Eagle River – 06/28/2018

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle, CO

Eagle River 06/28/2018 Photo Album

A successful day of fishing on the Eagle River on Monday, and an afternoon guiding my brother-in-law, niece and nephew on Wednesday, made me anxious for a return outing on Thursday. Jane and I stayed at our sister and brother-in-law’s time share in Bachelor Gulch on Wednesday night, so the Eagle River was only a few miles away from our doorstep. I checked the flows, and they remained relatively stable in the 390 CFS range down moderately from the 450 CFS level experienced on Monday.

I served as a fourth for some doubles tennis in the morning, and after one closely contested set I grabbed my lunch snack and headed to the river. I arrived along the edge of the river by 11:45 and downed a granola bar, a handful of carrots, and a yogurt; before I began my quest for Eagle River trout. I chose my Sage One five weight in anticipation of battling some hard fighting fish.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sKhzeJ6mZoE/WzajblQbd7I/AAAAAAABe4o/djJdNSwhPRESnBLKI-_J6o6KjMeS8H0MwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6280010.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572620400008346961?locked=true#6572620400446633906″ caption=”Where I Began” type=”image” alt=”P6280010.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

As I surveyed the river after lunch, I observed quite a few golden stoneflies and yellow sallies, and this prompted me to prospect the nice pockets along the edge with a size 14 yellow stimulator. I was certain that the large heavily hackled dry fly would draw the interest of the resident cold water inhabitants, but that was not the case. I fished for twenty minutes without a refusal or look, so I changed my strategy and knotted a yellow fat Albert, iron sally and salvation nymph to my line. Initially I was very confident that these mainstay offerings would reverse my fortunes, but after another forty minutes of concentrated fishing through many attractive locations, I began to doubt my approach.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2GnvjPyxY9Y/WzajbuiiFZI/AAAAAAABe4o/TPEBfKUtWXoYSNo2SNn5f1E_ekzJWMcsQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6280012.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572620400008346961?locked=true#6572620402938484114″ caption=”Wide Body Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P6280012.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Finally at one o’clock the fat Albert dipped, as it floated along a deep current seam, and I reacted with a swift hook set and felt significant throbbing weight on the end of my line. The angry brown trout deployed every escape tactic imaginable, but eventually I scooped it with my net and admired my first catch of the day. The wild fish before me was very chunky, and I estimated that it measured fifteen inches. I slowly revived the valiant fighter and watched it swim gracefully back toward its river home.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-k6USslaod90/WzajbuolKmI/AAAAAAABe4o/esKLVMvgNPID06AFk2j1MoWbSIDJDG9VwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6280014.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572620400008346961?locked=true#6572620402963851874″ caption=”Nice Deep Pocket” type=”image” alt=”P6280014.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The dense hatch of yellow sallies and pale morning duns ended by 12:30, and surface feeding was absent, so I persisted with the dry/dropper method. I surmised that the high temperatures on Thursday advanced the hatches to the late morning time period, and my later than normal start caused me to miss the prime hatch time.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-uQ7nKtSUxKw/WzajbtU7V9I/AAAAAAABe4o/pn6nCAyKLLAobEslNMaIPXqQ_3fJQqk3gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6280017.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572620400008346961?locked=true#6572620402612983762″ caption=”Heads Up” type=”image” alt=”P6280017.JPG” image_size=”3456×4608″ ]

Between 1:00PM and 3:00PM I added six additional trout to my count. Three of the six were relatively small, but the other three were very robust rainbow trout in the thirteen to fifteen inch size range. One of these hot catches was also disproportionately wide and heavy for its length, and it demonstrated excessive resistance to my efforts to confine it to my net.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PHDZ0w5Plu8/WzajbhOsNsI/AAAAAAABe4o/eJPoTSpskSkOkDLQDOmmb3P42ZIxHFleACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6280021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572620400008346961?locked=true#6572620399365600962″ caption=”Hard to Grip” type=”image” alt=”P6280021.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The first iron sally that occupied a position on my line was a size fourteen, and it failed to generate interest. Only after I exchanged it for my normal size 12 2XL did I begin to experience success. In fact all but one of the landed trout chowed down on the iron sally. The lower velocity of the river enabled me to explore more deep pockets and runs toward the middle of the river, and the extra wading over slippery round boulders paid dividends with excellent results in the 1PM to 3PM time period. All the fish emerged from large moderate depth pockets and increasingly from the deep seams that bordered faster currents.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-I-vgyUiN_zc/Wzajbu6muJI/AAAAAAABe4o/ZUN_rWYx4yAf-YDgsMc_Hd44p3Imwv2XQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6280023.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572620400008346961?locked=true#6572620403039451282″ caption=”Three Fish Were Rising in This Area” type=”image” alt=”P6280023.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

At 2:30 I approached a series of nice deep runs along the left bank. Each was characterized by a set of large boulders that served as current breaks with a forty foot long and twenty foot wide run and pool downstream. As I began prospecting with my dry/dropper configuration, I spotted a pair of rises in the lower pool, and eventually a third surface feeder joined the party. My nymphs were soundly ignored, so I converted to a single dry fly to finish my day.

First I presented a tiny size 18 caddis with a tan body, and this imitation provoked a close inspection and subsequent rejection. Next I tested a size 16 deer hair caddis with a light gray body. Historically this pattern served as a solid all around caddis generalist, but these Eagle River trout were not impressed. Perhaps the trout continued to concentrate on straggling yellow Sallies? I revived the size 14 yellow stimulator, but once again it failed to attract actively feeding trout. In a last ditch effort to dupe one of the brown trout in front of me, I switched to a size 16 deer hair caddis with an olive-brown body, but again the trout indicated that they were looking for a triggering characteristic that my flies lacked. While this scene was unfolding, quite a few caddis fluttered down from the bank, and they dapped and frolicked constantly on the surface of the river. I was sure that the food of choice was caddis, but I never succeeded in corroborating my hunch.

I finally conceded to the selective trout and progressed upstream to the large ditch that served as my access and exit avenue. Along the way I made some additional blind casts to some very attractive deep runs and moderate riffles, but I never spotted additional rising trout. I departed from the river at 3PM, as I committed to that time with Jane.

Thursday was another fun day on the Eagle River, although I was disappointed to miss the more intense emergence event, that I presumed occurred in the late morning. Another possible explanation for the smaller than expected hatch was an upstream migration of the epicenter of the hatch, but I will never know the answer with certainty. Seven fish in three hours does not constitute a blistering pace; however, four of the landed fish were in the thirteen to fifteen inch range, and they presented a significant challenge to land. I fear that the days of prime fishing on the Eagle River are numbered, and the fly shops in the area are already refraining voluntarily from fishing during the warm afternoon hours.

Fish Landed: 7

Eagle River – 06/27/2018

Time: 3:00PM – 5:30PM

Location: Between Avon and Edwards, CO

Eagle River 06/27/2018 Photo Album

This blog post is a bit of a deviation from the norm, as it describes a few hours of guiding rather than fly fishing. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law from Atlanta, Ga. invited us to spend a night at their plush time share unit at the Timbers in Bachelor Gulch, and we eagerly accepted. We chose Wednesday and Thursday, June 27 and 28 as our designated days to visit the Vogels. Their daughter, Jennifer, and son-in-law, Kerby, and grandson, Mason, were also staying at the condo.

Before we departed, Jane texted the Vogels to inform them of our planned activities. She communicated my desire to spend three or four hours on the Eagle River on Thursday. Much to my surprise I received a prompt reply text message from my brother-in-law, Bill, who expressed a desire to fly fish on Wednesday afternoon. Apparently Kerby and Jennifer were the main driving force behind this plan. I agreed to accompany and guide them, if they took care of equipment rental and purchased Colorado fishing licenses.

Originally we planned to be on the river by 1PM, but by the time everybody tried on waders and boots and filled out the fishing license paperwork, our starting time lagged into three o’clock. I was hoping to catch the yellow sally and pale morning dun hatch in the early afternoon, but once I realized that the group would not be ready until later, I modified my initial choice of fishing destination to a location no more than five miles from the Timbers condominium complex.

Bill, Jennifer and Kerby rented waders, boots, and two rods and reels. I showed them how to string the rods, and then provided an impromptu casting demonstration and lesson along the edge of the river, before I tied flies to their lines. Jennifer and Kerby never fly fished previously, and ten minutes of casting practice advanced their skills minimally, but I judged that they could probably execute some twenty foot casts.

I paused to observe the pool next to us, and surface activity was lacking, so I quickly decided to start them off with a nymphing configuration. I was fairly confident that they could sling a line adorned with a strike indicator and split shot to the current seams, and I was certain that quite a few trout occupied this prime location. In fact I was a bit surprised that we had the area to ourselves.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yttvHau_s24/Wzagy4pIGsI/AAAAAAABe2M/8zmye6kjiKMN519x23tRpSp8mRAHq5gBgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6270001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572617503956032289?locked=true#6572617502252604098″ caption=”Jennifer Vogel Wades Deep” type=”image” alt=”P6270001.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I began with Jennifer and led her to the tail of the pool. I started her off with a size 16 iron sally and a beadhead soft hackle pheasant tail. Clearly I was playing the yellow sally and pale morning dun card. I spent fifteen or twenty minutes instructing Jennifer, but we were unable to generate action, so I left her on her own, while I waded to shore and worked with Bill.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZlrgLsnycD4/Wzagy4Td5JI/AAAAAAABe2M/wv7pKW2TgDQCSexGq1u8jzOlkHlxhoqogCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6270002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572617503956032289?locked=true#6572617502161757330″ caption=”Bill Focused” type=”image” alt=”P6270002.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I decided to position Bill at the top of the pool, where a strong current spilled over some large rocks, and this structure created a quality shelf pool. I knew from past visits that several fish occupied this prime location. Once I had Bill positioned within fifteen feet of the juicy current seam, I scanned the water, and I was pleased to observe some surface action. In fact a decent rainbow trout was visible no more than eight feet to the left of Bill in a deep depression in front of a large submerged rock. I decided to skip the time consuming task of configuring Bill’s line with an indicator and nymphs, and instead I knotted a light gray deer hair caddis to the line.

Bill executed some nice drifts over the rainbow, and as this scenario unfolded, I also noted additional rises along the current seam and fifteen feet upstream behind another large boulder. Bill was rather pleased to actually see his target fish and in fact became quite obsessed with hooking the active feeder. Unfortunately our quarry was quite selective, as we cycled through at least four fly changes, but Bill was unable to fool the rainbow. We tried two deer hair caddis with gray and olive-brown bodies along with a size 14 yellow stimulator and a parachute ant. While the parachute ant was attached to Bill’s line, he cast toward the deep current seam, and a brown trout swirled on the terrestrial. Bill’s untrained eye never saw the take, and by the time I yelled set and grabbed his arm to lift and set, the fish disappeared to the depths.

