September 4th, 2010 I had the best Northern Colorado fly fishing day of my life. I am not exaggerating, being paid, or black-mailed for this endorsement of fly fishing outfitters, Rawah (pronounced Ray-Wah) Ranch. You won’t find this statement on any other SheLovesFlyFishing page because there can only be one “best day ever”.
Welcome to RawaH Wilderness Fly Fishing Outfitters. Our outfit is perched at 8,400' in the RawaH Wilderness Area located in Northern Colorado and just south of the Wyoming border. RawaH Wilderness Outfitters offers our guests unparalleled guided big game hunting and professionally guided Northern Colorado fly fishing expeditions.
You can guess which part of this RawaH Ranch Brochure excites me! I hope one day soon you’ll meet Pat and Melanie Timmins, their eight year old son, (soon to be nine) Patrick, and baby girl, Rowan, (Scottish for Lady Warrior). The Timmins’ family hosts the most fortunate guests on the planet to their all inclusive guest ranch for the best fly fishing outfitters have to offer. What does “all inclusive” mean?
All Inclusive means breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the main lodge served up by Chef Bobby Bigsby; slow cooked pork-ribs so tender they fall apart when a breeze blows through.
Private cabins with high-end appointments, a wood burning fire place, and a big, comfy bed with soft sheets and a down comforter so warm you’ll never know if it dips below freezing at night.
Your own strong, beautiful horse ready to be saddled for your tour through the Colorado wilderness.
Fresh lemonade and ice tea on the back screened porch ready at all times to quench your well earned thirst and warm chocolate chip cookies good enough to embarrass Mrs. Fields or Mr. Spunkmeyer.
A porch swing, rocking chairs, hummingbird feeders, and resident squirrels and chipmunks to help you realize what rest and relaxation are supposed to look like.
Unlimited protection and affection of Angus, the horse sized English Mastiff.
Outfitters who know the land and the hunt as well as they know their name.
A hot-tub positioned under a thick blanket of stars streaked by a creamy swath of milky-way so that at the end of an action packed day you can coax your tired muscles back into pliability, ready for tomorrow’s adventure.
And one private mile of the Big Laramie River, aka “The Perfect Trout Stream”, full of so many fat fish averaging around 20” that you’ll find yourself slack-jawed and shaking your head just muttering over and over, “Wow…wow…….Wow!” I’m not exaggerating... I’m not a Guide – I have no reason to lie. Pigs. Footballs. Buckets. Get used to it.
Hollywood memorialized the mystique of a fish too big to handle when Brody proclaimed in ‘Jaws’, “We’re going to need a bigger boat”. The first thing I heard when I unpacked my fly fishing gear at the Guide Shack sounded ominously familiar, “You’re going to need a bigger net!” I laughed at the joke until I realized that the repeat visitor wasn’t kidding. My 18” net was going to be useless.
On this sparkling morning I was hitting the water with ‘the man’; Pat Timmins. He responded to me and my Dallas Cowboy’s T-shirt with a derogatory remark about Roger Staubach, (an early indication that Melanie is clearly the brains and beauty of the operation), and I hoped among hope that he knew more about fishing than he did about football. He offered 25 years of Outfitter and fly fishing experience to lead us through a “double black-diamond” day. You’ve probably heard ski resorts refer to their runs as “double black diamond”; an indication of the likelihood that you’ll break your leg trying to get to the bottom. This grade of difficulty was assigned to the river on this day because the sun was bright, the water was low and crystal clear, and the fish were Ninja stealth.
We approached the first hole directly in front of the lodge with careful regard. The evening before I had sat on a picnic table with one of the fly fishing guides and watched a couple of hungry trout sipping midges from the calm waters. With newbie adrenaline pulsing through my veins I PLOPPED my first cast and watched a submarine Rainbow dart past us to warn his neighbors of the threat.
