Dr. John Garrett, an orthopedic surgeonfrom Atlanta, Ga, was looking for a propertythat would indulge his fly-fishing passion."What doctors typically want is a retreat fromthe hectic physician-life and reasonable access,"Dr. Garrett said. "The principal rationale for buyingsuch a property is escape."Hefound that a ranch on Wyoming's GreenRiver, which he bought with 10 otherfamilies, was exactly what he needed.
Fly-fishing has long provided thesolitude and meditation that doctorsneed, and physicians everywhere are discoveringthat the antidote to the hurlyburlyof modern medicine is a ranch onthe banks of the west's numerousstreams or rivers. There are, of course,properties situated on the blue-ribbonrivers renowned among trout fishermen,such as the Yellowstone, Missouri,Madison, Colorado, and Rio Grande.But throughout the Rocky MountainWest, there are also a number of springcreeks and free-flowing streams runningthrough private property that can providehours of excellent trout fishing.
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE WATER
When you're looking for a fishingproperty, consider how important privacyis to you. Although there are a number ofproperties with streams or rivers coursingthrough them, all of the Rocky Mountain statesallow float fishing. This means that even thoughyou may own the land surrounding the river,other fishermen can float and fish their waythrough your property. If this isn't a problem foryou, you'll have a wide choice of properties.
Dr. Garrett was looking for more privacy. "Iwanted private water, a long length of stream,and a stream where I didn't have to worry thatthe public would be floating down the river andessentially fishing for the same fish thatI was,"he said. "I also didn't wantthem chasing away wildlife."
There are several ways to find suchproperties. You can pick a property on apublic stream, like Montana's SmithRiver, that's busy only in early summerwhen the water is high. Or you can lookfor property along terrain-fast water,huge rocks, and irrigation runoff, whichmake boating so challenging that thewater is essentially a wading stream.
"You can have more or less privacydepending on the state,"Dr. Garrettnotes. For absolute privacy, look for astream too small to float or too remotefor the public. Laws in Wyoming andColorado prohibit individuals fromplacing their foot on a stream bottomwithout the landowner's permission, soeven floaters can't wade fish. Montanalaw says a person has the right to fish allwaters in the state as long as that personstays below the high-water mark.
SORTS OF FISHERIESvYou also need to narrow down what you'relooking for in a fishing property. There are bothlarge and small freestone streams (ie, streamsthat are directly fed by natural runoff wherewater flows vary with the season). Tailwaterstreams are dam-controlled and have fairly consistentwater flows.You can also look for springcreeks, or streams that are spring-fed and consistentin flow and temperature.
There are also properties that feature solidwater sources that could be enhanced to provideexcellent fisheries. A number of companies specializingin habitat development can change abody of water's entire character to make it a bettertrout stream. If there's a sufficient watersource, these developers can even build an artificial stream, pond, or a series of ponds.
You need 3 things in a real estate broker. Youneed an experienced broker who can show you avariety of fishing properties. "You need someonewho can take you by the hand to a significantnumber of streams,"Dr. Garrett says. "And youneed to decide if it's important to be close to apopulation center for a cappuccino or an airport."You need a broker who knows the area'sfisheries, the amount of public activity, and thelaws that govern the streams. The broker mustalso be able to locate experts who can provideinformation on the stream or river. Your brokershould also have served a wide range of clients,from partnerships to private individuals.
Owning a fishing property has provided Dr.Garrett with historical perspective as well aspeace of mind. "It gives me a chance to know asingle stream through a number of seasons,"Dr.Garrett says. "And a long weekend on a very privatestream has offset many long days in theoperating room or office."
who grew up
on a ranch near Sheridan,
Wyo, is a managing
director of Hall and
Hall, a ranch brokerage
that offers brokerage,
ranch personnel placement,
and farm and
ranch property management
services in Montana,
Idaho, the Pacific
and Rocky Mountain
West, the Central Plains,
and Canada, as well as
internationally. He welcomes
questions or comments