I looked downstream to check on Jennifer and noticed that she was joined by Kerby, and they were wading back toward the shoreline. I quickly left Bill on his own and met the couple, as they raised their line to display the most intense tangle that I ever witnessed. I jumped into the recovery effort and removed the strike indicator and split shot and cut off the two flies. I spent ten minutes attempting to unravel the tag end of the line and made some small progress, before I surrendered to the monofilament gods and removed the entire tapered leader. I handed the snarl to Jennifer, while I pulled a pack of tapered leaders from my front pack, and I began the task of unraveling a fresh leader to attach to the rental line.

The fishing gods looked upon us with favor, and before I could uncoil the new leader, Jennifer miraculously untangled the mess. Apparently having access to two free ends facilitated the process. I used a loop to loop connection to reattach the line, and then Kerby and I waded back to the tail of the pool, while Jennifer joined her father in an attempt to dupe the rising fish at the top of the pool.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nHbAuUYNqaI/Wzagyy9O7vI/AAAAAAABe2M/arfYyO5HacE8kLo6J_w5JmhZ947Ry23jQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6270006.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572617503956032289?locked=true#6572617500726324978″ caption=”Kerby’s Trout Came from This Area” type=”image” alt=”P6270006.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Kerby is probably 6′ 2″, and this extra stature enabled him to wade closer to the opposite bank than was possible for Jennifer. As we moved into an advantageous position, several fish made their presence known, as they created subtle rings on the river surface. In fact the feeding activity accelerated over the next thirty minutes, and we observed at least six fish actively feeding in the area. Given the surface action I decided to remove the nymphing paraphernalia from Kerby’s line, and I set him up with a single size 16 gray deer hair caddis.

When Kerby spotted the array of rising fish along the far bank, I could see his excitement increase. Initially his casting prevented him from obtaining a solid drift over the risers, but eventually the possibility of hooking a visible fish elevated his casting skills and also seduced him into wading closer to facilitate shorter casts. I noticed that his casts were landing quite a distance above the fish that fed steadily, and consequently line drag caused an unnatural drift by the time the fly reached the target feeding area. I demonstrated mending, and he adopted the line flipping technique with reasonable proficiency.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-XAitUVu2ff4/Wzagy-40AaI/AAAAAAABe2M/nf98vh1aTTMvi_xpGOZ3EjYunoQbNzXtgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6270004.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572617503956032289?locked=true#6572617503929008546″ caption=”My Nephew Did Well” type=”image” alt=”P6270004.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

After fifteen minutes of practice and twenty drifts, Kerby finally applied all his lessons, and a trout slashed at and ate the adult caddis imitation! We were beyond excited, and now I attempted to provide on the job training on playing a fish. The fish dashed about in short spurts and executed numerous head shakes and rolls. I continually cautioned Kerby to allow the fish to pull out line, if the counter pressure was too great, but miraculously the finned foe eventually tired, and I was able to slide my net beneath it. High fives erupted and cheers cascaded from the shoreline observers, which now included Jane and her sister Judy. I was more excited, than if had I caught and landed the fish myself.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-R44bJp1Sq3A/WzagyyXWLNI/AAAAAAABe2M/RNGt2_2iPBAzno_mbE_MwF868z8kRgYJwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6270008.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6572617503956032289?locked=true#6572617500567416018″ caption=”Happy Angler” type=”image” alt=”P6270008.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I gently reached into the net and removed the caddis fly and then snapped a few photos in case the thirteen inch brown trout escaped, before I could stage additional shots with Kerby. After I obtained my safety stock of photos, I handed the net to Kerby, and clicked a few of him holding the prize catch, and then I tapped the video button and recorded the release. Kerby was beaming, and as expected he was very anxious to cast to the remaining feeders in the area. I stayed with him for another fifteen minutes or so, and we changed flies several times, but for some reason we could not repeat the earlier success.

Once again I shifted gears and left Kerby with the lower pool risers, while I returned to the top of the pool. By now Bill relinquished the rod to Jennifer, so I joined her and assisted in her efforts to fool the rising rainbow trout, that Bill attempted to catch earlier. Once again I cycled through a series of fly changes for Jennifer, but alas our educated companion would not be deceived. I even knotted a Jake’s gulp beetle to the line and then added a salvation nymph dropper, but this ploy was also soundly rejected.

We had dinner reservations at a restaurant on Wednesday evening, so by 5:30 we reeled up the lines, removed the flies and returned the equipment to the fly shop in Avon. It was a fun 2.5 hours, and Kerby, Jennifer and Bill repeatedly thanked me for guiding them and expressed how much they enjoyed being in a crystal clear mountain stream in the Rocky Mountains. When I paused to reflect, I realized how astute their observations were.

Eagle River – 06/25/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle, CO

Eagle River 06/25/2018 Photo Album

I was disappointed with my June 12, 2018 outing on the Eagle River, and I kept my eye on the flows of my big three choices for fishing Colorado Rivers during receding levels, as snow melt waned. Monday was an open date for fly fishing between a Rockies’ game and another doctor appointment, so I scheduled a fly fishing day trip. The Yampa River and Arkansas River dropped to post run off levels, so the Eagle River was the one remaining option, and even that western slope freestone was down to 400 CFS. The online fly shop fishing reports were out of date for the Eagle River, so I took advantage of my reservoir of information on this web site. I learned that the late June time frame coincided with dense hatches of caddis, pale morning duns, golden stoneflies and yellow sallies.

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As I perused other Front Range options, I discovered that the Big Thompson River and Cache la Poudre River dropped to levels within my upper range of acceptability, but I decided to gamble on another two hour drive to the Eagle River. I theorized after my June 12 visit, that my history of success at high run off levels was more attributable to excellent insect hatches rather than the phenomenon of fish stacked along the banks to avoid the raging mid-river currents. Actually I suspect the combination of both factors produced outstanding fly fishing in the time period after peak run off. I hoped to return to the Eagle River during a strong aquatic insect activity time frame to test my theory.

After a two plus hour drive I arrived at my intended destination along the Eagle River on Monday morning. I was surprised by the number of anglers present in the many roadside pullouts on a Monday, but thankfully none were present at my chosen entry point. I quickly climbed into my recently repaired waders and assembled my Sage four weight and negotiated the stile provided to access the river. A short hike delivered me to my starting point, where I tied a yellow Letort hopper and iron sally to my line. I prospected several quality sections with the two fly combination for fifteen minutes, but the absence of action caused me to make an early change.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zICiPlJQgsY/WzJ-MonqOAI/AAAAAAABezo/Sb0om2_20zwgs5MC-devFckY3PPJBM0IgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453561814267906″ caption=”Big Shoulders” type=”image” alt=”P6250002.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I replaced the Letort hopper with a yellow pool toy, kept the iron sally as the top nymph, and added a beadhead hares ear as the point attraction. Another solid thirty minutes of exploration yielded no activity, so I once again stripped in my flies and replaced the hares ear with a salvation nymph. This proved to be magic, as a fifteen inch brown trout mauled the salvation shortly after the conversion. It took me forty-five minutes to put a notch on the scoreboard, but the chunky brown made the wait worthwhile.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0-MfKDkPA3g/WzJ-MguSWNI/AAAAAAABezo/PNdPn_RLVqwxcQ-k6A8_wR4piykHflmJACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250007.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453559694579922″ caption=”Pretty Fish” type=”image” alt=”P6250007.JPG” image_size=”3456×4608″ ]

By the time I paused for lunch at noon, the fish counter incremented to three including a rewarding fourteen inch plump rainbow. My confidence in the iron sally and salvation was gradually climbing along with my frustration, as I hooked and failed to land two additional muscular combatants during the period before lunch.

As I sat on a nice flat rock next to the river and munched my snack, the river came alive with a smorgasbord of trout delicacies. Dense swarms of caddis continued to dap the surface of the water, and their animated actions continued throughout the day. New stars took center stage in the form of yellow sallies, pale morning duns and golden stoneflies. I concluded that I was well positioned with the iron sally, as it represented a golden stonefly or yellow sally. The salvation nymph served as a decent copy of a pale morning dun nymph.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cMNYNKcry2c/WzJ-MpAIPiI/AAAAAAABezo/_5evn6LeQhAG_fHZBOxxX3PLaaXjwyb4QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250009.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453561916898850″ caption=”Another Wide Trout” type=”image” alt=”P6250009.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

By 12:15PM I was back on the river, and the period between noon and 2:30 was electric. The air above the river was alive with stoneflies and caddis and mayflies, and I debated switching from the dry/dropper approach to a single dry fly. I resolved to stay with the nymphs, until rising fish became prevalent. How did this tactic work out?

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JcJkr2EEytU/WzJ-MvbLv3I/AAAAAAABezo/QYMMcj01qdoG0hJpeyZkmvv4imbjcu54wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250010.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453563640987506″ caption=”Sparkling Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P6250010.JPG” image_size=”3456×4608″ ]

The fish counter surged from three to sixteen during the period between lunch and 2:30, and many of the netted stream residents were fit and muscular specimens in the thirteen inch to fifteen inch range. In addition I endured three or four escapes, and as is usually the case, these fish felt quite heavy. In one scenario the hooked trout morphed into a jet powered submarine, as it streaked immediately into the heavy current. I attempted to follow it, but before I could cover ten yards, the surging weight on the end of my line disappeared. When I reeled up line, I discovered the reason, as the aquatic freight train broke off all three flies. When I rigged anew, I replaced the pool toy with a yellow fat Albert. The top fly was not attracting attention, so I opted for maximum buoyancy.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-DxSi5-KIN_A/WzJ-MoOpa3I/AAAAAAABezo/0WyBniSNFcQNIS8ZYeSfE72VXxm3woccwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250011.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453561709357938″ caption=”More Pocket Water” type=”image” alt=”P6250011.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The intense action of the hatch-driven two hour and thirty minute trout-fest was an absolute blast, and I was very pleased to confirm my theory, that the hatches drove the outstanding late June and early July fly fishing on the Eagle River. The Eagle River contains one of the densest yellow sally hatches, that I ever encountered in my fly fishing lifetime.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-9r-BjBj1D20/WzJ-MkQNYNI/AAAAAAABezo/CaDaaOK1N447xr2fCj-45xr1EWpySFiBwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250013.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453560642166994″ caption=”Major Stripe on This Beauty” type=”image” alt=”P6250013.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

By three o’clock I suffered through an extended lull, and I approached a very attractive section with several deep runs and slots behind large boulders that served as current breaks. I paused to develop a plan of attack, and a fish elevated to gulp a natural insect. The dry/dropper tactic was in a slump, so I abandoned the three fly set up and knotted a size 14 yellow stimulator to my line. I applied floatant and lobbed a cast above the scene of the recent rise. On the fourth drift over the nearby target area, a fish elevated and sipped the heavily hackled stonefly imitation.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VBFIH15w7BM/WzJ-MgpYyUI/AAAAAAABezo/DR5NVnuKs8wQpI2YUfumwBo34KvAJoomwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250019.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453559674030402″ caption=”Love These Shelf Pools” type=”image” alt=”P6250019.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

At first the greedy feeder angled across the run in a relatively calm manner, but when I applied side pressure, it apparently realized that the insect in its mouth possessed a metal point. The powerful rainbow trout went into crisis management and executed a series of leaps and high speed sprints. When I finally sensed that it was tiring, I guided it upstream, and this action caused the valiant fighter to roll on the line several times in an attempt to shed the pointy object that constrained its freedom. After three or four minutes of intense resistance, the rod lost its deep bow, and the rainbow trout celebrated its freedom. Needless to say I was less than thrilled by this turn of events, but the entire episode was an adrenaline inducing thrill.

