Iconic resort teaches the allure of fly fishing

The Broadmoor puts 60 or more clients on the water each day

Mar 25th #fishing#freshwater

Originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of The Guidefitter Journal
The Broadmoor Resort

The Broadmoor Resort near Colorado Springs has a 5,000-acre campus that includes a fly-fishing guide service that employs 42 guides at any given time.
Photo courtesy of The Broadmoor

The Broadmoor Resort is not your average outfitter. The iconic, 800-room hotel west of Colorado Springs offers guests a host of outdoor activities and one of the most popular is fly fishing. It’s so popular in fact, that there are 42 guides on staff at any time, and about two dozen guides doing 100 days on the water with another dozen putting in 150 days a year.

“Our bread and butter are the large corporate trips that we take up into the mountains to our ranch, Eagle Rock Ranch,” said Randy Babas, the manager of outdoor excursions and a guide himself. “I might have 60 people going fishing at that one area and another large group on the South Platte or the resort’s fly-fishing school. We have a lot going on.”

The Broadmoor came into existence in 1917. One of its first guests was John D. Rockefeller. The resort still entertains the rich and famous. It’s the only three star, five diamond resort in the world, according to staff. It’s picturesque and postcard perfect.

The Broadmoor and its Wilderness Experience properties — The Ranch at Emerald Valley, Cloud Camp and Fly Fishing Camp — encompass 5,000 acres. The campus has nearly 800 rooms, suites and cottages, three golf courses, 26 stores and 10 restaurants including Colorado’s only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant.

The resort’s fly-fish school has 1/2-day and whole-day classes, a fish camp for overnight stays on a gin-clear mountain creek and excursions to some of the best fly water in the world, such as 11 Mile Canyon just an hour away. The fly operation is Orvis-endorsed.

To fish here, you have to be a guest (or a member of the resort golf club). Rooms go for about $500 a night and that’s about the least you could expect to pay. According to Krista Heinicke, marketing and public relations manager, people stay here because they want top-shelf service. “And that’s what they get,” she said.

“We’re known for anticipating our guests needs,” said Heinicke. “We don’t want to limit their experience. We work hard to build relationships and foster a genuine concern for our guests.”

Babas, who has been with the Broadmoor for 17 years, said the toughest part about running the fishing-part of the resort’s business is managing all those guides and anglers everyday. You could imagine that a doctor who’s fished the best rivers in the West would need the best guide Babas could produce.

“That would be guide Steve Gossage,” said Babas. “Steve has more than 20 years experience on these waters and he’d be the right guide for that client.”

Now if a guy wanted to head hunt, then Babas would hook him up with guide Phil Tereyla, who specializes in finding the biggest browns in the region. Add another 40 clients’ needs and you can see why Babas and his staff are hard at work giving people the best possible chance at having a great day on the water.

Babas said that plays on the rivers and creeks as well as the concierge desk. “We try to never say no, but make any request work,” said Babas.

“My favorite part of my job is when I get to teach beginner fly fishermen how to fish. It’s very cool to see the growth in someone year after year. We have so many repeat customers, that typically once they fish with us, they’ll be back every time they visit.

Fly Fishing

The outfitter and resort has just about any kind of trout water you could ask for. Guests fish places like 11 Mile Canyon to intimate mountain creeks, like Tarryall, above.
Photo courtesy of The Broadmoor

“We might have started them out on our golf course pond catching bluegill, to a creek and then the South Platte where they can fish technically and catch some really big trout there. That’s great to see.”

The Broadmoor has a number of properties they own or lease in order to spread out the pressure of so many anglers. They’ve definitely developed a system to make sure each person has a good day on the water where they can feel safe and bend a rod.

Most newbies start with the two-hour morning instruction. It’s an intro class that takes place right on the resort golf course — the 6th hole — close to the main lodge. The browns and rainbows, as well as sunfish and bass in the stocked pond are kept ultra hungry so anglers are almost guaranteed a catch and release. More advanced anglers might also go for instruction there if they can’t make a half-day commitment that the other options call for.

One of those options is a day at Eagle Rock Ranch, a working cattle ranch about an hour from the resort. The Broadmoor leases four miles of riverbank here. This is classic cut-bank, brown trout fishing in wide-open fields with a meandering creek. It’s technical, and there aren’t any gimmies here. The water is clear, which means the trout can see everything, from a poorly tied fly and bad presentation, to a brightly colored cap that an unknowing angler might be wearing. The ranch produces rainbows, browns and cutthroats. Some of the browns top 20 inches.

Getting into super-technical waters, anglers can opt to fish the South Platte a few miles away. They are guided on public water, the world-class Dream Stream section. This famous tailwater can produce browns 2 feet or longer. But you will work for them. You’ll use small flies in size 22 or 26 for the most popular fishing, the trico hatch in the summer. It can be a challenge but the rewards are trophy-sized.

One other option is the Broadmoor Fly Fishing Camp. An Adirondack-style lodge, called the Fish House, serves as the property’s epicenter. A half dozen cabins accommodate guests who wade-fish a mile of privately owned water that is Tarryall Creek. All of the fishing that guests do is catch-and-release, except for a stream-to-table program that the staff conducts on Tarryall and at the Fish House. They do have a stocking program for this section, but it’s supplemental and that’s where they get the trout to use in the catching-culinary program.

This location option is a little more of an investment. “I always stop by the Camp on our way to Eagle Rock. We get a beer and a quick tour for the group. It’s a great sales stop that they might want to consider for their next visit,” said Babas.

With an operation steeped in tradition and dedicated to serious customer service, you might think recruiting and maintaining an army of guides is difficult in this southeast part of the state. But the Broadmoor takes care of its guides, and the industry knows it. Most come in from word-of-mouth recommendations from other guides. Babas said he can tell pretty quickly if an applicant knows his stuff. If he’s friendly, then Babas or one of the experienced guides, like Gossage or Tereyla, will sit him down and ask him a few questions about taking care of customers. Then the candidate takes the guide out fishing as the final step in the process. (See more on recruiting on page 34.)

The candidate has to know that he needs to do anything within reason to make the customer happy.

“We want the guest to go back to wherever he’s from and tell others at his business or anywhere that the Broadmoor was amazing. The end goal is to drive customer flow,” said Babas. “They come back next year, and maybe bring their family, and we create a relationship. I love that part of my job.”

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John GeigerGeorgia, United States
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The Broadmoor's Fly Fishing experiencesColorado Springs, Colorado, United States
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