I had a quick meeting with the ownership and management of Aspen Outfitting Company (AOC) today, and "the meeting ran a little long," aka I had to get some fishing in before coming back to Eagle and caring for my kiddo and giving my wife a break back home in the Vail Valley. With only 40 minutes to kill and the water looking great, I pulled over at the closest spot, just north of AOC's Woody Creek location, Jaffee Park, and I grabbed my favorite 9'9" 4wt Hardy stick and boogied down to the boat ramp. I still had the same flies on from my last guide trip and was into fish almost immediately. The water has indeed risen like all rivers in the Vail and Roaring Fork Valleys, and Jarrod and Eric from the shop had said it had been looking dirty the last day or two. Fortunately, last night's cold and the day's snow kept the stain down from the creeks that feed and muddy it this time of year. I didn't think I would be happy to see it snowing again after the long Winter we've experienced over on our side of Glenwood Canyon, not to mention the last few 60+ degree days.
Anyways, 30 yards from the parking at Jaffee Park, I made short casts behind rocks into tiny boulder pools (think Edwards Mile or Avon area of the Eagle River) and quickly started turning heads. The bites were subtle and only in the softest water, but the rainbow trout were eager to eat and keyed in on the purple foamback JuJu Baetis that worked so well on Monday's guide trip. Though dainty on the eat, they were ready to fight especially with the help of the current when they got out of the soft water. I managed a surprising amount of eats in that 40-minute time frame with only a few coming to hand. All wanted the small bug, even with a juicy hot spot PT in front (see fly recommendations below).
Though short, it was quite sweet and fun to have clarity on the river again. It's also grand to fish for yourself every once and a while! The Eagle River is swollen throughout and visibility is almost nothing in its westernmost reaches in Gypsum and Dotsero. Eagle county residents and visitors alike looking to get out there and not fight the stain game should definitely consider the Roaring Fork's upper stretches before it also takes the turn. It's beautiful and quaint and is seeing less foot traffic than our local freestone right now. Stop by and see our good friends at Aspen Outfitting Company while you are at it and speak with Jarrod, second-generation owner, Eric, the business manager, or London the Roaring Fork (and college football) guru as to where to go and any secret patterns they are willing to share! Also don't tell my wife I went fishing.