Fishing in Vail brings peace and solitude and whether you fish the surrounding rivers or nearby lakes, you are in nature, away from life’s stresses.
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. If it’s your first time out, we recommend booking a guided fishing trip with one of our outfitters to make the most of your outing.
In the Vail, area, you’ll fish the Gore Creek or the Eagle River. The Gore runs right through Vail and is a local favorite. The Gold Medal section starts at where Red Sandstone Creek enters the Gore (just west of Vail proper) and continues west to the Eagle River (at the Leadville exit off I-70). Favorite spots along the Gore can be found by Vail’s Nature Center, Ford Park, Antler’s Lodge, Donovan Park and Vail’s Grand Hyatt. Each offers easy access, but waders are a good idea as the creek is narrow and lined with trees and brush much of the way.
The Eagle is a free-flowing river which seems forgotten by many fly-fishermen. There is quite a bit of access from shore or for wading, or you can also float the Eagle during certain times of the summer. Recommended spots include:
- White River Nat’l Forest – headwaters Hwy 24 runs between Leadville and Dowds Junction, crossing the divide at Tennessee Pass. After the pass, the highway follows the Eagle. Much of the land is forest property and there a few campgrounds. The river also passes through Camp Hale. Stop and take a look! Watch for private land especially between Minturn and Gilman. You can access many tributaries via trails or forest roads Dowd’s Junction. The Eagle River and Gore Creek meet at Dowd’s Junction. This is also the junction of Hwy 24 and I-70. There is access here on land leased by DOW. There is also a USFS ranger station where you can obtain additional information.
- Avon area – Very limited access . You can access the river at the bridge in Avon called “Bob”.
- Edwards to Wolcott – Access at BLM sites – use Hwy 6 – Ute Creek and Bellyache; access at Squaw Creek Water Treatment Plant; possible access at Cordillera with permission.
- Wolcott to Eagle – Take Hwy 6 instead of I-70 – BLM and DOW leases at Wolcott Campground, Red Canyon Canyonwoods, old Hwy 6 Bridge, and Eagle County Fairgrounds.
- Eagle to Dotsero – BLM and DOW access points at Gypsum Campground and ponds, the “community” site, the “lava flow” access, the “horse pasture” access. Additional access possible at Eagle River estates, Willowstone easement.
The iconic Colorado River in this area is a legally navigable river through private, state, and BLM land and access is open through private land. Anglers may not trespass on the banks of private property, though, without permission. The recommended place to put in a boat is Pumphouse Recreation Area, a BLM campground and launch site. This is a fee area for all users. A good half-day float is from Pumphouse to Radium, the next launch/takeout site. This section gives anglers 4-miles of water to fish. It’s an easy float most of the way, but watch out at Needle Eye Rapid, the halfway point. It’s Class lll water above 4000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and because of the canyon, the rapid isn’t easily scouted before running it. Prior to runoff, or in late summer and fall, flows under 1500 cfs are a piece of cake – provided the oarsman is experienced.
Avon’s Nottingham Lake is a 15-acre man-made lake and popular spin fishing spot, with large trout and even crayfish to be found. Try fishing from the wooden pier, or fish from the rocks along the shore, or renting a paddle boat can provide a different angle on the fishing.
Piney Lake is one of the favorite spots because of the scenery. Just 11 miles north from Vail, this stunning high alpine lake is an adventure. Rent a cone to access the middle of the lake or to get away from other people, try crossing the Piney River and working the less popular parts of the lake. And, while fish are plentiful, a side benefit could be spotting moose.
Now, cast your line, tip your hat back, and enjoy the day with the fishes!