Vail Valley fishing report
Vail, CO Colorado
It’s that time of year where the High Country comes rushing down. Many anglers shift from fishing to other mountain sports until rivers come down and hatches start exploding.-
Summer, yeah that’s what we’re waiting for. But don’t take too much time off. The big bugs are on their way and the best hatch of the year is about to pop. The giant salmon fly is what we’re talking about and it’s 10 days away from hatching on the upper Colorado.-
The end of May and beginning of June can be spectacular. This event depends on the clarity of the river at the time of the hatch. Look for the “bigger fish” of the river to show up for this buffet of intense feeding. This hatch usually comes and goes quick so be on your game.
The salmon fly is favored by anglers across the West. Anglers are known to chase this hatch to the point of being clinically insane. The salmon fly is unique and beautiful at the adult stage.-
The salmon fly nymph lives in the river system (canyon stretches) for up to 4 years before maturing and climbing to shore to hatch.Every year in late May and early June the mature nymphs will let go of the rocks, crawl out of the water, and climb onto an alder tree, rock, log, or any out-of-water subject to molt from their nymph stage and become a flying adult.
The nymphs usually make up the largest bio mass in the river that’s not a fish and are very important to the diet of trout. Trout will and do feed on the nymphs all year long.- At the adult stage the salmon fly is about 1.5-2 inches in length (size 2-4 dry fly). The adult will fly around for two weeks in search of their mate.-
After mating males will die and females will return to water to lay their eggs. This can be the best time to fish the hatch. Once the salmon fly starts to hatch, the major emergences will be first light and last light as the nymph is used to low light conditions.-
At those times (morning and evening) using a salmon fly dry and dropping a Stone below it 18 inches is very effective. –
The best tactic is to fish up stream targeting the banks as the fish will migrate there to feed. At times, you can see fish in the middle of the river but the true game lies within the first three feet of the shore.
Scott Graham is a fishing guide for Alpine River Outfiters. He can be reached at (970) 926-0900.
Some key salmon fly hatches in Colorado (All first week of June)
– Colorado River in Gore Canyon
– Black Canyon of the Gunnison
– Colorado River in Byers Canyon
– Lake Fork of the Gunnison
Flies: Dry imitations sizes 2-4 morris foam salmon, 2-4 sofa pillow, 2-4 clark’s stone, 2-4 double humpy orange. nymph imitations sizes 4-8 pats rubber leg (olive, black, brown), 4-8 pteronarcy’s nymph, 4-8 bitch creek, 6-8 halloween bugger, 8-10 hale bopp leech (black, brown)
The Eagle and Gore: The Eagle and the Gore are in full run-off at this time and are very unsafe for wading. If you’re going to fish, please be very careful and watch where you’re wading. We expect them to fish well towards the beginning to mid-June.