Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Family Vacation - Part 2 The Fishing

I'm not sure if it was the time of year, conditions, or all combination of both but 

the Rocky Mountain National Park is the best place I have ever fished.

I didn't have much time to properly fish many locations because of family obligations or my wife's patience. She knows one more cast for me could turn into an hour or more. She stayed tolerant and let me fish when I could. There were many times I'd only get 10 casts or so in. Where ever I fished I either hooked or landed fish.

 I've never fished a location that was so prolific with trout. They weren't stupid you had to properly drift your fly but if you even had the slight resemblance of a good drift it usually resulted in a strike. Any buggy high floating pattern is all you needed. I fished mainly with caddis and a royal wulff.

 One of the biggest fish I had the pleasure of seeing and the heartbreak of losing was to a Chernobyl Ant. The only one I had with me. I had the fish deny several other flies and then finally come up and take the Chernobyl Ant. As soon as I set the hook I felt resistance then that sickening slack from your knot popping. It was my fault not tying the knot properly and it was cool to just see a fish eat like that but I can't help but wonder what if. 

The clarity of the water was amazing and you have postcard scenery in every direction. Even in the summer the water is cold. It was to me at least I couldn't take being in the water without my wool socks and wading boots.

The lakes weren't as bad as the creeks but they were still chilly. The pic above is from Sprague Lake. I was the only one wading in the water. 

Other people were fishing with spinning rods from shore I didn't see anyone catch anything but there was a big fish jumping right out of casting distance. I'm pretty sure it was a cutthroat. That is my one regret is not trying to target some of the different trout species that live in the Rockies. When I first read a book about the area I thought the locations were too far to really target. I checked the book again later and realized many of the places I would have liked to target I was either right next to or easily with in driving distance. 

There's a bus system that takes you to various locations in the park, one option I didn't try but think would be a good idea is to park at one of the low altitude bus stops. The idea is to have the bus take you to all the stops going up towards Bear Lake. You could fish for as long as you wanted at each stop and take the bus when you wanted to go to the next area. That would be a great way to spend the day.

I wish I had taken more pictures of both sides of the park. Most of my photos are from the West side but the East is a lot different. The east side of the range has more scrub brush and less forest. It seems dryer and has more of a high desert feel.

Both sides have their own beauty and should be explored. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Family Vacation - Rocky Mountain National Park Pt. 1

My family has been trying to hit a National Park every year. This year the goal was to check out Rocky Mountain National Park. With the current pandemic we kept going back and forth and with the overwhelming concerns we considered canceling the trip. The current state of things have made everyone long for a distraction to get a feeling of normality. What better way to get distracted than to visit the Rockies. We were spending 4 days in the park and our first day there was tame. We were staying in Granby on the west side of the park and we took our time just exploring the area. We did a hike at Monarch Lake which is just south of Grand Lake. 
It was rumored to be a good moose viewing area but we didn't see any. The scenery was great and it was a good hike to help us get acclimated to the altitude.

The next day we actually went into the park and with the timed entry system we didn't have any wait at all. The plan was to explore some of the things on the west side and find a moose. Coyote Valley was our first destination and the a place I couldn't resist trying my luck for some trout.
The stream wasn't that deep but it had great access and plenty of places for trout to hold. 
It only took a few casts with a small caddis to get some action. I was able to hook the fish but it came off after a couple seconds. Every few casts yielded the same experience a small fish would get hooked but come off shortly after. I was a little frustrated but also relieved. I knew a fish would come eventually but I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong. I tried switching to a smaller fly but the same scenarios would keep happening a fish would get hooked only to come off. We kept searching for moose along the valley but were unable find any. The scenery kept us entertained.
The next stop was the Alpine Visitor center and on the way up we saw an elk close to the road.
It ignored the cars passing by. It was so close to the road it was easy to miss behind the trees and brush. Going higher into the park is where you see the best views in my opinion. 
Once you reach the upper altitude of the Rockies you really get breathtaking views. 
Each direction you look is a postcard. 
If you visit this park I recommend checking out the Tundra Communities Trail. It's not far past the Alpine Visitor's center and it explained the habitat and animals that live in the Tundra.
If you have kids they will love the pikas and marmots that scurry around the area. The pikas were my kids favorite.
The marmots are not afraid of humans and I wouldn't be surprised if some people tried to take them home. They look like friendly mountain beavers just waiting to be pet.
We saw plenty of people try to pet them and feed them even there there are signs all over the park saying you should not do that. 

At the top of the communities trail there are interesting rock formations. 
The park did a great job of planning the path around the boulders so you can enjoy them while still seeing amazing views of the surrounding mountains. 
I feel like this trail is a must see.
I didn't take any pictures of the Alpine visitor center but it's worth visiting. It's the highest visitor center in North America. It also has a neat gift shop that has views of the canyon. 

There's too much for one post. I'll add more this week.