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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Save the Date: Daniel Galhardo of TenkaraUSA will present on-stream in RMNP

Daniel Galhardo of TenkaraUSA will be visiting Colorado on Saturday October 22nd and offer an informal on-stream presentation in Rocky Mountain National Park. Please check event details here.

This will be a great opportunity to meet Daniel if you missed him at the Tenkara Summit this Summer in West Yellowstone and learn a thing or two. Daniel will also have selection of Tenkara rods and lines with him which you will be able to give a try.

Best of all, the event is FREE!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Eagle River Sept. 25, 2011

I have been living in Colorado for over 3 years now and only this September did I make it up to Vail for the first time! The occasion was to spend a relaxing weekend with the family of my daughter's best buddy Harper and to celebrate my buddy Lyle's birthday (Harper's dad).

Heading up on Interstate 70, I was surprised that the Aspen trees have already changed into their brilliant golden Fall colors. The mountains looked like they were on fire! This is most definitively my favorite time of year in Colorado - the days are warm, the nights are cool, the weather is as always great and the colors top it all off.

Since it was Lyle's birthday, he requested to go fish Sunday morning - who am I to not comply? After a hearty breakfast, we headed down the valley to Minturn to fish the upper Eagle River. I never fished this river before but heard good stuff, so there were some expectations in the back of my head.

When we got to the river, I was taken back how clear the river was (and cold!). It is a moderate-high gradient river with strewn with boulders and rocks and so clear that you could see every single rock down to the bottom of most pools. Beautiful water to fish indeed and pretty good flow, although on the low end, of around 50cfs.

Lyle started off fishing with his "Western" rig with a nymph rig upstream of me while I pulled out the ITO rigged with a 13' no. 3 level line of Tenkarabum (so far, this is the line I like the best on the ITO, although I have a hand-tied 14ft fc line coming soon) with a Mini Hopper from AZWanderings and a small CJ as dropper. I landed two nice browns right away (on the Mini Hopper) but then things slowed down so I watched Lyle for a while and took it slow, enjoying being just out on the river. Eventually, I couldn't resist and changed my setup to a CDC & Elk (of course) and started hitting the slow pockets and eddies. I was able to raise a few fish and even land one but the action was not steady.

Lyle before being "converted"
The best fish came from a run I fished after Lyle was done. A nice and healthy brown took the dry fly and I was able to land the fist fairly quickly off the fast water. One observation I had was that none of the fish was fighting very hard; I am not sure if that was due to the cold water or whether they "knew" they'd be released.

yours truly

one healthy brown
Later in the morning, we moved to a different spot a bit downstream where Lyle finally gave in and tried to fish Tenkara. Well, let me say that he hooked a fish but lost it (and his glasses) while trying to land it. After we were done and heading back up to Vail, he said: "I really enjoyed Tenkara. Much different than my Western rig - the touch and feel is way better. I am really going to enjoy making the transition". It looks as we are having a new convert, especially since he's bumming one of my rods for his trip down to New Mexico this weekend!

not the best quality, but I like this picture a lot
Tight Lines, -K