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Vail Valley Fishing Report

Miles Comeau
Vail, CO Colorado
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Runoff is here.

It may not be the best fishing of the season but it does mean that the good stuff is on its way. As for now, look at it as a time to challenge your knowledge and your line-management skills.

While water levels are rising and dropping weekly and water clarity comes and goes, your ability to read water and know where the fish are becomes essential.



Fish need to eat. With fast water and little clarity, trout will tend to move to the slowest water with the most visibility. Look towards the banks, back eddies, under rock shelves, canyon walls or wide parts of a river with little turbulent water.

As trout are opportunistic feeders, they generally feed when the food is put right in their face. This can be especially true during runoff when feeding is most difficult. With dirty water where low visibility occurs, using big, bright flashy flies with excess movement helps trigger feeding.



Throwing streamers with lots of weight or using extra split on shot nymph rigs will get it where fish are feeding. This weight helps to counteract the effects of swiftly moving currents.

Because water levels can be dangerous and even deadly while wading, floating in a boat is a safer and a more productive option. Slapping streamers on the bank where the water is shallow, slow and clarity is the best often produces consistent results. Nymphing seams and foam lines along banks and behind obstacles is effective as well.

Water temperature has a direct effect on how active trout are. Water temperature also effects the hatching cycles of certain species of aquatic insects. When temperatures reach a magic number, 50 degrees, fish and bugs become more active. Fishing seems more productive with this increased bug activity and the fish take notice.



As long as high elevation snow continues to melt and night time weather is cool, water conditions will remain at the lower end of 50 degrees. In addition to influences of water temperatures, sudden spikes in water flow play a big part with fish activity. With rivers rising several hundred to a few thousand cubic feet per second in a matter of days, this occurrence has a tendency to put fish down.

Something about the sudden change in water flow can sometimes cause them to wait until flows become consistent before feeding normally. And for those who just don’t want to play the guessing game and would rather stick to what they know; fish tail waters, or dam controlled watersheds.

These are mostly consistent in flows, clarity and available food. Just be prepared to fight the masses because you’re not the only one with the same idea.

On our local waters, the Eagle River is flowing at 1650 cubic feet per second and currently dropping. Clarity has vastly improved and will continue until the weather warms up.

On the Colorado, flows are at 2290 CFS and remaining steady. Clarity should improve if temperatures stay on the cooler side. If not, expect clarity to go out the window. The Gore Creek is flowing at 307 CFS and remaining steady. Clarity has vastly improved over the last few days with cooler weather. All flows are as Wednesday. For hot flies and up-to-the-day information call Alpine River Outfitters or stop by the shop in Edwards.


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