Vail Valley fishing report
Fishing the High Country allows anglers many opportunities not found along more popular rivers and lakes. Anglers can use smaller rods and larger flies as they hike further off the beaten track. Trout are more opportunistic in small High Country streams and lakes as their “peak” seasons are much shorter than their cousins in larger rivers. When I hike into the backcountry, I will only carry in a few dry fly patterns such as royal wulffs and humpys. Most times using a one-fly setup will be all that is required to get some eager and energetic trout bursting to the surface to inhale your fly. What the trout lack in size, they definitely make up in pep. As you reel in the 8-inch cutthroat trout with your two- or three-weight rod, you will come to understand the appeal to backcountry fly fishing. Seeing the fish up close is one more reward as their colors are as bright as the surroundings. In some streams and lakes you can find all four species completing the Colorado Grand Slam – rainbows, browns, cutthroats and brookies. In addition to the fishing, it is not uncommon to come across deer, elk or moose. Occasionally, sightings of other wildlife do occur as well. Popular destinations include the Flat Tops and the Holy Cross wilderness areas for their relative close proximity to the valley and the countless streams and lakes they contain. The Cross Creek Trail and Missouri Lakes Trail are great areas to explore in order to receive a few tugs on your line. Many fisherman have their own secret backcountry spots and I encourage you all to find your own as well. As summer transitions into fall, the weather will become increasingly cold in the backcountry. These next few weeks will be the last opportunity to fish these areas until being filled with deer and elk hunters and eventually snow. Before grabbing your gear and heading into the woods, keep in mind you will be leaving any cell phone signal and roads. Make sure a friend or family member has your itinerary and timeline of your trip complete with your trailhead and destination. Hiking with a friend is encouraged not only to share in the beauty but also to be there in case of emergency. Be sure to pack in plenty of snacks and water, a first aid kit and your camera to capture your adventure. Otherwise, grab your hiking boots and get out there.Joe Montoya is a guide for Alpine River Outfitters in Edwards. He can be reached at 970-926-0900.