I moved upstream a bit and waded into position below a quality section that featured a fifteen foot wide riffle over moderate depth next to the left bank. A branch from a deciduous tree extended over the bottom portion of the riffle, and before I could cast, a trout revealed its position next to a streamside boulder and under the large tree limb. One rise does not equate to steady feeding, but I was armed with a dry fly and pleased to at least locate a rare surface feeder. I side armed three casts under the tree limb and allowed the stimulator to bob over the area that featured a rising fish. I allocated two more casts to the effort, but only one was required, as a thirteen inch brown trout crushed the fuzzy yellow dry fly. The wild brown trout represented fish number seventeen and my first and only fish on a dry fly for the day.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0QsM1AtA3vI/WzJ-MnvwUeI/AAAAAAABezw/pUbMwwFY7uEslI40QNNo6GOu2EaCiYakACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453561579786722″ caption=”Bluegill Shape” type=”image” alt=”P6250021.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I continued my upriver progress with the hope of spotting additional rises, but the quality of the river diminished, when long shallow riffles predominated. I stopped at a few deep runs and pockets to prospect with the stimulator, but these late attempts with a dry fly were not met with success. At four o’clock I reached a convenient exit point and took advantage and ended my day on the Eagle River.

Seventeen trout was an excellent accomplishment, and the average size was very satisfying. The hatches between noon and 2:30 were first rate, and I hope to take advantage of the early summer insect activity with a second visit this week.

Fish Landed: 17

 

Eagle River – 06/12/2018

Time: 10:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle

Eagle River 06/12/2018 Photo Album

Although Monday’s results on the Yampa River were decent by most standards, I was disappointed, since I compared the size and catch rate to spectacular fly fishing at similar flows from 2015 through 2017. On Tuesday I envisioned another day comparable to Monday, if I returned to the Yampa, so I considered alternatives. Reports on the Arkansas River were encouraging with flows already beneath 1,000 CFS, but my map application suggested the choice demanded a three hour and thirty minute drive. Another option I contemplated was the Eagle River. The last time I checked, the flows were in the 1100 CFS range, but I speculated that they declined to below 1,000 by Tuesday.

I stopped at a dirt pullout prior to turning on to CO 131 in order to check the flows and fishing reports for the Eagle River. This was the first location, where I received a decent cell phone signal. I quickly learned that the flows on the Eagle in Avon were in the 800 CFS range, however, the fishing report on Vail Valley Anglers was not updated since June 6. I decided to sample the Eagle, since it was at levels comparable to early July in previous years, and prior year trips translated to fantastic fly fishing. I turned left on CO 131 and made the 1.5 hour drive to the section of the Eagle River between Wolcott and Eagle, CO.

I arrived at 9:30AM, and by the time I pulled on my waders and rigged my Sage One five weight and hiked to the river’s edge, it was 10AM. I knotted a size 8 Chernobyl ant to my line along with a 20 incher and a yellow sally, and I began prospecting all the likely slower moving areas along the bank. The flows were in the 1,000 CFS range as I expected, and the water was crystal clear and cold. The weather on Tuesday yielded blue skies and sunshine, and the high temperature spiked in the low eighties. It was a gorgeous day for fishermen, but not as perfect for fish.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IEX9NQHUSFw/WyHfUEOBfrI/AAAAAAABeNk/7HQJXjd1LJ4qtaJgz68MKfLrzxbF3DrewCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6120025.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566775264635051777#6566775267505831602″ caption=”Narrow Band of Slow Water Along the Bank Was My Target All Day” type=”image” alt=”P6120025.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I fished along the left (northern bank) between 10:00AM and 2:30PM and managed to land six trout. Four of the six were quite small and barely extended beyond my six inch minimum. Another landed fish was a twelve inch brown trout, and the prize on Tuesday extended to fourteen inches. If I were offered a replay, I would choose to return to the Yampa. I observed far more insect activity in Steamboat Springs, than I encountered on the Eagle River. Pale morning duns, yellow sallies and blue winged olives were present on the Yampa River; whereas, only small blue winged olives made an appearance on the Eagle.

I cycled through a series of flies in an effort to discover a producer. On top I utilized a yellow fat Albert and a size 8 Chernobyl ant, and both were effective indicators, but neither attracted the interest of the Eagle River trout. The top nymph position was occupied primarily by the 20 incher and iron sally with a brief appearance of a hares ear nymph. The iron sally, salvation nymph, emerald caddis pupa, soft hackle emerger, and ultra zug bug spent time on the point. The iron sally and salvation nymph accounted for the small fish, and the soft hackle emerger produced the fourteen inch reward for my persistence.

Between 12:30PM and 2:00PM a light emergence of size 20 blue winged olives commenced. I was skeptical that a tiny olive imitation would attract the attention of the Eagle River trout in the heavy run off currents, so I stuck with other larger nymphs during the early phase of the hatch. Clearly the large nymph strategy was not a roaring success, so I bowed to the match the hatch conventional wisdom and placed a soft hackle emerger on the point. I was stunned to learn that the Eagle River trout responded to the small size 20 wet fly, and I landed three trout on the sparkling emerger pattern. In addition I experienced three momentary connections. This period was by no means torrid action, and the hook ups required many repeated drifts in prime areas, but the results far exceeded the production in the previous three hours.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RqIyL260tKs/WyHfUATRPnI/AAAAAAABeOU/bJlsmB8f1JoAfckRgML7U8m585oYVVamgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6120027.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566775264635051777#6566775266454093426″ caption=”Went for the Soft Hackle Emerger on the Swing” type=”image” alt=”P6120027.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

A narrow band of slow moving water served as the stage for the highlight of my day. I tossed the dry/dropper rig upstream and allowed it to drift back toward me, as I raised my rod to pick up slack. The flies were no more than six feet from the bank, and they tumbled along a steady current seam. Once they passed my position, I lowered the rod and allowed the fat Albert to continue below me for twenty feet. At that point the slow water fanned out a bit just above some dead branches, so I began to swing the flies across to avoid a snag and in preparation to make another cast. Just as I began to lift the flies, the fourteen inch brown snatched the soft hackle emerger, and in this instance I overcame its resistance and led it into my net.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qZ26HFmRbBU/WyHfUBgI8yI/AAAAAAABeOU/7SM5amC9YFUxBR9XgjilFCUFkrgKBrHmQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6120030.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566775264635051777#6566775266776511266″ caption=”Decent Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P6120030.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

In addition to the long distance releases during the sparse blue winged olive hatch, I also notched three or four during the period from ten o’clock until one o’clock. Several felt like decent trout perhaps in the fourteen to sixteen inch range. Aside from failing to land the fish, I was also upset with my inability to determine which of the nymphs generated the interest of the Eagle River trout.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8BAmY6m3C9k/WyHfUFrMASI/AAAAAAABeOU/ro8iOMjYVaIJM1Svvkk–7NI_nMUX_oNACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6120029.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566775264635051777#6566775267896590626″ caption=”Promising Runs” type=”image” alt=”P6120029.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Six fish over five hours of fishing was undoubtedly a disappointment, although double digits were easily attainable had I converted a higher and more normal percentage of hook ups. On a positive note I had the river to myself, and I gained knowledge of the conditions on another freestone river in Colorado in the 2018 post-runoff time frame. Flows are two to three weeks ahead of normal on the Yampa and Eagle Rivers in 2018. During previous years the declining flows and clear water in the 1,000 CFS range overlapped with the end of June and early July, and this time frame coincided with strong pale morning dun, golden stonefly, yellow sally, caddis and blue winged olive hatches. I attributed my success to hungry fish pushed into the slow water along the banks, but in reality the presence of strong hatches was a significant contributor to the sizzling action in prior years.

Fish Landed: 6

 

Eagle River – 04/16/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: Between Avon and Edwards

Eagle River 04/16/2018 Photo Album

Wow. I am not sure there are enough superlatives to describe my day yesterday on the Eagle River. Yes, twenty-one trout landed is a nice quantity, but the size was fairly average, with most falling in the twelve to fourteen inch range. The mix of brown trout vs. rainbow trout was around 60/40, and I landed two rare cutthroats as well. Why was it so special?

Last spring and fall I experienced three outings when dense blue winged olive hatches developed, but I was unable to fool trout on a consistent basis. The common factor in all these instances was strong wind. Two memorable occasions when BWO frustration ruled were on the Frying Pan River on 10/26/2017 and the South Platte River on 04/19/2017. My last visit to the Eagle River on 11/01/2018 was another similar example of baetis hatch frustration. So here I was along side the Eagle River again on April 16, 2018 with relatively high winds in the forecast. Would Monday be another exercise in frustration?

When I planned my day on the Eagle River, I reacted to two critical pieces of information. The weather forecast called for highs in the low sixties accompanied by 16 MPH winds. I banked on the warm air temperatures to create comfortable conditions for a day of fishing. The stream flows were in the 150 CFS range; and my friend, Todd, who lives in Arrowhead near Avon informed me in an email, that fishing has been been excellent with consistent blue winged olive hatches in the afternoon. I took the plunge and made the two plus hour drive to Avon.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0LkAQ33HUMU/WtVp9W-zegI/AAAAAAABbTc/A_Nb59Qst-AGnqF3rhgMnSYwf68DFqv0wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545254136314821122″ caption=”Fun Starts Here on April 16″ type=”image” alt=”P4160001.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

As I prepared to fish, the air temperature was around fifty degrees, and slate gray skies suggested, that it would be awhile before the warming rays of the sun would have an impact. As projected, the wind gusted on a regular basis, so I pulled on my green light fleece jacket in addition to my waders. I eschewed my New Zealand hat with ear flaps, and left my gray fleece in the car. I banked on sunshine and a warming trend in the afternoon.

