It is definitely time to go creekin’
If you have always dreamed of a place to fly-fish where trout rise to your dry fly on every cast, then you had better pay attention. A short hike from your car can put you right in the middle of some of the best dry fly-fishing you have ever seen. These fish might not be the biggest fish on the block but what they lack in size they make up for in aggressiveness. Many of the tributaries that feed the Eagle and Colorado River systems offer the beginning angler opportunities to catch eager trout on dry flies all day long.
For the past several weeks, I have been exploring several of these streams and have a new found hobby. When the fishing in the Eagle River seems difficult, you may want to shift gears and grab your little rod and head for the back country streams. Most of these backcountry streams require some effort to get the quality of the fishing. You should plan your day with the weather in mind and head out early. If we are getting thunder showers in the afternoon, then generally you should be on your hike out by mid-afternoon. Whenever you go into the backcountry, always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back and stick to your plan. If you were ever injured or lost, you could take some comfort in the fact that help will be along shortly.
These creeks that I like to fish are smaller by design, therefore require smaller or scaled down fly fishing equipment. I would recommend a rod under 8 feet in a 0, 1, 2, or 3 weight. I also enjoy breaking out the bamboo rod on occasion. It seems fitting to the environment. I will usually use dry flies which makes a floating line is the best choice. Wading sandals with felt on the bottom are easy to carry in and are great to have once you arrive. These streams can be difficult to fish from the bank because of the overhanging trees and bushes so fishing upstream from the middle of the creek is the best. A box of dry flies is a must. In general, attractor patterns like the Royal Wulff, Humpies, and H&L Varient are all you need. You might throw in a small hopper or two for the fun of it. These fish in the smaller streams will readily rise to a dry fly even when there is no active hatch.
I have a backpack that I wear which will also double as my gear bag that I carry a rain jacket, first aid, water for the day, some food, and any additional fly fishing supplies. Insect repellent is a must when traveling into the back country. It is not so much the mosquitos but more the black flies that really can drive you nuts. Another great piece of equipment to have is the Buzz Off clothing from ExOfficio. This clothing will compliment the insect repellent and offer even more protection. Some of my favorite creeks are no further than an hour drive from town and will require a short hike to get to. This week, we took on East Lake Creek. The trail head is just a short drive from Edwards up the Lake Creek Road.
The hike to the creek takes about one hour in from the trailhead and could be rated as moderate. A slight uphill in the beginning and then mostly side hilling all the way to the creek makes the hike enjoyable. Stay on the trail and you will eventually come to a bridge that crosses the creek. This is a great place to start. Downstream from the bridge there are several nice hole that hold both cutthroats and brook trout of decent size. Keep in mind that anything over 12 inches is considered a trophy. I used a Lime Wulff in a size 16 and caught and released over 20 fish all on dries in a 100 yard stretch. Above the bridge offers some great fishing as well.
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For the more adventurous, several more miles up the trail, is a beautiful meadow section with some larger sized Brook Trout and the elusive Cutthroat. I would highly recommend that you do this on an overnight. Going all the way to the meadow in one day is not recommended. Creekin’ is a way to get into the backcountry, get some exercise and enjoy some unbelievable trout fishing. For more information on other productive tributaries stop by the shop in Edwards and see the big guy with the beard.
John Cochran is the owner of Gorsuch Outftters. He can be reached at 926-0900 or visit http://www.gorsuch-outfitters.comVail, Colorado