By Kyle Wilkinson, Co-Written by Jesse Mena
If you couldn’t tell already, I frequently find myself fishing “The Ford.” It’s a tough fishery, and I always appreciate the challenges that it throws at me and my fly fishing friends.
What follows are Six Do’s and Six Don’ts for anglers who are making the journey to throw flies at the COLOSSAL trout of Rocky Ford Creek.
1. Do: Bring scuds
Scuds make up a large part of the trout’s diet in the creek. I like to think of them like potato chips to the fish. I tie my scuds in olive, orange, pink, and combinations of those colors.
Don’t: Bring flashy flies
These fish see a lot of flies, so anything flashy or overly obnoxious can really put pressured fish off.
2. Do: Bring a large net
Some of the fish in here are truly enormous. I hooked a fish last year that snapped me off because I couldn’t fit it in my net. The basket of that net is 28″…
Don’t: Think you’ll have the creek to yourself
Rocky Ford stays ice free with fairly stable flows year round, so expect lots of company when the rivers are blown out or full of ice. And if the fish are biting, prepare to fish shoulder-to-shoulder.
3. Do: Fish light, fluorocarbon tippets
In the crystal clear waters of Rocky Ford, flurocarbon tippets can prevent fish from becoming aware of your presence. I doubt any line is truly invisible, but fluorocarbon gets fairly close and will cut through the water much easier. This just sets the odds more in your favor.
Don’t: Be afraid to move spots
There are plenty of fish spread throughout Rocky Ford Creek. Don’t be afraid to leave uncooperative fish and look for more active feeders. Sometimes just moving up or down the creek a hundred yards can pay big dividends.
4. Do: Fish two flies
Rocky Ford Creek is a “Fly Fishing Only” fishery, where a maximum of two flies can be fished on the same line. By fishing two flies, you can cover two different sizes, life stages, or colors of subsurface trout snacks.
Don’t: Be afraid to throw large streamers
Sometimes small scuds or midges just won’t entice a strike. When that happens, I tie on a fat streamer. I’ve seen fish hooked on streamers as long as five inches and as small as one. If somebody (the angler) suddenly stopped throwing potato chips (scuds) at you (the fish) and started throwing cheeseburgers (streamers), wouldn’t you hop on that opportunity too?
5. Do: Be stealthy
The trout that peruse the weedbeds of the creek are extremely pressured and very wary to any disturbance on or near the water. Use stealth when sneaking up on active fish, and try to avoid abrupt, quick movements. I’ve personally snuck up on fish on my hands and knees in order to avoid disturbing a feeding fish.
Don’t: Avoid fishing with an indicator, if you can get away with it
When an indicator “plops” on the surface, the fish are already tuned-in to your presence. Indicators can help to detect bites from fish you can’t see or in windy conditions, but I alway try to avoid fishing with them. When the fish sees pink, orange, or yellow “bobbers” floating overhead all day and connects that to getting hooked by imitation scuds, they learn to shut their mouths. There’s a time and place for indictors on Rocky Ford, but I rarely use one. If I do, it’s often made of yarn.
6. Do: Bring your polarized sunglasses
The creek barely reaches a depth of 10 feet in the deepest sections, so anglers can usually spot fish all day long. Polarized sunglasses can put fisherman at an advantage when trying to spot feeding fish in sunny or cloudy conditions. Throw a couple spares in your vehicle, because you never want to fish this creek without polarized sunglasses. Plus you are protecting your eyes from misplaced false casts.
Don’t: Give up
Rocky Ford is a tough fishery. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t catch fish. Sometimes the fishing can be red hot and somedays it can be a challenge to even tempt a fish to look at a fly. If this creek has taught me anything, it’s perseverance and patience. If you don’t catch fish the first time, or even the second or third time, don’t be afraid to come back and improve on what you may be struggling with. Work hard, study up on the fish, the flies, and your techniques.
Hopefully this article will help put more fish in the net on your next trip to Rocky Ford!
Did I leave any critical information out? Feel free to comment your thoughts on this topic below.