As the day evolved, the sun rarely peaked through the clouds, and I rued my decision to forego the ear flaps and extra layer. The weather did not create comfortable conditions for fishing, but it did provide an ideal environment for blue winged olives. Once my Sage four weight was assembled, with the fly line pulled through the guides, I crossed the highway and followed the bicycle path down the hill to the river. I was overjoyed to discover that I was the first arrival at the targeted section of the stream. I configured my line with a strike indicator, split shot, beadhead hares ear nymph and sparkle wing RS2 and began drifting the nymphs through some delightful deep runs at the top of the long pool. I was quite optimistic; however, thirty minutes elapsed with no action.

I shuffled to the bank to warm my feet and then retreated to a nice wide run just downstream of the pool. Once again I probed the depths with my nymphs, and again there was no evidence of Eagle River trout. I abandoned the faster run and returned to the midsection of the large pool, and at this point I exchanged the beadhead hares ear for a beadhead emerald caddis pupa. The emerald pupa generated a few nice trout in the early going in Eleven Mile Canyon, so perhaps the same would occur on Monday on the Eagle River. I began drifting the nymphs through the middle of the pool, where the faster water spread out over nice moderate depth, and simultaneously I began to see sporadic rises.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6WjablVNxn0/WtVqaYQ8lsI/AAAAAAABbTc/Ji8BzKDCYqkzNN0mi7X3_tKUFbAlewZ-ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160004.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545254634875557570″ caption=”Gray-Green Rocket” type=”image” alt=”P4160004.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I scanned the water several times, but I was unable to detect any surface food source of significance. I debated shifting to a blue winged olive dry fly, but I was not certain that was the answer. As these thoughts were swirling through my brain, another fisherman arrived, and I carefully watched him. He had a large backpack, and he changed into his waders and assembled his rod among the large boulders next to my pool. I was eager to see where he planned to fish. Eventually he was ready, and he began fishing the faster run below the pool, that I prospected fifteen minutes earlier. After a bit he signaled, and asked if I minded if he crossed to the the very lower portion of the pool, and I responded with an OK. I was a bit concerned that he would occupy the slower moving lower section of the pool above the natural rock dam, but the area was quite large and could easily accommodate two fishermen.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8PTAjhMVUok/WtVp9Y6u9BI/AAAAAAABbTc/TKN4vvPpYu4ewKNc89TAag7QeVieukr1QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545254136834618386″ caption=”Sparkle Wing RS2 Lover” type=”image” alt=”P4160002.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I returned my attention to the prime matter at hand, catching fish. I resumed drifting the nymphs through the midsection, and I continued to observe sporadic rises from trout throughout the area. Finally at the end of one of my drifts I allowed the nymphs to dangle, while I took a few steps to change positions, and suddenly I felt a bump and a throb on my line. I reacted with a quick hook set, but just as quickly the fish escaped. Clearly this fish reacted to the fluttering nymph, so perhaps that was the key to enticing the feeders surrounding me. I began to impart movement to the drifting nymphs including bad down stream mends, jigging action, and strips toward the end of the swing. I managed a couple more momentary hook ups with trout, and then as I attempted to lift the flies to recast, a fish struck. This time I set the hook and succeeded in eventually guiding a fine fourteen inch rainbow trout to my net. It apparently had a hankering for the sparkle wing RS2. I shot a video and snapped some photos and released number one on the day.

I thought I solved the puzzle, as I began lifting and swinging the nymphs, but my confidence was misplaced. The other fisherman was now slowly working his way downstream along the north bank toward the golf course, and I noticed quite a bit of activity in the tail area. I circled back to shore and then carefully waded to a position, where I could easily cast to the risers at the tail. I carefully observed the water once more, and I spotted a few gray or tan colored midges. I suspected that this was the source of food, but I had no adult midge imitations in my fly box. What should I do?

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-hzsmNj4EQ7c/WtVqPM5lzEI/AAAAAAABbTc/F86IOrnUAu4CQIYJYfVPf6QneeEK2MA8gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545254442846243906″ caption=”Midge Sipper” type=”image” alt=”P4160005.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

It was clear that the trout were focused on a food source in the surface film or just below it. I thought of the Craven soft hackle emergers without beads. Perhaps I could apply floatant to the small wet fly, and fish it right on the surface. It was worth a try. I plucked one from my fleece wallet and dabbed some floatant on the body and began to fire casts to the area of rising trout. It was a stroke of genius. Within the next forty minutes I landed three additional trout to increment my fish count to four.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Hus9CGlpcbE/WtVqy7qlPJI/AAAAAAABbTc/a35KExRf9lArrIuLSH9YLYL7-oqyAz9nQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160010.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545255056695180434″ caption=”Look At Those Cheeks” type=”image” alt=”P4160010.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

It was around noon when something equally surprising occurred. I began to note small blue winged olives on the surface, and the Eagle River trout never skipped a beat. They simply shifted their preferred diet from midges to baetis. I, meanwhile, continued fishing the wet fly as a dry, and by the time I stumbled to the boulder strewn beach on stump-like feet to eat lunch, I registered eight fish landed and released. After lunch I waded back into the pool but more toward the midsection, where an abundant quantity of fish were chowing down. The wind continued to gust frequently, and when the river surface riffled, the trout ceased their feast, and I rested my arm.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-MggnqRLzGxU/WtVrHlCTa0I/AAAAAAABbTc/UDxk7LeacN8UHw2F6LQ8oGFBXVQQzlL3ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160014.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545255411397913410″ caption=”Deep Cooper- Olive Scarlet Color Scheme” type=”image” alt=”P4160014.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The soft hackle emerger continued to fool fish, and the fish counter climbed to twelve, but then I suffered through a significant dry spell, when the tiny wet fly was ignored. Was I overly focused on my newly discovered technique? Would the Klinkhammer style emerger outperform the Craven soft hackle if given playing time? I made the switch, and the Klink model produced five more decent trout. Similar to the soft hackle, I cast it across and executed downstream drifts. The main reason downstream drifts excelled was the advantageous light, but the lack of presence of a line may have also been a factor.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7spnXb4wI-I/WtVrWWGk12I/AAAAAAABbTc/YsmxHufQJ-MtIdvOgiT6igIe0fIiiYEwwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160016.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545255665087338338″ caption=”Those Spots Are Amazing” type=”image” alt=”P4160016.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

If this sounds like I had the perfect flies, that was not the case. For each fish landed I lobbed twenty or thirty casts over the feeding trout clustered in the pool. Many times I could not follow my fly and simply set when a rise occurred in the vicinity of where I anticipated the fly to be. But in some cases particularly with the higher floating visible Klinkhammer, I witnessed looks and refusals. The pool dwellers definitely preferred naturals, but as evidenced by the fish count, my flies worked often enough to maintain my interest.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-g1HwMzG_ox0/WtVr04brJ4I/AAAAAAABbTc/GNE-s8dKnJUg_9CTQnERPECdvC8UQbTYACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160020.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545256189698713474″ caption=”So Chunky” type=”image” alt=”P4160020.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Toward the later part of the afternoon, the other fisherman returned to the beach next to the pool, and I invited him to wade into the lower end. His name was Kevin, and he was fishing a size 20 olive body parachute fly with a red wing post. While I shared the pool with him, he notched three or four trout.

At one point we both rested on the shoreline to warm our feet, and I noticed a large rainbow trout hovering in very shallow space just above a large submerged rock. It darted to the surface and picked off a tiny morsel. I pointed it out to Kevin and gave him first shot, but he was having difficulty locating the fish. He managed to put two casts over the rainbow with no reaction, and then as we observed, another similar sized rainbow joined the first one. I told Kevin it was my turn. I dropped two casts above the two trout, and the trout were so close, that I did not have to strip additional line from the tip of the rod. On the third cast as Kevin and I watched, I lifted the soft hackle emerger to recast, and before the fly got off the water, the rainbow closest to the bank lifted and snared the emerger! I was frankly a bit surprised, but I continued lifting and felt momentary weight, and then the fly slipped out of the jaw of the hungry rainbow. I failed to catch the sighted trout, but I enjoyed the challenge of generating a take.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nOHzShKko44/WtVr06XrseI/AAAAAAABbTc/1GzCmEeUBWoR0369560I10FbdU9L53rzACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P4160025.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6545254130160622513?locked=true#6545256190218842594″ caption=”Perfect Ending” type=”image” alt=”P4160025.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

After this exciting episode I returned to fishing the soft hackle emerger as a dry fly, and I tallied an additional four landed trout. Again there was a significant amount of fruitless casting, but the catch rate was reasonable. During this late afternoon time frame I had some success with drifts that were twenty feet below me, and in one instance a fish grabbed the fly just as I made a quick mend that translated into a tweak of the fly.

By 4:30 my feet were once again stumps, and my entire body was quite chilled from the relentless wind and standing in frigid snow melt water. I reeled up my line, and Kevin decided to quit as well. We hiked back up the path to the road, and together we marveled at the day we experienced.

The greatest thrill on Monday was discovering a technique that produced fish on a fairly consistent basis during a hatch of tiny blue winged olives in windy conditions. This situation frustrated me in the past, and I was ecstatic to land fifteen wild fish on the Craven soft hackle emerger fished in the surface film. I now have three weapons for blue winged olive hatches: the CDC BWO, the Klinkhammer BWO and the Craven soft hackle emerger fished like a dry fly. Fly fishing is a lifetime experience that provides a never ending learning curve.

Fish Landed: 21

Eagle River – 11/01/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Avon and Edwards.

Eagle River 11/01/2017 Photo Album

True to character I sought an opportunity to return to the Eagle River after a successful late season adventure on October 25, 2017. The weather forecast for Tuesday, November 1 indicated a high temperature in the low seventies in Denver, and this translated to a high in the upper fifties in Avon, CO near my intended destination. I loaded the car with my gear and contacted my friend Todd, who lives in Arrowhead, and I anxiously anticipated a late season foray into the Rocky Mountains. Todd agreed to meet me, although he had a commitment at ten o’clock and suggested that he would find me later.

As I completed some last minute preparations on Tuesday morning, Jane perused the Denver Post, and she announced that there was a high wind advisory on interstate 70. I quickly followed up on this unwelcome piece of news, and sure enough wind velocities of 19 MPH were forecast for Avon. I decided to roll the dice and persisted with my plans.

When I approached the long ascent west of Denver on interstate 70, I was greeted with digital signs announcing high wind restrictions on high profile vehicles, and quite a few tractors and trailers were lined up at the Morrison exit as well as the Hidden Valley exit before Idaho Springs. When I reached Georgetown, I scanned ahead, and I was alerted by flashing police lights. Just prior to the exit ramp to Georgetown a large tractor/trailer rig was situated on its side, as it was apparently the unfortunate victim of high winds, and this unfortunate scene served as a warning to the other impatient high profile vehicles in the area.

