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Thread: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

  1. #1

    Default Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    I've spent a bunch of time fishing around the bear lake area of RNMP this week and am happy to report the following:

    The following lakes are accessible and fishing well:

    Loche Vale
    Glass Lake
    Mills Lake
    Dream Lake
    Haiyaha

    I've been using dry terrestrials (foam beatles, ants etc) all day and have been having a ton of success. Beautiful wild cutthroats all day long.

    If you've been thinking about heading out to the park...GO. Trust me! This is some of the best fishing in the state, and the views.... just take a look at the pics.

    I'm thinking about heading out to Black Lake tomorrow. I'd also like to check out Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake. I've never fished any on these waters, so any info/tips will be appreciated.

    Cheers!





    Joseph Rouse
    Deep Thinker/Pariah
    Denver, CO

    I refuse to fish within sight of an outlet mall, no matter how big the fish are. Well, except...

  2. #2

    Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    I was thinking about hitting up RMNP. Now I'm convinced.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    Thanks for your post. For some reason I never think about hitting up RMNP. It is a shame considering how close I am. In any case, the trip has been expedited to sunday.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Myrtle Grove, NC
    Posts
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    Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    Nice B&W shots Joe! I have been wanting to get up there, but RMNP is not dog friendly, so I usually end up further south in the Indian peaks.
    For now I am trying to figure out what is wrong with my knees (other than getting older)... been doing lots of easy access fishing.
    I've been told about a certain high lake on forest land that requires a 4wd approach, then hiking in. Might have to go check it out sooner rather than later.

    Instagram page @tblom77

  5. #5

    Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    Glad I was able to get the juices flowing about RMNP. It's been awesome up there and anyone who chooses to go will not be disappointed. Some more info that might be useful....

    1. Bear Lake Road Construction
    There's no way around it, and it can be a major pain in the ass.

    The best thing to do is get to the park early - before 8 am on weekdays and even earlier on weekends. You can also access the area post-construction every day after 4pm. Do so and you'll be able to drive yourself to the end of Bear Lake road and avoid the shuttle altogether. If you do have to take the shuttle know that it's not as bad as you may think. It's free, and I've been able to catch it easily at The Moraine Visitor Center. The last returning shuttle leaves the Bear Lake parking lot at 7:30pm. I've missed it every time and have had no problem bumming a ride back to the Visitor center from fellow hikers/fishermen.

    2. IF you're up to it, make the hike to Glass lake and Sky Pond and fish these waters.

    This will require about 10 miles of hiking (5 there and back). Plus, there's a section of the trail (between Loche Vale and Glass lake) which requires traversing some snow drifts and scaling a waterfall. This is a difficult part of the hike, but it's less than 1 mile, and is well worth the effort. (I'm 35, enjoy Camel Lights, and support a well-developed beer belly. I do hike a lot, but am no model of physical prowess. And this was totally doable for me.)

    Once you've climbed the falls, you'll be treated to a vision of Glass Lake (and Sky Pond just beyond). There simply aren't words to describe just how beautiful this place is. Imagine an infinity pool at 11,000 feet overlooking the entire Moraine Vally. Fill this pool with the most vivid colored, healthy native cutthroat you can find. Now feed them regularly on the surface, with large, visible ants and beetles. It's like a dry fly/sight fishing paradise designed by Mr. frigging Miyagi.

    Have fun all, and if anybody make this trip, let me know what you think.

    Cheers!

    PS - I'd be remiss if I weren't to give a shout out to the fine folks at Kirks Fly Shop in Estes Park (www.kirksflyshop.com). They've given me a ton of excellent advice on RMNP that has helped make my trips so enjoyable. If your in the area,,,hit em up.
    Last edited by joerouse; 06-08-2012 at 08:21 PM.
    Joseph Rouse
    Deep Thinker/Pariah
    Denver, CO

    I refuse to fish within sight of an outlet mall, no matter how big the fish are. Well, except...

