The Eagle River is a freestone stream located in the central Rocky Mountains. Though once a 'Hidden in Plain Sight' secret, the Eagle has become a pinpoint on a lot of Colorado residents' radars and for good reason; it's an incredible fishery! Of the many creeks, streams and rivers located around Vail, the Eagle is consistent, year-round and often very kind to the beginner/intermediate angler as well as the experienced. The Eagle River spans 60 miles and fishes from top to bottom offering a variety of species and sizes ranging from 2" to 26". Following I-70 for most of it's length, the Eagle River is accessible and convenient.  The Eagle River is the gem of the Vail Valley.

The Eagle River begins at historic Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division began and trained for mountain warfare. Surrounded by aspens, mountains and other breathtaking landscapes, the Eagle River passes through the quaint town of Minturn where it then meets Gore Creek at the far end of Vail and Minturn. The Eagle begins to gain size and stature thanks to it's many tributaries as the Eagle continues all the way to Dotsero where it meets the Colorado River. Along the way you've got fishing access through Eagle-Vail, Avon, Edwards, Wolcott, Eagle and Gypsum; each area having it's own benefits and character. If you separate the Eagle River into three parts: the upper, middle and lower, the angler will get to experience the beauty and qualities of each stretch.
The Upper Eagle River (Camp Hale to Eagle-Vail) is known for it's eager fish, scenery, and solitude. This area sees the least pressure and is known for quantity over quality. This area is great for your lightweight graphite or fiberglass/bamboo rods. Though the fish are not the biggest, they are more apt to take a fly on a poor drift or eat something out of curiosity. Though mostly browns, the rainbow population grows annually and the occasional cutthroat makes an appearance as well. The way upper reaches are ideal for those looking for a fix when run-off has made it's presence in the Central Rocky Mountains.
The Middle Eagle River (Avon to Wolcott) is in the heart of town but still offers plenty of access, larger fish than you would expect and great Summer hatches of caddis and PMDs (Pale Morning Duns). This stretch has a large population of rainbows and browns thanks to it's ample spawning grounds. Though more fishing pressure takes place in this stretch than others, fish can often throw caution to the wind when prolific bug hatches take place, especially June/July caddis. 4-5 weight rods, Solid drifts, smaller bugs and lighter tippet can sometimes save your day on the Eagle River between Avon and Wolcott. Avon and Edwards can be great dry fly or dry/dropper fishing as the water is on it's way down while Edwards to Wolcott has some of the more marquee deep holes and runs that you can spend a full day nymphing to your heart's content.
The Lower Eagle River (Eagle to Dotsero) has gained more and more popularity over the last few years and rightfully so; it has some real dandies living in it's H20. Though more susceptible to nature's wrath - higher water temps, clarity, mosquitos and high mountain desert weather, if you fish it when the conditions allow, you are normally rewarded with a fight and hopefully a netted fish that deserves to be held with two hands. Thanks to a warm water discharge in Gypsum, this area can stay open and fishable year-round. Some of the best days fishing are the worst days weatherwise, especially when the ski lifts are running. The lower stretches of the Eagle River takes on character from your fabled western trout streams and boasts deep holes and long runs that deserve ample time dedicated to them. This is the stretch to pull out the 6 weight single hand,  switch rod or streamer stick, especially in the Fall. This area is also floatable with lot's of public areas to lay anchor and nymph or throw dry flies. The lower Eagle River is known more for it's access and larger fish than it is for it's scenery. The fish down here can be quite finicky so make sure to bring your full arsenal.
The Eagle in it's entirety offers many different options based on experience and expectations. You can honestly choose where you want to fish based on what technique(s) you are looking to fish that day or what you want the background of your photos to look like. Though access can be limited in certain stretches, there is plenty of public water to be fish with a little help from Onx and Google Maps or by calling your local fly supplier. If you are looking for up-to-date bug selections, which areas are fishing best or just looking for overall suggestions, give us a call at Hill's Discount Flies for the latest local intel!


With a nice day in the forecast, the wife and I decided to make the most of the day before Sunday night football (Go Ravens!) and hit the Eagle River. With 3rd Rifle Season beginning and an early Broncos game, we went out to the river from 12:30 to 4:00pm. Afternoons have been the best we've found and our friends at Minturn Anglers recommended it as well. With bigger fish in mind, we decided to fish further west and decided on Eagle. Within our first few casts, fish were making their presence known and our indicators were dropping constantly. Surprisingly enough, rainbow trout dominated the bite at a tune of about 10:1. We found out the theme was slower "walking speed" water though we tried some of the faster runs and pockets though they were fruitless. Depth wasn't even that much of a necessity as the fish are comfortable in their low Winter water and feeding confidently. If you can go out and find some slower speed water, fish it. Use the weight of your flies, adjust your indicator so you aren't getting hung up constantly and fish everything you see that doesn't have nervous water on the surface.

The lady and I led off with attention-grabbing bugs - Red Squirmy Worms, #12 Patt's Stone in Olive and Peacock, and Oregon Cheese Egg patterns. Behind it we fished the Competition Baetis and B's Midge as well as variations of them (we have a few new surprise flies to unveil soon!). All patterns caught fish though most ate the Competition Baetis and B's Midge. We even made a few casts to rising fish towards the end of our day but unfortunately shelf ice wanted our dry flies more than the Eagle River trout. As the sun set, the risers diminished and we decided to call it a day. This time of year, if the sun is off the water, you need to find new water or call it a day.