I pressed on and arrived at my destination just before 10AM, and I borrowed a page from Todd and rigged two rods for my quest for Eagle River trout. During our visit the previous week we stayed in a relatively tight area, so I was reassured that it would not be a hindrance to carry two rods; and I liked the flexibility of being able to quickly switch from a nymph approach to dry flies, should a hatch develop similar to the previous Wednesday.

The temperature in Avon at 10AM was in the middle forties, and the wind made its presence felt with periodic strong gusts, and consequently I bundled up with a layer of fleece and an outer coat of light down. I tugged my New Zealand brimmed hat with ear flaps on my head and wore two layers of long underwear and socks under my waders. To guard against frozen toes, I added toe warmers to my ensemble.

My Sage One five weight was rigged with the deep nymphing system that Taylor Edrington taught me. A short section of 0X ran from the fly line loop to a Thingamabobber, and a five foot section of level 5X was knotted to the indicator as well. The terminal end of the 5X featured a split shot, ultra zug bug, and RS2, and I began chucking this assemblage into the deep run at the upper section of a long attractive pool. I spent an hour from 11AM until noon prospecting the upper and middle section of the area, which I knew contained plenty of trout, but none were interested in my flies. My hands grew chilled from the cold temperatures and the wind, so I decided to pause for lunch and found a large boulder near the midsection and downed my sandwich, carrots and yogurt.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Gxcj9QgBdfw/Wf4w8KBcKlI/AAAAAAABQ5I/QH5f4sv4kJ0B598sNTixseRr4jlmtO63wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PB010001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6484674311039918721?locked=true#6484674323500771922″ caption=”My First Fish Came from the Riffles Below the Rock Dam” type=”image” alt=”PB010001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Just as I finished my snack, Todd appeared on the path, and he immediately jumped into the upper section with his nymph rod. I lingered a bit longer to bask in the sun and eliminate my chill, and then I decided to explore a wide riffle just below the jumble of angled rocks that formed the downstream border of the pool. I switched my flies to a copper john and RS2, and I began lobbing casts to the three foot deep area above me. I covered the section with ten casts, and then before departing, I shot a cast to the deep portion just under the rocks near the right bank. The indicator drifted five feet, and I raised the rod to pick up the line, when I felt significant weight. I reacted with an immediate hook set, and a bullet shot across the riffles toward the center of the river and then streaked downstream.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VEoTl3TS0Uk/Wf4w9VZy1WI/AAAAAAABQ5I/bqEEiUYWHQoQgqtvtVqyaoUqysBo7qliACCoYBhgL/s144-o/PB010005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6484674311039918721?locked=true#6484674343735580002″ caption=”Broadside” type=”image” alt=”PB010005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1152″ ]

After some stiff resistance I was able to guide a fifteen inch rainbow trout with a copper john in its lip into my net. Imagine my excitement and surprise after over an hour of futile casting with the nymph set up! After I released the rainbow, I lobbed another cast to the same area, and I was very surprised, when I once again connected with a throbbing resistance. In this instance, however, the stream resident was able to free itself from my hook and escape.

Bursting with new optimism I circled around Todd and moved to some deep pockets above the pool he occupied. I covered the area thoroughly and managed to foul hook a small rainbow, before I returned. I asked Todd for a report, and he offered that he landed thirteen and nine inch rainbows, and he observed some rising fish in the slack water next to the bank across from his position.

I decided to warm up a bit, and then I grabbed my Sage four weight and waded to a position at the bottom of the pool. As I looked on, I witnessed several rises in water with a slight swirling surface. My line featured a size 24 CDC olive, so I began to cast it upstream to the area of activity, but these efforts were ignored. The wind continued to blast, but fortunately it was blowing from the west and provided a tailwind to my casts. I swapped the tiny olive for a size 18 black parachute ant, and I spent twenty minutes drifting the terrestrial through the scene of rising fish, but except for one heart stopping swirling refusal, the ant was unproductive.

The rising activity seemed to come in waves probably related to the emergence of tiny mayflies. During the next pause in feeding activity, I waded back to the shore and warmed my feet and body. When I returned, I reverted to a larger CDC BWO, and after a heavy dose of futile casting, I managed to tempt a twelve inch brown trout to attack my fly, as I gave it a short strip before lifting to make another cast. As was the case on Thursday, October 26 on the Frying Pan River, the trout seemed to be feeding on subsurface emergers, and they were not focused on drifting adults.

I pondered this theory and decided to try a different approach. I knotted a juju baetis to my line, and below that I added a Craven soft hackle emerger. I executed across and downstream drifts, swings and strips in the manner of accomplished wet fly experts, but my efforts were once again thwarted by the Eagle River residents. I never felt a tug nor witnessed a bulge to my unweighted flies, as they knifed through the water just below the surface.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_CqsMdQ6i8w/Wf4xAU3e2AI/AAAAAAABQ5I/S6HEYrBJK5Uzzd9aghXuuTrgeY64eU7pwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PB010013.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6484674311039918721?locked=true#6484674395131271170″ caption=”Way to Go Todd” type=”image” alt=”PB010013.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Again I returned to the bank and pondered my options. Todd enjoyed one hook up with a beetle, so I copied his tactic and tied a Jake’s gulp beetle size 12 to my line, and then I supplemented it with a Craven soft hackle emerger on an eighteen inch dropper. I dabbed some floatant on the body of the emerger, and as a test I flicked the two flies into a slow moving section across from where I was standing, and an eleven inch rainbow darted to the surface and confidently inhaled the trailing fly. Perhaps I was on to something. I returned to my position at the tail of the pool and once again began making medium range upstream presentations to the cluster of feeding fish. It required a significant number of unproductive drifts, but eventually I induced a fourteen inch rainbow to snatch the trailing emerger, and the fish count mounted to four.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-n1TGQDN-5tw/Wf4xDR4t4bI/AAAAAAABQ5I/yeAEvX1PPzAKrufnlkU1dIVrRM6EmaxGwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PB010020.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6484674311039918721?locked=true#6484674445870752178″ caption=”Respectable November Rainbow Trout” type=”image” alt=”PB010020.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Two takes on the emerger elevated my hopes, but another thirty minutes of fruitless casting cured me of optimism, and I shuffled back to the bank. Todd by now surrendered to the wind and picky fish, and I joined him, as we grabbed our two rods and hiked back to our cars. I overcame tough conditions on Tuesday to land four trout including two very nice rainbows of fifteen and fourteen inches. The Craven soft hackle emerger fished in the surface film accounted for half the fish, and I vowed to tie some size 22’s before next season to test during a blue winged olive emergence during windy conditions.

Fish Landed: 4

Eagle River – 10/25/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Edwards and Avon

Eagle River 10/25/2017 Photo Album

Jane’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law graciously offered us use of their time share unit in the Timbers Resort at Bachelor Gulch for the week of October 21 through October 28. As expected we jumped at the opportunity to stay at this luxury resort next to the Ritz Carlton near Beaver Creek Ski Area. Early in the week Jane and I participated in hiking and cycling activities with our friends the Maddox’s, and on Tuesday I earned spouse points by hiking the Game Creek Trail with Jane. Actually the trek was very enjoyable, and we reached the western end of the Eagle’s Nest Ridge, where we could see Game Creek Bowl and the start of the Minturn Mile ski trail.

Wednesday was my first of two allotted days for fly fishing, and fortunately the weather cooperated with the best conditions of the week. The high temperature in Avon was in the seventies, and I was quite pleased with this circumstance. Knowing that a day of fishing was on my schedule, I contacted my fishing friend Todd, who lives in Arrowhead, and he agreed to join me. We arranged to meet at the Fly Fishing Outfitters shop near Avon at 10AM, and the rendezvous occurred without a hitch.

Todd led the way, and I followed, and we both drove a short distance and parked and prepared for a day of fishing. The temperature hovered around 45 degrees, and we added a few layers; but Todd suggested a relatively early start, as the area was very popular with guides and their clients. I assembled my Sage four weight, and Todd waited patiently, since his rods remained perpetually strung due to the proximity of his house to the river. We followed a path for a short distance, and this brought us to the destination that Todd chose for our day of fishing. Since Todd was already rigged with his nymph rod, he moved into the upper one-third of a nice long riffle, run and pool section of the river. I meanwhile extended my leader and then tied a size 14 tan stimulator to my line and added a size 20 RS2 and a zebra midge on a three foot dropper. I waded into the shallow shelf pool at the tail and began to sling probing casts to the slow moving bubble line.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-kze-AeoUZus/WfZCzfv3WcI/AAAAAAABQVg/MQmh08ivx10R3kMkWfdDI6y1qShl2nCMACCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA250041.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6482442156179823057?locked=true#6482442166109428162″ caption=”Todd Displays an Early Beauty” type=”image” alt=”PA250041.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I continued this approach for thirty minutes with no action, but I did observe three rises spaced over the half hour time period, and this provided proof of the presence of fish in the area. I switched to a Jake’s gulp beetle with the hope that the stream residents were open to a terrestrial, but this approach was equally ineffective. Todd meanwhile connected with two or three decent fish while drifting his nymphs through the faster upper riffle segment of the quality pool. I took a break to warm my feet, and then I copied Todd’s lead and rigged with a deep nymph set up. The initial offerings were a beadhead hares ear nymph and ultra zug bug, and after a reasonable trial period, I switched the ultra zug bug for a RS2. None of these changes created success, so I circled around Todd to some pocket water above the pool, and eventually I sampled a similar faster section below the lip at the bottom. In a wide but moderate depth pocket above Todd I spotted a trout, and it moved to look at my nymphs, but that was the only evidence of fish during the hour before lunch.

When I returned to the main pool, it was noon, so I decided to warm my feet. I sat on a large boulder next to the river in the warmth of the sun and casually downed my lunch. Todd joined me, and after we finished eating, we chatted for another fifteen minutes, while we observed the water in front of us, and I allowed my frozen toes to thaw. While we scanned the pool, several fish began to rise between the middle and tail sections in slow water next to the far bank.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-F5e_pw4v5kA/WfZC1SenJ0I/AAAAAAABQVg/jD0wqEUjvew4ZPf62EWIL1P1Ejy7BkQxACCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA250044.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6482442156179823057?locked=true#6482442196907140930″ caption=”Sixteen Inch Rainbow Sipped a Size 22 Blue Winged Olive” type=”image” alt=”PA250044.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Eventually I felt warm enough to resume my pursuit of Eagle River trout, and I removed my nymph paraphenalia and tied a size 22 CDC blue winged olive to my line. For the remainder of the afternoon I cast to rising fish in the bottom one-third of the pool. During the first two afternoon hours I executed across stream casts and presented the small dry fly in a downstream approach. This method yielded a twelve inch brown trout and two hot rainbows, with the third trout measuring sixteen inches. Todd was quite pleased with my ability to fool the finicky feeders that thwarted his efforts, so he invited me to target a pod of risers near the top of the run in some slow water between two exposed rocks.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zmUhzzWmYOI/WfZC2ncQcXI/AAAAAAABQVg/YSfv-sXwZ58AkhdHUaT4IDLa8Dg-ApY1wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA250047.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6482442156179823057?locked=true#6482442219714277746″ caption=”A Happy Fly Fisherman” type=”image” alt=”PA250047.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

This area was shrouded in shadows, and I could not follow my tiny tuft of CDC in the dim light. I offered Todd one of my CDC olives, and he accepted, and then I returned to the bottom area of the pool once again. Another thirteen inch rainbow trout fell for the CDC BWO, and then after a lull in action and numerous ignored drifts, I waded to the very bottom of the pool just above the angled jumble of rocks, where the river spilled into a shallow riffle. A few fish were feeding at the extreme tail, and I desired a change in casting angles.

