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Is Rocky Ford worth the drive?

1227 Views 18 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  o mykiss
I live in Seattle and am thinking about going out Saturday. Should I try the Yakima or is it worth it to drive that extra way for Rocky Ford? :DUNNO
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I was out there on Sunday. The fishing was fair... we did manage to hook up on some fish. On the down side, the wind was awful and the crowds were thick.
Rocky Ford is always worth the drive...except on the weekends!
I prefer R.Ford to the Yakima just because the fish are bigger
and unlike the Yak it doesnt matter where you stand on the water.
I have caught fish on almost every inch of shoreline there.
Its funny though...seems like everyone wants to fish the narrow rocky throat area. I dont even like that spot! I like the bigger areas that you actually need a little casting skill to fish well. Not only that I believe the real hawgs hang in those areas. I have not caught one fish under 20" at R.Ford in the last 3 years. I had one fish hit and run so hard last may. The fish hit my fly about 25 yds from the shore I was on (one of the widest places on the creek) and swam like a bat outta hell directly for the opposite shore. I could do nothing to stop him and it was like he literally crashed into the far-shore and shook the fly. My fly was then snagged in the weeds about 2 feet off that shore. Unbelievable!! There are no stronger trout and they compare to many steelhead I've caught, both in size & fight.
Do yourself a favor and drive over on a weekday. Bring a good sating ros with a WF floater (best is the wulff triangle taper) as the good place to fish require you to keep your back-cast above the cattails and to make a nice forward cast. Most the fish I catch there are middle channel & beyond. Now and then I'll lure one from farther out, and the fish will take it 10-15 yds from shore...but he came from out farther. I dont even bother with the fish that I see swimming at my feet up-and down the shore. And i've only caught one of those in all the times I've fished there. And really, I much preferr to hook a fish farther away. good luck!
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Oh, I forgot to mention; Those fish along the shore can drive people half-crazy! I sometimes see folks out there who focus on those shoreline cruisers and get very frustrated. I spent a total of about 2 hours trying that in all the times i've fished there....and for the most part its a loser. Dont get me wrong, I've caught fish there very close to shore especially under foam and cut-banks but almost never where I could see the fish. it was either up or down stream
Bring a good sating ros with a WF floater (best is the wulff triangle taper)

Okay, what's a "sating ros"?
Thinking of going over this Friday with my son, both relative beginners. Want him to catch fish so he'll keep going, so should we try the narrow places? We'll ignore the shore cruisers, but sounds hard to do.

Tangles :DUNNO
If you like big trout Rocky Ford is defenetly worth the drive.
Pack olive scuds,wooly buggers,chironomids and small mayfly patterns.
Dont't always ignore the crusers along the shore line if you can sneak up on them and get an olive scud right in front of them they will take, sure you will have alot of refusels but you will catch your share of trout. I have caught quite a few nice trout in less than a foot of water within 5 feet of shore, and of course catching trout in deeper water also.GOOD LUCK. :THUMBSUP
Sorry, there is nothing called sating ros
I was in a hurry and misspelled casting rod!
Yes, scuds size 12-16, Chironomids black with white hackle 14-22
and whatever else might be hatching.

I knew my post regarding those shore cruisers would be controversial.
I guess I just like catching them farther away.
Seeing the fish take is akin to feeding the fish in my aquarium.
Just a personal thing. I don't want to see them take, I want to go by feel. The only time I like to see a take is when the fish explodes out of the water on my dry fly.
I 100% agree with the fish next to shore...I'm by no means an expert, but these fish seem to be resting and are not at all interested in feeding. Around 3 when the fishing usually slows down, I've tried in desperation for the fish 2 feet in front of my foot, but have yet to get anything more than a casual glance- usually they're more repulsed, lol, like I had the nerve to bother them...
I also agree that the fast water is WAY over rated, if you want big fish, the wider parts of the ford are where you should be. I've heard the two "ponds" (horse shoe shaped at the tops of the upper and lower parts of the ford) are for suckers, but I've also seen a lot of people catch fish in them, so don't coun't those out either.
What is...

The actual upper and lower boundries for fishing? Ive only been there a couple of times and mostly stayed just below the hatchery. Can you fish above the hatchery? how for down can you fish?
What is...

