Fishing report: The guide to local spring fishing
Vail Valley and surrounding Western Slope river drainages are in a transition stage currently and are experiencing start-and-stop spring runoff conditions.
This had made for doable but challenging angling on local rivers. Generally speaking, we are lucky to have made it this far into spring with fishable water and everyone including anglers and boaters should be grateful for all of the late snow we received this year which should help to alleviate last year’s drought conditions and fire danger.
Eagle River and Gore Creek
Our two main local fisheries have seen up-and-down runoff conditions recently. Although right now flows are down, as soon as temperatures climb, runoff is unavoidable. High, off-color water will put a damper on fishing. Be safe and avoid wading at all in these conditions. Floaters should watch out for hazardous strainers and other dangers.
Fish can still be caught near the banks in slower, clearer water with large attractor and stonefly nymphs, attractor dries and streamers. Try upstream near Minturn. Look for areas where trout can hold without expending too much energy.
Flies: Pat’s Rubberleg Nos. 6-10 brown and black, Fly Formerly Known as Prince Nos. 12-16, Rubber Leg 20-incher Nos. 8-14,Peacock Stimulator Nos. 10-14, Olive Conehead Bugger Nos. 4-8.
Conditions are still pretty good near Pumphouse as the Denver Water Board fills reservoirs. This stretch of the Colorado could remain fishable through runoff. The big salmon-fly hatch is here and the nymphs and adults are on the move. Don’t miss the hatch. Floating has been a great option or try hiking into Gore Canyon.
The Colorado is high, off color and unfishable below State Bridge
Flies: Pat’s Rubber Leg Nos. 4-8 Black, Kauffman’s Stone Nos. 6-10, Rogue River Stone Nos. 4-8,Bitch Creek Nos. 4-8, Peacock PMX Nos. 6-10.
Roaring Fork River
The Fork has been on a similar path as the Eagle. Runoff has begun, but, for now, flows are down from last week and the upper river is still fishable, although higher than ideal for wade fishing. Try in Woody Creek Canyon near Aspen. The lower river is off-color and flows will rapidly increase with warmer weather. Nymphing slower pockets and runs near the bank will still produce fish for the time being, but soon the Fork will become too high to fish safely.
Flies: Tungsten Prince Nos. 6-12, Pat’s Rubber Leg Tan and Brown Nos. 4-10, Pink San Juan Worm, Black Sculpzilla, Olive Slumpbuster.
Spring runoff is a great time to explore fly fishing opportunities beyond local rivers. Stagecoach Reservoir near Steamboat has some of the best pike fishing in the state. Harvey Gap Reservoir north of New Castle is home to warm water species like bass and panfish in addition to trout and pike. Take a drive down to one of the Front Range’s many ponds and lakes for carp on the flats and great bass fishing.
Soon enough, runoff will be over on local rivers and anglers here will able to focus on all the incredible dry fly fishing for aggressive browns and rainbows on the Eagle, Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers.
Brody Henderson is a senior guide with Vail Valley Anglers and can be reached at 970-926-0900.
Support Local Journalism
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
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.