Time: 8:30AM – 2:30PM
Location: Edwards rest area and then section between Minturn and interstate 70
Fish Landed: 9
My most significant accomplishment on July 30 at the Timbers at Bachelor Gulch had nothing to do with fishing, but more on that later. I spent Thursday morning fishing with Jeff Weekley, and this taught me two things. First, I realized that the best fishing was in the morning with the bright sun and warm air temperatures making fly fishing in the afternoon a difficult proposition. I enjoyed my time with Jeff, but I did not want to push him too hard to move often given the extremely slippery wading conditions on the Eagle River. The Thursday experience did whet my appetite for some aggressive wading and dry/dropper fishing in the abundant pocket water near the Edwards rest area.
With these thoughts spinning in my head, I woke up early and quickly munched an english muffin and yogurt. The valet quickly brought my car to the covered entrance to the condominium complex, and I drove the short distance to the Edwards rest area where I prepared to fish. For Friday I decided to explore the pocket water between the Riverwalk shops and the rest area, so I followed the fisherman path and then walked downstream along the bank as far as I could until I reached the very fast whitewater chute that blocked the progress of Jeff and me on Thursday.
I began with a Chernobyl ant with a pink foam inidcator and added a beadhead ultra zug bug and salvation nymph, and interestingly these flies would serve me over the course of my entire day on the Eagle River near the rest area. Despite my early start and the cool air temperatures, the first hour was very slow, and I did not land a single fish. Although the fishing was lacking, I did burn quite a few calories as I slipped and slid over the round slimy rocks that characterize the Eagle River stream bed. I moved back and forth between the left bank and the edge of the heavy current in the middle of the river and prospected all the deep attractive pockets in between.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jB-85GC9Hk0/Vb2WUQ-xA4I/AAAAAAAA2Zc/NuK337F7kS0/s144-c-o/P7300017.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/07312015EagleRiver#6178259538721964930″ caption=”Pocket Water as Far as the Eye Can See” type=”image” alt=”P7300017.JPG” ]
Finally after an hour of fishing, a twelve inch brown grabbed the salvation nymph as it tumbled next to a large exposed rock. This gave me some hope, so I continued in this manner and landed three additional trout until I encountered a wide shallow section of the river above the rest area. All the fish landed in the rest area pocket water were brown trout in the twelve inch range, and all but one took the salvation nymph. The other one inhaled the ultra zug bug. This segment of my outing between 8:30 and 10:30 represented a lot of difficult wading over much stream real estate for a fairly minimal return.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cJbz1ie5ci4/Vb2WTi-aJFI/AAAAAAAA2ZQ/k-XMdEkic_8/s144-c-o/P7300016.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/07312015EagleRiver#6178259526372435026″ caption=”A Decent Brown from the Eagle River Early Friday Morning” type=”image” alt=”P7300016.JPG” ]
I could see fishermen in the prime run between the rest area and the pedestrian bridge, so I exited and climbed the bank to the path and circled high above the river and then crossed the pedestrian bridge. I returned to the river on the opposite side and decided to fish the right bank upstream from the bridge. This is my favorite stretch of Eagle River water, although Todd Grubin told me it is private. I decided to fish it anyway and plead ignorance should I be confronted, as I rarely see anyone on the condo side of the river high above a steep bank.
