Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fly fishing the Rockies 9-15-08

I LOVE to fly fish for trout in the Rockies. The problem is, I don't get there very often anymore, and my fly fishing for trout has been limited to once or twice a year for the past 7 or 8 years. There was a period in my life when I worked in the fly fishing industry - 1996 to 2000 - and for those 5 years, I fished with nothing but a fly rod. Most of my fishing was for trout, but I managed to get in some saltwater adventrues, too. Since my current situation has me living outside of Chicago - in an absolute wasteland as far as trout are concerned - I try to make the most of my occasional trout opportunities. Ideally, these opportunites involve trout, bugling bull elk, and the Rockies - specifically, Rocky Mountain National Park. This year, the stars aligned, and I made it out to Colorado on the 14th.

Rocky Mtn. National Park (RMNP) is one of the most beautiful places in the US, and never moreso than in Sept., when the bull elk start the rut, and begin bugling and fighting for cows. It's also time for the brook and brown trout to get serious about spawning, and preparing for the coming winter months.

I've fished throughout the park on and off for the past 20 years. It contains miles and miles of my favorite kind of trout water - small streams. the kind that are never more than 4 or 5 steps across, the trout aren't too selective, and 3 wts. are perfect. These streams are found in some of the most visually stunning areas in the country. I simply love the area.

Sunday afternoon found us on the Colorado River headwaters catching small, but beautiful, brook trout. Elk were bugling and herding cows - so close we could smell them at one point. On the way back to our rooms that eveninig, we saw 2 small-ish bull moose pushing each other around along a stand of willows. The next day was spent on a high mountain meadow, where our brook trout filled stream meandered through a mile long meadow ringeded by snow capped peaks. Its hard to concenttrate on fishing when you are surrounded by such magnificent sights. our trip ended up on the Big Thompson River on the lower part of the canyon, where we were faced with larger fish and more technical applications on a slick bottomed river. We saw a half dozen of the resident bighorn sheep that make their home on the vertical walls of the canyon.

We caught fish - a lot of them on the mountain meadow. Some larger fish, too, on the Thompson. Pictures tell the story betterthan my words can, so I'll leave it to them. If you ever get teh cahnce, get out to RMNP between 9/15 - 10/5, enoy the spectacle of t ehelk and the beauty of the mountains, and catch a few wild trout. It's a terrific way to spend a few days.

Colorado River headwaters

High meadow stream filled w/ brookies (elev. - 10,500')

Brook trout from the meadow

Clear waters of the Big thompson River in the lower canyon

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