There are two hatcheries. The first is when you first come in and the second is below the last parking area. As for catching fish near shore, in the narrows, in the pools, in the fast water, with dries, with small stuff, with size 2 woolly buggers...I've been successful or skunked on all methods in all places. The biggest factor for my success is not having the fish associate me or the cast with the fly. That can mean casting out beyond their vision of you into the middle of the pool but it can also mean casting a fly well in front of a cruising fish and then twitching it when it gets close or it can mean letting a heavily weighted fly sink to the bottom close to a fish near the bank and then waiting as long as 10 minutes for the spooked fish to return and then twitching the fly ONCE. Or it can mean only waiting a couple of minutes or less and twitching the fly ONCE to a fish that didn't swim away. The good thing about the twitch on the bottom method is that you can use heavy tippet material (read 0X 8lb Maxima) and can quickly bring the fish in without worrying about them breaking off. This method can be improved if you tie your pattern so that it it rides upside down so you don't hang up in the weeds as often. One other factor is that these fish are caught and released several times a day sometimes so being at Rocky Ford at first light can be much more productive than late morning or early afternoon. Things pick up again during the low light in the evening after most of the commuters have left. Seriously, I have watched quasi experts arrive early and C&R nearly every visible fish and then move on, quickly landing fish after fish. Others come by a few minutes later and have no idea the fish they are targeting have just been caught and waste far too much time trying to catch a fish that is now very aware of the perils of eating aggressively.
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What is...

How long does it take to get to the Rocky Ford from Seattle? :pROFESSOR
If you have never been to Rocky Ford then by all means go, it is worth the trip. Every fly fisher should experience it. Kinda like the Seattle Aquarium, it is a cool place with lots of big fish and we all like big fish. Other than just seeing and experiencing it for the first time don't bother. There are way too many people and way too little river. Although large, most of the fish in the river are beat up and bruised from living in a pen all of their lives.
To me its like going to a cheap bar to pick up cheap women, you might end up with something(one) nice enough to bring home to mom but chances are if you do get lucky you won't be too proud of it(her). Its just one step above a whorehouse(u-fish trout pond)

Fish on!
Len, I like your analogy. I'll agree with you on that, but it IS the best little whorehouse in Washington! I strongly recommend a visit to RF, but midweek is the only way to go. And forget it on a three-day weekend. You might as well go fish the Russian River in Alaska.

I went there once. In the middle of the week. When I got there I was the second one there,but it didn't take too long for it to get crowded. I think that once was enough. I don't like combat fishing.
I will just stick to the Yakima when I go over the hump. Jim
What is...

A lot would depend on where exactly in Seattle you are but it is more like 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours (it's roughly 1 1/2 hours to Ellensburg depending on road and weather conditions).
Just my .02 cents...

You gotta go there once just to check it out. After that, it's a preference thing.
Weekends are a total zoo. I've been there before where every parking space was taken and every possible fishing spot had multiple people fishing side by side.
I've also been there mid week were i've been the only one there. But you can usually expect some light company midweek.

As for the fish, they are very impressive to look at, and some can really hit hard and fight pretty well. It is especially cool to have a 5 or more pound trout nail a dry fly on a quiet evening - but that happens less than you'd hope.

Don't always expect to find lots of big fish. I've been there before where you see them just about everywhere. But I've also been there where you really had to work just to spot a couple. Also, if you hit it shortly after it has been stocked, you may find it hard to avoid the 8 to 12 inchers.

And remember that these fish are about as 'sore mouthed' as you'll find. Many of them I've caught fought about as well as an old boot. But then you'll get one that manages a tail walk, and all is well again.

Bring logs of wooly buggers and leeches in black, brown, olive, and white. I sent an out of town buddy and his brother (about average or less skill) over there once to at least look at some nice fish. When they returned and I asked how they did, he just smiled and handed me a thick stack of pictures of him and his brother holding 2 to 6lb trout - about 10 or more each landed and 15 or more each hooked and lost. They ended up losing (to fish) the dozen wooley buggers I sent with them (size and color did not matter), and they even hit some dry flies for them. I have heard of thsi kind of feeding frenzy out there, but I'm usually happy with 2 or 3 fish. And the first several times I went, the best I could muster was hooking a couple and having them break my tippet.

Good luck, and let us know now it goes!
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An average day for me at rocky ford at least my first five times there
is 10 to 20 fish with up to 30 fish.this weekend I went up there two times, ounce for 4 hours and caught 15 trout and the second time for 3 hour and caught 10 bows.I have witnesses and pictures.On thursday I caught my largest trout ever it came out of rocky ford, it went 26" inches and was really thick across the back.On saturday i matched my biggest trout with another 26" incher not the same fish out of the ford, and i did put a measuring tape on it.i landed both fish on 2lb flourocarbon.Rocky ford is a big fish factory and I don't mind fishing there. :THUMBSUP
Yakima is way prettier and the fish are wild. I would agree that the Ford is about one step above a U-fish pond. Don't get me wrong - there's a time and place for that kind of fishing and the fish in RF are quite impressive (in a manufactured kind of way), but the Yakima has way better karma in my humble opinion.
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