Salomone: Small streams | VailDaily.com

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The rain hit the valley, changing the whole picture when it comes to our local rivers. The low-water, high-temperature Eagle River, which was closed in the afternoon, is now swollen from shore to shore. The Colorado River has seen its fair share of temperature problems this summer and is now suffering from the effects of muddy runoff in areas of scorch. There are many reasons for looking for small streams for successful fly fishing.

When it comes to small streams, Colorado has water everywhere. It doesn’t need to be at a scorching elevation either, although our high country has pristine areas that just attract a dry fly. Some prime examples that are close to the I-70 corridor would be Upper Piney Creek over Piney Lake. A well-traveled trail leads to some of the most scenic fisheries. Gore Creek flowing just off Interstate 70 through Vail is a unique little stream where discerning anglers can catch a Grand Slam: Rainbow, Brown, Brook Trout, and Cutthroat Trout in One Day . And a little further down the Eagle Valley is a darling little stream, Brush Creek. With the east and west of Brush Brooks nestled in alpine country, the lower part of Brush Brook that runs through the town of Eagle has surprisingly good water for dry flies.

The equipment for small streams is suitable for the size of the water and fish. The 2, 3 and 4wt fly rods fit into small spaces that little water has. The 6 ‘to 7 ½’ short fly rods maneuver in tight conditions that overshadow small waters. Small, lightweight rods load quickly for technical casting situations. Small streams will challenge your casting skills.



Small stream fish are often brook trout and cutthroat trout. These fish are small in size but voracious in appetite, devouring dry flies with a competitive spirit. Unexpected challengers can appear and test your fly lapping skills with roots, cut edges and branches trying to dislodge your fly from the fish.

Marc Barnwell with a cup in his hand.
Daily Special

Casting skills must be there for the success of small streams. Overhanging obstacles attract the dry fly throws where they reach out and catch your stray throw. If you don’t lose a few flies from the trees and bushes, you’re not pushing it enough. Wrapping a fly around a willow tree hanging over a grassy bench is easily picked up as you continue to wade upstream. You will end up scaring this hole, but there is always another spot around the next turn.



The dry fly is the only way on small streams. Of course, you can catch fish with nymphs and small streamers, but little water is made for dry fly fishing. The summer window closes quickly in the high countries. Throw out dry flies while you can. Small rods, light tippets and dry flies are the only tools small deep sea fishermen need to be successful.

Small stream fish are often brook trout and cutthroat trout. These fish are small but voracious in appetite devouring dry flies with a competitive spirit.
Marc Barnwell, Daily Special

Another advantage of small streams is the ability to wade as a child again. A pair of old wading boots and neoprene socks is really all a fisherman needs. Once in the stream, fishermen can easily walk along the rocky bottom. Standing in the water can give anglers a better angle to navigate difficult obstacles. Climbing logs, feeling the cold water caressing your toes and splashing through shallow rafts will make you smile. Watching a painted brook trout devour your floating dry fly never gets old.

Small streams are a great alternative to the current river conditions that fishermen negotiate. Difficult casting conditions create unique situations to overcome. Large numbers of dry fly-eating trout rewards tight anglers for success. It’s always nice to wade around like a kid again. And the panoramas where the fishermen throw dry flies on small streams are breathtaking. The rewards of fly fishing in small streams go on and on.


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