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Vail Valley fishing report

Brody Henderson
Vail, CO Colorado

We have finally reached the time for which we’ve all been waiting.

After a couple weeks of record-breaking flows on area rivers, the snowpack has subsided and rivers are dropping to fishable flows. For the next several weeks, fly fishing around the valley will remain outstanding with many options available to fly anglers.

After a long cool spring and a fast and high run-off it is time to get out there and enjoy the best fly fishing of the year.



The Eagle, in particular, has dropped to floatable levels and is clear as well. The Roaring Fork River has also dropped significantly over the last several days. The Colorado River remains high and off color for now and fly fisherman should focus their efforts elsewhere.

Local lakes are fishing well and the High Country streams are becoming accessible as the snowpack has receded. Both the trout and anglers are anticipating an explosion of hatches that will offer the best dry fly fishing of the year. After fighting heavy off color water for several weeks the trout will be hungry and aggressively feeding.



For the time being, wade fishermen should remain cautious on larger rivers like the Eagle and Roaring Fork as flows are still high enough to be challenging, and instead should key in on smaller streams like Gore Creek, Homestake Creek or area tailwaters like the Yampa.

Float fisherman, however, are looking forward to two epic hatches on two separate rivers.

On our local river the Eagle, all eyes are watching for the post run-off caddis hatch. This tan moth-like bug begins to hatch on the Eagle as flows recede and as water temperatures climb above 50 degrees. Large swarms of the bugs will hatch in the mornings and later the females will return to the water to lay their eggs.



All of this surface activity will have the trout looking up for emerging insects and egg layers throughout the day. Generally speaking this hatch lasts several weeks and is the primary food source for the trout in the Eagle River from late June through themonth of July.

Soft hackle nymphs imitate the emerging insects well under the surface and dry flies such as a stimulator or elk-hair caddis will grab the attention of fish looking to eat adult caddis flies floating on the surface. Look for fish feeding in the softer water near the banks as well as near submerged rocks and in riffle areas.

As the hatch progresses through July, both the numbers and size of the caddis diminish but fish will still eat caddis imitations long after the peak of the hatch. Other insects to watch out for on the Eagle as flows drop and the water warms are pale morning dun mayflies and yellow Sally stoneflies.

The next four-six weeks is prime time on the Eagle River. Our local river continues to produce great catches of healthy wild rainbows, browns and the occasional cutthroat trout and should only get better in the future as the restoration efforts near Edwards continue.

Down the road through Glenwood Canyon another renowned trout stream is about to be home to the scene of some fantastic fishing. The Roaring Fork River is designated a gold medal trout stream from the town of Basalt downstream nearly 25 miles to the confluence with the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs.

The “Fork” is a larger river than the Eagle and has all the hallmarks of a classic western freestone trout river including large wild trout and great hatches. These hatches include the famous green drake mayfly.

The late June to early July emergence of this large olive colored mayfly draws anglers from across the country for a good reason. Because the green drake hatches in large numbers and itself is a large insect, the trout, even the large wary specimens, become aggressive and greedy during the emergence of the drakes.

Floating the Roaring Fork offers the best opportunities to cover water and search for feeding fish, but wade fishermen can do well staking out the tail outs of large pools in the evening and waiting for the fish to begin rising. Anglers can do well imitating the drake nymph with prince nymphs and for the adults on the surface a large parachute adams or royal wulff will work well.

Trophy-sized rainbows and browns are a definite possibility on the Fork during the famous Green Drake hatch. Often, while the drakes are hatching insects such as caddis, and stoneflies will also be present and the fish may be eating a variety of bugs throughout the course of any given day.

As July proceeds, the green drake hatch will move steadily upstream towards the upper Roaring Fork near Aspen and towards the Ruedi Reservoir dam on the Frying Pan River allowing an angler to follow the hatch for a few weeks.

These two important insect hatches are just a couple of the options area fly fishermen can look forward to in the coming weeks but they are certainly two of the most significant. Stop by our shop in Edwards for updates on these hatches as well as conditions on all of our regional trout water.

Summer has finally arrived and both the fish and the anglers are excited about it.

Brody Henderson is guide for Alpine River Outfitters. He can be reachedat 970-926-0900.


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