The Vail Valley in central Colorado is blessed with a plethora of fine fishing opportunities including Gore Creek, the Eagle River, the Colorado River, Homestake Creek and ample backcountry small streams and lakes.
Eagle River GPS Paper Fishing Map with a free mobile map download - $7.95
Begining at the Headwaters at Camp Hale, the Eagle River begins it 50 mile trek west where it empties into the Colorado River.
Fishing in the headwaters is predominately small stream fishing on USFS, forest service land. Fish tend to be small but eager to take dry flies during the heat of the summer. In the winter months of November until June, the headwaters are frozen and locked up in snow. However, the summer months are delightful and afford the angler an opportunity to catch the grand slam, Cutthroat, Brook Trout, Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. Don/t forget you raingear and bug spray from Mid May until late October.
If exploring the headwaters of the Eagle River, spend some time on the east fork and Homestake Creek. Homestake Creek has plenty of roadside pullouts and camping areas. Brook Trout and Cutthroat Trout will be the predominate species with an occasional Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout.
Homestake Road is the gateway into the Holy Cross Wilderness. The Holy Cross Wilderness is a vast 122,797- acre wilderness with 164 miles of trails and was established in 1980. There are plenty of great fishing opportunities in the Holy Cross Wilderness including small creeks and lakes. Some worth noting include Whitney Creek and Lake, Sopris Creek and Lake, Missouri Lakes and Creek, Cross Creek, Fall Creek and Lake Constantine.
When venturing into the Holy Cross Wilderness you must register at one of the many access locations, and make sure to go prepared with a good map, compass, raingear, layered clothing, first aid kit, food, emergency shelter and plenty of water.
Map the Xperience has developed the most comprehensive and detailed map for outdoor recreation in the Vail Valley which includes every hikable and rideable trail along with detailed information for all the best fishing locations in the Eagle and Vail Valleys. This is a 36x24" paper map with a free mobile map for your smartphone.
The mobile map works in the Avenza Map App without cell service or internet. You will track yourself in real time and always know your exact location. When venturing into the backcountry, always have a portable charging device, preferably solar and turn off all apps to conserve battery usage. If used properly, this map will prevent you from ever getting lost and can save your life.
The paper version of this map will be available for purchase 5/1/23 for $11.95
Working west downstream from Camp Hale and Homestake Creek, the next available area to fish is at the bottom of Battle Mountain Pass along US Highway 6 into Minturn. Beginning at the left turn onto Tigiwon Road for about one mile, there are numerous roadside pullouts to explore the Eagle River. This area was devastated by mine tailings seeping into the river in the early 80's, but has since been cleaned up and hence has seen a resurgance in both bug life and a healthy fish population. Brown Trout will be the predominant species in this section of river.
Coming into the Town of Minturn, turn onto Cemetary Road which will take you to the Two Elk Creek Trailhead. Two Elk Creek is a fine fishery in itself for small brookies and cutthroat. There is also a small section of the Eagle River on USFS land that can be fished.
Leaving the Town of Minturn there is a County Road that provides for parking and exploring the river upstream on the northside of the river.
Entering Dowd's Junction where US Highway 6 goes underneath I-70, there are several places to park. You can also hike up the Gore Valley paved trail to access the Gold Medal Waters of Gore Creek which contains some very large fish. You can also access Gore Creek at Donovan Park in West Vail and at the I-70 exit in East Vail.
In Dowd's Junction, you can park at several roadside pullouts along US Highway 6 and fish the Eagle River. There are some really nice pockets and pools, but beware of this section in Spring runoff season, end of April to the end of June. High water flows make it virtually impossbile to fish.
Moving further west down US Highway 6, there is virtually no public access from Dowd's Junction to Avon. However, once in Avon you can park in the Beaver Creek Elk lot after the ski season is over and walk down to the Eagle River. You can enter the river at "Bob" the Bridge, or even better, follow the path across the bridge and walk down the Eagle Valley/Avon Recreation Path which is located on the northside of the river. You can walk downstream for 1 mile where the path intersects with West Beaver Creek Blvd. Then fish the river upstream. This is a particularly good stretch in the cold weather months as the warmer discharge water from the Eagle River Sanitation Plant keeps it open and fishable.
In the warmer months, this section can be tough due to low water flows, but if fished late in the day can offer anglers some nice dry fly fishing opportunities. Brown Trout is the predominant species with a few nice rainbows mixed in.
