Flows on the Eagle have risen steadily over the last few days and as a result water temps have largely held below 60 deg F. This is great news for the fishery and from a productivity standpoint as well. While flows remain below the historical average for this time of year, trout have been more prone to spread out during the day and are feeding at normal rates. Hopper droppers and dry droppers remain an effective option. However, as fall progresses and overnight air temps dip below freezing, it will begin to slow. As such, take advantage of it while you can. An Amy’s Ant or Chubby Chernobyl will make for great stimulators while smaller searchers/attractors like a Flashback PT, Hare’s Ear, Frenchie or Copper John will be effective trailer patterns. Don’t be afraid to throw in some imitative midge, baetis or caddis patterns into the mix as well. Hatch activity has been consistent with previous weeks, but surface action has been hit or miss. Keep an eye out for midges and tricos in the early hours followed by BWOs. If you see trout actively rising, don’t hesitate to rig up some dries. Otherwise, nymphing will be the way to go. Low air pressure over the next few days will leave trout holding idle in the deeper water most of the day. However, they will be easily enticed by bigger offerings like a stonefly or leech.
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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.