Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park - Meadow Creeks in the Fall

Last Sunday I headed up to RMNP with my friend Jason Klass of Tenkara Talk to Rocky Mountain National Park for some Fall fishing. The Summer. and maybe even Fall, is gone; because today, only a week later, I am sitting in my office and looking at the first snow in our front yard. Temperatures have dropped from mid 70ies this week to 30ies  last night and it's still snowing, I can't even see the mountains from our house.

Back to last Sunday. Jason celebrated his birthday the week prior and instead of having a party, he decided to head up to RMNP for some fishing. His intentions were to squeeze one more day of hopper fishing into the season. The idea sounded good, so we got on our way around 6am and reached Estes Park just before 8am for some breakfast before hitting the water.

The first stream we fished was the Big Thompson in Moraine Park. The river in this section is a meandering meadow stream with slow water, glassy pools and undercut banks. A river unlike the other streams I am used to fish in the park which are high gradient creeks with lots of boulders and pocket water.

We were not the only fisherman to fish the Big T that day and we were glad that we got a head-start before the crowds arrived. The fairly low and slow water made fish very spooky, you had only a few chances to catch fish in each spot. I typically like to fish spots right after another fisherman and pick-up trout he wasn't able to entice, but that was out of the question this day. We had to hop pools, giving each other the opportunity to fish a stretch first to get a shot at the fish.

The fish were not overly selective, they took our hoppers and other attractors (such as my CDC & Elk of course), but the fishing was far from hot. Since it was Elk season in the valley, we decided to retreat after a bull Elk came a bit too close for comfort and find a new spot on the river.

What we did not anticipate were the masses of people in the park, drawn by both the Elk Festival in Estes Park and the Aspens being in full color. The roads in the park were jammed and traffic was very slow. Wherever there were Elks, folks decided to stop in the middle of the road and take pictures. We wanted to fish the Big T further upstream, but every single parking lot and spot was taken, so we decided to head over to Horseshoe and fish the Fall River. We parked just off 34 and hit the Fall River making our way upstream. But the fish were mostly hunkering down, being put down by other fisherman and hikers, so we decided to walk along the road to the Alluvial Fan area and to fish downstream. Well, let me just say that we might have just continued upstream, there fishing was no different.

However, it was a very beautiful day to be out in the park; the wildlife was out, the Fall colors amazing and we caught a few trout, too (although we hoped to have a bit more action).

Next time I will head to the park though, I will make sure to check the event calendar and pick more remote streams.

Looking out the window now and seeing the first season's snow, I wonder how much Winter fishing I will get done this year - given the fishing success of the last few Winters I probably will spend more time behind the vise tying flies. And I might consider taking up skiing again.

Tight Lines, -K


  1. Great post Karel! I enjoyed getting out with you and seeing the fall colors and bugling elk. But next time, let's make sure there's no Elk Fest!

  2. With that kind of scenery I think I would rarely be disapointed with not catching too many fish. Nice post.

  3. Thanks Jason & Hendrik!
    Kiwi - true, true, but since fishing has always been pretty fantastic and nothing short of spectacular up in the park, if you catch only a few you can't help yourself and feel a bit "disappointed". But I agree, spending a day up there, especially in the Fall, is a treat by itself.

  4. That's beautiful country. You could have a great experience, without catching a fish.

    Well done.