Vail Valley: Let your lines fly |

Vail Valley: Let your lines fly

Mary Kelley Zeleskey
Mary Kelly Zeleskey, left, casts her line into A sweet spot pointed out by Vail Valley Anglers' fly fishing guide Brett Elkman Monday on the Eagle River near Eagle-Vail.

EAGLE COUNTY – Whether you are on the water as the sun is rising or setting, there is no better way to spend a quiet morning or relaxing evening than by fly fishing on the river.

Although you might not always catch something, the whole experience is exciting whether you are fishing from a boat or standing in the chilly waters.

With phrases like “strip the line,” “mend” and “set the hook,” fly fishing takes determination, focus and a lot of patience. Knowing how to accomplish a good cast while staying relaxed is key when attempting to catch a fish.

“Fly fishing is a sport that engages you both physically and mentally,” said John Cochran, general manager of Vail Valley Anglers. “It is a lifetime accumulation of knowledge and it can be done on just about any continent on the globe.”

According to Brett Elkman, fishing guide and manager of Vail Valley Anglers, the visibility, temperature and speed of the water are all factors that go into knowing when and where it is best to fish.

He said that the low water levels can actually make the fishing easier. However, the temperature fluctuates more when the water levels are lower.

The guides of Vail Valley Anglers usually try to be out on the water as early as 6:30 in the morning when the water is cooler and fish have a better chance of being caught.

“It’s not that the fish will not eat in the afternoon, it’s that they cannot recover because the water temperature increases,” said Cochran. “There is less dissolved oxygen in the water and it is harder for them to regain their composure after you get in a boxing match with them in the river.”

Vail Valley Anglers primarily guides on the Eagle, Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers, the tributaries that come into those rivers and some private ranches they can access.

They also use a lot of different high country lakes and streams as well as what they call secondary rivers such as Gore Creek in Vail.

“It (fly fishing) takes you to the most beautiful places in the world,” said Cochran. “There is always another body of water, there is always another place and there is always another river.”

In general, Vail Valley Anglers operates year-round but spring, summer and fall are really productive times for fishing.

Cochran said that fishing in March can be out of control.

“It is an endless search and a quest to cover as much as you can in your life,” said Cochran. “It is never ending and that is really the appeal of fly fishing for a lot of people and also the peace and quiet and serenity.”

Although it is best to fish in the early mornings or evenings, the sun can be bright when glaring off of the clear water so don’t forget to bring your polarized sunglasses.

Although you might leave with a tired arm, hopefully you end up having caught a fish or two. A little skill goes a long way in this sport.

Other local fly fishing companies include Minturn Anglers, Gore Creek Fly Fisherman, Fly Fishing Outfitters and Eagle River Anglers, to name a few.

Mary Kelley Zeleskey is an intern at the Vail Daily and can be reached at 970-777-3120.

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