Give the gift of guided fly fishing this winter. It might be the best kept secret but winter time fly fishing in the Vail Valley is really really good. The local water stays fishable throughout the year, providing anglers with fly fishing opportunities all the time. So after a morning of skiing or snowboarding Vail or Beaver Creek Ski Resort, toss on the waders and enjoy a guided fly fishing trip from one of our professional fly fishing guides at Vail Valley Anglers. To top it all off, we offer discounted winter time guided fly fishing rates. So what type of trips do we offer?
The winter wade trips are probably the most popular winter trip option because the of the easy access to water on the Eagle River and Gore Creek. Anywhere from a two minute car ride from the shop to a 20 minutes. The half day wade trips last around 3-4 hours on the water. The best part is, no need to be out super early, a 10:00 start time is just fine. We like to fish the warmest part of the day, as this is when the fish are most active. Our half day wade trips are a perfect way to try out fly fishing for the first time or get some quality river time with one of professional fly fishing guides.
So where do the fly fishing guides take you?
The Eagle is considered our home water, it runs right behind the shop. The Eagle River stays unfrozen in certain areas due to constant inflows from water treatment facilities. Making the water temps stay up and resulting in active fish and good fishing.
Just footsteps from the gondolas and ski lifts in Vail Village, Gore Creek runs through the town of Vail and then flows into the Eagle River. The Gore fishes great in the winter, as the creek doesn’t ice over typically downstream of the town of Vail proper. It is a perfect creek for a single angler looking to cast smaller dries or do some lightweight nymphing. There is also always a chance of catching a grand slam (Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Cutthroat Trout) when fishing on Gore Creek.
The winter floats are something special. Floating down the river with the banks covered in snow with steam coming off the water. Only followed by baetis and midge hatches, with trout rising. The floats seem to be more popular for the more hardcore angler. The people that are willing to spend a full day on the water. They can also be an extremely effective way to catch fish. The full day does include lunch and typically is complete with some hot soup. The float trip typically lasts around 5-6 hours on the water depending on conditions and weather, with around a one hour drive time to get to the desired river.
What rivers do our guides float guide in the winter?
Lower Colorado River:
The more west you travel the warmer the water temperatures get. About an hour west of the fly shop, the Colorado River flows through the town of Glenwood Springs. The water temps here stay warm and the fish are extremely active. The deep pools can be chock-full of larger rainbows and brown trout. Our guides float from Glenwood Springs all the way down to Rifle, Colorado.
Roaring Fork River:
The Fork is a tributary that flows into the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs. Considered a gold medal trout fishery, the fork offers some top notch winter fly fishing. Upstream from the floating sections of the Fork, the famous tailwater the Frying Pan flows into the river. This tributary warms the water temps of the Fork and keeps it floatable year round. The dry fly fishing on the Roaring Fork in February and March can be unreal.
What to expect on a wintertime fly fishing trip?
The fishing in the wintertime can be excellent. With some clients enjoying 50+ fish days on the river and others with just one bite. The most common technique for winter fishing is typically nymph fishing, where your fly rod will be rigged with nymphs (below surface flies) and an indicator. The guides will typically focus on some deeper slower pools where the fish tend to gather together to feed on the bottom of the river. If the water temps do rise a little, a midge or baetis hatch is a common occurrence.
We recommend wearing clothes just like you would if you were going skiing or snowboarding minus the snow pants. Our guides will outfit you in waders and wading boots. Some hand warmers and toe warmers are always a great addition too.
When to Go:
When planning your winter guided fly fishing trip I recommend taking a look at the weather during your stay in Vail and choosing the warmest day. Typically, the weather in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado has fronts of warm weather and cold weather. If possible the warm fronts are the best time to fish. The fishing can also be really good right before a big storm. Which also lines up well for skiing.
How to Book:
If you have a vacation planned to the Vail Valley and are looking for another activity other than skiing look no further than a guided fly fishing trip. The best way to book a guided trip at Vail Valley Anglers is to call the fly shop or book online. We also offer gift cards that can be purchased online or mailed. Give us a call today to inquire about setting up a guided fly fishing trip this winter in the Vail Valley.
Patrick Perry Former Guide and Content Contributor @patperry