This year’s summer fishing is slowly winding down despite continued warm weather.
It was looking like things might get a little tough with low, warm water early in the summer, but Mother Nature bailed out fly fishermen and everyone else in Vail Valley and Central Colorado with cooler temperatures and a strong monsoon season.
Water temperatures dropped and stream flows stayed close to normal ranges. It turned out to be one the best summer fishing seasons we have witnessed in the last decade with lengthy, strong hatches and plenty of willing browns and rainbows.
All of the major river drainages continue to produce great fishing. The standout right now is probably is probably the incredible float fishing to be had on the upper Colorado River between Pumphouse and Burns. The Eagle has also been good for those willing to go with small flies, and on cloudy days the blue-winged olive hatch has the fish feeding steadily.
On the Roaring Fork, deep riffles and holes are holding most of the fish and nymphing has been very productive. Elsewhere, the High Country is about to give up the last of its truly good fishing for the season during the next couple of weeks.
The transition from summer to fall can be a tough one for some anglers after the great conditions and eager trout of a few weeks ago, but the fish are still there and autumn is a great time to target larger fish. Already on the Colorado, some of the larger browns that were suspiciously-absent earlier in the summer have made an appearance and more and more big specimens are being landed each day.
Hatches of small midges and mayflies keep the fish feeding throughout the fall while terrestrial insects such beetles, ants and hoppers will persist for a few more weeks. As we progress into the autumn, streamers will agitate plenty of trout into aggressive and violent strikes. The trout are in the best shape they’ll be in all year after a summer of heavy feeding. Consequently, they’ll fight hard and break light tippets, so lean towards the heavy side when throwing streamer patterns.
Start shifting your attention away from traditional summer feeding lies. Read the water and look for deeper riffles, runs and holes where the majority of the trout will be residing until next spring when flows begin to rise once more. The advantage of fall conditions is found when low water makes trout easier to locate, although not necessarily easier to catch.
A summer of being well educated by fly fishermen and predators, has their survival instincts in high gear. Noisy, splashy wading and sloppy presentations will lead to spooked trout, so make sure they see the fly before they see you.
All of us here at Vail Valley Anglers would like to thank all of our visiting and local customers and anglers for a fantastic summer angling season. Our weekly reports will be shifting to monthly reports through the fall and winter. If you need up to the minute information on local angling conditions in the meantime, stop by the shop or give the guys at the store a call for the latest fishing reports and hot fly tips.
Brody Henderson is a senior guide at Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards. He can be reached at 970-926-0900.