Where to Fly Fish Central Colorado’s Eagle River in the Winter
When driving across the State of Colorado from east to west along Interstate 70 you parallel the Eagle River for over thirty miles from Minturn to Dotsero where the Eagle River enters the Colorado River. In the heart of winter, you will not notice much open water as the majority of the river may be locked with ice during the coldest weather. The other portions of the river runs open and ice free. Sometime in mid to late February the river begins to become open as the ice breaks up. The fact remains,however, that the Eagle is an extremely productive trout fishery during winter. See Brody Henderson's "When To Fy Fish During Winter" for more tips. One of the most common questions we get from anglers during winter is "Where is a good spot?".
Trout can be caught every day of the year on the Eagle River, and an important question as expected, is where? Let’s examine a few of the best know public areas that fish with open water in the winter.
The Upper Eagle
The upper river from is locked with ice through Minturn and the first open water starts in Avon, at the Avon waste water treatment plant about a quarter mile west of “Bob the Bridge”. The river resists ice about a mile and a half downstream this and section of river fishes consistently well during the months of December and January. I recall that this water was always iced up until the Beaver Creek Ski Area was opened and Avon became a much larger town.
This section of the Eagle River flows through the residential resort community of Arrowhead as it meanders west towards Edwards. The area can be accessed by the public by asking Arrowhead Security for permission. The stream section in Arrowhead is a designated catch and release fly fishing only water.
The Eagle travels under the Miller Ranch road and quickly freezes just upstream. The next series of warm springs and the Edwards waste water treatment facility enter the river four miles downstream within a few hundred yards of each other. Both the springs and the treatment plant open the river up for a mile or so. There is not much available public water in this stretch of river that the Cordillera Property Owners control access to. However the lower portion where I-70 crosses the river is a small public parcel that is often fishable and holds fish all winter.
The Lower Eagle
Winding its way west the Eagle will not open again until Brush Creek enters the river a mile below the Town of Eagle. The creek can fish well in the fall but most of the trout head back to the deeper slower pools in the Eagle for winter. Not much water is open here but it is all public and can be accessed on either side of the river.
You will need to travel west to the Town of Gypsum to locate the last and best stretch of open water. The river will be open from town where a bridge crosses the Eagle and Gypsum Creek enters the fishery. Several miles to almost to community pit BLM parking area tends to stay open. This is a good couple miles to fly fish with several access points.
Although there is less water to fish on the Eagle River during December, January and February, there are also less anglers. The fish are less pressured unlike popular tailwaters like the Frying Pan, that see as many anglers on a winter day as the Eagle sees on some summer days.If you concentrate on good drag free drifts in the deeper slower runs with midge and egg fly patterns expect to see some fish.
If you would like to book a winter trip with a professional fly fishing guide and would like to take advantage of winter pricing or you simply need a map please stop by the Vail Valley Anglers, Edwards CO. The fly shop is near the Eagle River in the Edwards Riverwalk Center.