For the first time all day I began casting upstream, and in doing so I added three more trout to my count to reach seven. One of the landed fish was another twelve inch brown, and two were feisty rainbows in the thirteen to fourteen inch range. Needless to say I was having a blast on October 25!

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-e2mDc1MdZvY/WfZC4ovxj3I/AAAAAAABQVg/ZZ-tAH_dtroyg_MV2CbfEObmTfGBKMA8ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA250051.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6482442156179823057?locked=true#6482442254424313714″ caption=”Nice Width on This Splendid Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”PA250051.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 3:30 the number of rising fish in the lower third of the pool diminished, so I moved to the area between the exposed rocks for a second go round. The sun was now behind me, and this provided improved lighting compared to my first visit in the early afternoon. I made ten casts to the middle and lower portion of the twenty foot area, but I could not convert the rises to strikes. Next I waded above the bottom boulder and fired some longer casts to the scene of regular rises next to and slightly below the top boulder. On the fifth drift a thirteen inch rainbow with vivid colors bulged to the surface and inhaled the CDC olive. This transpired while Todd looked on, and he was sold on the effectiveness of the CDC blue winged olive fly. What a day!

I landed eight gorgeous trout on October 25 on the Eagle River. The weather blossomed into a beautiful fall day after a very chilly morning, and I fished to rising fish from 12:30, until I quit at four o’clock. Best of all, the fish count included two twelve inch browns and six rainbows in excess of thirteen inches with the largest stretching to sixteen. Todd enjoyed a similar outing, and it was great fun to have a dedicated fishing companion. October 25 far exceeded my expectations for a late season fishing adventure.

Fish Landed: 8

 

 

Eagle River – 07/24/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Edwards Rest Area

Eagle River 07/24/2017 Photo Album

Our friends from South Carolina planned a visit to Colorado for the week of July 24, and the visit included a stay at our house on Friday night, July 28, prior to an early flight on Saturday morning. Jane and I, however, hoped to spend additional time with them, so we organized a brief camping trip to the area near Avon, CO; the site of their condo unit for the week.

Of course I took advantage of this serendipitous arrangement to schedule some fishing time. The obvious destination near Avon, CO was the Eagle River, so I anxiously checked the DWR water graphs to determine the state of the local trout river. I was pleased to learn that the flows in Avon were in the 380 CFS range, and levels downstream of Wolcott only recently fell below 600 CFS. Based on my prior years experience, I knew that these levels supported decent fishing and were ahead of the usual summer doldrums when hatches end, and the water warms above the ideal feeding range.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bl7snNrPG_s/WXzXimn3ddI/AAAAAAABMiw/nRjLh_04wN80VI_QYmhRPBxENk6n62k1gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7240016.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6448265724767501681?locked=true#6448265755970991570″ caption=”The Eagle River Was Still Churning” type=”image” alt=”P7240016.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Based on this analysis I decided to fish the Eagle River on Monday, July 24. I packed the car with fishing gear and some of the camping supplies in anticipation of fishing during the day and then meeting Jane at the Edwards Rest Area. We then hoped to drive to Hornsilver or Camp Hale Campgrounds to secure a campsite for two nights. Did Monday go as planned, and was my prediction of decent fishing on the Eagle River accurate?

The brief answer is yes, the fishing was decent for the Eagle River in late July. I landed fifteen fish, and most measured in the twelve to thirteen inch size range. The high temperature was in the upper eighties with bright sun most of my time on the water. Fifteen average size fish in these relatively adverse weather conditions was quite acceptable. As mentioned earlier, the flows were in the 380 CFS range, and this created manageable wading but also kept the fish in a happy and hungry state of mind. I observed a smattering of insects during the noon to 3PM time period. The species included primarily small blue winged olives, caddis, and five or six pale morning duns; and the availability of these food sources accounted for two rises during my entire day on the river.

Given the lack of surface activity, I deployed a dry/dropper set up for all but the last fifteen minutes, when I searched two nice pockets with a size 14 yellow stimulator. This was purely a hunch that golden stoneflies lingered, and perhaps the trout would opportunistically pounce on a large stonefly nugget. Unfortunately the brief trial did not produce any results.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-CZroUf1HopI/WXzXiEXVKwI/AAAAAAABMiw/-38VhFg_edUN6RTw70zwTSrWUnQd5wNagCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7240015.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6448265724767501681?locked=true#6448265746774829826″ caption=”Juicy Spot Above the Bridge” type=”image” alt=”P7240015.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I began my day using my Sage four weight, and I tied a size 10 Chernobyl ant to my line along with a beadhead hares ear and a salvation nymph. This lineup produced quite well on the Poudre on Friday, so why not give it a try on the Eagle River? The universal fish attractor, the hares ear nymph, fulfilled its role and delivered an eleven inch brown trout and a twelve inch rainbow to my net before noon. Along the northern edge of the river between the Edwards Bridge and the rest area I added three additional brown trout in the ten to twelve inch range. I jettisoned the salvation nymph and replaced it with an ultra zug bug, and I repositioned the flies so that the hares ear was the bottom fly. The zug bug accounted for one of the three fish extracted above the bridge, and the hares ear fooled the other two.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-E-L2tpR8sTQ/WXzXkmMLscI/AAAAAAABMiw/PAlsdwb7qj0zwFtTvYCGWc7n-hQ9Xi9qACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7240020.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6448265724767501681?locked=true#6448265790214615490″ caption=”Very Dark Olive Color” type=”image” alt=”P7240020.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Unlike previous years I was able to wade along the high bank above the bridge, and when I moved above the small tributary creek that entered from the north at the rest area, I found myself above the fast chute where the river narrows. Here the river spread out nicely, and this enabled me to fish some deep pockets between the bank and the middle of the river. Reaching these juicy areas during higher flows is impossible. I remained locked on five fish for quite awhile, and I began to dread another tough outing attributable to heat and bright sun similar to the Colorado River on July 17 and 18.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VY7oyqGeZhk/WXzXlIrfWKI/AAAAAAABMiw/00feRSBJZCcIw6TRPBSOAVKj428XHzEjgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7240023.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6448265724767501681?locked=true#6448265799472732322″ caption=”A Star Behind the Eye of This Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P7240023.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The segment of water just above the main path from the rest area is usually low and unproductive, but on Monday I found a nice deep run along the north bank, and this produced two of the best brown trout on the day. They were both in the thirteen inch range, and they displayed a deep buttery gold body color. Surprisingly I also enjoyed some action from the relatively shallow riffles in the same area.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qtpSzF45nn8/WXzXp0Tfq3I/AAAAAAABMiw/RGt7qqqMZqcUimSHBalCLBLSjcT_hBJNQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7240026.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6448265724767501681?locked=true#6448265879902727026″ caption=”Marvelous” type=”image” alt=”P7240026.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

When I encountered the long deep pool across from the steep dirt bank below some condominiums, I made a few perfunctory casts with no luck, and then I migrated to the pocket water below the pedestrian bridge. This short segment has historically been one of my favorites, and it did not disappoint on Monday. The boulder field and pocket water delivered five trout including a gorgeous cutthroat trout; a rarity for me on the Eagle River. Near the end of this section the ultra zug bug began to unravel, and I replaced it with an emerald caddis pupa. Earlier one of the flies impaled a cased caddis, and when I extracted the hook point, I discovered an emerald green caddis worm. This chance observation spurred me to test the emerald caddis pupa, and the pupa allowed me to land one of the five pocket water trout.

On Monday the ultra zug bug accounted for three fish, the emerald caddis pupa tallied one, and the hares ear delivered eleven. I covered a huge amount of water in the rest area vicinity, and I executed numerous casts, and it paid off with fifteen trout of moderate size on a hot sunny day. It was a solid day of fishing, and I met Jane at the agreed upon time, and we then continued our journey beyond Minturn and selected campsite number four at Hornsilver. A new adventure was in store for us on Tuesday.

Fish Landed: 15

Eagle River – 07/05/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle CO.

Eagle River 07/05/2017 Photo Album

Three common vexing fly fishing problems are: the line to leader connection gets stuck in the last rod guide necessitating the awkward practice of grabbing the fly rod in the middle in order to pull directly on the fly line, flies get embedded in one’s sungloves, and lids on dry shake canisters come loose resulting in the powdery substance disbursing all over one’s front pack. Thursday was one of those days. All three occurred, but the dry shake dump was the most irritating. I will highlight this more later.

Needless to say I was very anxious to return to the Eagle River after my splendid outing on Monday July 3. The flows dropped by 200 cfs to the 1050 range, and I suspected that the fish would remain in their bank lies to avoid the surging volume in the middle of the river. Packing my gear for a fishing trip was a breeze compared to loading the car for a camping/fishing/bicycling trip, such as the one we completed the previous week to the Steamboat Springs area.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_iWZEVb10t0/WV7rmg12h7I/AAAAAAABLqE/QKPrGcmpv9IaT_F-ZX-tvnJAf5FvVofMQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7050132.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439843555263988513?locked=true#6439843564069750706″ caption=”Lower Flows Reveal More Slow Water Along the Left Bank” type=”image” alt=”P7050132.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I managed to depart Denver by 7:45, and light traffic placed me at the access point to a public section of the Eagle River by 10:00. One might assume that many of the fishermen who cluttered the pullouts along the river on Monday would be back at their place of work on Wednesday, but that supposition might be questionable. Nearly every spot along US 6 contained a vehicle of some sort, and fishing appeared to be the chosen activity of these outdoor enthusiasts. I parked near the same place that attracted me on Monday, and in fact after I assembled my Sage One five weight and stashed my lunch, I entered the public area at the same location and began fishing at the same spot.

