Driftless Trout Anglers

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#1 Posted : Thursday, July 5, 2018 11:09:52 PM(UTC)
Rank: Midge

Joined: 9/11/2016(UTC)
Posts: 8
Location: Madison,WI

Hey all! I do not post here all that often, but I’ll be taking a trip out to Colorado the last week of August this summer and camping in the popular Rocky Mountain National Park for 5 days, so I thought I’d reach out for any collective wisdom that ya’ll are willing to offer up.

I am curious if anyone has fished it, or fished other places in Northern Colorado? I’d appreciate any advice, tips, or anything for that matter. I’ve never trout fished beyond the Driftless and a couple small northern Wisconsin streams, so this will be a new experience, for sure.

I have heard of course about the cutthroat and alpine lakes, so I’m sure I’ll look into that. I know there is a good amount of info about them. I do prefer moving water though, so any stream recommendations would be surely appreciated. FYI I’ll also be fly fishing only.

Thanks and I hope everyone is weathering this heat alright!

#2 Posted : Sunday, July 8, 2018 3:29:01 AM(UTC)
Rank: Midge

Joined: 5/28/2018(UTC)
Posts: 9
United States
Location: Chicago

Thanks: 3 times
I made the trip to RMNP a couple years ago in late August just like you'll be doing. I moved around the park quite a bit and fished a pretty even mix of streams and alpine lakes. As far as streams the two big rivers in the park are the Colorado on the western half of the park and the Big Thompson on the eastern half of the park. Both are very accessible and receive steady angling pressure in their lower portions but, some solitude can be found with just a short hike. Overall, I found the Colorado to be a little more productive. I caught mostly brookies and a handful of browns. The brooks weren't too picky and eagerly hit large attractor dry flys like Royal Wulffs. Personally, I enjoyed the section between the Colorado River Trailhead and Lulu City. That water is fairly small here, but any pocket, seam, pool, undercut bank etc... that looked like it could hold a fish, did. The downstream section that runs through the Kawuneeche Valley was also fun to fish, but definitely more challenging. The fish here were skittish and a single bad presentation would send the fish to cover. You are also very likely to see a moose here.

I didn't spend as much time fishing the Big Thompson, but it definitely worth fishing. The lower section that winds through Moraine Park is easily accessible and appeared more pressured than the Colorado and I did not fish it for that reason. I focused my efforts on the section of river between the Fern Lake trailhead and the pools. The area around the pools was particularly productive with a pretty even mix of cutthroats and browns, some of them with some decent size (12-14").

After the Pool I made the hike up to Fern Lake, which was home to many Colorado Greenback cutthroat. These were very pretty fish that weren't too picky. All the trout in this lake, and all the lakes, seem to make circular patrols through a ~20ft range. All I had to do was throw my fly somewhere in that range and wait for the trout to circle back around to it. Terrestrials like ants worked just fine, but if I ever did get a refusal downsizing to a small Griffith Gnat seemed to do the trick.

My last day involved a bit more hiking than fishing but I highly recommend making the hike up to Sky Pond. On the way to Sky Pond you'll also pass two other lakes, the Loch and Lake of Glass. I spent most of my time at Sky Pond catching brook trout. Sky Pond is around 12,000 feet if I remember correctly, so even by late September the brook trout were colored up beautifully. However, my favorite spot of the day was the short section of stream between timberline falls and the Loch. The scenery here was hands down my favorite of the trip. The water is intimate and casting is difficult at times, but sight fishing to the numerous trout in its deep pools was tons of fun.

Edited by user Sunday, July 8, 2018 3:46:11 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

#3 Posted : Monday, July 9, 2018 7:35:06 PM(UTC)
Rank: Midge

Joined: 9/11/2016(UTC)
Posts: 8
Location: Madison,WI

Smis, thanks for the great info! I’ll definitely check out some if not all of the spots you mentioned. I’m even more excited! Can’t wait to catch a cutthroat.
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