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Vail Valley fishing report

Alpine River Outfitters
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyWith runoff season making some local rivers tough to fish, some alpine lake fishing may be in order.
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As high water continues through the next few weeks, high alpine lakes and reservoirs are starting ice off.

These still bodies of water are potentially great alternatives to fishing high water runoff. That is if you can get to them. Trails more than likely have lots of snow pack or even impassable. But as summer continues to keep moving forward so will the access to these bodies of water.

The window of available food for these fish is much shorter than lower elevation streams or rivers. If the opportunity arises to feed fish will take it. Fish that don’t feed will not survive the winter.



High elevation lakes offer a multitude of challenges that are not commonly present on moving bodies of water. The effort required to get to these lakes is half the joy. Taking in the scenery and wildlife is all part of the journey. But catching a wild fish is an additional bonus.

The potential for getting a grand slam and catching dozens of fish is much higher. The fish receive less pressure and are more than willing to eat. The window for fishing these bodies of water is very short, usually from mid-June to late-September.



Typically water is crystal clear and completely still. Fish can easily be spotted which means that they can see you too. Sight fishing offers a great challenge. Back casts from banks can be very difficult if there are trees.

Often there is deadfall in the water where fish can seek refuge and break your line. Because the clarity of the water, fish are picky as far as what they eat. If it is not perfect presentation, good luck.

Gulpers are great fun to target as well. These fish are sipping food just below the water’s surface. Typically they will rise three to four times before picking a new feeding line. The challenge lies in trying place the fly at the end of their feeding line with perfect presentation.



If presenting dry files to gulpers is more of a challenge than what you want; stripping streamers is always a favorite. Fish in high lakes see streamers as big meal which means less work for more calories.

In addition to the methods mentioned above nymphing is a much slower-paced fishing technique. Using large callibaetis or chironomid patterns is a must. These are species that are specific to still bodies of water. Other specific species are dragon and damsel flies, scuds, crane flies and various terrestrials from beetles to ants.

As our waters continue rage, wading is very dangerous. Floating still provides the greater advantage.

The Eagle is dropping and clarity has been better due to colder nights. The Colorado is mellowing out and the salmon fly hatch is picking up. The Gore is raging and barely fishable.

For hot flies contact Alpine River Outfitters.


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