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Vacation Fishing in RMNP, Part 2

Rick Zieger
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

I tried to go down to the Roaring River on Tuesday morning, but there were several people lined up along it. I did not think it was worth the effort to try to find a place when folks were that close.

We went around the Park and hiked on some of the trails that we have been on before. There were many Aspen trees that were changing colors and they were beautiful in among the evergreens. We did find some snow in a few of the sheltered area leftover from a storm the previous week.

That afternoon my wife wanted to watch for any elk that might come out in the Moraine Park area. She told me that this would be a good chance for me to fish the upper reaches of the Big Thompson river in the Park.

I went in near the Cub Lake Trail head and fished the area north of that. I had several fish hit the flies that I was using. I even managed to land a few of them. I also lost a few flies in the process.

I was fishing across the stream and down a little ways from a bend in the river. There was an undercut bank with some bushes hanging out over the edge of the bank. It sure did look like a place that some fish would want to hide in. I decided that this might be a good place to toss an ant pattern. I had tied up some size 18 and 20 foam ants in one of those crazy spurts of tying very small flies that you might use some day. I had to prove to myself that I could do it.

I cast the fly out and, more by luck than skill, got it to land about six inches from the bank and under the closest bush to me. It had just barely hit when there was a nice swirl and I had a good fish on. The rainbow that took the ant did not like the sting of the hook and jumped a couple of times trying to shake the hook out. Fortunately the hook stayed in and I was trying to gain some control over the fish. Then the fish decided to head back under the bank and wrapped the tippet on something and I got the broken end back. Darn, I wish I could have brought that fish to the shore to release it!

I had not noticed it, while fighting this fish, but I had gathered an audience. Three couples had come out along the bank behind me to watch what was going on. They were all from Austria and had hoped that I would land the fish. The one gentleman had been fishing for four days and hadn't caught anything. I gave him the opportunity to try for a fish here.

I tied on a PTN again and had him cast it toward that undercut bank and let it drift through. The fly had not gone very far when a 10 inch brook trout decided to take it. He was so excited to have hooked a fish that I was afraid that he would not get it in. He did work it and we got it up to the shore. His friends took several pictures of this trout and of the successful fisherman that had landed it. We did release it back into the river to thrill someone else. I did give him the fly to use again sometime. I felt that he should have it as a memento of the fish he caught.

At this point a group of folks started coming down the stream and I decided that it would be a good time to move to another area. A couple of them were wading in the stream and scaring the fish. I had several of them go flashing by me as the folks got closer.

I did head down stream about 200 yards as I know that there are some snags in the river and that I would have a little time to fish them before these folks got there, if they came that far. A lot of this is riffle water and I went with an Elk Hair Caddis pattern. I stayed back from the bank and would cast this up and just let it drift down. I did get several six inch trout doing this.

I was doing this at one place when I heard a sound and looked up. There was a big bull elk about 50 feet away that I had not seen as he was laying in the grass. I felt this might be a good time to head out to the road. I was starting to retrieve the fly that had been in the water.

While watching the elk the fly had dropped in the water column and had gone under a snag.

I dropped the rod tip into the water to see if I could retrieve the fly without snagging it on the wood. When I started to bring the line in there was some resistance. In fact, a lot of resistance.

I had a huge fish on the line. Fortunately the fish decided to go up stream and that helped as it was out of the log jam. I went up stream a little ways also, to see if that would help keep the fish out of the log jam if she went back downstream.

The fish just seemed to want to swim in circles and it tried to get rid of the fly. I had noticed the two other folks fishing down the stream. They came up to see what I had. One of them had a net that we managed to get the fish into. It was a 22 inch brown trout. The colors were brilliant and we let her go back into to fight another day.

By now there were several other elk up and starting to get nervous. We headed for the road and let them have the meadow. That is what the rules are.

Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick

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