Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park – Moraine Park

A cool majestic morning was waiting for us when we arrived in Morraine Park.
The beauty of the Morraine Valley reminded us that fly fishing is about the places fly fishing takes us and the fly fishing is a small attempt by us to be connected to it.
The Bear Lake Road was under construction from the Bear Lake Entrance to the Cub Lake Trail Head so plan on slow drives and construction crews; however, the summer crowds have not arrived yet.

The excitement that builds while driving to the Park and anticipating getting on the water during our normal trips seemed minimal by comparison to the excitement we felt heading up the Big Thompson Canyon this trip because we were going to attempt to catch the local fish populations with a different nymphing approach…TENKARA!

The Tenkara style of fishing originated in the mountains of Japan and utilizes a Tenkara rod, a leader, tippet, and fly. Tenkara………… is a minimalist approach to fly fishing that I was introduced to by Cameron Mortenson,, in 2009 while chasing Taylor River Brown’s in Gunnison, Colorado. I remember thinking at the time, that “there is no way, that cane pole is going to replace my St. Croix!”  It has taken me three years to revisit Tenkara. Now the proud owner of a Tenkara Iwana 11’ rod, still in the shipping box, I stood at the truck trying to figure out how to rig it and how I was going to take my regular fly rig with me when I got
tired of “trying the Tenkara”! My fishing partner challenged me to “go big or go home.” He suggested that I leave everything at the truck and spend the day using only the Tenkara. Of course he would take his standard fly rig! Not one to run from a good challenge, everything was left at the truck. I figured I could always ask my partner to let me reel in a few fish!

TENKARA!.....TENKARA!......TENKARA! was heard throughout the day by anyone within ear shot as we disturbed the solitude of the park!  We landed 8 brooks and browns before the afternoon storm ran us off the water. Sharing the Tenkara, we used #16 bead head hares ears, #16 ABU’s and #16 zebra midges. What an experience…! What an exciting way to experience fly fishing from another perspective. Okay so what to do with your line hand, and landing the fish was comical to watch. Just another excuse for more time on the water. Practice, practice, and more practice.
It will not replace my traditional western nymph fishing rig; however, the TENKARA will be a standard item packed on future outings! Weighing only 2.7oz and only 21 inches long collapsed, it will be a regular part of my nymphing arsenal. My partner has ordered one of his own! If you are tempted… you can get more information at A very well written book that provides Tenkara history and instruction is Tenkara, Radically Simple, Ultralight Fly Fishing; Kevin C. Kelleher; Lyons Press Guilford, Connecticut.

Remember if you are going into Rocky Mountain National Park to fly fish, a few things to remember:
·                  You can only use on hand held rod.
·                  Only artificial flies or lures can be used in park waters. Fly fishers can use
                    a two fly system.
·                  Barbless hooks must be used.
·                  Lead is discouraged in park waters.
The Greenback Cutthroat Trout is a Federal and State Threatened Species and have to be returned to the water unharmed. Possession is prohibited.