Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM
Location: Edwards Rest Area
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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