Lassen Meadows Ranch Trout Fishing
By Dan Blanton
Fly Fishing Guide and outfitter, Rob Anderson manages a lot of privite fly-fishing waters. Awhile back I asked Rob if he could recommend one of the “Pay-to-Fish” properties that also had nice accommodations. I wanted to take my grandson, Bradley, fly-fishing for trout and teach him how to use a shooting head and row a pram (without falling out of it). Well Rob recommended and booked us for four nights with two full days of fishing at Lassen Meadows Ranch (LMR), located about 10 miles out of Chester.
Rob couldn’t have made a better call. Cindy, my grandson Brad, Fisher and I had a blast at the Ranch. The place is stunningly beautiful; exquisite beyond any expectations that we could have imagined. The work that Russ and Debbie Margiotta have done to that spectacular piece of property is almost incomprehensible, at least in terms of what one thinks of as a “Ranch”.
The “Lake Cabin” (one bedroom), where we stayed, is gorgeous and comfortable beyond expectations; and the view of the lake was spectacular; The lake and surrounding meadows and forest are a plethora of landscape paintings no matter which way you looked – it was a feast for your eyes. Wildlife was abundant.
Lassen Meadows is the perfect place to take a grandson (anyone) who is just learning to fly-fish. Brad caught lots of fish considering he was a beginner; he learned how to row a pram for the first time and never fell out of it. He had a blast. My wife, Cindy just loved the place too, with all the sights, sounds and wildlife and – the donkeys and elegant horses; and Fisher, he just went nuts with all the new smells and animals to sniff at. He was able to run off-leash (under control with a pager/discipline collar). I think he had more fun than Brad. I caught more fish than I needed to; and I really enjoyed sharing the experience with my grandson – it was perfect! Cindy even caught a couple off the dock and she hadn’t picked up a fly rod in a couple of years; but within a few minutes she was shooting 60 or 70 feet with an intermediate head and hooking up.
Debbie Margiotta, owner and general ranch boss, made it a point to introduce herself when I rowed back to the dock and we had a very nice visit. She seems genuinely nice – warm and engaging; and she made us feel right at home. I met and spoke with Russ too and he also comes across as an all-round nice guy – very personable. I enjoyed talking with them both. Cindy and Debbie had a nice visit too. I know Debbie and Russ made a special trip back to the ranch to meet us – They were away awaiting the birth of their first grandchild. I expect they’ll be grandparents soon, if not already.
Their staff folks were especially warm and accommodating; and we enjoyed meeting and talking with Meredith and Tony. Meredith was the first to greet us upon arrival and she went out of her way to show us the place – she was running around like a brace and bit. Very nice, hard-working crew! Tony, the full-time ranch caretaker stopped by to greet us once we were settled into the house and he also took us on a tour of the ranch and filled in a lot of the history of the place. Their hydro generator unit is impressive!
I believe the 25 acre lake at one time was part of a trout hatchery and while the lake is not that deep (about 15 feet at the dam, they keep the weeds mowed down and the deeper channels open and fishable. They also place aerators in the lake at the deepest spots to prevent die-off when the lake freezes. All the trout we caught, and we caught plenty, were in excellent shape. Most of those that came to hand ranged from 12 to about 15 or so inches; but I did “heavy-hand” a few that were much larger and busted them off on the strike. I don’t think Brad ever busted off a fish but then he hasn’t been saltwater fly-fishing enough to developed the “rip lips” hook-set – yet…
The intermediate shooting heads with mono shooting line (my preference for fishing buggers and nymphs for stillwater trout) were perfect. They let us make long, searching casts, covering the water like the proverbial tent; and also allowing us to feel pickups on the sink and successfully set the hook. There was plenty of surface feeding going on at times but I never made the switch from buggers and nymphs to drys because they were working so well and I wanted to Brad to keep working on his shooting head casting.
One really fun thing for me was that I had a box of flies that I had tied back in the early 60s. I had experimented back then with my version of a dragon fly nymph but I had never really used them; I don’t know why. I had also tied up a few large Carey’s Specials in olive and also black; plus a few of Polly Rosbourough’s fuzzy nymphs. Well, the trout eventually turned off the classic crystal buggers so I started using the dragon fly nymphs, the Carey’s Specials and Polly’s’ Fledermouse nymph. The Dragon fly patterns slew them, as did the Carey’s Specials – ditto for the Fledermouse – I doubt those trout had ever seen those patterns before. I cleaned out that old box of decades old flies – cool!
As Debbie and I discussed, LMR is not a place for someone who is looking for classic, wild trout, challenges; but if you like stillwater fly-fishing for trout – like lakes like Davis, Martis and other bio-rich tarns, this lake is perfect. It’s certainly perfect for Granddads to take a grandson or granddaughter fly-fishing for trout. Ditto for dads and kids.
Because the lake is fairly shallow it was easy for me to spot pods of fish as I slowly motored along in my pram. They’d scoot out of my way as I overran them. The first time on the water I ran from the dock to the dam area checking things out and I found fish pretty much everywhere; but the largest concentration was close to the docks where a cold-water inflow keeps the water cooler. In fact the dock is where I had Brad practice casting a head, learning to water-load, before we took the prams out. We both hooked several fish casting off the docks. Debbie told me about a guest who was wheelchair bound, fly-fishing from his chair, from the dock and doing quite well – perfect place to take someone who is restricted to a wheelchair.
Fishing is not the only attraction to LMR: there are trails to hike; a gaggle of interesting things to see; and the farm animals are a hoot, especially those miniature donkeys.
Well I could go on and on but I’ll let the photos tell you more about Lassen Meadows Ranch.
If anyone is interested in booking LMR, contact Tom Maumoynier, owner of the Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Company in Chester. Tom is now the exclusive booking agent for Lassen Meadows Ranch:
159 Main Street, Chester CA, 96020 – phone: 530-258-3944
Would we go back? In a heart beat! Brad and Fisher just can’t wait…
More photos of Lassen Meadows ranch
Boating around the lake checking things out
Cindy casting off the dock and hooking up
Lots of bird life around the lake like the family of Sand Hill cranes
Another view of the lake and of the Lake Cabin from the water