Fishing conditions vary
Special to the Daily
Late summer can be both a blessing and a curse for fly fishermen in the Rocky Mountains.
The water is low and clear, which makes trout easier to find but a little spooky. The big hatches have tapered off but trout are still willing to rise to terrestrials like ants and hoppers. The weather is usually warm and predictable, but afternoons often bring wind or the occasional thunderstorm. Finally, the trout are fat and happy and perhaps not quite as aggressive as they were a month ago, but as summer winds down they continue to feed regularly in anticipation of winter.
Here in the Vail area, we are blessed with much better fly-fishing conditions and cool water in our fisheries unlike some of our neighboring states. For the best fishing, get out early and fish until mid-morning, then sneak in an evening session before sunset.
The upper Colorado River between Pumphouse and Dotsero is fishing fairly well. The water is as clear as it ever gets on the Colorado River. While the water is warming a bit, the trout are in no danger and higher than average flows are keeping the river well oxygenated. Insect hatches now consist mainly of small mayflies from size Nos. 18-22. PMDs, BWOs and Tricos hatch daily, and with cloudy weather there will be exceptional numbers of rising fish. The terrestrial bite has been good as well with more hoppers showing up along the river bank each day. As is typical of mid-August, the best fishing occurs early and late but on cloudy days the trout will eat aggressively all day long.
Hot Flies: Renegade, Patriot, Adams Parawulff, Chubby Chernobyl, Micromayfly, Drowned Trico, Rainbow Warrior.
The Eagle River
Flows continue to drop on the Eagle and the water is crystal clear. The best fishing is happening between Minturn and Wolcott, where water temps are still ideal. On the lower river near Gypsum, fish are still biting but they are mostly found in faster water and eat best early in the morning. Hatches consist mainly of Tricos, BWOs and midges. This is the time of year when nymphing with tiny emerger patterns is the most effective way to catch trout on the Eagle River. However, don’t overlook the opportunity to catch fish on attractor dry flies like a small Royal Wulff in faster pocket water.
Hot Flies: Sparkle RS-2, Barr’s BWO Emerger, Black Beauty, Royal Wulff, PMX, Patriot.
The Roaring Fork River
Higher than average flows on the Fork have the river fishing fairly well. The lower River from Carbondale to Glenwood Springs has a lot of algae growing right now making nymphing with added weight and long leaders an all-day exercise in cleaning your flies. The better bet is to fish a larger hopper pattern suspending a couple of small dropper flies. The middle and upper Fork from Aspen down to Carbondale is fishing very well with cold water and plenty of insect hatches still happening. Drakes, caddis and PMDs are still present.
Hot flies: Chubby Chernobyl, X2 Caddis, Ants, Beetles, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail, Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear, Quasimodo PT
Brody Henderson is a senior guide at Vail Valley Anglers in Edwards and can be reached at 970-926-0900.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.