Time: 9:30AM – 5:00PM
Location: Edwards Rest Area
Fish Landed: 17
The flows on the Eagle River declined to the 680 cfs range, and based on previous experience the Eagle gets pretty tough below 500 cfs. Not knowing when I’d have another opportunity, I decided to make the 2 hour trip even though 680 is still pretty much volume. It was forecast to be a bright sunny hot day, so that would make things difficult as well. I got off to a nice early start around 7AM and was on the river fishing by 9:30AM.
Another fisherman arrived while I was getting my stuff together, but I beat him out of the lot. I planned to hit the juicy spots based on prior experience and not dwell on less productive water. This would prove to be a winning strategy over the course of the day. I made a beeline for the nice long deep run first, but unfortunately as I arrived at the water and pulled my line through the rod guides I saw another fisherman waving his line above me in the middle of the run. I traced back over my path and went further up the river to the pocket water above the long run. The river was indeed running along at a fast clip and I could only work the pockets along the edge, some of which were among the willows that are normally on dry land.
I tied on a yellow Letort hopper trailing a beadhead hares ear and managed to land a small brown and then a pretty decent specimen around 13 inches long and fat. Both took the Letort hopper on the surface. Once I’d fished the edge of the pocket water, I skirted the large bend pool and crossed the pedestrian bridge and then came down from the other side to the pool. I cast my dry/dropper in the shallower edge water and tail out, but had no success. I spotted a fish angled into the faster current, so I decided to switch to a strike indicator and split shot. I covered the water where I spotted the fish, but had no luck. Next I decided to try the stack mending technique so I walked to the top of the run and cast to the faster water, did a big mend, and then stack mended and fed out line. I got some great drifts through the heart of the hole, but still no takes. Perhaps I wasn’t getting deep enough. I added another split shot and tried again, but on the second or third drift the indicator dipped and I set the hook, but I was hung up on the bottom. All I could do was apply direct pressure, and I ended up tearing off one of the split shot and both flies.
Frustrated with the lack of action in the nice pool, I walked back under the footbridge and then out to the river underneath it. There was a nice area here where I could fish ten feet or so out from the bank. I landed one nice brown here that grabbed the beadhead emerald caddis in a fairly shallow spot along the bank under some overhanging branches. I also foul hooked another fish that took me down the river a bit before I could control it and release. I also had a momentary hookup.
It was close to 11:30 so I decided to hike back to the car for lunch before going further up the river along the right side facing upstream as it is difficult to exit if one gets too far above the bridge. I returned to the car and grabbed my lunch and walked down the path to the river near where my car was parked at the rest area. I sat on a fallen log and ate my lunch and noticed a sparse hatch of small mayflies and many swallows were snatching them from the air above the river. The area before me was pretty nice with numerous pockets so I decided to fish out this area after lunch before returning to the right bank above the bridge.
When I returned with my rod and wading stick, as I was walking down the muddy path to the river at the bottom of the pocket water stretch, my feet slid out from under me on some slick moss and I fell backward with my back landing on the pointy gnawed off stump of a narrow tree. It felt like I got stabbed and I checked for a wound or blood, but feeling none I moved out in the river and began fishing. At the bottom of the stretch and out toward the middle I hooked two fish on the hopper at the very tail of some pockets. I landed one nice fish comparable to two of the morning fish, but lost the other one in the ensuing fight in the swift pocket water below.
I continued fishing upstream hitting all the nice slots and pockets, but didn’t have any additional action so I exited and hiked back on the road and then across the bridge and then down to the river under the bridge again. Over the next two and a half hours I fought the current and the willows and made left handed and backhanded casts into the narrow pockets along the right bank and landed eight fish. I also had numerous hook ups that didn’t result in landed fish and broke off two sets of flies when the fish ran downstream in the heavy current and wrapped me around sticks. The action was not as hot as other times I’d been there, but considering the blue sky and high air temperatures still rather acceptable.
When I reached the bend where the river curves to the east and runs along route 6, I debated what to do. I like the small braid that runs on the north side of the island just ahead, but it was higher than normal and a woman was sitting on the bank enjoying the serenity so I didn’t want to infringe on her moment. In addition I would have to walk all the way around to the bridge and then up the other side. I climbed up the bank to the highway and walked east a bit until I saw a path down to the river just below where it forked around the island. I went down to this area and ran a few casts through the slack water. Then I noticed some more slack water below me so I cast to the current seam and did some stack mends, and I was startled to see a fish rise to the hopper. I set the hook and had a momentary hook up, but it got off rather quickly. I tried the stack mend thing again and as the flies drifted beyond the previous rise, the hopper slowly dipped and I belatedly set the hook and felt momentary weight. Apparently a fish had taken the pheasant tail, and I was late again.
I couldn’t move up the river due to the heavy current and brush, so I once again retreated to the highway and walked up the shoulder to a point above the island adjacent to some churning pocket water. I found a path to the river and covered some nice pockets along the bank for the next 1.5 hours and landed another five brown trout. Several were similar in size to the morning browns. I spotted one fish when it moved toward my hopper but didn’t take it. The fish appeared to be of decent size and it did a couple more refusals, but on a later drift it spotted the trailing pheasant tail and grabbed it. That was a gratifying catch.
There were limited spots where I could get through the dense vegetation and climb the bank to the road, so when I saw one at around 5PM, I took my exit route and hiked down the road, through the condos to the pedestrian bridge, across the bridge, and then the bike path back to the rest area. It was a taxing day, but successful nonetheless.