Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM
Location: Downstream from Wolcott and then in Edwards
Eagle River 07/12/2023 Photo Album
Ever since I met my friend, Nate, I have been hyping the edge fishing on the Eagle River, as something that he should experience, Nate had off work on Wednesday, so we made plans to undertake the two plus hour trip to the Eagle River on July 12, 2023. Since I was the advocate to fish the Eagle, I developed the plan for our day.
We met at 8AM at the Woolly Mammoth parking lot west of Denver, and we arrived at a pullout below Wolcott by 10:30AM. The air temperature was already in the upper seventies, and the afternoon high registered in the mid-eighties. Nate’s fly rods were already strung, and he chose his five weight based on my suggestion. I also put together my Sage One five weight, and we hiked to the river. Early on in our exploration of the river, Nate hooked and landed a feisty rainbow trout, and I was encouraged by the early success. The flows were in the 800 to 850 CFS range, so wading was easier than on my visit on Monday; however, most of the casting remained limited to the ten feet of river that rolled along the bank.
Because of the continued fast current, Nate and I alternated between promising spots. Not too long after Nate netted his fish, I also connected with a very fit and energetic rainbow trout, and I was fortunate to land the fourteen inch fighter. During the late morning we observed an increased number of insects including pale morning duns and yellow sallies; however, the density of the hatches never brought fish to the surface. We both continued to deploy our dry/dropper rigs, as we cherry picked only prime runs, pockets and slots. In my case, I cast a size 8 fat Albert, iron sally and salvation nymph. I had a goal to reach the wide riffle, where I ended on Monday, by 12:30PM; and we arrived ten minutes late, but the attractive section was devoid of rising fish.
We eventually acknowledged that a hatch was not going to materialize at one of my favorite sections of the river, so we stripped in our lines and returned to the car. During the morning session, I landed one fine rainbow trout, but I also connected briefly with three additional trout, and each appeared to be a very respectable fish in the thirteen to fifteen inch range.
I was now in scramble mode to salvage some action for Nate and I on a hot day in July. Originally I planned our second stop to be the Horn Ranch section, but this area was also on the lower, wide open portion of the river, so I continued onward to Edwards and parked at the rest stop. I knew from past experience that the narrower and tree-lined section by the rest stop fished better on hot summer days.
Our rods were at the ready, so we grabbed them and ambled along the path in an upstream direction, until we arrived at the massive run and pool that serves as the centerpiece of the rest area public water. Much to my amazement the pool was devoid of other anglers. We prospected our dry/droppers through the shelf pool nearest to our position with no success, so we paused to eat our lunches. As we munched our food, we observed the river, and a cluster of rising fish appeared at the tail of the pool.
Nate Displayed with Pride
We pulled on our gear after lunch, and we reconfigured our lines with double dry fly offerings, and Nate approached the risers at the tail, while I moved along the bank to the midsection. We both spent fifteen minutes tossing our dries, and Nate came up empty, while I logged brief hookups with two brown trout that were rising in the shelf pool on my side of the strong center cut run. Near the top of the run, I spotted another rise, and I placed quite a few casts in the vicinity to no avail other than a cursory look.
The risers ended their feast, so Nate and I moved on to the pocket water section above the large pool. We spent the remainder of the afternoon prospecting the pockets with our double dry fly rigs, and we finally experienced a modicum of success. Nate featured a black hippie stomper and size 14 golden stonefly adult with a yellow and orange abdomen. As we covered the first half of the pocket water, the stonefly caught fire, and Nate upped his fish count to three, but he also notched a bevy of long distance releases.
I, meanwhile, deployed a yellow stimulator and size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis, and I managed to land a small brown that savored the caddis. However, as Nate’s stonefly became the preferred meal, my flies fell out of favor, so I switched to a red-body hippie stomper trailing a beadhead hares ear nymph. This move was renounced by the local trout, so after a short trial period I switched to a peacock body hippie stomper that trailed a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis. This combination performed admirably, and I increased my fish count to four including a very fine thirteen inch brown trout. I made a nice cross stream cast to a narrow slot and allowed the flies to drift without drag to the lip of the slick. Just as the flies began to accelerate to the next pocket, a fish chomped on the caddis, but I was connected for a brief split second. I resumed casting, and the hungry stream resident continued to make refusing swirls at the flies. On a subsequent cast I halted the drift so that the flies fluttered at the lip, and then I moved my rod to the left and created a skittering caddis. The trout aggressively pursued the waking flies, but once again it came up short. Nate was in awe of this performance. Finally I extended a cast another three feet, and fed the fly down another lane tight to the fast current, Just as the caddis was about to drag over the lip, a thirteen inch brown attacked, and I landed it. Nate and I both suspected that the fish I landed was different from the one that put on a chasing show.
Nice One by Dave
The Brown Chased the Caddis at the Tail of the Smooth Water
By 4:30PM we reached the pedestrian bridge that marks the border with private water, so we called it quits and hiked back to the car. Just before we quit Nate connected with a very nice rainbow, but it maneuvered into the faster main current and managed to elude the net.
Needless to say Wednesday was a bit disappointing, as we landed seven fish between us over 4.5 hours of fishing. Nevertheless, we salvaged some fun in the pocket water with opportunistic fish in the late afternoon, and Nate received an introduction to several sections of the river, should he decide to revisit on his own at a future date. I, meanwhile, will turn my attention to the Arkansas River in the near term, as Jane and I are renting a cabin with private river frontage in the upcoming week. Stay tuned.
Fish Landed: 4