Colorado Fisherman Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
163 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Last Wednesday I fished the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park. More specifically, I fished portions of the North St. Vrain Creek and Ouzel Creek.

I got to the Wild Basin trail head at about 6:15 a.m. and damn was it cold. My thermometer said the ground was 27 deg F. My hike started on the Thunder Lake Trail. When the trail reached Calypso Cascades I took a right turn to go past Ouzel Falls, around and over a ridge, and finally into a high mountain valley and Ouzel Creek. One way it was four miles and about 1100 feet of elevation gain (5% grade on average).

The first half of the hike is in a lush sub-alpine forest. Tall trees are everywhere and the forest floor is carpeted with ferns. The second half of the hike is in a more typical Colorado forest, punctuated by enormous rock formations towering in some cases hundreds of feet overhead. The high mountain valley that Ouzel Creek lies is, in contrast, quite barren. Apparently 10 or 20 years ago this valley suffered from a forest fire. The valley is a forest of branchless, charred tree trunks. It's both spooky and beautiful at the same time. The valley floor is covered with plants, including wild raspberries.

I must say that this is possibly the most spectacular hike I've made in perhaps 15 or 20 years. The rugged terrain, the lush forests, the stark contrast of the high valley, and of course the water all combined to assault my senses. The scenery isn't one of huge mountain vistas of towering peaks (but there are some of that as well). Rather it's of plant life, rocks, and "beauty that you can reach out and touch". Of course I could also just be getting old and learning to appreciate what I've ignored before. :)

My first mistake was to pack my waders and boots in a backpack. This was a long hike over rugged terrain. Not once did I feel the need to use the waders. Sure, there were a couple of places where I could have used them-- but not enough to justify the hassle of carrying them. If I left them at home I could have either gone farther (to Ouzel Lake where I'm told there are lots of cutthroats) or spent more time fishing and less time hiking.

What I did do, however, was wear jeans and good hiking boots. Don't mess with shorts or thin pants. Did I mention the raspberry bushes? They have thorns, you know. And many of the other bushes have thorns too. Not major thorns, but enough where you don't want bare skin against them. And there are enough twigs and deep grass that you'd get all scraped up even without the thorns.

But on to the fishing...

Fishing was hard, and the fish were small. But there were plenty of them. This is no great suprise given the size of the Ouzel Creek (about half the size of Boulder Creek) and the rugged terrain.

North St. Vrain is probably 70% whitewater in this section and a lot of what isn't white is too shallow and fast to make for good fishing. When there are nice, deep pockets there are often fallen trees to get hung up on. But if you don't mind the very rugged terrain you can find some nice pools. One plunge pool, at the base of Lower Copeland Falls, must be 30 feet x 50 feet and 8 feet deep. I found mostly Brook trout in these pools, and caught them on Prince Nymphs, Hare's Ear Nymphs, and variations of Copper Johns.

Ouzel Creek is quite different from the North St. Vrain. It's tiny. Between the high mountain valley and where it joins the St. Vrain the creek is largely vertical. It's very hard to get a good drift when the water is going straight down. But in the valley it is much slower with many small pools. Emphasis on the SMALL. Most pools are maybe 3 feet by 3 feet by 1 foot deep. There are so many fallen logs that the upper and lower boundaries of the pools are blocked by logs. I used the same nymphs as on the St. Vrain. I would have tried some dry flies, but there was a steady breeze flowing that was messing up my casting. Again, mostly Brook Trout in Ouzel Creek.

At one point I found a quiet pool with Cutthroats in it. I was able to cast my nymphs upstream and let it drift into the pool. On the first cast a nice fish came up an inhaled my Fish Pimp strike indicator. Now I'm still bad at knowing when to use dry flies vs. nymphs. And I've had bad luck with dry flies and hoppers in the past. But when a trout inhales the entire Fish Pimp that's usually a good sign that dry flies are what they want. I switched to an Elk Hair Caddis and caught a couple of them.

The water was extremely clear, except in those cases where it was white. That, along with the small size of most pools, meant that usually you could only get one or two fish from each pool before spooking the lot. Even if you could plainly see 6 to 12 fish, you'd be doing good to catch two of them.

I didn't count how many fish I caught. Probably in the 10 to 20 range. Not bad considering that I spent probably 7 hours hiking and 2 hours fishing. But I never caught Brook or Cutthroat trout before, and now I have.

Would I recommend this spot to others? In an instant! But with the warning that you need to love hiking to enjoy this spot. And leave the waders at home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,678 Posts
Excellent report! You picked a good spot to go...and in Sept the dry fly fishing really picks up for awhile...so enjoy it while you can before the snow sets in....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,797 Posts
excelent post makes me want to get up there

were there berries on them raspberry bushes?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
163 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Yes, there were berries on those bushes. Typical of wild stawberries and raspberries they were very small and not too many per bush. But they hit the spot after a long hike. I think I left a couple for you.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,399 Posts
Great report... I know what you mean about packing in your waders and not using them... I dont have those high speed light weight goretex waders, I use those cheap 50 lb neoprene waders. These seem ok the first 200 meters of the hike but after that it feels like I'm carrying the kid and his backpack ontop of my backpack.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,797 Posts
Rottal said:
I think Roadkill prefers the "dingleberry" variety...
how did you know i was a welder?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,509 Posts
how did you know i was a welder?
He saw buttcrack in one of your fish pictures?!

David...that is one of the best reports I have read in awhile!

Did you see any bear sign amongst all the berries?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
399 Posts
Great post! I really love that area too. I've always wondered about those high mountain lakes, but the prospect of a nasty afternoon thunderstorm moving in with no trees is kind of daunting. Maybe some day I'll grow a spine and get up there. There've got to be some good cutts in Ouzel and Thunder Lakes, I think.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
163 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thanks all.

No signs of bears-- but I'm not sure I'd recognize any if I did see them. Actually, I didn't see any deer, elk, or goats either.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top