Yes, you can fish during the winter |

Yes, you can fish during the winter

And here are some tips

Ray Kyle
Special to the Daily
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that you can’t go fishing. Our columnist has rules and tips for winter fly-fishing. (Special to the Daily)

Many people who are visiting our valley are surprised to learn that fishing is an option for your winter activities. As fishing becomes more popular, the inquiry of where and how to fish in the winter is more common.

We are lucky to have some open water on the Eagle River and a few great day trip options within an hour or two drive.

Fishing the Eagle River

Finding the open or unfrozen water on the Eagle River is the biggest challenge of winter fishing (especially this winter with the cold temperatures) in the valley. Much of the river is frozen this time of year but the water found below water treatment plants tend to be open due to the difference in water temperatures.

Driving Highway 6 will give you a good look at what water is open and fishable.

Local tailwaters

The term tailwater is used by anglers to label a river or stream below a dam. Tailwaters stay unfrozen for a stretch below the dam and this makes for a great destination for winter anglers. Our valley is close to some of the best tailwaters in the west.

The “Pan” is a relatively short, scenic drive from the Eagle Valley and can provide some amazing winter fishing. The Frying Pan River, which is located near the town of Basalt, is a tailwater of Ruedi Reservoir and very large rainbow and brown trout call this river home.

These happy fish have a steady diet of mysis shrimp that live in the reservoir and get pushed into the river through the dam.

The tailwater section of the Blue River below Dillon Dam has always been a great spot to spend a few hours fishing while your loved one is shopping in the outlet shops in town. Like the Frying Pan, the Blue has nice size rainbow and brown trout that benefit from the constant flow of water coming out of the dam and give these fish that same steady diet.

Winter tips

Fish in the winter can be very lethargic and tend not to move very far to eat. These fish are conserving energy and only eating small nymphs and larvae that are in their face.

The water in the river is extremely clear which gives the fish more of an opportunity to investigate the food coming towards them. Be sure to use the right size fly (very small, size 20 & 22s) and 5x or 6x tippet to target these wary fish.

Ice fishing

If fishing through a drilled hole on a frozen lake or pond sounds like fun to you then ice fishing is for you. We are lucky to have some excellent ice fishing locations within a short drive from our valley.

You could try hooking a pike through the ice on Stagecoach Reservoir near Steamboat Springs. Sylvan Lake near Eagle is one of our favorite ice fishing locations due to its beautiful scenery and great fishing.

The drive to the lake can be a little tricky on or shortly after snowstorms, please be cautious. We do offer guided ice fishing trips through Vail Valley Anglers if you want to hook up with some fish in a new way or just want to check this box on your bucket list.

Some of the best winter days in Colorado are the ones where you can wake up and enjoy a few runs on the mountain and then soak your sore legs in our local streams while trying to catch a beautiful wild trout.

There is no need to pack away your fly fishing gear when there are plenty of choices and options for you to catch fish every month of the year.

Ray Kyle is a manager and a guide at Vail Valley Anglers. He can be reached at 970-926-0900 or

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