Local ranch co-owner David Puchi partners with RareWaters, a fly-fishing company based in Denver that offers affordable fly-fishing on private lands throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Puchi is part of a small group that owns the historic Maverick Ranch in Wellsville. The ranch is about 5 miles outside Salida, and the Arkansas River runs through it.
For a fee through RareWaters, anglers can access the ranch’s 1.5-mile Gold Medal stretch of the Arkansas River, where they can fish for brown, rainbow and cutbow trout that range in size from 14 to 18 inches.
Gold Medal is a state designation that indicates that a fishery is regulated and healthy.
RareWaters is “rare” in that it provides opportunities to fish on private land versus public lands, such as Hecla Junction in Browns Canyon or Big Bend north of Poncha Springs.
Puchi said RareWaters has a “really good concept for a reasonable price … and it opens up a whole universe to anglers to fish more than public land.”
He said the river belongs to everyone.
“We are able to share what we have with other people and hopefully help them experience something unique and beautiful that allows them to get into fishing in a nice way,” Puchi said.
He and his ranch partners have financially invested in the river to help make it a healthy and vibrant fishery.
“We did that to share with the community and with RareWaters anglers. It’s about an investment to improve the fishery for everyone,” Puchi said.
He said working with an organization that supports charities is one of the notable attributes of the partnership.
RareWaters donates $25 of every membership fee to either Trout Unlimited, Fishing the Good Fight, Casting for Recovery or Project Healing Waters.
RareWaters founder and CEO Brenden Stucky said they donate more than $20,000 a year to Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU).
CTU Development Director Shannon Kindle said the money from RareWaters indirectly impacts the local chapter, Collegiate Peaks, through their Chapter Advisory and Support Team program and watershed management planning efforts in the Upper Arkansas Valley.
In addition to giving back to charitable organizations, RareWaters’ fishing program aims for inclusion and affordability.
An annual membership through RareWaters is $300; daily passes start at $125. Other fly-fishing clubs charge $2,500 to $500,000 per year or $500-plus per day, Stucky said.
“Our passes make fly fishing on private property more accessible for everyone. Inclusivity is a big part of our mission. We also offer more water access than the aforementioned clubs,” he said.
RareWaters works with two other landowners in the vicinity of Salida and is looking to add up to three locations near Buena Vista.
Stucky said RareWaters also runs the Colorado Fly-Fishing Meetup group to offer free fly-fishing lessons and educational events.
To learn more about RareWaters’ offerings and partnerships, visit rarewaters.com.