Rainbow Valley Fishing Club Welcomes New Rainbow Trout Addition

Famous Local Lakes Revitalized; Stocked for First Time in Four Years

Trevor Phipps


On a Wednesday afternoon in May when a fresh shipment of large rainbow trout was to be delivered at the Rainbow Valley Ranch just north of Divide, the small crowd that gathered to help the stocking process feared for rain as clouds started to form.

But luckily, despite a short burst of sprinkles, the clouds cleared, and the weather warmed up just in time for the fish to arrive.


Little did many know that stocking seven lakes of large adult fish for some fun catch and release fishing action is quite the process.  Moreover, this detailed effort played a key role in bringing back the Rainbow Valley Ranch, and their magnificent lakes, to their previous recreational splendor.

However, at times, some community members and residents questioned if the challenging, arduous process could get accomplished—at least for the 2024 season.

First, the owner of the ranch, Tanner Coy who also owns Tweeds Fine Furnishings in Woodland Park, had to find a company that works as a fish broker and connects trout farmers with clients that need fish for their lakes. Before the larger fish arrived, the lakes were stocked with minnows to be used as food to keep the big trout alive.

The pickup, donned with Colorado plates, had just finished a journey to a trout farmer in Nebraska to pick up 550 pounds of beautiful rainbow trout ranging between 18 and 23 inches long. The fish had to be transported in specialized metal tanks that received oxygen during the journey.


As soon as the fish arrived, temperatures of all seven lakes had to be taken to make sure that the temperature of the lakes was within four degrees of the temperature of the water in the fish tanks to avoid the trout from getting shocked. If the temperatures were too far apart, the fish would have to be put in a bucket with half lake water and half water from their tanks to adjust before being released.


Luckily, all of the tanks were around 58 degrees, which matched nicely with the tank waters temps sitting around 56 degrees. Once the water was tested and ready, the fish could be put into the lake, but with trout so large, the process was not that simple.

Public Event Generates a Strong Response

Some of the crowd present at the fish stocking event including Coy’s family, friends and neighbors of the ranch, thought that the fish could just be dumped or somehow pumped out of their tanks. But this assumption was quickly trounced. In fact, the fish had to be retrieved from their tanks with a large net one to four at a time depending on their size and thrown into six of the seven Rainbow Valley Ranch fishing lakes.

Everyone who attended the event could partake in helping to stock the lakes. But Coy warned participants ahead of time that their hands had to be wet before touching the fish. However, despite Coy’s detailed instructions, handling the fish seemed to become quite the chore. In fact, many got a good laugh watching Coy himself attempt to hold onto a large fish to take a picture.


Rainbow Valley Ranch Offers Sport Fishing and Lodging Accommodations

The Rainbow Valley Ranch owner has sought to revive the prime fishing experience at the lakes, which hasn’t occurred there for at least four years.

According to Coy, the previous owners of the ranch had a contract with a fishing club that managed the lakes. The fishing club in previous years had the lakes stocked with a sportsman’s mix of trout that including cutthroats, brooks, brown and rainbow trout.


They also did some work to add to the fish habitat and they introduced some minnows as feeder fish. “But then the owner was not real pleased with the way the operation was being managed, so she terminated that relationship and just kind of let it go,” Coy explained. “The fishing club diminished over the years to about six members when I took it over last year.”


Coy said that after researching the property, he learned that the lakes were originally built as a fish hatchery. He said that one day he would like to return it to that purpose, but for now he wants to stock the lakes and welcome more members to the private fishing club.

He said that he chose not to stock the lakes last year because he wanted a year to test the waters and see what types of fish already existed in the lake.

“What we found is that we did have rainbows, cutthroats, brooks and browns in all of the lakes,” Coy said. “They were a healthy population, but they were not of the size that they used to have. It looks like the larger ones may have not able to sustain over the years. Most of what we caught last year ranged between eight and 16 inches in all of the lakes. So, this year, we are stocking 16 to 20 plus inch rainbow trout. We are not overdoing it because there is an abundant fish population. I don’t want them all competing for food I want them all striving, so I added minnows as well for a food source.”


The ranch consists of a number of short and long-term rentals. The ranch offers a historic experience of the Wild West where people can embrace the quiet mountain life.


Anyone can join the fishing club and have access to fish all seven of the lakes. The annual membership costs $1,250, which Coy said is cheaper than the market price and below the other private fishing clubs in the area.


People interested in joining the fishing club or renting the ranch’s lodge or one of its cabins can do so online by visiting the ranch’s website at rvfc.co.