Productivity on the Eagle continues to improve with sustained lower flows, improved water clarity and increased bug life. While we’re continuing to see some daily fluctuations in flow and water clarity, trout are feeding actively throughout the day. Rain over the next few days could exacerbate clarity fluctuations so come prepared for variable clarity. As it stands, trout are favoring the deep and slow water, but are moving in and out the faster runs, riffles, seams and transitions to feed. As far as tactics go, nymphing, hopper droppers and streamers will produce the best results. However, trout are increasingly looking to the surface to feed so be prepared to fish a single or double dry fly. Hatch activity has been strong with a variety of bugs coming on the scene. Midges are hatching sporadically throughout the day while caddis are making a regular appearance in the late morning/early afternoon and evening hours. Additionally, PMDs and yellow sallies are growing in numbers and have been hatching alongside the caddis. When nymphing, you’ll want to adjust your depth accordingly. In the early hours, fish deep, but as the day goes on lighten the load and favor emergers and pupa patterns. Lead flies in the stonefly, leech and worm variety are all viable options. As far as trailers go, comparatively smaller imitations in the midge, baetis and caddis variety will be effective. As far as dry flies go, an Elk Hair Caddis or Yellow Sally to a Parachute PMD has been our go-to set up, but don’t hesitate to swap your second fly for an emerger/dropper. Otherwise, favor the banks and slow water with a streamer or hopper dropper.
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The Eagle River is a tributary of the Colorado River and spans over 60 miles through west central Colorado. This beautiful freestone river originates at the Continental Divide near the Mount of the Holy Cross and Camp Hale landmarks. Beginning at the Divide, it travels north until it reaches the Vail Valley to which it turns west where it merges with Gore Creek before ultimately spilling into the Colorado River near Dotsero. Here you’ll find beautiful landscapes ranging from a meandering valley setting to intense rapids cutting through jagged mountainous terrain. In this river, you’ll find plenty of cutthroat, brook, brown and rainbow trout in the 10” to 15” range. However, there are a few native lunkers holding in the upper and lower sections.
The Eagle offers a variety of fishing styles and is generally friendly to anglers of all skill sets. The upper Eagle, near the headwaters, is known best for its pocket water and swift current. This is one of the more technical sections, but with a little persistence and patience you could find yourself on the fighting end of a trophy brown. Additionally, this stretch offers some incredible dry fly fishing in the late summer and fall. The lower Eagle is more forgiving. However, it sees a lot more angler traffic. Here you will find bigger uniform water with fewer features. A heavy nymph rig has proven to be the most effective in this stretch. However, streamers are always a great option, especially if you’re looking to target bigger fish.
There are a number of great access points along the Eagle as it flows parallel to I-70 for much of its journey to the Colorado River. If you are looking to fish the headwaters, take Highway 24 from Dowd’s Junction (I-70 and Highway 24) toward Leadville until you reach Camp Hale. Here you’ll find a number of campgrounds and forest service land. However, keep an eye out for private property. Fishing through Vail Valley provides many access points stretching from the Minturn exit to Dotsero. If you follow Highway 6, you’ll find plenty of public access points along the Eagle. Look for BLM sites and DOW leases.