I began my quest with a yellow fat Albert, iron sally and beadhead hares ear. If this sounds familiar, it is the exact same lineup that served me so well on Monday. I began fishing at the tail of the long shelf pool that yielded a supercharged rainbow on July 3, and on the seventh cast toward the midsection the fat Albert darted sideways causing me to set the hook. I was instantly connected to a gallant fighter, and it displayed its displeasure of having a pointy object in its mouth by streaking into the fast current. I allowed line to spin from my reel at an alarming rate, and then a football sized rainbow trout launched from the river and crashed back in some frothy waves. I was essentially a spectator to these histrionics, as there was no stopping the freight train. The performance was fun while it lasted, but then the missile made a quick pause and acceleration and ended the affair. I reeled up my line and discovered that the beadhead hares ear was missing in action. What a shame.

I paused to arm my line with another hares ear, and as I was doing so, I heard the sound of something moving through the willows to my left. I gazed toward the dense cluster of whippy trees, and another fisherman appeared. He asked if I was going downstream, and I shook my head in the negative and pointed upstream. He muttered that he would move a good distance above me, and I resumed fishing. It was obvious that this gentleman had entered the area at an unofficial entry point, but I decided not to inform him of this, although I was annoyed that I followed the rules and spent thirty minutes fighting through some adverse conditions, while he jumped the fence and walked directly to my starting spot. I was more upset that he interrupted my karma, and he undoubtedly would disturb some prime bank side runs and pockets that yielded nice fish on Monday.

I continued on my way and picked up three very small trout until I finally hooked and landed a thirteen inch brown on the hares ear. After thirty minutes I spotted the other fisherman actively engaged in casting, so I exited and circled around him. I intentionally walked quite a distance away from the bank, so he would not see me, and I cut back at the point where the river split around a small island. A clump of willows downstream blocked any view he would have of me. This maneuver cost me a significant amount of quality water, but I did not want any additional interaction.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-WrFlJLfKYAE/WV7rnFoW4sI/AAAAAAABLqE/l15Cj8t2spUKVgD7BzThxlB1BrrEzdL_ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7050134.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439843555263988513?locked=true#6439843573945262786″ caption=”Nice Brown in Early Afternoon Action” type=”image” alt=”P7050134.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

At the top of the smaller left braid I cast the dry/dropper system to the deepest part of the relatively shallow flow. I did not expect much from this half-hearted plop, but suddenly the top fly paused, and I set the hook and found myself attached to a fourteen inch brown trout. This surprising turn of events was quite welcome, and I celebrated after releasing the feisty catch with a brief lunch break.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-U0aqKFCc9Zg/WV7rn4pj72I/AAAAAAABLqE/jcaedVghwLwP6OWYJY0UaneU4TifyibeQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7050137.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439843555263988513?locked=true#6439843587640520546″ caption=”Top View of a Yellow Sally” type=”image” alt=”P7050137.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

As was the case on Monday, the air was filled with an explosion of yellow sallies after lunch. Most of the stoneflies were small and approximated a size 16 fly; however, some size 12 and 14 adults were in the mix. The stoneflies were the predominant insect in the air, but I also observed some small blue winged olives and pale morning duns. I adhered to my strategy of July 3 and continued to fish with the yellow fat Albert, iron sally, and beadhead hares ear. The iron sally and hares ear were aggressively attacked two days ago, but the fish nearly ignored my offering on Wednesday. I landed one small rainbow trout just over six inches to push the fish count to six, and then I endured a long dry spell that involved repeated casts with unproductive drifts over numerous very attractive deep runs, riffles and pockets. Stoneflies, caddis and mayflies were everywhere; yet no fish were rising, and the hares ear and iron sally were blatantly ignored.

I cycled through a pheasant tail and salvation in case the trout preferences shifted to the nymph state of the pale morning duns, but these were also ineffective. A go2 caddis pupa and bright green sparkle pupa also failed to end the drought. The dry/dropper method was simply not getting the job done, so I removed the trio of flies and experimented with a single yellow stimulator, and I also tested a light gray comparadun. These seemed more futile than the dry/dropper approach, since surface feeding was a non-event. I remained mystified that such a dense source of food did not encourage binge feeding by the Eagle River trout. My only explanation is that the trout were locked into a phase of the insect life cycle that my flies failed to imitate.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-9lYOyC3Sdjw/WV7rpeT3wZI/AAAAAAABLqE/nrcFUD_SUKQiVEmhOMPWnO6LYabpzzwYgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7050140.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439843555263988513?locked=true#6439843614929961362″ caption=”Chunky Brown Was a Late Afternoon Surprise” type=”image” alt=”P7050140.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By three o’clock I resigned myself to a six fish day that included four trout barely over six inches and two medium sized brown trout. The flow conditions were prime, and insect activity was impressive, yet I experienced a mediocre outing. For some reason I decided to convert back to the dry/dropper approach; however, this time I chose a size 8 Chernobyl ant as my top fly, but I resurrected the iron sally and hares ear. The main hatch was now history, but a few stragglers made infrequent appearances over the water. Sometimes persistence is rewarded, and on Wednesday this was definitely the case for me. The section that I finished the day on was wider and thus offered more wide riffles and runs over moderate depth. I executed solid drag free drifts over these stretches, and suddenly brown trout and rainbow trout demonstrated interest in my flies.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TErXCWnE7ZI/WV7rpn1LnvI/AAAAAAABLqE/76qez4hCN84aQ2YPkeybNyaqL-j-hRGdACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7050142.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439843555263988513?locked=true#6439843617485594354″ caption=”Scarlet Striped Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”P7050142.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

In the next hour I landed one gorgeous fifteen inch brown trout, and three rainbow trout in the 13 – 14 inch range. All four grabbed the hare ear. The only difference between the late afternoon and early afternoon fishing was the time of day, fewer hatching insects, wider gentler structure, and a Chernobyl ant lead fly rather than a fat Albert. The late afternoon success salvaged an otherwise lackluster outing.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-BkM_C4xhbeE/WV7rrtq5OAI/AAAAAAABLqE/9gv31NMMdBcf1kMtCPpn3eCco7mvstNIQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7050147.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439843555263988513?locked=true#6439843653412796418″ caption=”Just Gorgeous” type=”image” alt=”P7050147.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

At 4PM I approached a very nice wide riffle, run and pool area. Some large clouds slid in front of the sun and dimmed the lighting, and this prompted caddis of varying sizes to begin dapping and dancing above the riffles. The active adult caddis in turn encouraged surface feeding among the residents of the large attractive area in front of me. I removed the dry/dropper configuration and tied a size 16 light gray caddis to my line. I was confident that this fly would appeal to the slashing eaters, but instead four trout surfaced and put their nose against my fly before diving back to their holding lie. How could this be? I waited all day for surface action, and now my fly was rejected. I searched in my fly box and cycled through an olive size 16 caddis, an olive muggly caddis, and a size 14 gray stimulator. The muggly caddis generated some looks, but the others were ignored.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-oEI3SZiSnYo/WV7rqVeAtcI/AAAAAAABLqE/SjaSCCbJfXAaRwcO_531v1tymaH7OJ39QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7050143.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439843555263988513?locked=true#6439843629736441282″ caption=”Nearing My Exit Point” type=”image” alt=”P7050143.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I decided to look for a size 18 caddis, since refusals generally suggest downsizing. I remembered tying light gray size 18’s during the winter, but I could not find any in my MFC fly box. I cursed the fact that they were in my boat box in the car and not available at this critical time. Eventually I stumbled on a tiny CDC puff of a caddis dry fly with a light cream body. I gambled that size mattered most and tied this to my line. Amazingly on a drift along the current seam, a rainbow trout surfaced and inhaled my fake. The fish was clearly in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and I battled it for a minute, until it slipped off the hook. I finally managed to dupe one of the selective feeders, but it never put a sag in my net.

The most active feeders at the bottom of the run ceased to rise, so I shifted my gaze to another wider riffle area on the opposite side of the strong run that sliced the section in half. Rises were not as frequent in this area, but I did spot a few. I decided to move above the main center current, and this allowed me to execute some downstream drifts to the new target area. Remember the capsized dry shake canister? I reached in my front pack for the dry shake, and I discovered it was upside down and wedged on the bottom. I attempted to wrap my fingers around the bottom to prevent a release, but the safeguard did not matter. I guessed that the contents had already dumped. I attempted to dip the CDC caddis in the powder on the bottom of the front pack, but this was largely ineffective. Drying out CDC is difficult under normal circumstances, but it was nearly impossible in this scenario.

I decided to ad lib, and I once again tied on the sparse size 16 light gray caddis that I began fishing with upon seeing the rises in the riffle. Unlike earlier, however, I cast across and down, and this new approach achieved success. I landed a twelve inch brown trout and a similar sized rainbow. Both slashed at and grabbed the dry fly as it twitched slightly near the end of the drift. Perhaps motion was the missing ingredient to fooling the trout in the lower half. I will never know because I decided to call it quits at four o’clock.

I landed twelve trout on Wednesday, and six landed in my net during the late afternoon portion of my day. Normally my most productive period is between 11AM and 3PM, but on this day the timing was reversed. The July 5 fishing outing transformed from mediocre to better than average, and my net felt the weight of a fifteen inch brown and several muscular hard fighting rainbows. I anticipate that the Eagle River will continue to be in prime fishing condition for two more weeks. Hopefully I can schedule another day or two on the beautiful freestone tributary to the Colorado River.

Fish Landed: 12

 

Eagle River – 07/03/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle, CO

Eagle River 07/03/2017 Photo Album

Superb is the word that enters my mind, as I reflect on my day on the Eagle River on Monday July 3. How did it compare to June 22 on the Yampa? Read on to find out.

After four excellent visits to the Yampa River, I was itching for a different river experience. I kept my eyes glued to the stream flow data and singled out the Eagle River and Arkansas River as potential near term trips. Both are freestone rivers, and historically I enjoyed great days during receding snow melt conditions. On the July 1 – 2 weekend I checked all the Colorado flows, and I noted that the Eagle River was at the upper range of the window that I desire with flows below Wolcott in the 1250 cfs range. Originally I planned to make the trip to the lower Eagle on Wednesday, but seeing this information caused me to adjust.

Monday was not a holiday per se, but it did occur in the middle of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, so I was certain this timing would generate swarms of anglers. I was correct. I reached Wolcott, CO by 10:15 on Monday morning, and as I drove along the river on US 6 nearly every pullout that allowed access to public water contained two or three vehicles. When I reached my target access point, one SUV occupied a space facing west, so I executed a U-turn and pulled into a narrow gravel area facing east toward Wolcott.

The sky was quite overcast, and it felt as if a small storm was imminent, so I hustled and assembled my Sage One five weight and prepared all my associated fishing gear. Once again I was hopeful for some larger than normal fish thus the five weight rod. Just as I was ready to depart some light rain began to fall, and this prompted me to undo my suspenders and pull on my raincoat. I also stashed my lunch in my backpack, as I planned to make a full day of it. Returning to the car for lunch would subtract too much fishing time given the distance I planned to walk.

