Fly-fishing: Zen meets rock in river | VailDaily.com
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Fly-fishing: Zen meets rock in river

Austin Richardson

Standing in the river, contemplating how the universe meshes together, casting a line into flowing ripples is a remarkable experience.

Weave together a few friends, a cold river and a little knowledge of trout behavior and good times will certainly follow.

Running through Vail Village, the Gore Creek offers some of the most challenging fishing in Colorado. On the same note, Vail’s famous creek also carries the honor of having been named “Gold Medal Water.” This distinction refers to the pounds of fish per mile in a certain stretch of river. With that kind of clout, the Vail Valley rivals the legendary Roaring Fork Valley in numbers of large fish to be landed.

However, it should be noted that with the tag of “Gold Medal Water” also comes a few stipulations.

The first qualifier in fishing these storied caches is catch and release. To keep the lunkers in the river, anglers are asked to put them back. In order to give these fish a chance of survival, it is imperative that fishermen don’t wear the trout down to the point of them not being able to recover. This requires a minimal amount of handling and making sure the fish isn’t out of the water for an extended period of time. In other words, don’t play the fish until it’s dead.

Another stipulation on fishing “Gold Medal Waters” is using only artificial lures. Dry and wet flies are allowed on Gore Creek, worms are not.

In other parts of Eagle County, spin-cast fishermen can ply their tackle with more abandon. Fast running parts of the Eagle River, all the way west to Dotsero and the Colorado River, are prime targets for fishermen of all types.

Further west, the confluence of the Gore Creek and the Eagle River near Dowd Junction offers a great opportunity for angling. Although the best spots in the river are accessible by wading, it’s not absolutely necessary to stand in the river.

Stalking trout in the river requires patience. Quick steps in the river aren’t advisable, because trout have been conditioned to respond to disturbances in the river. Moss-covered rocks can be quite tricky, so proceed cautiously while wading in the river. Another safety measure not to be overlooked while wearing waders is the belt. The same principle that keeps water out of waders also keeps it in. A belt, cinched tight around the waist outside the waders, can keep the majority of water out. Every fly fisherman has fallen into the river at one time or another ” it’s inevitable. To increase the chances of survival in the river after a fall, it is very important to be able to stand up. Allowing waders to fill completely can be a life threatening situation.

To increase chances of success, treat trout like elusive prey. Shadows trigger a trout’s natural response to hide. It’s an ancient defense mechanism that has been bred into its ancestors still swimming upstream today. Predators from above are the main culprit in this evolutionary twist.

Conditions make the outing. Overcast skies with clouds hanging low can make a fishing day lots of fun. Because trout are so sensitive to changes in lighting patterns, not having the sun directly overhead can be a benefit. Stalking trout is made much easier when they aren’t being tipped off by a shadow.

Cast upstream into pools beside the banks and behind large rocks or “sleepers” where eddies exist for the best results. Watch for areas in the stream where “foam” collects on the surface of the water as these are natural collection points for a trout’s food.


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