  6. Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    Thanks for post on trail and fishing conditions. I'm headed to Black Lake this weekend and will post a report when I get back.
    I've had excellent fishing with small terrestrials, particularly ants, in RMNP. Also nymphs in the first 3 feet when the trout are not looking up. Dry-dropper works pretty well in those situations. If you haven't fished Fern Lake yet, it ranks right up there, but like Mills and Loch, you'll be sharing it with others. I agree that Glass and Sky Pond worth every bit of the effort to get there. And you'll have solitude.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by stormcrow View Post
    Thanks for post on trail and fishing conditions. I'm headed to Black Lake this weekend and will post a report when I get back.
    I've had excellent fishing with small terrestrials, particularly ants, in RMNP. Also nymphs in the first 3 feet when the trout are not looking up. Dry-dropper works pretty well in those situations. If you haven't fished Fern Lake yet, it ranks right up there, but like Mills and Loch, you'll be sharing it with others. I agree that Glass and Sky Pond worth every bit of the effort to get there. And you'll have solitude.
    Heard any news about the progress of the fire? Saw on the news about the Denver/Boulder/ Estes area getting pretty smokey.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by kdeutman View Post
    Heard any news about the progress of the fire? Saw on the news about the Denver/Boulder/ Estes area getting pretty smokey.
    Last I heard, they had solid fire lines on the SW corner and the East side. The east side is pretty much where fort collins starts so there is not a lot of fuel there. They are making progress, but it is moving west rather aggressively and it is getting into an area where there is 70% beetle kill trees.

    Here is a photo of the fire from RMNP last Sunday.


  9. #9

    Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    RMNP is one of my favorite places to hike and fish. It is paradise to a hike-in angler. That being said, there are some bad sides to fishing the park. You usually have to deal with crowds and the greenbacks are mostly small. But if you are willing to put in the work exploring the "out of the way" lakes, the park holds some real trophy greenback lakes. Arrowhead is well documented on this forum. Even though I have never visited the lake, I would consider that lake to be a trophy lake, by greenback standards.

    I just returned from a two night trip to fish another quality greenback lake I discovered last year on my explorations. I got a rumor about this lake last summer and I went to check it out for myself. My first visit to the lake was mind-blowing. The huge outlet was full of large gangs of spawning greenbacks. Most of the fish looked to be in the 12-16" range with a few pushing 18". (in my experience with RMNP greenback cutthroat, that's very impressive!!!) They were in full spawning mode and wouldn't even look at any fly offerings. Once I realised on how intent they were to the spawn, I stopped fishing and watched them for the rest of the afternoon. I could stand right over them on high rocks and photograph them all day. I took plenty of pictures that day, but no fish! It was an enlightning yet frustrating day. I knew I had found a gem and immediatley plotted my return.

    I did return later that summer and the cuttys had dispersed back into the main lake, and disappeared into the depths. I was shut out again!!!! This lake was starting to **** me off!! I returned this May right after ice out and finally the lake shined on me. I caught 10 quality fish, my best edging the tape right at 16" and the average fish was 12-14". But I had a few fish edging 18" swim right under my feet and of course I missed them. And what makes the greenbacks in this lake even more special is that they are so fat!! Some of them are so deep-bodied they'll knock your eyes out.

    Of course my camera battery went dead on the trail before I could snap any pics of the fatties this May!!! So I returned to the lake a few days ago intent on snapping some pics. To my frustration the fish were down deep again and looked to be out of reach. But in two days of hard scouting and waiting I was able to hook into 6-7 decent fish. The lake has amazing fish-spotting conditions and I was able to see them deep down. I finally put my sinking line reel on and went down deep to get at them. Most of the fish were only 12-13" but all had huge girths. My best fish was a fat guy that edged the tape at 14" and looked to be eating like Oprah Winfrey.

