I had the pleasure of working with a really awesome photographer this past Winter who happened to have a father in town looking to fish. My friend Aaron tagged along with Dad to take some photos of the wise sage doing some Eagle River high water fly fishing and it did not disappoint. With a limited location (Town of Eagle) and a shorter time frame, we decided to test our luck on the lower river and it actually produced nicely. The weather turned out really beautiful and besides having to play the shuffle game with a local rafting outfitter doing rookie raft training, we had a stellar time and caught fish and lost others.
We met mid-day in Eagle and did a quick casting demo/intro. Not much was needed in the higher flows as we were fishing at our feet in the soft water in front of us. Though not the romantic "River Runs Through It" type of fly fishing you might think of, it is productive and catches Vail Valley trout in these conditions. Dad hooked a fish in the first few minutes that got away but it was clear the soft hackle caddis had gotten the attention. Even with some pretty clouded water. There were so many caddis, we even saw a fish rise. Although clarity is at a minimum I picture these emerging caddis pretty much swimming into the fishes mouths because there are so many of them. We moved up to a small soft bend in the river and caught a small rainbow on a red squirmy worm almost as soon as it hit the water a mere 3 feet in front of us. With the "monkey off our back" of landing an Eagle River trout in these conditions, confidence grew and we continued to move fish. The third slow eddy we found was all about the brown trout bite where we missed a few fish and landed two nice brown trout. Ironically both brown trout ate right as the raft training was dropping their boats in and my client got an ovation for both browns. Our last two fish ate Patts Rubber Legs but I know that caddis was in play today, we were just late on a few strikes. We called it a day after ending on the biggest fish of the afternoon.
After a few unsuccessful scouting missions on the lower Eagle River the last few weeks, I feel confident saying the lower Eagle River, in the right places, could be back in play! At least it is for now. Vail folks tired of fishing Gore Creek, come on downstream and play in the dirty water! Be safe wading, bring a wading staff if you have one and now might be a good time to leave the dog at home or at least outfit it with a life vest!