With spring showing its unpredictable side and bringing a fresh coat of snow into the upper Vail Valley this past week, hatches have slowed down, the water has cleared up and the flows have dropped.On the Eagle River, mid-day water temps were down into the 40s the past few days and the water has been clear as much of the snowmelt was absorbed into the soil. Below Alkali and Milk Creeks, there’s a slight bit of stain but the river has been fishing really well all the way down to Gypsum.On the nymph rigs, fish have been eating midges and small BWOs. Specifically Zebra Midges size 16-22, Rainbow Warriors 16-20, RS2s 18-22 and WD-40s are catching healthy browns and rainbows.
Streamer fishing has also been productive with small black Slumbusters, Thin Mints and even the original Wooly Bugger in black of course.When the wind is down, if you can secure some flat water, odds are you’ll find some happy trout feeding on midges or small BWOs. A size 18-20 Renegade or Griffiths Gnat will do the trick if the hatch is thick, otherwise you may need to rig up a size 18-22 single midge.
I’ve been catching some really nice fish lately with a technique I call “Beck Nymphing”, named after my good friend Alex Beck who frequently fishes this way on most of the rivers in our area. You rig your weight rod with a 7’ 3x leader and tie on a Pats Rubber Legs in your favorite color. Tie on another Pats two feet behind the first one and your good to fish-NO INDICATOR. Similar to Czech nymphing you’re tight-lining your drift through pockets, next to rocks and along seams just watching your line for any sudden stop. Since your fishing with big bugs, this technique works great when you have more stain to the water, where the small bugs aren’t really producing. You can also strip this rig like a steamer then dead drift it or jig it, it really is a deadly technique! It looks like daytime temperatures are forecast to stay in the 50s for the next several days with clouds, a slight breeze and a chance for rain and snow showers, such is spring in the Rockies. This means we will see a gradual increase in water temperatures and more bug activity, specifically Blue Winged Olives.
Keep your midge box stocked but make sure you have a selection of BWO nymphs and dries ready for upcoming hatches, I’m sure we’ll see some good ones this week!
And with spring being spawning time for our precious rainbows, PLEASE be aware of the REDDS and avoid fishing to them and walking over them. Let the rainbows do their thing and continue to produce strong and healthy offispring!
Vail Valley Anglers Guide