Float fishing trips are sometimes overlooked as an excellent option for guided fly fishing in Colorado during late winter and early spring. Vail Valley Anglers specializes in float fishing this time of year and with the exceptionally warm weather we have experienced over the last month, the fishing has picked up earlier than usual. We are seeing strong midge hatches and consistently feeding trout on the Lower Colorado River and on the Roaring Fork. Float fishermen are doing well nymphing throughout the day and some catching trout on dry flies and streamers in the afternoon.
With the great fly fishing conditions this winter, a guided float trip is a good option for anglers near Vail, Colorado. Early spring should offer even better fishing. We float the Roaring Fork River and the Lower Colorado through the winter and this year we should be floating the Eagle River and Upper Colorado River by late March or early April. Full day floats are offered on the Roaring Fork and when the Upper Colorado and Eagle are fishing well, Vail Valley Anglers also does half-day float trips.
Here is a quick run-down of Vail Valley Anglers’ late winter and early spring float fishing options:
Lower Colorado River
This is a classic float trip down a large Western river. From Glenwood Springs down to the town of Rifle, the river is a mix of long riffles and deep pools. This section begins fishing well before many of the other rivers because of milder temperatures and lower elevations. Several tributary streams draw large numbers of big rainbow trout that will spawn later in the Spring. Brown trout approaching thirty inches and ten pounds, while not common are always a possibility. Trout rise regularly when thick hatches of large olive midges and BWO mayflies begin hatching sometime in February and the trout on the lower river also respond well to streamers on warm, cloudy days.
Roaring Fork River
The fly fishing on the Roaring Fork has been nothing short of incredible this winter and will only get better as hatches pick up. We float the Fork in rafts this time of year because the water is low and rafts are a better option than drift boats when the water is low and clear. Vail Valley Anglers generally floats the Roaring Fork between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs in the winter and by early spring we can float the upper river towards Basalt. The Roaring Fork is classified as Gold Medal water which lots of fish and big trout. The weather is usually milder in the Roaring Fork Valley in the winter and the Fork sees steady hatches of midges, blue-winged olives and some early stoneflies and caddis. This translates to feeding fish that can be caught on nymphs, dries and streamers.
The Eagle River
The Eagle experiences a short float fishing option before run-off that starts in late March or early April. This is a can’t-miss opportunity. The streamer and dry fly fishing can be non-stop action.
The Upper Colorado
In a normal winter, Vail Valley Anglers rarely fishes the upper Colorado near State Bridge but this winter has been warmer than average and we will soon be floating the upper river. This is a more remote float fishing option that offers incredible scenery.
For more information on guided float fishing trips consult the fly fishing experts at Vail Valley Anglers.
Brody Henderson, Guide and Content Writer