, is just incredible."
For more information, call 970-476-3700 or visit sageoutdooradventures.com.
This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that commercial fishing has taken place on Piney River in years past.