| We love
Rocky Mountain National Park. If fly fishing is a great Rocky Mountain
Experience - and we believe it is - then the Park is one of the finest examples
of the experience available.
The Park is high in elevation, so the
fishing season is relatively short. The ice does not go off some of the high
lakes until well into July while streams are often fishable from April through
most of October. In both cases - on lakes or streams - weather conditions
dictate when one may be able to fish. How the fish survive is a
While the streams in the park are generally small and shallow,
undercut banks and plunge pools create good depth where wild trout thrive.
Within Park boundaries, an angler may hook rainbow, brown, brook and cutthroat
trout, including Greenback Cutthroats. The story of the Greenback is pretty
well documented now. For my personal story, please read about it by clicking on
Greenback Cutthroats. The once thought-to-be-extinct fish is actually thriving
in several areas around Colorado, including Rocky. If you want to see the
Colorado State Fish, go to Lilly Lake off route 7, just south of Estes Park.
Walk the edges of the lake after ice-out, and you will see beautiful specimens
of this lovely fish.
While many of the trout in the Park are on the
small size, there are spots where large fish of every species may be hooked. We
like fishing the Park with attractor dry flies, soft hackles and small streamer
patterns. There are good hatches of a variety of insects, but they are usually
not particularly concentrated. I can recall a number of times when I've been
humbled by a rising trout in a beaver pond. Standing on the edge, watching the
water to see what the little rascals are eating, it dawns on me that every
insect that floats by is different than the one before, yet the fish will not
eat what I am offering. Other times, confidently casting an Elk Caddis or Royal
Wulff will bring immediate success. Such are the joys of the fly fishing
Hiking along many streams in the Park to their high lake
source is fun. Find a map, select a blue line that ends in a blue circle and
discover your own secret spot. Walk until most of the signs of human impact are
past, and then begin fishing upstream with a dry fly. Pick pockets, fish
riffles and runs and observe where the fish are holding. When you arrive at the
lake, sit for a moment and observe the stunning beauty. As you listen to the
symphony of sounds observe the surface of the lake for rising trout. After a
cool drink of water, tie on 5- or 6X tippet and a small flying ant pattern.
While you walk the edges, watch for cruising or rising trout and cast the ant
in front of them. Here, you will usually find hungry trout that somehow know
the feeding season is short, and therefore become greedy and opportunistic.
They can also be downright snobbish, as any trout is wont to be from time to
Keep your eyes peeled for feeding elk, playful chipmunks - don't
feed them, though - and a variety of birds and lovely wild flowers. Also, be
prepared for an afternoon thunderstorm. (Please read Park brochures for
warnings and how to handle inclement weather.)
One of the questions we often
hear has to do with where to go fishing within Park boundaries. Our answer is
always friendly, but may seem a bit uppity, unfortunately, because we will not
tell anyone exactly where to go. The reason? While the Park's fishery is
strong, individual spots are very small. The delicacy of these areas will not
stand lots of pressure, so we do our best to spread the fishing out by inviting
folks to follow the blue lines to blue dots (see above). A big part of fly
fishing satisfaction, at least in our opinion, is finding one's own spot.
Discovery is part of fly fishing delight. Also, if we sent folks to one spot
day in and day out, when a person arrived to fish, they would likely find other
anglers already there. Another part of fly fishing delight is the solitude one
finds: solitude without loneliness. Many anglers, at one time or another,
bemoan the crowded conditions found in popular spots. We've done all that we
can during our years of business at the Estes Angler to keep from "hot
spotting" the Park, and that will continue to be our course.
to Rocky Mountain National Park and enjoy the treasure this area truly is.
We'll do all we can to help you enjoy your time fishing there by helping with
gear, flies, techniques and so on, but we won't tell you exactly where to go.
Fair enough? We hope so.