Today was a fun one for Eagle River Outfitter. We had a crew of 30 guests throughout the day and an awesome crew of Vail fly fishing guides. Big thanks to Sage Outdoor Adventures and Colorado Angling Company for helping us in the morning and afternoon and helping to put our guests on fish! The fish were friendly both in the morning and in the afternoon as the river continued to drop, clear up and warm up. Stream temperatures in the upper 40's to low 50's has got the bugs active and the fish feeding. I had the opportunity to fish the Eagle River on both the lower stretches (Wolcott) and upper stretches (Avon) with my two groups of visiting guests. Fishing in Wolcott early in the morning while the water (and air) temperatures were still cool meant nymphing deep with small midges. The Eagle River trout were happy to start the day feasting on small snacks. Though not easy to discern, I was lucky enough to have seen a few micro caddis on the car before we walked to our spot and a few fly-bys on the water. Within a few casts of adding them to my guests' leaders, we started picking up more fish and the bigger ones joined in the fun. The water was still moving pretty fast so large tin weights were necessary. Even in the faster flows, the fish avoided the worms and eggs that had worked so well the past few weeks and favored the small, prolific midges and micro-caddis. Winds have been picking up as the day progresses with the Vail area "monsoon season" coming to an end. With a commendable number of fish photos on our phones and slime on our hands, my morning crew of gentlemen and I headed back to the hotel in Beaver Creek. Two of my fly fishing clients were small creek fly fishermen from Ohio who were excited to catch some bigger fish and learn some techniques for larger water. My third guest was a first-timer who learned quickly, had a great attitude and fished hard all morning; keeping up with my experienced clients. All three left with good memories and a deeper education of trout and catching them on the fly.
The afternoon started on the water around 12:30 and Conner, a new Vail Valley guide to ERO, and I decided to take both of our groups to Avon to fish together. We had to split up with limited water in the location chosen but we reconnected shortly after more water became available without cramming our guests into a piece of the Eagle River that had other fishermen in it. Our guides want to give our guests as intimate of an experience as they can receive, even on a busy day at the base of Beaver Creek. The afternoon fishing was just as eventful as the morning and Yellow Sallies were out and about on the upper section. Even with yellow bugs starting on the upper Eagle River, the fish were still happily eating black as most of our fish came on little midges and RS-2 patterns. All four of the guests had a great time wading out into the water and catching fish. It was fun for us as guides not to be confined to the banks fishing at our feet like we had been doing in that spot weeks ago during high water. Fish also seemed to like the increase in water temperatures and the addition of new holding water as we started finding them closer to the center of the river and taking small flies in the faster Eagle flows. We are spoiled to have such awesome guests visiting Beaver Creek and Vail that have a good attitude and willingness to listen and learn fly fishing from us. We are glad the river rewarded them so kindly with handfuls of brown and rainbow trout that didn't mind getting their photos taken before they were carefully put back.
Overall, it was a fun day that left us very optimistic after taking warmer water temps and seeing more Eagle River bug diversity. It's also great to know that if it works into our guests' schedules, we can fish them confidently in the afternoon and expect hungry trout looking for a plethora of mayflies and caddisflies (and midges)!