Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM
Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle, CO
Today, Saturday, July 27, felt like an instant replay of Wednesday. If I characterized Wednesday as spectacular, then today can be described as a bit less spectacular.
I battled 1500 CFS flows (Eagle River below Milk Creek gauge) on Wednesday with outstanding success, and I was anxious to make a return trip, before the river fell out of edge fishing status. Jane and I planned a camping trip for the first part of next week, and commitments on Thursday, Friday and Sunday left Saturday as my only open date. Since my retirement in 2015 I rarely fished on the weekend, but I decided to make an exception today, July 27. Flows on the DWR graph for the Eagle River below Milk Creek gauge registered 1100 to 1200 CFS, and this drop from Wednesday greatly aided my ability to wade and move along the still relatively high Eagle River.
During my 5.5 hours of fishing today I landed eighteen trout, and the split was roughly 50/50 between the brown and rainbow species. The fish count improved over Wednesday by one, but the average size of the fish was slightly smaller. Five of the eighteen landed trout were under twelve inches, and this impacted the average. The other trout were very fit and hard fighting battlers in the thirteen to fifteen inch range.
Another similarity to Wednesday was the high number of escaped fish. Over the course of the day I connected with twenty-six fish, but only landed eighteen. By nearly every measure today was a very successful outing, yet I remain haunted by the many fish that managed to shed my hooks. I did not lose a single fly, so all the long distance releases were attributable to the advanced fighting tactics of the Eagle River trout population.
I can count five situations, where I hooked the fish, and it then streaked downstream from my position. I maintained tension on the line and held my rod upstream of the fish, and in each case the fish managed to twist or shake its head causing the fly to release and catapult into a bush or tree along the bank. Fortunately in all cases I was able to rescue the flies, although some fairly acrobatic maneuvers were required. I am not sure what I need to change in order to improve my landing percentage of fish hooked. Certainly the trout were adept at using the higher flows to their advantage, and the larger size of the fish was also a factor that worked in their favor. I also believe that the extended run off kept the fishing pressure down, so the fish that I was hooking were very fresh and fit, as they had not been caught and released since the period prior to snow melt.
I fished the same stretch of the Eagle River as Wednesday, and I began with a tan pool toy, iron sally and salvation nymph. The same tan pool toy remained on my line throughout the day as did the iron sally. I suffered an extended lull during the two morning hours, and during this time I cycled through an emerald caddis pupa, ultra zug bug and bright green caddis pupa. The ultra zug bug accounted for two very nice fish, and the emerald caddis yielded one, but it broke off. Actually the leader remained in tact, but the shank of the fly broke 1/8 of an inch behind the hook eye. This was probably a cost to refurbishing flies on old hooks.
When I paused for my lunch break the fish count rested on four, including two fish that nabbed the ultra zug bug and a nice brown trout that crushed the pool toy hopper. The hopper victim was the only fish that fed on the surface during my Saturday fishing outing.
As I ate my lunch, I observed yellow sallies, golden stoneflies, small caddis and a handful of blue winged olives and pale morning duns. The density of aquatic insects was much reduced from Wednesday, and the dapping caddis were actually the most prevalent aquatic insect species present. Because the iron sally and salvation nymph proved very effective between 12:30PM and 2:30PM on Wednesday, I reverted to that lineup on Saturday afternoon.
On Wednesday I observed a brief flurry of surface feeding during the early afternoon window, but on Saturday I never spotted more than one or two rises. I also lingered at several prime spots with the expectation of hooking fish, but in several cases I was disappointed. Nevertheless I had a blast popping the dry/dropper in all the quality slow water areas along the left bank, and in many cases I was rewarded with beautiful wild hard fighting trout.
I expect that the Eagle River will remain in prime condition for another two to three weeks, and I intend to return. In all likelihood the fish will be more spread out, and a positive of lower flows might be more surface feeding and, thus, some dry fly action. Normally this phase of water flows on the Eagle River coincides with the pale morning dun hatch, but the late run off may necessitate increased reliance on caddis and terrestrials.
Fish Landed: 18