Winter: Due to low Winter flows and significant ice buildup, Santa Maria Ranch is generally closed to angling from November-March each year. Anglers looking to book a guided trip during this timeframe should look towards our North Fork Valley properties, such as North Fork Ranch, Shawnee Meadows, and Rawhide Fly Fishers.
Spring: Early Spring is Santa Maria’s “secret season-” while most people assume this stretch bounces straight from Winter conditions to runoff, the pre-runoff transition period (generally April-May) is an amazing time to fish this property. Fish will still be mostly congregated in their deeper Winter holding runs, where they are effectively targeted with indicator nymph rigs, European-style nymphing tactics, or streamers stripped slowly along the bottom. Each Spring, large Rainbows migrate up into Santa Maria Ranch from Spinney Mountain Reservoir. You can usually tell as soon as you hook one of these migratory fish by their drag-burning downstream runs and affinity for wrapping your line on any structure they can find!
Once runoff begins, high flows and dirty water often force a closure on Santa Maria Ranch for 2-4 weeks sometime in June.
Summer: Picture fly fishing as it was 100 years ago, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of a Summer day spent at Santa Maria Ranch. This property really shines in the Summer months- fish come out of every nook and cranny eager to gorge on the astounding amount of bug-life the river offers, including various Mayflies, Stoneflies, Caddisflies, and TONS of terrestrials. Fish really spread out this time of year, so every riffle and run is likely to produce some action. The dry-fly fishing here is unmatched in the Summer, where anglers can throw anything from large foam hoppers to small BWO’s with equal chances of success. The Summer is a great time for new and experienced anglers alike to fish Santa Maria, as short, easy roll casts are the norm and there are enough fish to allow some room for error. Once runoff subsides, a number of large Brown Trout migrate into the Middle Fork out of Spinney Mountain Reservoir, many of which spend the Summer months residing in Santa Maria Ranch. On any cast, anglers have the chance to hook one of these monster Browns and get taken for a ride!