Welcome to ThinkVail – we hope you find this article about Vail, Colorado fly fishing helpful.
Most everybody who visits the Vail Valley asks about fly fishing. It is definitely one of the MUST-DO activities while you are in the area, and for good reason. Colorado boasts 300 days of sunshine annually, and more than 300 miles of gold-medal water so get ready to spend the day enjoying spectacular waterfront scenery while catching wild mountain trout. Choose from lake, river, pond or stream fishing, and whether it’s summer or winter, wading or floating you are in for a treat fly fishing in Vail, Colorado.
You can fly-fish year round, but if water temperatures get too hot during the summer in can endanger trout. Fish thrive at around 50°, but they get lethargic when temps reach the 60s, and they will become very stressed when temps reach the lower 70s. At 74° and above, trout mortality is likely. On the flip side, winter fly-fishing is as rewarding as it is challenging as the low, icy temps of winter keep trout very lethargic and keep them from eating as much as they do during the warmer months.
Perfect for novice and experienced anglers. This type of fishing puts you right in the action, with waterproof waders to keep you dry and comfortable as you walk and fish along the banks of the river. Waders are very convenient for finding the spots where fish are hiding and feeding. Wading is an ideal way to experience the beauty of the river up-close and personal and allows for more hands-on instruction. It also allows anglers to be stealthy, so they can quietly cover the water, blanketing an area with carefully controlled casts for more hits.
Ideal for both the expert angler and the beginner alike. Float fishing from a boat allows you to cover more river miles than wade fishing and makes it easier to access remote areas that you can only get to by boat and inaccessible to the wade angler. In addition, a boat allows you to bring as much gear as the boat can hold, so you can bring multiple rods, rigged differently and be ready at a moment’s notice for any type of water you may encounter as you float. It is a perfect way for couples, families and small groups to share in the fun of a fishing adventure while enjoying a day on the river.
Most fishing excursions offer a full-day trip which generally includes a riverside lunch or a half-day trip that leaves either in the morning or the afternoon. The Vail Valley, LOVES fishing so you will find unique fishing offerings or find it paired with many other activities to create a full day (or night) of adventure. For instance, local outfitters offer:
Colorado is home to 322 miles of Gold Medal Water that include 11 different rivers and 3 lakes. Vail, Colorado is very near and within easy driving distance to many of these Gold Medal Waters.
Gold Medal Waters is a designation that means a section of stream can produce 60 pounds of trout per acre and must be able to produce a minimum of 12 “quality trout” (14+ inches) per acre. Here are some of the best waters in the area:
The Gore Creek offers a Gold Medal, 4-mile stretch of river that starts where Red Sandstone Creek meets the Gore, just west of Vail itself, and continues all the way to the Eagle River. Hwy 6 follows the creek and offers easy access to fishermen.
The Blue River in neighboring Summit county, offers 34-miles of Gold Medal Waters from north of the Dam at Dillon Reservoir to its confluence with the Colorado River. Hwy 9 follows the Blue River for most of the 34 mile stretch and offers lots of access points.
The Roaring Fork River near Glenwood Springs also boasts 22-miles of amazing Gold Medal Waters beginning at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River with the Fryingpan River and continues downstream to the confluence with the Colorado River.
The Colorado River offers 20-miles of Gold Medal waters starting from just west of Hot Sulphur Springs)to the confluence with the Williams Fork River just east of Kremmling, CO. This area is catch and release only and contains brown and rainbow trout.
Steamboat Reservoir, it’s 1,053 surface acres, also boasts a Gold Medal designation. It offers trout of various kinds including the Snake River cutthroat trout. It is located 26 miles north of Steamboat Springs.
New to fly fishing? Don’t let that stop you. It is easy to learn the basics but it’ll take a lifetime to master. Many local outfitters offer FREE casting clinics, during the summer months, so you can try your hand and get the feel of it. If you like it, and you will, you can take more, in-depth fly fishing classes. These step-by-step classes cover everything from casting, tying knots, choosing the right flies and a variety of fly fishing methods.
Most outfitters supply all the equipment and gear you will need, including waders, rods, reels, beverages and flies used during the trip. However, you are required to get your own Colorado fishing license.
These local outfitters have been in business for years and really know their stuff. You will find more information about the trips described above at these outfitter’s websites as well as informative blogs, upcoming events, merchandise and more.
Here is an interesting fishing map app and detailed instructions on how to best use it on Fly Fishing Outfitters’ website. The Avenza PDF Map App is a great way to have detailed, digital maps of Colorado rivers in the palm of your hand. Just click on the image of the app to the right to go to the Apps’ website and download. Happy Fishing!
What do you think of Vail fly fishing? Please let us know if we have missed any local fishing outfitters or if you feel we have omitted any important information regarding fly fishing in the Vail valley. We would love to hear your thoughts, comments and would love for you to share some of your Vail fly fishing stories. Thanks for reading.