Labor Day weekend fishing report for the Vail Valley
Special to the Daily
The hot days of summer can be a killer for our beloved trout in the shallow waters of the Eagle River.
Trout thrive in cold water, which is why there are so many great fisheries in the high country. However, this time of year the water heats up and can make for dangerous conditions for the fish.
This is a great time to practice the best catch-and-release techniques that we can. Keeping those trout that you catch in the water and releasing them quickly will help support the bright future for our rivers. I’m going to cover some different ways to keep the fish alive and to ensure your impact on our local trout is nothing but positive during the dog days of summer.
a water habitat
Seeing dead fish in the water is a heartbreaker for me. Seeing dead fish in the water with hand marks on their sides really frustrates me.
Before you handle a fish, be sure to wet your hands. Trout have a protective “slime” on their skin to prevent the growth of bacteria, when we grab fish with our dry hands or use non-rubber nets, we remove that protective layer and open that fish to the likely possibility of bacterias entering their systems.
The rise and use of rubber basket nets is great for trout fishing. Rubber nets, when wet, keep the fish safe when landing and removing the hook. Keep the net basket in the water while using hemostats or small pliers to remove the hook.
Fish live in water. We live on land. When we remove the fish from the water, it is unable to breathe.
I like to think about how long, if at all, I keep my fish out of the water. Try holding your breath for longer than 15 seconds, now try doing that after you sprinted for a hundred yards. Fish are exhausted after being hooked and fought. They are trying to get oxygen back into their system and when we take them out of the water, we are adding extra stress and fatigue to that fish.
GET THE SHOT
Fish pictures are what all of us catch-and-release anglers strive for, however, it is counterproductive if the fish die as a result of removing them from the water for a Kodak moment.
Try taking pictures of the fish in the net next to your hand to show size or if you have a GoPro, then take a picture of the fish underwater. Most of the time, underwater shots or creative “in net” shots are a lot cooler looking than the classic “grip and grin” shot.
The use of barbless hooks is essential to quick and safe releases. As anglers, we should be keeping tension off the hook while fighting fish, eliminating the need for a barb. Using barbless hooks makes it simple, if not effortless to remove the hook from a stuck fish.
The quicker the hook is removed from the fish, the less stress we are putting on our catch.
Proper handling of trout is essential for the longevity of their life and the quality of fish in any given fishery. We are very lucky to have a striving river to fish in our valley, however, it is our job as anglers to keep the fish healthy and alive.
Use of barbless hooks and rubber nets are items that help us protect the fish we catch. It is up to us to eliminate or limit the amount of pictures we are taking while handling the fish. Remember, keep ’em wet, keep ’em alive.
Eagle River Fishing Report
Wade fishing is prime right now on the Eagle River.
The water is at a very low level, making it easy to sight fish to hungry trout. Fish are eating small midge and blue wing olive patterns dropped below a mid sized golden stone nymph. Small trico hatches are happening in the morning and sporadically throughout the day.
Take some time when approaching a section of the river and analyze what is going on. Dry dropper rigs are working well to target fishing in the upper columns of the river. When nymphing, be sure to add split shots to get the flies down quick in the faster water. When hooked up using small flies, it’s very important to keep pressure and tension on the hook otherwise the fish will likely come loose.
Streamers are working well in the early evening on the lower Eagle to target large hungry brown trout.
Use the tips in this article to avoid exhausting fish, especially during the warmest part of the day into the evening.
Get out there and have some fun.
Ray Kyle is the shop supervisor and a guide at Vail Valley Anglers. He can be reached at 970-926-0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.