This section of the Eagle is perfect brown trout water. It consists of a series of deep pockets and runs between the heavy main current and the bank. The dry/dropper method is devised for this water, as the approach matches the moderate depth. On Friday the right side produced three additional fish under some very challenging conditions. I began fishing at 10:30, and the sun was strong, and the air temperature was rising quickly. There was no evidence of a hatch of any sort. Despite these adverse conditions, I landed a feisty twelve inch brown from the area just above the pedestrian bridge.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JYqrx1q3WaM/Vb2WWV1hHlI/AAAAAAAA2Z4/CYx6crm5iuo/s144-c-o/P7300021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/07312015EagleRiver#6178259574385090130″ caption=”Same Chunky Fighter from the Side” type=”image” alt=”P7300021.JPG” ]
After I released the brown trout, I cast to a fairly shallow riffle close to the bank, and the indicator paused for a split second. I reacted to this subtle shift in drift and set the hook and landed a very healthy 15 inch brown. Ten yards farther upstream as the flies drifted tight to the edge of the current seam, the indicator once again dipped, and I executed a swift lift with my rod tip and discovered a beautiful 16 inch rainbow attached to my line. I enjoyed the battle with this beauty and eventually brought it to my net and rejoiced in the two large fish that I managed to land under very trying conditions.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HoMCgs3tAiM/Vb2WXZGsPLI/AAAAAAAA2aI/Y_W2iriseeM/s144-c-o/P7300023.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/07312015EagleRiver#6178259592442297522″ caption=”Great Shoulders on This Pretty Fish” type=”image” alt=”P7300023.JPG” ]
By 12:30 it was quite warm, and I had fished the entire right bank from the pedestrian bridge to the ninety degree bend, so I exited and walked back to the car via Riverwalk and the Edwards bridge. It was 12:45, and I wanted to fish a bit longer, so I drove east and exited at the Minturn ramp. A short drive south brought a bridge into view, so I turned left, crossed and then turned right and drove on the rough dirt road until I was a decent distance beyond a camper. I cut straight down to the river, and began prospecting with the same flies that I used at the Edwards rest area, but there were no signs of fish until I landed a small brown on the salvation nymph as it drifted tight to a large side boulder along the bank.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jJiPYNhFRXo/Vb2WX3jjVGI/AAAAAAAA2aU/V_X68oGaobA/s144-c-o/P7310024.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/07312015EagleRiver#6178259600616412258″ caption=”The Eagle River Below Minturn” type=”image” alt=”P7310024.JPG” ]
The river here was narrower than the main branch, but it was similar to the Edwards section in terms of many exposed boulders, deep runs and pockets. It seemed there should be more fish than I was encountering, so I clipped off the dry/dropper components and tied on a size 14 olive stimulator. This generated some refusals, so I downsized to a size 16 gray caddis. In a short amount of time after the change, I landed a ten inch brown on the caddis, This caused me to believe that I unlocked the secret, but then the fish began refusing the small caddis imitation.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AG4mftVragI/Vb2WYpS8dLI/AAAAAAAA2aY/gtIqsY620jQ/s144-c-o/P7310025.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/07312015EagleRiver#6178259613968528562″ caption=”Small Brown from the Minturn Section” type=”image” alt=”P7310025.JPG” ]
I continued on and covered quite a bit of the stream, and I did manage several momentary hook ups at the very lip of pockets. I saw a few PMD’s rising up from the surface and wondered if the fish were refusing the light gray caddis because they recognized the light gray body, but were then turned off by the swept back wing. I went to a light gray comparadun to test my theory. In a nice deep trough next to the bank, I spotted a swirl in the glare and set the hook and felt the weight of a decent fish, but it only lasted for seconds, and the fish was gone. The comparadun stopped producing, so I experimented with a large peacock body stimulator, but that only elicited a refusal or two.
By 2:45 I was weary and frustrated by how picky the small fish were, so I returned to the Timbers at Bachelor Gulch condo. Nine fish on a hot day was actually respectable, and this included two beauties of fifteen inches or greater.
But what about my most significant accomplishment on Thursday? I often saw runners gliding along at high altitude, and I held these folks in very high regard. It is difficult to run at the elevation of Denver, let alone 8,000 feet above sea level as is the case in Vail or Avon. Even more impressive is running uphill at altitude against a severe grade. When I returned from fishing with Jeff on Thursday, the other guests at the condo were golfing, and I felt like I needed to exercise. I decided to run to the tennis courts and back, but I soon discovered that it was only a half mile with the return being a severe uphill that followed several sharp switchbacks. After I finished the one mile loop, I turned left and followed the paved road that skirts the Bachelor Gulch developed area and continued on an uninterrupted climb for another mile. At age sixty-four I accomplished what I marveled at other young runners doing; I ran a continuous uphill at altitude in eighty degree temperatures. Now that is something to celebrate.