Flyfishing – It’s not just for summer anymore
For many locals and tourists alike, fishing is a summer activity that merely fills the time between ski seasons.
But, in reality, the Vail Valley, and all of Eagle County, is a fishing hot spot throughout the entire year. In fact, fishing can provide an excellent alternative to skiing and snowboarding, when there’s a shortage of powder on the mountain, or whenever the body might need a rest.
For area fishing guides, Todd Redd and Ron “Billy Ray” Shaw, who work for the Vail Rod and Gun Club, also known as the Lazy J. Ranch, the fall and winter are some of the best times for beginners and experts alike to get in the water and try their luck in some of the finest fishing waters in the world.
“In the fall, the brown trout start spawning and get really aggressive,” said Shaw, who has worked at the Rod and Gun Club for nine seasons. “Even the Rainbows are active. The water starts to cool off, and get a little lower, and the pockets start getting back together. It makes for ideal “Fall Bugger’ fishing and “nymph’ fishing in the winter.”
The stretch of water of choice for Redd and Shaw is the one they work on year round. The private, four-mile stretch of the Eagle River between Edwards and Wolcott that the Rod and Gun Club calls home is beautiful. It is on par with anything you can find in North America.
“I compare this four miles of water to anywhere I’ve fished in Montana,” said Redd, who hails from the fly-fishing mecca of Helena, Mont. “It’s been catch-and-release on those four miles for 25 years. There are literally generations of fish on that river.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the sport, that’s where Redd, Shaw and their co-workers from the Rod and Gun Club come in. Speaking from experience, these guys can get you outfitted, trained in casting, into the water and have a fish on your line in the span of a couple of hours.
For the more experienced fisherman, they can get beyond in-depth on the finer points of fly fishing and all the things you’ll need to know to catch “the big one,” regardless of the season.
“Once you start fishing, you’re hooked,” said Redd. “It’s also a great way to take a break from skiing, which is pretty much all you can do out here in the winter. We have the waders, all the equipment you’ll need and the water is just five minutes away. We’re only fifteen minutes from Beaver Creek and we do shuttle service down here for people who want to fish in the winter.”
The Gore Creek in Vail is also home to some of the best catch-and-release fishing in the country. Ten-year local Brian Price, who lived along the banks of the Gore for eight years, is sold on the fishing there at any time of year.
“The summer is the best on the Gore,” said Price. “But in the winter, with the right fly, that whole stretch between Vail and the confluence of the Eagle is amazing. If you use any kind of nymph and just bounce it off the bottom where the fish are, you’ll more than likely catch something.”
So, get out in the water by yourself, or call the experts at The Vail Rod and Gun Club and let them get you out there. Contact the Vail Rod and Gun Club at 926-3472 for reservations.
David L’Heureux is a freelance writer based in Vail.
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