We rounded the bend to the “Bestest Hole” and there they were; not just a school of fish but a whole university, sick with big trout. They looked as if you could cross the river on their backs and never touch the water. Adrenaline rush coursed again but when you can see them that well – they can see you too and time and time again they chased my fly but wouldn’t strike. Pat’s spot-on comment, "They’re like most men, right? No commitment.” Don’t I know it, Sir, don’t I know it. After about an hour of trial and error I finally felt a fierce tug and D%$*!! My reaction was to grab the line when I lifted and now that fish has a new piercing complete with jewels but I certainly don’t know what color her eyes are.
"Ya horsed it!” Little Patrick Timmins
As we worked our way up the river God’s grace kicked in and He threw us a couple of lumbering clouds. The wind started blowing just enough to riffle the water and I finally settled in enough to recognize that while Pat Timmins may have bumped his head when it comes to football, he has forgotten more about fly fishing than I’ll ever know and his patience allowed me to finally start hitting my targets gently enough to drift naturally. Finally, it was on! For the next hour before lunch and for three hours after, I felt like Norman Maclean. Rainbow trout as big as I’ve ever caught in a river, giving me the fight of my life as they charged to the undercuts and low-hanging Willow branches but time and time again – I won! We fished until my hand cramped and I cried calf-rope. Her eyes are black, by the way.
That evening I had the pleasure of sitting down to one of Chef Bobby’s delicious dinners. Chef Bobby Bigsby was with Turner Enterprises before coming to RawaH, managing the Vermejo dining experience and before that he was featured in Food & Wine magazine as one of the Top Ten Chefs in the nation. Now he serves up gourmet Ranch food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
“You’re going to be sore tomorrow – probably limpin’.” Little Patrick Timmins (announced to a guest who opted for a day hike).
On this night Bobby made real chicken fried steak with gravy and apple pie with a tender crust and sweet whipped cream – all better than I can make myself and I’m no slouch. We’ve already talked about a Spa Menu for the Women’s Retreats we’ll be holding in the Spring – he’s all over it.
The Timmins kids joined us and it was pretty great to spend time with such a blessed family. I can appreciate raising kids right and as a mother of a fully launched 21 year old son I found it highly entertaining to get to know Patrick Timmins the 8th.
Reared on the RawaH Ranch with all the privilege that lifestyle brings, and fueled by Scottish DNA that inherently, (according to Patrick Timmins the 7th) fortifies a body with unsurpassed fly fishing skills, ‘Little Pat’ leads a life enviable by… well by everyone. How many little boys have a backyard with a mile of Orvis approved stream, acres of untamed wilderness, horses ready for riding, Kawasaki Mules, (golf-carts on steroids) as your primary mode of transportation, a Daddy you emulate, a Mommy you adore, and a little sister made to order? Such advantage breeds a confidence and swagger in an eight year old boy typically reserved for heartthrobs many years older and wiser. Little Pat holds the world right by the Rocky Mountain Oysters.
“It’s good to be Patrick.” Innumerable RawaH Guests
One would think that once you have all your desires sated you wouldn’t want for more – but I’m greedy. I’ll be back to RawaH Ranch and when I come I’m bringing more women so we can take indulgence to an all time high. After all the fishing, hiking, and horse-back riding we can stand I want to bring in the Massage Therapist to my private room and have them work the work-week right out of me and the vacation deep in to me. Or take the two hour drive up the road to Steamboat Springs and sample the shopping and Spa pampering.
I can’t imagine another vacation that can absolutely satisfy every age, sex, or outdoor interest. Want a good deal? Drop me a line at
and we’ll make it happen. Ladies – email me if you’d like to receive notifications about upcoming Women’s Weekends at RawaH. Guys – if your lady doesn’t fish this is where you need to bring her; she’ll have plenty to do or to ‘not’ do and just might pick up on the love of the tug.
Home, home on the range… where seldom is heard a discouraging word…
That is until it’s time to go and then it gets pretty blue.
“Don’t worry Dad, I’ve heard worse from the Wranglers.” Little Patrick Timmins