Time: 11:00AM – 5:00PM
Location: Edwards rest area; Eagle River below Minturn
No green drakes!
When I endured surgery in January, it made me realize that the fuse of life is getting shorter. This in turn prompted me to set some goals for the 2016 fishing season, and devoting time to edge fishing was one of them. I enjoyed successful and in some cases spectacular days fishing the Yampa, Eagle and Arkansas Rivers during the two week time period from June 23 through July 8, so I checked off one of my main commitments.
While recovering and tying flies during February, I added two additional pledges. I planned to eliminate commitments in July and keep the calendar open for frequent fishing and camping trips. July is the prime month for insect hatches in Colorado, and in 2016 I hoped to be on the stream participating, not voicing the “wait until next year” utterance.
My favorite western hatch is the green drake, and I spent quite a few hours during the winter tying and planning for this event. Another dream for July is to do the green drake tour. I hope to meet and fish to as many green drake hatches as possible. I flipped through one of my Colorado fishing books and reviewed all the hatch charts and made a list of all the drainages that support green drake hatches.
With this background, I set out on a new fishing adventure on Monday morning, July 11. My destination for Monday was the Eagle River with an overnight stay at Hornsilver Campground south of Minturn in the plan as well for Monday night. I spent some time packing the car for camping in the morning, and consequently I left the house by 8:30 and thus arrived at the Edwards rest area parking lot by 10:30. The temperature was cooler than the previous couple days with the mercury rising to the upper seventies and low eighties. The flows in Edwards were in the 550 cfs range, and these levels remain above the summer norm, so in some ways Monday was an extension of the edge fishing phase of my summer.
I began my quest for trout below the bridge that is downstream from the rest area, and I fitted my line with a fat Albert, copper john, and beadhead hares ear, as I launched my fishing adventure. In the one hour before lunch I landed two decent browns with the largest and first being thirteen inches. Both fish grabbed the hares ear nymph, and I was quite pleased with the start of my two day fishing trip. I returned to the car to grab my lunch bag and water bottle, and then I followed the path to the edge of the river to eat. While munching my sandwich I noted a fair number of caddis resting on the branches of the shrubs and dapping on the surface of the river.
After lunch I returned to the stretch of the river just above the bridge, and I fished the narrow pockets next to a high bank until I was unable to progress farther up the left side. This period was action packed as I landed five trout including a fourteen inch brown before moving on at 1:15. Three of the five were small rainbows, and the salvation nymph was responsible for all the fish that reached my net. At 1:15 the high bank forced me to retreat back to the bridge to intersect with the trail, and I stopped at the car to stuff my raincoat in my backpack in case of adverse weather, although the sky suggested that rain was unlikely.
After my visit to the car I followed the trail across from the parking lot to its downstream termination, and here I fished some nice pockets in the rest area section with a size 8 Chernobyl as the top fly, and a bright green caddis paired with a salvation nymph. This area in past years typically produced several nice fish, but on July 11 my efforts were futile, and I failed to add to the fish count. Again I retreated to the trail, and I skipped around a large segment of marginal water, until I reached the long pool. Amazingly no one else occupied the long pool, so I paused to prospect the top one-third. The dry/dropper approach failed to attract any fish, but while I was casting, I noticed a fish rise twice in the cushion in front of a submerged rock.
There were many caddis dapping in this area, so I patiently converted to a solitary size 16 light gray deer hair caddis adult. This fly failed to attract the riser, but I continued presenting it for the remainder of my time at the rest area, and it enabled me to land an additional six fish. Several of the six fish were decent catches in the hefty thirteen inch range. I covered quite a bit of territory during this time frame including the pockets above long pool, the small braid around the first island, the left bank above the island, and the side of the island that faces highway six.
At the upper end of the pockets above the long pool, a hot fish (it appeared to be a rainbow) peeled out a significant amount of line as it streaked upstream, and unfortunately when it executed a leap above the water, it freed itself. I was unable to maintain line pressure with the great amount of line between me and the fish. In another disappointing incident, a weighty brown trout broke off the caddis with a violent head twist in the area along the bank above the island.
At 4PM I hiked back to the car, but I stayed in my waders in case I decided to test the Eagle River between Minturn and interstate 70. As I exited the interstate and traveled along the river above the confluence with Gore Creek, I was intrigued by the glistening flows next to me, so I crossed the cement bridge and parked and then pushed my way through the bushes to the river. Alas I discovered that the river was dead between 4:30 and 5:00, at least by my definition. I tried the caddis and a dry/dropper arrangement and never spotted as much as a refusal. I closed the book on the Eagle River and drove south and paid for campsite 3 at Hornsilver Campground.
Monday was a solid day on the Eagle River, as I enjoyed quite a bit of success on the caddis dry fly. The higher than normal water level forced me to focus mainly on the edge, and I adapted and netted a decent number of nice fish. The two escapees were probably my best shots at fifteen inches plus, however, I felt the tug of quite a few brown trout in the 13-14 inch range.
Fish Landed: 13