After a 30 minute hike with a couple challenging obstacles along the way, I arrived next to the Eagle River to begin my day of fishing. The sun returned to its normal spot, and the light rain and clouds moved on to the east. I overheated during my hike, so I removed my raincoat and jammed it in my backpack underneath my lunch. I surveyed the river, and as expected it was churning at high velocity. Clarity however was excellent, and these were the exact conditions I was seeking. Now it was time to determine whether the fish were hungry and aggressive.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yAujzgj3uEE/WVvsZHsHdqI/AAAAAAABLlo/oRFwaFB9FWQQtfSY5KD-UylJ1W56yk-xQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7030102.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439000003384174097?locked=true#6439000008561227426″ caption=”Shelf Pool at the Start” type=”image” alt=”P7030102.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-gixwa_6tE4A/WVvsapnZSmI/AAAAAAABLlo/DUkW-FpC2aYxH0Eqsk7I5oocYSwJ8S01gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7030107.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439000003384174097?locked=true#6439000034848098914″ caption=”Pool Toy Hopper Fooled Number One” type=”image” alt=”P7030107.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I began with a tan pool toy, beadhead emerald caddis pupa, and a salvation nymph. The fly shop reports advertised afternoon hatches of yellow sallies, caddis and pale morning duns; therefore, the caddis pupa and salvation covered two of the main anticipated food sources. The starting point featured a nice wide shelf pool, where the river widened before it rushed over some rocks into a narrow chute. The shelf pool was fifteen yards long and began as a narrow five foot wide run that fanned out into a slower moving fifteen foot wide pool at the downstream border. I began making drifts along the current seam and then worked casts back toward the shoreline. My eager anticipation was not rewarded, until I moved to the midsection. I shot a cast to the narrow top area, and as the pool toy bobbed through some riffles, it sank, and I set the hook. I half expected a snag, or the foam fly to be waterlogged, but fortunately I was totally mistaken. A large torpedo reacted to the hook set, and it charged toward the faster current. I let it expend energy, and line peeled from my reel, until it applied the brakes and turned. I quickly gained line and put it back on my reel, and after a few more spirited sprints I guided a husky seventeen inch rainbow into my net. I may have shouted an exclamation of joy. What a start to my Monday on the Eagle River. Surprisingly the pool toy was solidly wedged in the corner of the big boy’s mouth.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iJ2lZRQytMc/WVvsaL8EJPI/AAAAAAABLlo/to9hSChnB1kGkE_gG6g5ZEavKE4KEAK0ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7030105.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439000003384174097?locked=true#6439000026881729778″ caption=”Large Gap in My Grip” type=”image” alt=”P7030105.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I was still shaking from the previous tussle, as I moved uptream along the bank and prospected any area with depth and slower current. After a short time I lifted the flies and felt some weight, and this resulted in a twelve inch brown trout. After this success, however, thirty minutes elapsed with no further action, and this prompted me to make some changes. I observed several instances where a fish elevated and looked at the pool toy, and this situation bothered me because attention was diverted from the nymphs. I removed the pool toy and replaced it with a size 8 yellow fat Albert. This fly would easily support two beadhead droppers, and I hoped it would not attract attention, unless the look translated to a take. In this case the droppers were an iron sally and a beadhead hares ear nymph.

As noon approached I drifted the trio of flies in a nice wide run that was four to five feet deep, and toward the tail the fat Albert paused, and I set the hook. Once again pandemonium broke loose as another pink striped missile streaked toward the fast water and then launched into the air. I simply allowed line to peel from the reel until the combative fish calmed down, and eventually after several additional outbursts I had another huge sag in my net. I paused and photographed my prize and rejoiced at my good fortune, and then I resumed my migration. Three fish in 1.25 hours is not an exceptional catch rate, but two of the catches were muscular rainbow trout in the 15 – 18 inch range. I covered a few more marginal runs along the edge, and then I approached a place where some flat rocks and grass invited me to settle down for lunch.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0qH9ItsujFk/WVvsbkm4_eI/AAAAAAABLlo/u1Iu1a0WSgAYi9A2KBWE-z7BzskMx5wiACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7030109.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439000003384174097?locked=true#6439000050683674082″ caption=”What a Beauty” type=”image” alt=”P7030109.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I quickly consumed my sandwich, carrots and yogurt, while I observed the water in front of me. Much to my amazement the river suddenly came alive. Caddis left their stream side perches on the willows and began to dap the surface. Occasionally a small blue winged olive mayfly fluttered up from the edge, but the star attraction was the vast number of yellow sallies. Unlike their large lumbering cousins, these small stoneflies actually flew very smoothly, and they were everywhere.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NmK5Jy3QjtE/WVvscqAo74I/AAAAAAABLlo/v0Vp0xA8g1Etj_jAChR3qOzmhh-2wZXcQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7030112.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439000003384174097?locked=true#6439000069313720194″ caption=”Around the Boulders Looks Attractive” type=”image” alt=”P7030112.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I reattached my frontpack and backpack to my body along with my wading staff, and grabbed my fly rod and resumed my pursuit of Eagle River trout. The early afternoon was simply a spectacular experience. Despite the blizzard of yellow stoneflies that coasted up from the surface of the river, I spotted very few rises. I surmised that I was properly armed with the iron sally and hares ear nymph for the underwater imitation of stonefly nymphs, and I was correct. Between 12:30 and 3:00 I moved the fish count from three to fourteen. Three of these fish were quite small fish that latched on to the trailing hares ear, but two matched the earlier rainbows for size, energy and fighting ability. A couple brown trout in the twelve to thirteen inch range rested in my net as well, and the remainder were feisty medium size rainbows.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-kRXvtBx5Lfk/WVvseWXpy-I/AAAAAAABLlo/ngsC3xCfslEtcYQAbW4tRjvOHgnrPBFXQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7030118.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439000003384174097?locked=true#6439000098401274850″ caption=”Best Brown of the Day” type=”image” alt=”P7030118.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

If I found water with good depth and slow to moderate current, I generally hooked a fish or two. This period also included a couple foul hooked rockets, and trying to leverage a large fish across the surface with a fly embedded in its fin or side is a very tiring experience. Of course I also suffered several requisite long distance releases, but only one of these resulted in the loss of a fly. All the significant netted fish featured the iron sally in their mouths, while the hares ear seemed to attract the dinks. Off and on the sun blocked large clouds, and it seemed that when full sunlight returned, it prompted the stoneflies to resume their emergence. This cycle resulted in three or four waves of thick stonefly clouds. I experienced many summer days when yellow sallies popped off the surface, but I never witnessed a scene such as this, where they overshadowed the caddis and mayflies.

By 3PM I began to see a handful of pale morning duns, and I reached a place where a shelf pool existed just below a large branch that protruded over the river for five feet. I lofted some casts just below the branch, and as I followed the drift of the fat Albert, I noticed a subtle rise five feet below the branch. I tried lifting my flies in that location in the hope that the rising fish might grab one of the nymphs as if it were an emerger. The ploy did not work. I was fairly certain that the fish before me reacted to a pale morning dun, so I snipped off the three flies and tied a size 18 cinnamon comparadun to my line. I checked my cast high so that the PMD fluttered down, and just as the small comparadun reached the location of the previous rise, a mouth elevated and engulfed the imitation. When I saw the rise originally, I assumed it was a medium sized fish, but the streaking fish now attached to my line suggested otherwise. The annoyed trout shot to the faster water, and just as it seemed to decelerate, I attempted to gain some line, and at that moment it turned its head, and the cinnamon fraud released and catapulted into a bush on the bank. The whole scene was so visual, that I was not overly upset with the loss.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-eolCzRHUZ6s/WVvsgN8h5HI/AAAAAAABLlo/En-2By1KbdI1FLMECHFJ3g6SDOBtL-6AwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7030122.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439000003384174097?locked=true#6439000130499765362″ caption=”Long and Colorful” type=”image” alt=”P7030122.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I moved on and reached a point where the river spread out into a very wide section. On the left side in front of me, however, there was a large wide riffle that angled toward the middle of the river, and then it merged with the main current that was flowing from the right. Surely this water would reveal some rising fish? It did, but the rise I noticed appeared to be a small fish. I tried some prospecting casts in what I perceived to be the gut of the run, but the comparadun was ignored. Eventually I returned my attention to the spot where a fish continued to rise, and after six casts it elevated and sucked in my dun pattern. In this case my instincts were correct, and I netted a ten inch rainbow trout.

The next section was a wide relatively slow moving area with depth of no more than three feet. I paused and noticed several tiny sipping rises, so I positioned myself at the tail and shot some long casts to the deeper trough areas. One fish looked at my fly and returned to its position, but that was the extent of the action. I fully expected this area to reveal more larger fish, but the density of the pale morning dun hatch did not seem to spur the Eagle River trout to spread out in shallow lies. As the river drops and the hatch intensifies, the occupation of shallow exposed areas may evolve. Just beyond the top of the wide shallow pool, I tossed a cast into the middle of a marginal pocket and picked up a ten inch brown. This brought the fish count to sixteen, and I was quite pleased with my edge fishing venture.

I was reluctant to convert back to the dry/dropper configuration so close to when I planned to quit, so I decided to cover a lot of water, and look for slow sections, where I could spot rises and cast the small comparadun. Unfortunately I did not encounter any, but I did find a nice wide deep run similar to productive stretches from the early afternoon. With the abundant supply of yellow sallies, could the trout opportunistically pounce on a yellow stimulator? I decided to give it a try. I replaced the comparadun with a size 12 light yellow stimulator, and I began to cast it to the appealing run above me. On the fifth drift a mouth appeared, and it crushed the attractor dry fly. My jaw dropped, but that did not prevent me from setting the hook, and another series of streaks and dives and jumps and turns ensued, but the stimulator and fisherman did their job, and a deeply colored solid muscular rainbow slid into my net. What a way to end my day on the Eagle River!

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-BgS5dfby6-Q/WVvshj2aQxI/AAAAAAABLlo/1F3BjbfNr1YaUXBrdQ4P_FBIVBfCC0ikwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7030125.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6439000003384174097?locked=true#6439000153559548690″ caption=”Ate the Yellow Stimulator” type=”image” alt=”P7030125.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

In summary I landed seventeen trout on Monday, and all except four were rainbows. Five of the bagged trout were hard fighting hefty fish in the 15 – 18 inch range. For some reason my percentage of hooked to landed fish was much better than my success rate on the Yampa. Perhaps I have learned to relax more and not force the issue. As one might expect, and I am already planning another visit for this week.

Landed Fish: 17