The first signs of fall are in the air with cooler night time temperatures and some color beginning to show in the leaves.
With Labor Day weekend in the rearview mirror and kids returning to school, the unofficial end of summer has arrived and local trout streams are much less crowded than a few weeks ago. While the weather may remain summerlike for a couple more weeks, the first frosts of the season are just around the corner.
All of this is good news for anglers in Vail Valley as the fishing tends to pick up in September and remains good through October. Trout sense the coming of winter and feeding intensifies when the water cools after the first few cold nights. Hatches of blue-winged olive mayflies become thicker and more predictable and the hopper fishing remains good through the end of the month. As brown trout prepare for the upcoming fall spawn, they become more territorial and aggressive and fly-fishing with large streamers can put some trophy fish in the net. Whitefish begin schooling and moving toward their spawning areas and the trout follow looking for eggs and insects stirred up by all this activity.
The fishing on the Eagle has been very good recently as monsoons have kept the water higher and cooler than normal. Nymphing with small midge and BWO patterns has been very effective. Most of the trout in the Eagle have moved into deeper runs where they will spend the next several months, but riffles and pocket water is still holding plenty of fish. In this type of water, small hoppers and large ant patterns fished on the surface are still working well.
Hot Flies: Royal PMX No. 16, Skinny Nelson Nos. 18-22, Tungsten JuJu Baetis Nos. 18-22, Parachute Adams Nos. 18-22, Miracle Nymph Nos. 18-22, Tan Sculpzilla Nos. 6-8
The Colorado has held up well all summer with cool water and good fishing. Hoppers, BWOs and tricos are all on the menu currently. The upper Colorado from Pumphouse down to Dotsero tends to really turn on once we have had a couple of hard frosts and is the best fall fishery around. Right now it is hard to beat a hopper pattern suspending a BWO nymph. When cloud cover prevails and large pods of trout begin rising in slower water, they will rarely refuse a small dry fly such as a Parawulff. Some very good streamer fishing will start soon and last through the end of October.
Hot Flies: Olive Micromayfly Nos. 16-20, Two-Bit Hooker Nos. 18-22, Schroeder’s Parachute Hopper Nos. 6-10, Foam Parachute Adams Nos. 18, Tan Fat Albert Nos. 6-10, Black Conehead Woolly Bugger Nos. 4-8, Tequeely Nos. 4-8
The high country season for fly-fishing small streams and lakes is still going strong, and the next couple of weeks are perhaps the best time of the year to hit the trail and target some brookies and cutthroats. Fall colors, bugling elk and ideal weather can be expected on most days. These trout are feeding non-stop and will eat just about any fly that is in the right size range whether nymph, dry or streamer. By the end of September when it starts snowing and temperatures dip below freezing, the fishing up high begins to shut down, so hit Cross Creek, Missouri Lakes, Homestake, Deep Creek and upper Brush Creek while the weather is still cooperating.
Hot Flies: Royal Wulff Nos. 12-18, Foam Ant Nos. 12-18, Prince Nymph Nos. 14-18, Flashback Pheasant Tail Nos. 14-18, Olive Woolly Bugger Nos. 8-12
We expect some excellent fishing for the next several weeks. Our guides love this time of year when the trout are eating and anglers can have entire stretches of river to themselves. For more fishing reports on other area trout streams, stop by the Vail Valley Anglers fly shop in The Riverwalk at Edwards or check out vailvalleyanglers.com.
Brody Henderson is a senior guide for Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards and can be reached at 970-926-0900.