If you are going to fish the Eagle River, stop by Minturn Anglers for an honest fishing report and grab some Element Flies midges and baetis. They are the bees' knees!


The Eagle Continues to Fish Well in the Ladders

Warmer days have made for comfortable fishing weather as well as steady Blue Winged Olive activity. The Ladders in Eagle have been my stomping grounds the last few days and the fishing continues to be as good as you can imagine for an Indian Summer. Though the water remains low and cool, the air temperatures make fishing more than pleasant and the fish seem to feel the same. It's been all about the BWO these past few weeks with a smattering of small midges to compliment. I don't know what it is but something in the Eagle River makes these Blue Winged Olives taste like candy to our local trout. Speaking of the trout, all fish caught on this outing were rainbows which leads me to believe the brown trout have other things on their mind; ie. spawning. With this in mind, PLEASE be carefull where you walk and be absolutely conscious of helping the next year's class of brownie fingerlings be a strong one. Don't tread on the redds!
If you take nothing from this fishing report, remember this: light tippet, small flies, small indicators (if you use them) and delicate presentation. The little snow we received last week barely bumped the flows and we are back to a small trickle making focusing on the deeper depressions key. Yes, fish everything as our Eagle River trout will take any spot they can get in these flows, but the bulk of your finned friends will be bunched up in the deeper darker pools.
Today was a great change of scene from Gypsum last week as the fish further upstream had their noses to the sky. BWOs were prevalent and the fish certainly took notice in spite of or because of the infrequent winds. Leading with a #16 Element Hi-Vis Parachute Adams, I had a great reference for my drift; expecting my eats to be on the trailing dry fly,  the #20 Element Sprouts BWO. Though most eats came to the Sprouts BWO, I was able to trick a few on the Hi Vis Parachute Adams. This technical approach was a must in the long flat I was fishing. A 12' leader to start was great with my back to the wind.
Once I reached my stopping point at the head of the pool, I grabbed my nymph stick for the deep pockets below the riffle. My approach was the same as last week, A jig fly followed by two small BWOs - One a nymph, one an emerger. Luckily, eats came to all three. Lead fly was a Quill Body BWO Jig, the emerger was a Element Blue Wing Olive Emerger and the nymph was a Baetis Forked. Fishing the soft water on either side of two fast runs proved beneficial as the rainbows were aiming to eat this afternoon. After picking through a few smaller fish, I was able to get my flies in front of a 19" and 17" rainbow. They were not easy to land as they are well fed and dealing with prime water temps. Make sure you are using your TroutHunter fluorocarbon tippet if you expect to get these fish to hand.
With the daylight decreasing and fish still rising, I decided to make my way back to the car. I found this to be a great opportunity to fish my favorite technique for rising trout downstream - swinging soft hackles. By casting across and quartering my flies downstream, the eats were quick and the takes were vicious. Most fish were relaxing in the slower water off of seams and would almost rise to the soft hackles as they landed on the water. A tandem rig of a #16 Soft Hackle Peacock followed by a #18 Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail was all that was needed to garnish attention from the last rising rainbows of the day. Though not all were hooked and landed, fishing soft hackles is a great way to find fish and receive that heavy tug. After all, the tug is the drug!
It was a special afternoon on the Eagle River. To be able to soak in these few last warm days and to be able to catch fish three different ways is a true pleasure this late in the season. With most people's eyes on the mountains or in a rifle scope, accessibility and pressure is at a low point considering how great the fishing is this time of year. If you are making your way to the Vail Valley this weekend and looking to grab some bugs or talk technique, give us a call for the latest intel!


The lower Eagle River in Gypsum, Colorado continues to fish well despite low water and dropping temperatures. Afternoon fishing from 2pm to dusk (the heat of the day) is highly recommended. Though you will see the occasional fish rising to midges and blue winged olives, your most successful technique for quantity is nymphing. Leading off with a jig fly to get your flies down quick is the way to go. The water is low and clear so it's also more tactful and stealthy. B's Hot Stone, Dirty BWO Jig and the Tungsten Hare's Ear will get your flies in the zone and also turn a few heads. The fish are spread out - deep water, small pockets, and long flats and primarily keyed in on small midges and blue winged olives.

Given the clarity and flow on the Eagle River right now, plan on some Trout Hunter 5.5x  or 6x tippet and fishing size 20-22 flies. Medium indicators can be used in the deeper pools but small bobbers or yarn are recommended on the longer flat stretches. Best flies for right now include Juju Baetis, Black Micro Midge, Chocolate Thunder and Mayhem Midge. Black, Olive, and Grey are the colors. Vary your depth accordingly. There's a fair amount of aquatic vegetation on the rocks right now so when fish are eating higher in the column, take advantage so you don't have to constantly clean your flies.
With the tourists out of town and locals thinking hunting and prepping for ski season, you should find less crowds on the river. Especially since we've had our first snow and cooler temps. Have fun, be safe and we'll see you on the river!