The snow has stopped falling in glorious Estes Park and our Mother’s Day snowstorm is all but forgotten. The view of Longs Peak is spectacular right now, with a few slivers of snow still framing the epic big wall of “The Diamond” as it is known in the rock climbing community. Named for its distinct, playing card perfect, four-faceted diamond on the eastern facing side of the peak, Longs is the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park and is an icon along the Front Range. It is down Longs Peak and its phalanx of fellow mountains, that the waters flow. The drips begin when the air begins to warm, turning into cascading rivulets of pure snowmelt. The abundance of water flowing down the jagged cliff faces, strengthens with every warm Colorado afternoon, flowing, eventually, to the mighty Ocean.
How is water measured in its flowing form? A snapshot of the volume and height of a cross section flowing past a certain point? Scientifically that is exactly what is done. Rivers and creeks are measured by the height of the water level at a certain point allowing the Hydrologists to measure the flow. Of course the more water moving down a given portion of river will increase in velocity, become unruly and sinister; tearing at the shores and vegetation along the banks. It is impossible to trace the rivulets flowing down Longs Peak and pinpoint the exact location it enters the river, it just happens. Like counting snowflakes or stars, accurately pinpointing a “piece” of water is impossible. So it appears that measuring water in its flowing form is purely philosophical and can not be measured by anything more than the feeling of cold, clear water flowing through your fingers.
The Spring Runoff
This time of year the snow is still more than five feet deep up on the Continental Divide, but melting fast. This is what is known as the spring runoff. The Great Plains to the east are planted and ready for the water that spreads out to a million irrigated fields in the breadbasket of this country. Pivot irrigation, violently spitting out well traveled water on the cornfields, turning the water’s energy into a form that provides nourishment for the good people of this country. For the trout of the Front Range, the runoff water brings an abundance of food for them as well, in the form of various critters and bugs carried downstream. It is said that crocodiles wait in the swift flowing rapids of the Nile, an innate behavior originating due to the commonality of humans and animals falling into the swift water. Much like the Nile crocodile the trout wait, instinctively, at the confluence of the rapids, waiting for a tasty morsel to drift by.
The runoff requires a different form of fly fishing than the delicate, dry fly presentations of lazy evening mayfly hatches. Nymph fishing is the way to land monster trout, much like a billionaire recluse, big trout are elusive, desired creatures that need a bit of coercion to show themselves. During the runoff the water can be cloudy as the flow is cleaning the riverbed, a yearly cleanse that releases grubs and larvae into the current. Nymph flies mimic these insects as a dry fly will parody a careless midge, drifting on the surface. Nymph fishing is exhilarating, can produce dramatic strikes and, most importantly, big trout. A common nymph is the beadhead, a shiny bead tied onto the tip of the fly to give it the advantage of visibility in sedimented water. The bodies of nymphs are tied with a wide variety of materials, a popular fly locally is the pheasant tail. A gorgeous pattern with a thousand different variations and a consistent imitation of all sorts of river dwelling bugs.
Come Fishing With Us!
Itching to give nymph fishing a try during this magic time of year? At Kirks Flyshop, we have a virtual runoff of local experience at your disposal. Guides that, not only know where and how to catch the big ones, but have a spiritual connection to the rivers we fish, and a reverence for its journey. So give Kirks Flyshop a call today to book a 4, 6, 8, or 2 hour fly fishing expedition of your own. We provide all of the gear, advice and instruction, in order to get you on the big ones. So come and claim your “piece” of the river before it flows on.