Moving west from the Beaver Creek Elk Lot, fishermen can also park in the Bear Lot at the intersection of Higway 6, Prater Road and West Beaver Creek Blvd. Park after the close of ski season. From here, proceed across US Highway 6 and follow the sidewalk to the river. Follow the Eagle Valley/Avon bike path downstream on the southside of the river for 1 mile to what we locals call poachers hole. You know you are there when you come to a slow pool with a picnic table. Fish the river upstream on the southside back to the West Beaver Creek Blvd. bridge. You can also fish the river by following the path upstream on the northside for 1 mile to Avon Road, "Bob the Bridge".
Heading west down Highway 6 from the Bear Lot, there is a small parking area on the southside of US Highway 6 about .6 miles. Park here, carefully cross US Highway 6, and proceed east on the bike path which will bring you to Poachers Hole. You can only fish upstream here. Downstream is private property.
The next available public water heading west is called the Miller Ranch Open Space located on the northside of the river. Turn right on Miller Ranch Road heading west at the stoplight. You can park across the bridge at the elementar school or in a dirt lot. Fish upstream for about 1 mile on the northside of the river.
Moving further west, fishermen can park at the Edwards Rest Area on the northside of the river and fish a small section of river upstream for about .25 miles.
A little further to the west on Highway 6 in Edwards is a fine section of water called the Eagle River Preserve open space, mostly accesible in the summer months as you can drive through the gate and down to the river. In the colder winter months, you must park at the gate and walk about 300 yards to the river. This section tends to ice over in the winter and not a good spot to fish.
For float fishermen, the Eagle River offers superb float fishing in the Spring just prior to peak runoff and after peak runoff, usually from Mid April and Mid May and then Mid June to just after July 4th. However, every year is different depending on snowmelt and runoff.
Float fishermen put in at the Edwards Sanitation Plant and typically take out at the Climbing Rock BLM Site, a distance of about 6 miles. There is very limited wade fishing access at the Edwards Sanitation Plant, and only upstream. Downstream of the bridge is private property. If floating this section, immediately after putting in at the ESP, you enter private property, meaning you are not allowed to anchor or get out of your boat. This is pretty much the case for the entire float to Climbing Rock, with the exception of a couple small areas of BLM land.
A very popular spot for wade fishing is a little further west, parking on US Highway 6 just past where you go underneath I-70. This spot is very easy to recognize. There is a small section of public water on BLM land here.
There is another short stretch of BLM public water called Raisin Run further west. Park by the large Cottonwood tree downstream of the Wolcott Post Office.
There is another small section of BLM public water just west of the turn to proceed north on Highway 131 in Wolcott on US Highway 6. You can fish the southside of the river here.
Floaters, beware of Trestle Rapids about a half mile west of Highway 131. This rapid can be very dangerous in high water. Use extreme caution.
Climbing Rock BLM site is about a half mile past Trestle Rapids on US Highway 6. This is a popular take out and put in for floaters, and a nice spot for wade fishermen. There is also camping available here.
Red Canyon is next up moving further west down Highway 6. Fishermen will first come the the Horn Ranch Eagle County Open Space just past the I-70 underpass. Horn Ranch is a great spot to fish if the water is clear. Below Climbing Rock, there is a creek named Milk Creek, which after a rainstorm or during runoff will dump chocolate milk colored water into the Eagle River making it impossible to fish. Located in Red Canyon is the Deadcow Boat Take Out, a popular take out location for float fishermen that put in at Climbing Rock.
Red Canyon just to the west of Horn Ranch provides anglers with numerous roadside pullouts along Highway 6 to access the Eagle River on BLM Land. At times, fishing can be very good along this strecth, especially in the late fall when the water has lowered and cleared. But, from here downstream to Dotsero, carry your bug spray as the Mosquitos can be hungry in the summer months.
About 3 miles east of the Town of Eagle on US Highway 6, fishermen will see signs for the Eagle River State Wildlife Area. Entry into this SWA are well marked as are parking areas. There is about 3 miles of fishable water as part of this State Wildlife Area.
The Town of Eagle offers fishermen several locations to access the river including the Eagle Visitor Center, the Eagle County Fairgrounds, and the Brush Creek Confluence Open Space. Floaters can put in or take out at the Eagle Visitior Center/Chambers Park.
Just East of Gypsum is the Gyspum Ponds State Wildlife Area offering anglers about 2.5 miles of public fishing water.
West of Gypsum are numerous public access BLM sites, all well marked including a campground.
Heading towards Dotsero, anglers will come to the Duck Pond Open Space popular with floaters to launch or take out boats, and in Dotsero anglers will find the Dotsero Landing Eagle County Open Space, a popular take out for those floating from Gypsum.