I headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park today on the advice of some guys at Rocky Mountain Anglers in Boulder. I stopped into Kirk's Fly Shop in Estes Park on my way into RMNP, and a local guide named Bryce suggested a few spots in the park for me, as well as gave me a few places in Utah I may check on tomorrow.
I found the parking location he suggested just west of the Alluvial Fan, and had my choice of going up towards the Roaring River, or west down the Fall River.
I first chose to try to navigate the rocks up around these falls and try to get up to the Greenback Cutthroats on the Roaring River.
As I got a good ways up the rocky trail, however, I continued to run into obstacle after obstacle, and spots where I didn't really feel like there was a true trail, and felt that it probably wasn't the best idea to try to continue on into this type of terrain in an unfamiliar area on my own.
I turned back, and headed down towards the Fall River. Only this time, I kept running into a fence denoting a Wildlife Area. Every now and again I'd come to a gate with a sign posted "Please Keep Gate Closed." I kept walking and came up to a few people inside fishing, and then walked a little further hoping to find an opening. I then came up to a couple of guys leaving out of the river on my side of the fence.
"Did you catch them all already?" I asked.
The responded that they saw a bunch of fish, but none were eating what they were offering. I asked how to get in and they said, that they typically just roll under the fence, but you can get in through the gates. Unbeknown to me, the "Please Keep Gate Closed" meant after you passed through.
Oh well. I found my way to the stream, and the water was flowing pretty swiftly. I don't know that I'd ever been on a stream moving this quickly, and I felt like I was having a hard time finding the right pockets of slower moving water to fish where the fish would be holding.
Though I'd only been on the water for a relatively short time, after my wandering to start the day, I was starting to get a bit discouraged. I started to think that this was going to turn into an observation walk and though I might spook some fish in the process, I'd try to get up on them and get a better idea of where they were holding.
So I took a deep breath to settle myself, snapped this photo, and continued upstream.
I was walking the right bank, and when I got even with the patch of grass in the middle of the photo, I noticed a pool on the left side of the stream that was holding fish. I stepped into the stream to try to get back down stream a bit and get a better angle to cast, and I spooked a fish out of the hole as I entered. Nevertheless, I threw my ant pattern across the stream, and a hole in the water engulfed my fly, and the first fish of 2008 was on. It also happened to be the first Brown Trout I've ever caught.
Now, some of you might think, "Really? That's it?" No, it's not the biggest fish ever caught by man, but to feel it hit the fly, after stalking and exploring new territory..... it was a pretty rewarding catch and a boost to my confidence. I was ready to continue upstream with a new spring in my step.
About 20 yards ahead, I came to a small piece of water that jutted off to the left of the main river. It probably wasn't more than four feet wide at it's widest point, but as I looked down, I saw a couple of nice fish holding in the middle.
I back tracked about 15 yards to get away from the stream and hopefully out of sight of the fish. I walked up a ways and then moved back closer to the stream behind them to approach the fish. I cast upstream and no sooner did the fly hit the water and slowly start to drift that I felt a strike at the end of my line. I came tight and the fish jumped. It was even nicer than I'd thought when I'd seen it initially.
Better than a 12" Brown Trout, which from what I've read is a very nice fish for this part of the park. I made a few more casts at some of his buddies, but no luck, so I decided that I'd head out on a high and the confidence of that second fish.
What a great way to start the fishing portion of this adventure!!!