Saturday, May 18, 2013

RMNP - Moraine Park Report 05/10/13

I have to start this post by apologizing to the fire gods! I am sorry for whatever I have done to upset you and please accept my sincere apology. I hope you will forgive me! (Or maybe it should be us - JT my fishing partner)

Let me explain my confusion. The High Park Fire impacted the Poudre River and Rocky Mountain National Park experienced a number of fires, all in 2012. I didn't realize the extent of the Fern Lake Fire. JT and I made our first season trip to the park and fished Moraine least I think that's where we were. 

We did not realize that fire had converted a once lush and wooded area of Moraine Park into strange and eerie grassland with burnt skeletons of once thick strands of Balsam Poplar, Thinleaf Alder and Willow trees.  JT was surprised by a juvenile moose breaking out of the thick willows less than 12 feet from him on this stretch of the river last year; however, you could see the moose coming for a mile now. The banks of the Big Thompson that run through Moraine Park have definitely experienced change. Trees that once were are no more...

Don't despair though! The Park is the Park and Mother Nature will take care of her own. Already new life is springing up. Trees that were not completely burned are showing signs of life. Flowers are peaking out from under meadow grasses. The heartbeat of the valley continues. The frogs were busy croaking with each other, and the elk welcomed us.

We grabbed the Qdoba breakfast burrito and the SB coffee in Loveland around 8:30 and up the canyon we headed. The car time flies because the conversation is engaging. Work, family, politics, and decompression for the week are some of the discussion topics. As JT said, the world would have fewer problems if everyone went fly fishing once a week. 

We arrived in the park and beat the traffic that was building at the gate with my annual Rocky Pass... (Check it out, two visits and it pays for itself and is good for a year of unlimited use. You can even add a second user on the pass!) Very few cars were in the Moraine Park area, and the road construction appears to be on the downhill slide. We were greeted by herds of elk and, you guessed it, remnants of trees. It was a cool, over cast Rocky Mountain morning with Stones Peak and the continental divide covered in snow as the backdrop. Breath taking. The skies threatened rain, snow or both which translated into layers and rain gear.
We geared up with our Tenkara rods and headed for the river. We talked with a number of visitors in the parking lot and as we headed to the river that were curious about this and that in the park.  
We talked to a wonderful family from Arizona that could have stayed and talked fly fishing with us all day if we wanted. 

The notable conversation was with a couple of tourists as we were getting off the water that wanted to know what we were fishing for, and JT could not resist the are you kidding me look and simply said....TROUT! 

The guys then wanted to know if they could kayak in Moraine park. Nothing more needs to be said.

A handful of fly fishers were on the water; however, we soon lost them. 

The water was beautiful. It was on the chilly side, 38 degrees; however, it was clear. We were able to entice some of the parks browns to take our nymphs on the drift. We were successful on #16 ABU’s, Zebra midges, and bead headed hare’s ear. The fish were holding to the bottom, close to any structure, and current edges.

Please remember barbless hooks are required in the park.

We left the water at 3:00pm and looked forward to our next visit. We will be back before the water flows increase….probably a week or two depending on the temperatures.

Tips from the Trip:

Fan your casts… When you are fishing an area that looks to hold fish; yet, you are unfamiliar with it fan your casts. Start your first cast short and close. Each subsequent cast, cast a little further out and a foot over until you are casting across and finishing your drift down stream.

Adjust the depth of your nymphs…If everything about you is telling you that a fish is holding in a lie, yet you have not convinced it that you have something it wants, adjust the depth of your nymphs. Get the nymphs in the zone where the fish are eating.

Finish your drifts… Be patient and finish your drift down stream. Stop your nymphs, and raise the tip. Standby on the raise because you will be surprised and the number of fish that hit the upward movement of the nymphs, especially, if the nymphs have brushed the front edge of any structure.

Quality rain gear  JT and I have a saying, “When is the best time to go fishing…when its raining and when it’s not!” Quality rain gear allows us to stay on the river and land fish that others miss sitting in their cars.

Happy Nymphing!



  1. Sure appreciate the update from what you found on your trip into RMNP. We know we are going to see the Elk etc, but, your feedback on the after effects of the fire complete with all the pictures sure helps out. Doesn't look the fish fared too badly though. Thanks, my friend.

    1. Mel, I am so glad you are back buddy! The fire changed the area but as we all know mother nature will take care of herself. The fish did not seem to mind,and now we can hope that the run off doesn't cause any drama for the fish! Thanks for the support. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome!

  2. Great trip report. It is shocking to see that stretch so burned. I'm glad there are signs of life, but to see one of my favorite stretches of water so changed is tough.

    1. BDF! You should have seen our faces. All said and done though, the fish didn't seem to mind, and it is still hard to beat the beauty of the park even after a fire! Cant wait to get in the park with ya and that Tenkara of yours. Always a pleasure buddy and thanks for stopping by! We will hit it soon!

  3. I really envy you guys for the place you were fishing and colorful trout you were landing. The closest I have come to the Tenkara is my 9 ft. Greys Streamflex doing high sticking. I must admit the more I read about the Tenkara experience the more I am tempted to purchase one. I saw a guy last year on our tailrace landing an awesome amount of trout using the Tenkara. He was using a tiny midge to get the takes. Thanks for sharing a great post

    1. Bill! Thanks for stopping by! I love to fish with the Tenkara and of course my regular fly rods and reels! Having said that, I was introduced to Tenkara fishing 2-3 years prior to actually getting one and fishing with it. You will absolutely love landing those bluegill slabs you are chasing! Tenkara is another tool in your tool is simple, lightweight, quiet, and allows you to connect with the river or lake. Your fishing skills will expand as well. Its fun and give it a try. Look forward to hearing about it.

  4. Great report Al. I think I'll wait until run off is over before venturing to the Park. Always one of my favorite trips of the year.

    1. Thanks Howard! Don't blame ya one bit. Was up last Friday and water was running high. Made for some tough fishing. Always a pleasure and thanks for visiting!

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Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you found something that interested you. Leave a comment and I'll get back to ya. Happy Nymphing!