Summer temperatures have consistently been climbing into the 90s and recently the heat has become a concern for both anglers and trout.
Temperatures that are much higher than average have been the norm across much of the country this summer. Until the past week or so, the heat hasn’t really been a problem for our local trout but now we are seeing warm waters that have the potential to stress trout, and this is a good reason to lay off the fishing and give the trout a break in the afternoon.
While fishing in the morning remains good, conditions later in the day are not ideal when the sun is high and bright. Our trout are in no immediate danger as long they are played quickly and released without unnecessary handling. On the Roaring Fork River, the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife has requested a voluntary closure from the Westbank boat ramp down to the confluence with the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs.
On the upper Colorado River the Bureau of Land Management recommends fishing only during morning hours. With recent increases in flows on both the Colorado and the Fork, these conditions may soon be remedied with cooler water temperatures.
There is no need to panic and area anglers can still expect great fishing on all area streams. Exercise common sense and try to be off the river by lunchtime and avoid fishing in the afternoon on lower-elevation rivers like the Colorado.
Water temperatures tend to be coolest at dawn and warmest in late afternoon and early evening, which means mornings are the most productive time to catch trout because it may be difficult to find willing fish later in the day.
The news is not all bad and the Eagle in particular is staying cool from the headwaters down to Wolcott and Gore Creek also remains cold. Perhaps the best solution to beating the heat on the bigger rivers is to head uphill to the high country.
Creeks and lakes at higher elevations have stayed consistently within the comfort zone of trout and fishing has been excellent. A recent trip to Sylvan Lake State Park yielded all four species of trout on Sylvan Lake and upper Brush Creek.
We are lucky enough here in Eagle County to have a laundry list of small streams and lakes that are unaffected by this summer’s heat wave. Check out Deep Creek on the edge of the Flattops or hike into the Holy Cross Wilderness for a great angling expedition on East Lake Creek.
In the Flattops Wilderness, try the upper portions of the White River for a true backcountry fly fishing experience.
When you tire of smaller brook trout and cutthroats that are eager to attack dry flies on a small high country creek, try one of Colorado’s premiere tail-water fisheries. These streams remain cold throughout the summer due to bottom draw flows released from deep mountain reservoirs.
These streams tend to grow larger than average rainbows and browns. The Taylor, Frying Pan, Blue and Yampa Rivers are all within easy driving distance from the Vail Valley and make for a fantastic day trip.
Keep updated on local fly fishing conditions by checking in with the guys at the Vail Valley Anglers shop in Riverwalk in Edwards. They will show you the hot flies and point you in the right direction for the best fishing our part of Colorado has to offer.
Brody Henderson is a senior guide with Vail Valley Anglers and can be reached at 970-926-0900.