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Les and Kim Beery's Angler's Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park is an indispensable asset to finding the best fishing in the Park. They not only tell you how to get to the water but where to stand and what to tie on to have success. Check out their guides to fishing in south west Florida and their articles on Florida in this Magazine.
Another Great Day at the Loch!
Les and Kim Beery
The 3 mile walk to the Loch in Rocky Mountain National Park is always worth the effort when you hook up with one of the beautiful Hybrid Greenback Cutthroat Trout that inhabit these crystal clear mountain waters. We recommend parking at the Bear Lake Parking area if you can arrive before 8AM. After that time, the lot may be full and require you to use the shuttle system. Park at the east end of the lot and use the horse trail to shortcut down to the trailhead at Glacier Gorge. This adds a little uphill at the end of the day but the downhill at the beginning makes for a good warmup.
The main trail goes by Alberta Falls where you will find a photo opportunity and an excuse to catch your breath. Beyond the falls, The Junction is the next notable landmark. Trails from here go towards Mills Lake [and Black Lake, The Loch [and Lake of Glass and Sky Pond] and Lake Haiyaha [and Dream Lake, Emerald Lake and Bear Lake. The Loch lies .8 trail miles above this intersection.
At The Loch the trail wanders along the north side of the lake and provides pretty good access to limited open areas of shoreline. Take advantage of rocky points and openings in the forested shoreline to put a fly on the water. Our favorite tactic here is to present a terrestrial fly pattern like an ant or beetle to cruising fish along the shoreline. The larger cutthroat trout here are quite territorial and will patrol and defend a particular portion of shore. Your fly, presented in their area, is almost always accepted.
To access a less trampled area, cross the inlet stream [Icy Brook] on any of the downed trees that form bridges. The area across the stream is a bog but if you head down towards the lake you will find a flower garden meadow that provides an excellent spot to fish from. The shallow water here calls for stealthy casting and somewhat smaller flies than the spots across the lake. Lead the trout by 10 feet or so once you determine what direction they are feeding in.
Icy Brook itself holds a lot of cutthroats in the deeper runs and pools. You must stay back from the bank while fishing this shallow, clear stream. The trout here are extremely wary and spook easily from shadows and “lining” errors. The trail follows Icy Brook up past a significant waterfall where scrambling not hiking is required. Above the falls, the trail resumes through willows and reaches Sky Pond above timberline. This stream originates above Sky Pond with its population of brook trout and flows through Lake of Glass where cutthroats dominate.
Last Thursday [8/13/15] we caught and released about 30 fish from 6” to 15” in length. They accepted a variety of flies but most consistently ate ant and beetle patterns. Light 6X fluorocarbon tippet is needed in these shallow, clear waters. Fly sizes in the 18-20 range were the most popular.
These are hybrid trout and not protected so a limit of two fish per adult angler may be kept. But...trying to get a trout down the trail on a hot afternoon in a warm backpack usually results in an inedible fish. We encourage release fishing in RMNP because all these fish are wild populations and no stocking is allowed. These beautiful hybrid greenback cutthroat trout manage to survive and reproduce in this marginal environment but this small population could be endangered by excessive harvest. Please practice catch and release with barbless flies only.