Glacier Creek – 05/18/2024

Time: 11:00AM – 12:30PM

Location: Glacier Creek below Sprague Lake

Glacier Creek 05/18/2024 Photo Album

The starting point for today’s fishing report is Mothers’ Day 2024. Last Sunday Jane and I visited Rocky Mountain National Park with the expectation of doing an auto tour in the rain. We threw rain pants and rain coats in the car, in case we could work in a short hike. On our drive from Denver to RMNP, the clouds parted around Boulder, CO; and we were able to enjoy a 5.6 mile hike along the Big Thompson River from the entry road to The Pool and back. Of course the visit afforded me the opportunity to scout out the streams in the park including Fall River, the Big Thompson and Glacier Creek. The Big T was running a bit high, but Fall River and Glacier Creek looked clear and reasonable for fly fishing.

I planned to leverage my first hand intelligence to repeat the trip on Wednesday, but I was intimidated by a weather forecast that called for high temperatures in the low fifties with rain in the early afternoon. I chose pickleball instead and deferred my trip to RMNP until Saturday. Of course, Thursday and Friday were gorgeous days with highs around eighty degrees, and I was concerned that these temperatures would accelerate run off in the park. I attempted to check fly shop reports, but they were purposefully vague or out of date, so I decided to take the plunge and make the trip. I was able to see flows for the Big T above Estes Lake, and they were significantly elevated from Mothers’ Day, so I targeted Glacier Creek.

I began my journey to Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday morning at 8:20, and I arrived at a fisherman parking lot off of Bear Lake Road by 10:15AM. Along the way I was detained by a long hold up in Estes Park due to road construction and a massive line of traffic waiting at the Beaver Meadows entry point. Needless to say, tourist traffic on the weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park is heavy. Jane and I entered at Fall River on Mothers’ Day, and in retrospect, I should have followed the same route on Saturday.

Two other cars preceded me to the fisherman lot, and one contained two young anglers, who departed for the creek ahead of me. While I was preparing to fish another fisherman arrived, and we compared notes on where we planned to fish. Based on that conversation I decided to fish directly across from the parking lot; while, Chris, the other fisherman, planned to hike upstream a ways to afford me space. The two young men had already headed downstream. The temperature was in the low sixties, so I pulled on my fleece hoodie, and I assembled my old Sage four weight for active duty.

High But Clear Glacier Creek

I ambled to a point along the creek, where a large fallen tree formed a natural dam, and I quickly focused on rigging my line with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, a beadhead hares ear nymph and an ultra zug bug. I was finally ready to cast, and I looked up and spotted the two young men without waders casting to the creek approximately thirty yards upstream. They cut me off, and I uttered a few unkind words to myself and hooked my flies into the rod guides. I decided to explore downstream, but I would soon learn the fallacy of my decision.

First Small Brown Trout Came from This Spot

The Bear Lake Road that I drove to the parking lot was quite steep, and Glacier Creek followed the same topography and thus presented a steep gradient. I hiked for .6 mile along the top of the canyon ridge, and the combination of the high water and steep gradient created a situation that offered few trout holding locations. Finally I found a spot with a steep but negotiable grade to the creek, and I carefully made the descent.

LIttle Guy Was More Than Welcome

For the next hour and fifteen minutes I fished back up the whitewater chute that was named Glacier Creek. Most of the time was spent scrambling over rocks and trees and bashing through branches, as I sought the few slack water locations that might harbor a trout. Toward the beginning a small brown trout locked on to the ultra zug bug, but then my success rate tumbled to nonexistent. By noon I surrendered to the terrain, and I laboriously climbed the steep bank back to the sparse path and returned to the parking lot.

Foam Is Home Produced Number Two

Near the parking lot I spotted a few somewhat promising spots, so I paused to make some casts. By now I had switched the ultra zug bug for an emerald caddis pupa, and another small brown trout grabbed the caddis pupa, when I cast to a foam eddy on the opposite side of the creek.  I congratulated myself on catching two small brown trout in an hour and fifteen minutes of fishing in very adverse circumstances.

Number Two

Since I was back at the car, I pulled out my stool and munched my lunch. The car driven by the young guys was gone, but Chris’s car remained. Initially I planned to begin fishing, where I began the morning, but as I pondered the situation, I decided that the high and cold flows would be an issue along the entire creek, and perhaps a lake would be a stronger option. I returned all my gear to the car and made the short drive to Sprague Lake.

Fish Landed: 2