Val Valley fishing report
Vail, CO Colorado
“I just ripped it out of its mouth, again! This isn’t a bass master tournament, Miles,” I mumbled under my breath.
I then curse myself, curse the fish and knowingly turn around to receive a few “you blew it and it was big,” comments from the guys in the boat.
It never fails that as soon as dry fly fishing turns on it takes a handful of perfect hook sets before I get the routine down and land a fish. I have targeted fish with dry flies countless times, placed a fly perfectly under low-hanging trees, in tight pockets, mended the line ever so delicately and inevitability rip the fly right out of the fishes mouth.
When I lived in Montana my buddy Josh used to tell me, “Dry fly fishing should be Zen like.”
Did he mean I was supposed to hang some prayer flags off my boat, ring some bells or something and pray before each cast? I seriously doubt it.
But I think he was referring to something bigger than my frame of mind at the time; catching fish.
Every season, when I tie on a dry fly for the first time, nervousness sets in and I start thinking about it too much; high back cast, low forward cast, drop the rod tip, shoot the line, role the line, place the fly, blah, blah, blah.
Then, I see the gentle sip from below the surface, get all excited, forget everything I know, and promptly follow up with a Jimmy Houston hook set! The feeling I receive after missing that fish is the equivalent of rubbing a jalapeno in your eye.
I now realize what Josh was talking about when he said that dry fly fishing should be “Zen like”; it should take patience, focus and appreciation for the art of presenting the fly.
For me, the excitement comes from watching the take. Whether it is the gentle sip on spring creek using 6x tippet and a size 20 BWO or an aggressive brown trout sinking its teeth into a giant orange salmon fly during runoff; it is the fact that fish came to the surface to feed on my offering and I saw it happen.
For Josh, the joy of dry fly fishing was merely a flawless presentation as opposed to the take. But either way, patience and timing is the final step in hooking a fish.
As I have become more accustomed to catching fish on the dry, I have learned patience and timing accounts for 90 percent of properly setting the hook. The other 10 percent is usually dumb luck or playing off a mistake.
As each summer progresses so does my ability to catch fish. Eventually I am focused waiting for the take in addition to seeing the dorsal fin to emerge and disappear, the brightly colored line awaking from sleep and the scream of the drag as your adversary fights for its life.
Dry fly fishing is series of steps and acts. But ultimately they become seamless and flow into one single movement where the end result an exhilarating rush.
On our local waters dry fly action is hot and it is improving daily. Caddis, BWO’s, PMD’s, green drakes and yellow sallies are becoming abundant and the fish are taking notice. Anglers can expect plenty of hoppers as summer rolls to an end and fall begins.
Flows on the Eagle are at 647cubif feet per second (CFS) and dropping quickly. The Colorado is flowing at 1,800 CFS and fishing extremely well. Gore Creek is at 175 CFS and crystal clear.
For hot flies, contact Alpine River Outfitters at 970- 926-0900 or just stop by and tell some lies.