Fishing blog: Tales of angling adventures from around the world
Welcome to our fish blog! Here you can read more sage advice from anglers around the world. This is the place for news, tips and non-fiction fish tales from mountain lakes to distant beaches. Please feel free to comment and join in on the conversations and share some fish tales of your own!
Yesterday, we hiked to a couple of lakes we haven’t fished in a while. Starting at the Bear Lake Parking Lot, [9,449 ft.] we took the shortcut trail up to Nymph Lake. This old trail follows the path of the pipeline between the upper cistern and the old Bear Lake Lodge. Though shorter, this steep path is difficult hiking and is unmaintained with lots of loose rock.
This shortcut trail joins the main trail at Nymph Lake. Nymph is a barren shallow lake and freeze-kills every winter. From here the trail heads steadily upward to Dream Lake [9,900 ft.] Though populated with hybrid greenback cutthroat trout, we rarely fish there due to the number of visitors that enjoy this lake, only 1.1 miles from the parking lot. We made a few casts and caught a few trout, but later in the afternoon, as weather threatened, we left.
Approaching Dream Lake the trail to Lake Haiyaha [10,220 ft.] climbs along a traverse above Dream Lake. Some of the most spectacular views of Mills Lake and the west side of Longs Peak are found here. From these overlooks, the trail descends to Lake Haiyaha, crossing Chaos Creek, named for the glacier at the upper end of Chaos Canyon, above the lake. This canyon was the scene of a massive landslide earlier this summer which caused the crystal clear water in Lake Haiyaha to become cloudy and take on a Jade green color. We were curious about the cutthroat population there but while fishing the outlet stream we found a few feeding fish. The main trail ends in a boulder pile by an ancient limber pine. If you plan to fish Haiyaha, we find water access is better by bushwacking up the north side of Chaos Creek to the lake. We’re plan to check it out again next summer after some of the glacial till has settled.
We’re glad we went when we did as a cold front arrived last night bringing temperatures in the 40’s today with more rain forecast for the weekend. We had a beautiful day in the high country and both of us released trout but, as usual, Kim caught more.
It’s Here! The elk rut or mating ritual has begun. Visitors from around the world arrive to see bull elk lock antlers to determine which is the strongest. The biggest bulls end up with the most cows to service.
It is also a great time of year to float a dry fly on the Big Thompson as it flows through the nine-hole golf course. We only fish this stretch of river after the golfers have retired for the day. The half hour before and after sunset is prime time. We quit when we can’t see our flies.
Of course, care must be taken to stay away from bull elk as they interact with their herd and other bulls. Never get between a bull and a cow elk. This time of year, their hormones take over and they have been known to charge cars and even statues of elk.
Terrestrials are the ticket these days. Grasshoppers, ants, flying ants, and beetles top the menu, but parachute Adam’s or a dragging caddis pattern will also get their attention. Look out for visiting elk watchers, they don’t realize fly casters need to back cast and will stand right behind you. Barbless flies make releasing them easier.
Last year it was fires, this year it is floods, particularly flash floods from the burn scars. Between the charcoal-tinted water and warming temperatures, our trout streams are becoming too hot for trout.
If you fish Colorado waters for trout, check the temperature first. Water temperatures above 70 F hold little oxygen and anglers can stress fish. Put away your 1 and 3 weight rods in favor of something that will bring your fish to net before a quick release. Keep them in the water and send them on their way alive and frisky.
We just spent a few days near Walden, Colorado at Delaney Buttes chasing larger rainbows and browns. The fishing there is usually done from belly boats, but we do well casting from the shore. The bugs were fierce, but the fishing was good enough to keep them tolerable. Here’s a picture of the lakes and our camper. Also images of rainbows Kimball landed with her 5 wt. We both got well into our backings and were broken off on big fish we couldn’t stop…in a lake! They just burrowed into the hydrilla and kept going. I netted some good ones too. That’s an 18” net she is holding that fat 19” rainbow in.
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!