Vail Valley fishing report
Vail, CO Colorado
Kokanee salmon are the same species as sockeye salmon with the exception of being land-locked. Salmon are considered anadromous species, which means that they live in saltwater bodies and migrate to freshwater for spawning.
Kokanee, on the other hand, live in freshwater bodies and migrate up the tributaries leading from the lakes for spawning; thus making an amazing day of fishing.
In Almon, which is north of Gunnison and south of Crested Butte, is the East River. In early September the kokanee begin their yearly run to spawn and move up stream of the Roaring Judy Hatchery.
They begin to stack up in pods, so thick you could run from one bank to the other without ever getting wet; wishfully thinking. Nonetheless, the fishing is very good and you can catch fish with one hand behind your back while blindfolded.
These landlocked salmon can reach up to 22 inches, about two pounds, and bring a fight worth its weight in San Juan worms and egg patterns. And to some that might not say a whole lot, but when you catch 15 20-inch fish in two hours, the worm speaks for it self.
The picture perfect kokanee is an ugly hook-jawed, toothy male, with a bright red body and a grey/blue head. The females are smaller in size and do not exhibit the hook jaw. They are both great fighters in short bursts and like to jump and flip.
After getting your fill of salmon, take a short drive up to the tailwaters of the Taylor River for a real challenge. The rainbow trout in these waters are by far some of the biggest and brightest colored fish you might have ever seen. They can exceed 30 inches and can weigh more than 10 pounds.
The real trick is to outsmart these wild giants. They have seen every fly ever tied, and can spit a hook faster than you can set it. And if you don’t show up with you’re A-game and 6X tippet, you might as well just watch the pros, because there is plenty to learn. These fish will school you.
This section is catch and release only, and that is for a very good reason. These fish have been educated. They get pounded on a daily basis all year long. If there is a number one fishing destination in Colorado for elusive and big smart trout, this could easily be it.
For lodging, Almont has a few options. There are handful of cabins along the East River and a hotel; and one, maybe two bars.
For our local waters, the Eagle, Gore and Colorado continue to get better as each day progresses. Nymphing small barr’s emergers and grey RS2s provide the most productive fishing. And for those who don’t like nymphing, streamers and terrestrials work as well. Expect to see midges and blue wing olives with cool weather and cloud cover.
Miles Comeau is guide with Alpine River Outfitters in Edwards. He can be reached at 970-926-0900.