fly fishing in the Vail Valley USA

Get ready for some great fishing The right fly leads to the big catch on the Eagle River.
Special to the Daily The most exciting time of the year for fly fishing in the Vail Valley is just days away.

Anglers eagerly await the incredible dry fly action on the Eagle River to explode as the water drops and clears. Recently, the local rivers had a resurgence in CFS (cubic feet per second) as daily temperatures reached the 80s and 90s, and the snow pack at higher elevations finally melted.

Within days, the Eagle should drop for the final time, and become a haven for dry fly fishing at its best.

There are a variety of hatches on the Eagle River during this post runoff period. Caddis clearly dominates the action with Stone Flies, PMD’s and some Baetis also present.

Mayflies, including Green Drakes and Red Quills follow as the water continues to slow and warm. Usually one can cast a number of fly patterns with excellent success since the fish have a variety of natural food sources to choice from.

I usually begin fishing a large dry with a dropper nymph below. This can be especially effective when the fish are looking more for the emerger than the adult. As the hatch progresses, fish will concentrate more on the surface and I change my presentation to dry flies.

I like to fish with two flies so I can try different colors, sizes and even species. Often the fish will switch from one preference to another and fishing two flies allows me to zero in on their selectivity early in the day.

The Eagle River is famous for the mask hatch; where the fish will eat, and only eat, the less prevalent fly. For example, you may see a ratio of 10-to-1 Caddis to PMD’s yet the fish are only eating Mayflies (PMD’s).

Anglers should expect the action to peak during the evening hours, as adult insects will emerge more frequently in the lower light and temperatures. I often start my fishing around 5 p.m. and fish until dark sometimes setting the hook by the sound of the rise since I cannot see my fly anymore during the last few minutes of daylight.

When heading out to the river to fish, take a few moments and observe the conditions. Are fish feeding on top or just below the water’s surface? Wiggle a bush or tree and see what bugs fly away from the previous nights hatch.

Perhaps the best way to get to the fish is by a raft allowing the angler to fish along the banks- under the overhanging bushes and in hard to reach feeding lanes. Wading fisherman should be very careful since the water is still moving quickly with many slippery rocks and boulders to navigate.

Always respect private land and fish only the public access areas.

I fish the Eagle River year around and throughout most of its 70 some miles of classic freestone character. Yet, the next few weeks are clearly the best time to see prolific hatches, gorging fish and continuous action.

See you there.

Pete Mott is a guide for Gorsuch outfitters. He can be reached at (970) 926-0900
Pete Mott
June 24, 2005

%d bloggers like this: