Monday, August 29, 2011

Living the Dream in Colorado

-- Dream Lake, RMNP --

I was fortunate to extend a business trip to Denver in August of 2010 and got hooked up, through a friend, with a seasoned fly fisher who lived in Boulder, CO. He was gracious, like all fly fishers, to put me on his local secret stream on Friday evening and then take me to Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday to fish the Big Thompson. He left after lunch and sent me to Dream Lake to chase greenback cuts.

Fish were landed at all spots on that trip and the decision was made to bring the family to Colorado for our first family vacation outside of New England in 2011.
-- One of the millions of Elk in RMNP --

We started early in the day since the trip required a traverse of the park over Trail Ridge Road. What a beautiful road with a plethora of wildlife. Elk, moose, deer, marmots, pika , coyote and even big horn sheep where spotted during the trip across North America's highest continuous motorway, with more than eight miles lying above 11,000' and a maximum elevation of 12,183'. During this first week of July, there was still a good amount of snow as well.

-- Lots of snow on the trail --

We arrived at the Bear Lake trailhead around 9 AM and started the easy trek up to Dream Lake. We had plans to fish Dream Lake until lunch and then continue up to Lake Haiyaha after lunch, but the snow pack and weather changed these plans.

There were many others throwing their lines in the lake and the spot where I had luck last year was being fished by three others. A hike through the snow and steep banks to the back side of the lake brought some solitude to cast to cruising greenbacks with dries and nymphs. They occasionally looked at the flies, but none were taking.

-- My better half casting to cruising greenbacks --

I watched my wife across the lake land her second trout on the fly and first greenback with a Goddard caddis (her first trout on the fly was reported in the previous post and also caught with Goddard caddis - flies tied in prep for our trip).

-- Michael's first greenback --
I decided to hike back around the lake, have some lunch and try my luck on the other side. My son and his friend both got into their first greenbacks and I was the only one yet to land one that day.

-- Matt, my son, lands his first greenback --
-- Cruising greenback --

A spot was picked, the cruising fish saw the size 18 parachute adams and I had my first take but no hookup. As I waited patiently for the cruisers to return it started to rain. As the rain got harder, I climbed back up the steep rocky bank to seek shelter and tie on a different fly. Another fisherman, decided to take this spot as soon as it was vacated, so another location was found as the rain lightened.

-- Greenback cutthroat from Dream Lake --

After a couple of casts with the new fly, I finally brought a greenback to hand. I stayed in that area as a big thunderstorm started to roll in and landed a second. The lighting and thunder was fierce and we found some cover to wait out the storm.

-- Thunderstorm I --
-- Thunderstorm II which inspired us to pack-up and leave --
-- Happy Campers heading down the trail --

After dealing with two intense storms, we decided to pack it in and head back to the car. We all had success at Dream Lake, with the boys and my wife catching their first greenbacks. The trip back included a stop for pizza in Estes Park and then the trek back across the Continental Divide to Grand Lake.

Before I close this post, our prayers go out to a Fly Fishing in NH board member and dedicated conservationist and fly fisher -- Otter. He is struggling with cancer and put up a farewell post this week. I've never met Otter but have been frequently moved by his posts over the years and know he is a wise and very kind soul.

We also would like to wish fellow blogger, Brk Trt, of Small Stream Reflections a speedy recovery from his minor stroke. Get well soon, Alan.

And finally, please pray for the safety and quick recovery of those hit hard by Irene. Our friends to the north in Vermont, were particularly hard hit with flooding and washed out bridges.

Thanks for listening and hopefully I can pick up the pace with some more summer fishing stories.