    Two features give this lake true trophy potential. First off the greenbacks spawn in the outlet which immediately flows steeply downhill over the edge of waterfalls. So most of the small fry get washed away thus preventing overpopulation. Second, I believe this lake to have large numbers of scud and shrimp forage for the greenbacks. I have taken all of my fish here on scud and shrimp patterns. I assume they are gorging themselves on scuds, thus the impressive builds on these greenbacks, even the little fellas.

    My point to this long rant is this: It pays to get out there and go exploring to those many, out-of-the-way lakes in the park. RMNP is reputed to having only small fish. But there are some hidden gems tucked away, I guarantee it!!! Good hiking to all!!!




    I love how the spots thin out towards the head on some greenbacks





    A nice fourteen inch greenback....and built like a brick





    Even the little fellas are nice N fat!!!






    Spawning greenbacks in the outlet. Caught on film during my first visit to the lake last summer. I readily could see huge cuttys up to 20" but no takers to my fly!!! They were too busy doing their luv-makin.




  10. Likes joerouse, joefbtg28 liked this post
  11. #10

    Default Re: Fishing RMNP - Trail Conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by joerouse View Post
    I've been using dry terrestrials (foam beatles, ants etc) all day and have been having a ton of success.

    I'm thinking about heading out to Black Lake tomorrow. I'd also like to check out Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake. I've never fished any on these waters, so any info/tips will be appreciated.
    Greenbacks and brookies both love foam beetle and ant patterns. The winds carry them aloft from very far away and the Continental Divide is a major wind barrier. When the winds meet the Divide, the natural beetles and ants are deposited by the tens of thousands onto RMNP's high lakes and the greenbacks relish them. If you could only fish one dry fly pattern on RMNP's lakes, you'd be hard-pressed to find something that worked better.

    RMNP's general website regarding fishing lists Lake Solitude as holding trout. I've never been to either Shelf or Solitude, or Black for that matter. Solitude might be a little hidden gem. Since Black Lake is reported as holding brook trout, one could assume that is what is in Solitude and Shelf. The reason why Solitude might be a gem is that from the looks on the maps it appears very difficult to access. It's all off trail and a very steep climb. The Falcon Guide says there is a faint trail (marked with cairns tho!!) to Shelf, but it is usually crowded with deadfall. It continues on to say that once you've made the tough 1/2 mile pull up to Shelf, it's very easy to continue on to Solitude.

    If Solitude is a deeper lake than not, it could possibly hold nice, fat brookies. I bet the lake only sees a few handful of anglers a years, and this alone might be worth the nightmare pull up the creek to explore it.

    ---------- Post added at 12:43 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:07 PM ----------

    Since I keep rambling on about RMNP lakes (one of my favorite subjects obviously!!!), I thought I should continue on.........about Spruce Lake. If you can make it to Fern, bypass the crowds and make the extra one mile jaunt up to Spruce Lake. The view is nothing to write home about but the lake is loaded with 7-10" greenbacks. Fishing here is easier and better than it is at Fern Lake, and you won't see crowds. Recently in May, I had a 20+ fish day. Leave your nymph box behind. Because if the weather is good, all you will need is your best beetle, ant, midge, and gnat imitations. If the weather turns foul while you are there, try a scud pattern. I caught a few on scuds after I "tired" of catching them on drys.

    Bring your waders, you will need them to buy you backcasting room. There is dense timber right up to the water line. Also, fishing the inlet stream about twenty yards or so up into the forest is fun. I didn't catch any of them, but the largest fish in the lake seem to reside here. I saw a few solid 10-11 inchers swimming in the inlet stream.

    Usually I don't like to pinpoint lightly visited RMNP lakes on open websites, but Spruce could use the pressure. It could probably use some harvest too due to it's huge volume of small fish, but I catch and release all here due to the park's regulations.

    Sorry, no pics. I forgot my camera for the jaunt up to Spruce this Spring. Something I've been doing too much of this summer.

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