While variable throughout the day, flows on the Eagle have largely held in check since last week and should continue to do so for the next few days given mild weather. That being said, we’re expecting consistent rain during this time, which could lead to further clarity impairments. As it stands, clarity is good above Wolcott, but there is certainly some color. Below Wolcott, however, is stained and dirty. As far as tactics go, hit the banks and slack water with a heavy nymph rig. Trout are stacking up in areas where they can get a reprieve from the strong current and if you can find one trout, there are sure to be more. Big and messy lead flies are the ticket right now and while trout are not keyed in on any particular bug, leeches, caddis larva, stoneflies, worms and eggs are all good options. Otherwise, trail with one or more smaller searchers/attractors or imitations. Either way, you’ll want to prioritize patterns that are dark in profile and move some water as these types of flies will get the most attention and be most visible to trout. Dark and articulated streamers have been and will continue to be a viable option as well, especially if you are not seeing results on a nymph rig. Regardless, it is all about getting your flies in front of the fish so make sure to adjust your depth and indicator position until you’ve dialed it in. If you can successfully do so, you will have a productive time on the water. Lastly, hatch activity has been fairly consistent, but surface action has been limited given poor visibility. This is not to say you won’t see results with dry flies, but rather your odds of success will likely be lower compared to the aforementioned methods.
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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.