Friday, September 15, 2017

Eagle River, Colorado

Last week we spent a few days in Colorado in the shadows of high mountains laced with ski lifts.  Our friends had lots of stuff planned in the afternoons and evenings, but the mornings were open for fishing and we took advantage of that.  As luck would have it, the Eagle River flowed through the narrow valley at the base of the mountains below the village.  The first day we went to Vail Valley Anglers and got the lay of the land, licenses, some new stuff, and a bunch of the local favorite flies.   The three of us got to the river around mid morning under blue skies and a bright sun.  The water temperature was 48 degrees F, and the air was in the 60's.  We were wet wading, and the water was cold at first, but once you got used to it and the air warmed into the 70's, it was perfect.


All three days of fishing went the same.  Early on we had bright sun and no rising fish, so we fished dry/dropper rigs.  I use a hopper with a size #20 zebra midge off that and that worked well.  By mid morning, the air warmed and the breezes started, which in turn pushed the haze from nearby forest fires into the valley.  The haze was fairly thick and had the same effect on the insects cloud cover does; shortly after the haze moved in, blue-winged olives started hatching and with that the trout would begin to feed on top.   


Once the fish started rising, I switched to a #20 blue-winged olive sparkle dun and began taking fish on top. This lasted for a few hours into early afternoon, and a good cast with a drag-free drift over a working fish often drew a good take.  We took dozens of chunky rainbows and browns along with an occasional cutthroat trout.  Each day we fished a different section of river, each with its own character, and did well.  I used one fly for almost all of the fish I took on top - I had to switch to another once in a while as the fly would get totally water logged.  Once it dried though, it went back on the end of my 6X tippet.  It took a beating all three days, but it stood the test as you can see here.  It's now retired.


I know it sounds like it was easy fishing, and for the most part it was, but it wasn't like every cast got a strike.  We got plenty of refusals, and even more drifts that were not even getting a look.  These fish wanted a perfect drift!  The other thing is that the wading was not easy.  The bottom is strewn with round, slippery rocks of all sizes that make it much more difficult than it looks in the photos.  Also, the water is very clear and as you can see below it looks fairly shallow, it is not.  Right in front of where I took that photo the water was a good 2 feet deep, and across the way on the other side of that big rock, it's 4 feet or so - we know, we tried to cross there. 


We had a blast and I hope to get back there sometime soon.  I do want to thank the guys at Vail Valley Anglers as they were very generous with information and all around nice guys.  If you are ever in Vail or Beaver Creek Colorado, be sure to go see them. 

LINK: Vail Valley Anglers

I'm off to Montana tomorrow morning - I'll report back when I return.

Sharpen your hooks!      

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