Yesterday, we decided to fish some of the lower streams in RMNP. The water levels have decreased as the snow melt eases up. Stay alert as afternoon rains in the high country can increase flows quickly. Although we had occasional sprinkles, serious rain held off and the streams we fished were wadable.
Starting below the fern lake trailhead, in the burn area, the Big Thompson River gave up several brook trout, and the population of brown trout is increasing. A few larger browns fell for either my favorite flying ant pattern or Kim’s parachute Adams. We should have tried grasshoppers since there were plenty of them in the meadows near the stream. We found an abundance of fingerlings in the shallows but, the deeper pools were where the larger browns were holding.
After catching and releasing plenty of fish there, we headed to the south side of Moraine Park and parked at the west end of S. Moraine Road. This area has been partitioned by exclusion fencing but you’ll find a gate into the protected area nearby. We fished inside the fenced area but found mostly smaller brook and brown trout there. We then hiked up South Lateral Moraine Trail a few hundred yards and found the best fishing of the day. German brown trout, though spooky, rose to our flies but required a stealthy approach and long casts upstream. An excess of algae and moss here made long floats impossible. We left when our mosquito repellent wore off resulting in a merciless attack by skeeters and deer flies. Before being forced to retreat, we caught and released some very respectable browns over 12”, which we considered a big fish for this small creek.
From there we moved up to Hollowell Park. In the past [60 years ago] Mill Creek had many productive beaver ponds where we caught brookies on every cast. The park service took out most of the ponds and the willows have taken over. Access to the creek was impossible due to the dense willows. We caught and released a few small brook and brown trout here but couldn’t get to any of the old ponds we hoped to find.
The next and final stop of the day was on Glacier Creek at the parking area created when the old Bear Lake Road was re-routed. We were the only folks fishing this spot, but the water looked promising. Long flat spots between rapids looked like good dry fly water. The water here had a dark hue to it that looked like suspended ash. It had a definite grey/black tint that discouraged feeding. To our surprise, we released a few rainbow trout that may have descended from Mill’s Lake.
We recommend a late afternoon trip for anglers that want to do some easy fly fishing in the park. We fished during the middle of the day with good results. Given enough bug repellent, the evening bite should be even better. Terrestrials are the best choice this time of year with emphasis on ants and grasshoppers. Stay stealthy and make accurate casts to the deeper pools for best results. Non-reserved entry into the Bear Lake Corridor begins at 6PM daily, which leaves two of the best hours of daylight to fish. Good Luck! Release these wild trout Alive!