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Part Two hundred thirty

The Loch

Rick Zieger

By Richard Zieger, Iowa

In August we went to Rocky Mountain National Park on our vacation. We have been there before and I had fished in the streams around the campgrounds and the Alluvial fan several times. I had caught rainbow and brown trout there but had never caught a Greenback Cutthroat.

Loch Vale

This year we decided we were going to take some different hikes. One of these was up to the lake called the Loch. This lake is at about 9,000 feet so it takes this flat-land foreigner a little while to get there.

It is a pleasant hike and we spent a good amount of time looking at the scenery. This also gave us a chance to catch our breath. The lake is in a beautiful setting in a bowl on the mountain side.

I looked the area over and decided to go out on the logs that were stacked up near the outlet of the lake. This area seemed to have the most room for a back cast. I strung everything up and tied on a parachute Adams. I cast out into the lake and was not ready for a trout to hit the fly. So I missed it and got a bad case of buck fever. I missed the next five fish because I yanked the hook out of their mouth. I was on a hair trigger to set the hook even though I knew better.

Loch Lake

I forced myself to sit for a couple to minutes to gain my composure. When I felt I had it, I went back to fishing. On my first cast I hooked a small cutthroat. I was using a 3 wt. rod so it was a lot of fun to catch it. All of the cutthroats have to be released.

A few other fly fishers showed up that had been around the lake looking for a place to fish and told me that I had the best spot. I invited them to come out and we would take turns casting. We had about 50 feet to work in and with one person at a time casting it seemed to work well.

I was curious to see if any other flies would work so I tied on a black Humpy made with a black foam back. I cast this out and let it sit on the water for a few seconds. I twitched it a little bit without really moving the fly. I had a big swirl under the fly and it disappeared. I set the hook and had a real tussle on my hands. When I got the fish in, we measured it at 17 inches long. A Park Ranger there told me that it was a very large fish for the lake.

The advantage of the foam backed Humpy is that you can cast it again right away because they float so well. I cast about five feet to the side of where I had cast before. The fly barely hit the water when another fish hit it. This was a 15-inch fish. Both of the guys fishing beside me wanted to use the fly. I told them "No Way." I then took out a couple more Humpies and gave one to each of them. I always have several of any patterns that I am using along with me. I rarely carry less that 10 of a pattern which means I may have more boxes but have not run out of a pattern in a long time.

We all caught several trout using these flies. My family did decide after a couple of hours that they wanted to leave. I felt this was fair as they had given me that much time. Both of the other fly fishers wanted to give me back the fly but I told them to keep them.

As we headed down the trail I was asked by other folks carrying fly rods if I had been successful. My kids had great fun telling them that I had caught some of the largest trout the Park Ranger had seen come out of the lake. They all wanted to know what pattern I had used. I showed them and they all said they had nothing like that.

I ended up giving away all 12 of the black Humpies I had with me. Funny thing is that over the next two days I got eleven of them back. Several of the folks had asked where we were camped and when they had finished fishing brought the fly back me. This was unexpected but nice.

It was a fun experience to be able to fish in that beautiful spot. Never be afraid to try a different pattern when you are someplace. It was not a pattern listed in any of the shops in the area to use in the Park. I just thought a black bug would work well and had to try.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

Credits: Photos courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service.

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