This past week, I was a member of the 5th annual Rocky Mountain Flycaster
ís Fly Fishing and Conservation Camp. It was truly a blast, and the information is priceless. Iíll do each day in a brief synopsis, and then give my overall feedback on the camp.
Day 1: We spent the morning learning about Trout Unlimited
(TU) and how they work along with a bit or information on the local watersheds and how they work. We then went to the Bellevue Hatchery
, where we checked out not only the small fry and fingerlings, along with the fish ready to head into local lakes. We then headed down the Watson hatchery, where we learned how all of the hatcheries work, and what they rear. We then went over basic fishing regs, followed by knots and casting in a field.
Day 2: We started with wading safety, and had a few more speakers, including a TU worker, an invasive species presenter, and a native species presenter. We were also supposed to go out to a local lake for some more fishing/casting, but storms kept us in the whole day.
Day 3: We headed up the Poudre
below the hatchery, and after a brief riparian habitat talk, we hit the water. We had all gotten a new double sided box with some assorted flies, and I also dumped some of my own creations in as well. The water was a bit high, but fishable. They werenít cooperating for me with nymphs or dries, so I switched up to a streamer, and I landed 2 nice browns, both on an olive bugger.
Day 4: We headed out to Swift Ponds for some warm water action, and everyone got their share. I gave myself the challenge of carp, and it was met with a beautiful 23 incher. I also got a few dinky bass, and everyone had fun. We then headed to go get a presentation on the floods and fires. After that, we headed over to the Big Thompson in Loveland
where we met up with Ben Swigle
and a few other CPW workers to go and electrofish. We collected 10 species, being largemouth, bluegill, green sunfish, chub, carp, bullhead, brown, crappie, stickleback, and sucker. We also planted 90 something trees and bushes around a nearby lake to help absorb nitrates and avoid fish kill.
Day 5: We headed to a stretch of the Poudre, and had three stations; etymology (on paper), etymology (on the river), and snorkeling. During the paper session, we learned basic lifecycles, identification, etc. During the on the water, we collected them with a seine, and it was a blast. We got mayfly nymphs for days, along with a bunch of caddis larvae, worms, midges, and a few giant golden stones. During the snorkeling, I personally saw a few carp on the bottom, along with some baitfish. We then had another presentation on the recent natural disasters, followed by a thorough fly tying session.
Day 6: We started the day with a tying session, where I stocked up on flies for the next destination. We then hopped on the bus, and headed to a tributary of the Big T up in RMNP
. I had a successful day getting 6 fish. I got one brownie on a pink #16 san juan, a brookie on a #16 BH hares ear, and 3 brookies and one brown on a #20 blood midge. Overall it was a great day and to cap it all off, we were given a fancy framed graduation plaque, and a brand new TFO Lefty Kreh rod! We finished off the day stuffing ourselves at the Estes McDonalds, and then hit the road.
Now for my take on the camp. I came into the camp with a pretty solid understanding of fly fishing and how to catch them. I was one of the people who used all my own gear, including boots, waders, rods and reels, and my own bag, net, and flies. What I wasnít expecting was all of the other information in the form of guest speakers and presentations. Although at the time I might have been zoned out thinking of fishing, I subliminally soaked up so much information that it isnít even funny. As for the fishing side of it, I was generally pretty self sufficient, being able to tie knots and fish different techniques with ease.
Throughout the week, I fished with a guy named Tyler, who was also on a pretty high level of fishing. We both knew how to fish, and both did well in most situations. The fishing part was really fun, and the variety was great! Going from trout to carp and even more was a blast, and it was truly great. As for the tying flies, I knew pretty much all the patterns they were teaching, so when we tied, I just cranked out the flies. I also learned a few new carp patterns from Tyler, which I plan on throwing soon.
Overall, it was a truly awesome experience, and it covers the whole deal; from the area around the water all the way down to the bugs on the bottom. If you are a kid and are interested in the program, I urge you to check it out and see if you can get in next year. It is truly worth it.