Late summer offers anglers in and around the Vail Valley many opportunities for catching trout in a wide variety of settings.
Big rivers such as the Colorado, Roaring Fork and the Eagle River as well famous tailwaters like the Yampa, Blue and Frying Pan rivers are all fishing very well. Wading and float fishing are both excellent options right now. For fly-fishermen seeking a little solitude along with some willing trout, a hike into one of the area’s many productive creeks is often a forgotten destination. Most of the region’s many drainages have a small stream that holds water year-round and has a resident population of wild trout.
The fly-fishing for these trout is usually a simple affair. Those anglers willing to walk the extra mile will find better fishing away from trailheads and parking lots. A small chest pack loaded with a box of attractor dry flies, some tippet and floatant and a few tools is all that is necessary to catch plenty of fish. Often, different species of trout can be encountered and it is not uncommon to find cutthroats, brookies, rainbows and browns all in the same creek. Give creekin’ a try and you may leave the bigger, more popular rivers behind for a while.
Not a river at all, but a small stream that originates at Piney Lake north of Vail and quickly descends through miles of public land, through a few miles of private property and once again onto public land before joining the Colorado River just upstream from State Bridge. Hike down from the Piney Lake area and fish back up or fish upstream from the confluence with the Colorado. Pocket water and plunge pools give way to meadow stretches below the lake and above the Colorado it is mostly pocket water. All four species of trout are present.
This creek drains out of the Holy Cross Wilderness outside of Minturn before hitting the Eagle River. Access is easy from Tigiwon Road or near the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. Again all four species of trout live in this stream and there are miles of public water. It is a classic mountain creek water with pockets and deep plunge pools that may hold a better than average cutthroat. Great fishing can be found by hiking upstream from the trailhead off of Tigiwon Road.
Two branches of Brush Creek join to form the main branch that flows through the town of Eagle. Both are accessed with a drive up Sylvan Lake Road south of town. East Brush Creek flows through Yeoman Park and is a mix of riffles and meadow water with scattered beaver ponds. Browns and brook trout are caught here. West Brush Creek drains out of Sylvan Lake flows through thick willows and beaver ponds and holds mostly brown trout with a few brookies and rainbows. The two combine to form the main stem of Brush Creek which flows through private ranchland before reaching Eagle. Through town there are a couple miles of public access which holds much larger browns and rainbows than one might expect for a small stream. This is easily fished meadow water with grassy banks that fish well with hopper flies.
Deep Creek plunges out of the Flat Tops Wilderness area from Deep Lake down to the Colorado River just north of Dotsero. All but the last mile or so flows through public land. Access is easy from the parking area at Coffee Pot Road where there are campsites and a restroom. The further upstream one hikes, the better the fishing gets. This is a rocky stream with boulders that create deep holes. The lower portion of Deep Creek is dominated by brown trout, and some are large specimens that swim up from the Colorado River. Upstream, brookies, cutthroats and rainbows are all common catches.
These are just a few of the great creeks this area has to offer. Other good options include East and West Lake Creek, Beaver Creek and the very upper portions of Gore Creek and Ten-Mile Creek. Hike-in guided trips are available on many of these small streams through Vail Valley Anglers. For more information on where to access some outstanding small stream fly fishing, contact the guys from Vail Valley Anglers at the fly shop in The Riverwalk at Edwards or check out the website vailvalleyanglers.com.
Brody Henderson is a senior guide at Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards and can be reached at 970-926-0900.