Monday, July 16, 2012

Fern Lake: Rocky Mountain National Park

   I was lucky enough to get out and do some fishing at Rocky Mountain National Park this past weekend. I have been itching to get back from the minute my brothers and I left on our September 2010 trip. This time around I had less fishing time, so I planned out a short overnight in the back country.

  Our Destination was Fern Lake via the Fern Lake Trail. We didn't get to start hiking till noon and finding a parking spot was a challenging to say the least. I would recommend getting to the trail head before 9 am if you are looking for a convenient parking spot.  The trail meanders along the Upper Big Thompson River through a narrow gorge between scenic mountains. The first 1.7 miles to our campsite at the Old Forest Inn was very flat and highly traveled by other hikers and anglers. The park service only issues 2 permits for this spot but there are at least 4 different locations to set up your tent. We situated ourselves atop a nice knoll that offered scenic views of the nearby mountains. Just an FYI if you are looking to escape the constant winds that howl down the valley I would recommend staying in the lower sites. We got everything ready by 2:30 and decided to make the 2 mile uphill trek to Fern Lake. The trail from Old Forest Inn to the lake was mostly uphill with gradual switchbacks. You pass the picturesque Fern Falls about 1 mile into the climb. Compared to my hike at Lawn Lake this one was much less grueling. You could definitely make this a relaxing day trip to a back country lake if you desired.

I got to the lake around 3:45pm. There was a light rain falling for the first 30 minutes. Myself and the other 7 anglers fishing didn't seem to mind. Once I got my gear together the rain stopped and fish immediately started feeding on the surface. I tied on a #22 Griffith's Gnat and brought four 8-10 inch Greenbacks to hand. Man I almost forgot how amazing these fish look! The 2 mile hike up was a distant memory after hooking into a few of these guys. The lake itself was much smaller then Lawn Lake. The banks were much more choked with trees and bushes as well making it difficult to back cast. The fish were very eager to take the gnat, and there were plenty of them cruising around. I only fished the back end of the lake where Fern Creek dumps out, there is a shallow shelf there and fish were hanging out right where the water went from deep to shallow.

For the next 3 hours I caught fish on #14 CDC Caddis skating it across the water and also managed 10 more on the #22 Griffith's Gnat. Overall this lake has plenty of Greenbacks, they average 3-4 inches smaller then the ones we caught at Lawn Lake. Even so it was well worth the hike and I would return in the future.

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