While many know Vail for its ski slopes, this glorious mountain town also boasts some of the best fishing around. From large rivers to intimate lakes and creeks, there’s a spot for every angler to cast their line when fishing in Vail, Colorado.
Here we have everything you need to know about fishing in Vail, including the most popular fly-fishing spots, recommended guides and outfitters as well as what to pack.
River Fishing in Vail
A local favorite, Gore Creek runs right through the heart of Vail. It’s legendary Gold Medal section is a haven for fly-fishing enthusiasts. Other popular access points along the Gore include Vail Nature Center, Ford Park, Antlers Lodge, Donovan Park and Vail’s Grand Hyatt. While the creek is easily accessible from various locations, waders are always a good idea as the creek is narrow and lined with trees and brush much of the way.
A tributary along the Colorado River, Eagle River is revered by many Colorado fishing enthusiasts. Its plethora of wild brown and rainbow trout make it a prime location for dry fly fishing while its calm waters also provide plenty of opportunities for wade fishing. Some top access points for fishing along Eagle River include White River National Forest, Wolcott Campground and Squaw Creek Water Treatment Plant.
The iconic Colorado River flows throughout much of the state, including Vail. But, unlike many rivers, the upper half of the Colorado consists of public land accessible to both visiting and local anglers. While the river holds mostly brown trout, fly fishermen are often pleased to find rainbow trout, too.
Rivers can change from day to day, so check in with local fishing outfitters on the day’s fishing report for the most up-to-date information on river flow, fishing quality, recommended flies and more.
Lake Fishing in Vail
Avon’s Nottingham Lake is a 15-acre man-made lake and popular fishing spot with large trout and even crayfish to be found. Here, visitors can fish from the pier and rocks along the shore or rent a paddle boat to explore other fishing holes around the lake.
Just 11 miles north from Vail, this stunning high alpine lake known for its awe-inspiring scenery.
While Piney Lake is very popular among the local fly-fishing community, visitors can rent a cone to access the middle of the lake or cross the Piney River to find lesser-known spots for quiet angling.
Winter Fishing in Vail
Surprising to many, winter is one of the best seasons for fishing in Vail. During the winter, visitors can bask in the pristine, snowy landscape while also enjoying some uniquely Colorado fishing experiences like ice fishing. If you’re planning to go fishing in Vail this winter, be sure to pack plenty of warm gear such as ski jackets, snow pants, gloves and hats.
Local Fishing Outfitters & Guides
Whether it’s your first time casting a line or you’re a veteran angler, hiring a guide is one of the best ways to spend a day fishing in Vail. Our local guides are friendly, experienced and guaranteed to get you more than a few nibbles. From half-days on the lake to a full day on the river, these guides can help you plan the perfect Vail fishing experience. Some local guides and outfitters we recommend include Gore Creek Fly Fisherman, Paragon Guides, Sage Outdoor Adventures, Minturn Anglers, Colorado Angling Company, Vail Valley Anglers and Trout Trickers.
What to Bring Fishing in Vail
If you’re hiring a professional guide, they’ll provide all your essential gear, from fishing poles to waders. But, if you’re fishing without a guide, here’s a list of items you’ll need depending on the type of fishing you’re doing:
• Colorado state fishing license (depending on your age); purchase your license here
• Fishing rod and reel
• Four- to 12-pound monofilament fishing line.
• Fishing weights.
• Plastic or cork bobber
• Live bait, fishing lures and/or flies
• Waterproof waders
• Wading boots with felt or rubber soles
Other items to pack for your fishing excursion include a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray and a variety of layers of clothing for the changing mountain temperatures as well as trash bags to ensure you’re leaving Colorado better than you found it.