Vail Valley fishing report |

Vail Valley fishing report

Miles Comeau
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyKeep the river clean so you can catch trout like this one. The Eagle River clean-up is Saturday.

Wandering down an abandoned railroad track with my lab Drake, I begin to take notice of the relics littered along the banks of the Eagle River and the base of Gilman Canyon.

Parts from trains, abandoned mines, cars that have rolled hundreds of feet to the canyon floor and boulders teetering hundreds of feet high, various winterkills, and odds and ends of junk from who knows where.

Some places in Colorado are a time warp. Gilman Canyon is this and a physical timeline of Colorado’s history and its inhabitants. Just walking through this amazing geologic formation you can get a glimpse into the past where commerce in Colorado revolved around boom towns, trains, and mining.

Mining economically shaped the west, established many towns in Colorado and created a way of life for families. With discoveries of gold, silver, and various heavy metals, towns were created overnight, numerous jobs made, and an environmental scar left so deep that it would span multiple generations before acknowledged as an issue.

Mining tailings are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable product from the worthless product of an ore. In the past, non-environmentally friendly methods were the method of the day. This severely impacted Colorado’s wildlife, waterways and what was pristine landscape.

Poor mining practices have decimated some of Colorado’s greatest trout streams and rivers. Within a few decades of opening a mine, most, if not all the native fish in a waterway were depleted while polluting water downriver.

In 1986, the EPA closed the Gilman Mine and declared it a superfund. This is a federal act to clean up hazardous sites that poses danger to public health and the environment.

In 1988, the cleaning process began and in 2000 a report by the EPA concluded that clean-up operations had substantially reduced public health risks and improved the water quality in the Eagle River.-

After removing mining operations from the upper Eagle, more than two decades later, native trout populations have returned. The fishing is strong and healthy populations of brown trout are abundant with the occasional rainbow and cutthroat being caught. This is a prime example of how highly-polluted waterways can be reclaimed and still produce native healthy spawning populations of fish.

The Eagle River Watershed Council is hosting an Eagle River cleanup after a busy summer in the valley. The event starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, and is the largest of its kind. It is expected to bring together more than 300 volunteers. Individuals who would like to volunteer their time can contact the Eagle River Watershed Council at 970-827-5406 or contact Sue Mott at 970-926-3656 for details.-

Regardless of whether you are an angler, boater, or any one who appreciates taking care of what you have, get out there, make new friends and celebrate one of the valley’s greatest resources.

On the Gore flows are 32 cubic feet per second (CFS) with great clarity. Tricos are abundant in the mornings and evenings. Emerging midges, blue wing olives, and autumn sedge caddis are prevalent as well. Keep to the 6X tippet and perfect presentation with the bigger trout.

The Eagle is flowing at 110 CFS. Terrestrials are fishing well with the majority of fish keying in on subsurface food. Emerging blue wing olives, z-wing caddis, and Baetis imitations work for nymphs.-

-For the upper Colorado, flows are at a steady 1,120 CFS with exceptional clarity. Dry fly action has been great early morning and late evening. Keep to nymphing fast pocket water during the heat of the day.

Miles Comeau is an guide of Alpine River Outfitters in Edwards. He can be reached at 970-926-0900.

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