Flows on the Eagle have trended lower since the end of April given cooler temps and the lack of runoff from the high country. That being said, flows have since begun to trend higher, yet again. While water clarity is on the lower end, it has improved compared to the end of April when flows were around 500 cfs. Stained water has made bigger and flashy bugs that move a lot of water highly effective. Low water clarity can be intimidating, but it can often be an advantage as trout are more inclined to move about the water and feed at various depths given the sense of protection that comes with it. When nymphing, Pat’s Rubber Legs (purple is hot if you can find it), Barr’s Tungstones, Woven Stonefly Nymphs, Egg Sucking Leeches, Chartreuse Sparkle Pupa or Electric Caddis’ followed by one or more smaller and imitative midge or baetis larva/pupa seem to do the trick. While midge and baetis remain the primary food source, caddis larva/pupa are growing in numbers and we’re seeing a few adult duns on the surface as well. With the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch just around the corner, this highly sought out hatch will begin to materialize and make for some fun days fishing dries. Otherwise, trout are looking up to midge and BWO hatches throughout the day. Trout continue to favor the deeper water (slow runs, deep pools and transitions) along the foam lines most of the day, but are spreading out in the afternoon. As such, be prepared to cover a lot of water and don’t be afraid to explore. Streamers will be productive as well, especially if you're looking to entice some bigger fish. Bigger patterns that move water and have some flash to them will produce the best results.
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The Eagle River is a tributary of the Colorado River and spans over 60 miles through west central Colorado. This beautiful freestone river originates at the Continental Divide near the Mount of the Holy Cross and Camp Hale landmarks. Beginning at the Divide, it travels north until it reaches the Vail Valley to which it turns west where it merges with Gore Creek before ultimately spilling into the Colorado River near Dotsero. Here you’ll find beautiful landscapes ranging from a meandering valley setting to intense rapids cutting through jagged mountainous terrain. In this river, you’ll find plenty of cutthroat, brook, brown and rainbow trout in the 10” to 15” range. However, there are a few native lunkers holding in the upper and lower sections.
The Eagle offers a variety of fishing styles and is generally friendly to anglers of all skill sets. The upper Eagle, near the headwaters, is known best for its pocket water and swift current. This is one of the more technical sections, but with a little persistence and patience you could find yourself on the fighting end of a trophy brown. Additionally, this stretch offers some incredible dry fly fishing in the late summer and fall. The lower Eagle is more forgiving. However, it sees a lot more angler traffic. Here you will find bigger uniform water with fewer features. A heavy nymph rig has proven to be the most effective in this stretch. However, streamers are always a great option, especially if you’re looking to target bigger fish.
There are a number of great access points along the Eagle as it flows parallel to I-70 for much of its journey to the Colorado River. If you are looking to fish the headwaters, take Highway 24 from Dowd’s Junction (I-70 and Highway 24) toward Leadville until you reach Camp Hale. Here you’ll find a number of campgrounds and forest service land. However, keep an eye out for private property. Fishing through Vail Valley provides many access points stretching from the Minturn exit to Dotsero. If you follow Highway 6, you’ll find plenty of public access points along the Eagle. Look for BLM sites and DOW leases.