Vail Valley fishing report
Vail, Co Colorado
When you live in a destination/resort town, you have to share the local amenities with the non-locals. And it’s not that sharing these amenities irritates or bothers us; because we are all here for the same reason, to utilize and enjoy the water.
And when the water gets crowded we wishfully wait for the offseason. When it arrives shortly after Labor Day, it’s the “On-Season” for the locals.
From June until school starts in late summer, the river is shared by both tourist and locals. During this time, it’s as if it were a game to see how many people can fish the post office hole, climbing rock, or the confluence of the Gore and Eagle in one day.This typically continues until the offseason arrives, although at times you can miraculously be the only one on the river.
When you get the water to yourself in the offseason, it becomes contagious and extreme effort is put forth to keep it this way. You move subtly along the banks to avoid being seen, ducking into bushes and hiding behind rocks. Not even saying hello to a friend.
And if you do have to speak to each other, you boldly lie. You tell your buddy the fishing is awful or that there are red quills coming off like crazy, even though you know the fish are eating spent tricos. And he will lie to you and tell you some mularkey about a low-pressure system coming in causing a large abundance of emerging mayflies and midges to come off about a half-a-mile the other direction you were hiking. You shake hands and move in the opposite direction of the amazing low-pressure hatch.
On occasion, you do run into someone along the foot path that you don’t know. And when acknowledging the others presence, it’s no more than a nod or a tip of the cap and maybe a quiet hello in passing.
As the mountains begin to settle in for the winter and the weather gets a little colder you find that the only people you see on the water are the crazy ones. The ones much like you. Who else would be fishing when it’s barely above freezing, overcast with flurries of snow all day? Only the addicts, the fish-aholics, and the madmen find solitude and enjoyment in this weather.
For the madmen, here is what is fishing.
The Eagle is flowing at 122 cubic feet per second (CFS) and the clarity is great. Keep fishing the small stuff in the fast riffles and deep pockets. Use grasshoppers and beetles on top and drop a small copper john or barr’s emerger below. Expect to see random hatches of BWOs as the weather cools and cloud cover becomes available.
The Gore is flowing at 37 CFS with good water clarity. Keep to the 6X and small hairs ears, pheasant tails and BWO emergers. On top, use attractor dries, small tricos, and small terrestrials like ants and beetles. Typically, the fish are spread out and the holes hold only a few fish.
The Colorado is flowing at 1,260 CFS and has good water clarity. Terrestrials are fishing strong and dropping a heavy bead-head nymph below will help get their attention. Try nymphing big black stoneflies along the bottom with a prince nymph behind the stonefly. Keep to the fast water where the fish are staying cool unless they have keyed in on a specific hatch in the shallows.
Miles Comeau is a guide for Alpine River Outfitters in Edwards. He can be reached at 970-926-0900.