What You Need to Know About Fly Fishing the Piney River

Piney River Fly Fishing

The state of Colorado is often known for its towering mountains and graded river canyons. But there are portions of Colorado that lend to its defining features far more than others. Sitting around 12,000 feet in elevation, the Gore Range is one of those places. One of the rivers born from this textbook Colorado landscape is the Piney River near Vail, Colorado.

Tumbling 28 miles from its headwaters, the Piney River is a long tributary of the Colorado River. The headwaters begin at Piney Lake before stretching through a rugged wilderness canyon until it ultimately feeds into the Colorado River.

Often overshadowed in name by nearby well-known rivers like the Eagle River and Colorado River, the Piney is an absolute gem. And not just for its majestic exposure to the Gore Range’s towering beauty. The Piney River offers some of the best freestone fly-fishing in the state of Colorado.

The Piney River near Vail, Colorado

Fishing the Piney Valley Ranch

Located just above its confluence with the Colorado River, the Piney River flows through the spectacular, Pine Valley Ranch. This stretch is the crème de la crème of the Piney River. And access to this private stretch of water is only available to guests of ​Sage Outdoor Adventures.

Sage is fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with the owners of Piney Valley Ranch and the exclusive lease to guide trips on these waters. When you book a fishing trip with Sage, you’ll have this historic ranch, this beautiful river canyon, and this world-class trout fishery all to yourself.

The Piney Valley Ranch encompasses seven river miles of private water. And the guide service at Sage Outdoor Adventures checks all of the boxes.

Piney River Guided Fly Fishing

Planning A Fishing Trip to the Piney River

Peak fishing conditions on the Piney River begin immediately after runoff subsides, usually in late June and will continue through the early fall. These summer and fall months bring consistent water levels and prolific hatches of mayflies and caddis. Mid-summer and early fall is also an excellent time to fish terrestrials like hoppers, beetles and ants. Whether you prefer to throw dry flies, nymphs, or swing streamers through the deeper runs, all of it is available here on the Piney.

Because these fish see very little pressure, they tend to be aggressive and not very selective. But the guides at Sage will help you pick the best patterns for the conditions and the time of year. While these trout can usually be fooled by a variety of fly patterns, the low, clear water conditions later in the summer often require a stealthy approach. Prepare to approach from downstream and make upstream casts to avoid being seen.

No matter the time of year you decide to take on the Piney, it’s important to keep in mind that the higher altitude provides less protection from the sun, so wear and reapply sunscreen throughout the day for the duration of your trip. Anglers will want to bring a hat, and long sleeves. And we’d recommend a buff to cover your neck. As far as the weather is concerned, there is a common saying in Colorado that, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” From cold temperatures in the morning, to intense midday sun, to afternoon thunderstorms, be prepared to experience it all. Dress in layers so that you can quickly adjust to the changing conditions.

Guided Fly Fishing in Colorado

Piney River: A Gore Range Freestone Tributary

It would be difficult to overstate the quality of the fishing on the Piney River as it runs through Piney Valley Ranch, or the beauty of this canyon and the surrounding scenery. The only way to truly understand it is to come experience it for yourself.

To learn more about guided fly fishing trips with Sage Outdoor Adventures and to reserve dates for your adventure, please click here. Or, give the folks at Sage a call at 970-476-3700. Come experience the Piney River this summer with Sage!

Piney River Fly Fishing

Written by the Staff at Riversmith

Colorado Fly Fishing Trips Are Now Underway

Colorado Fly Fishing

The spring season has officially begun here in the Vail Valley! We are now running guided fly fishing trips on the Eagle River and Colorado River. Spring conditions are fantastic and it has been an awesome start to the season in Colorado!

Colorado Fly Fishing

Reserve Your Guided Fishing Spot

We have openings through this month on the Eagle and Colorado rivers. Reservations are now open for the rest of the summer on these waters, as well as the Piney River – an epic stretch of private water along one of Colorado’s most spectacular wilderness river canyons. Guides are limited, so please give us a call now to reserve your spot this season – 970-476-3700. Or check out our fishing page to learn more.

What to Expect During Early Season Fishing

Early season fishing on the Colorado River and Eagle River brings excellent water conditions and some memorable dry fly hatches – most notably, blue-winged olives. As we get later in the spring, we will begin to see caddis hatches along both rivers. With runoff in late May and June, we will see higher water flows, as well as hatches of big salmonflies. When runoff subsides, dry fly fishing remains consistent through the warmer months – including hopper fishing. Nymphing and streamer tactics are also effective throughout the season.

Fly Fishing Trips Near Vail and Beaver Creek

Fly Fishing with Sage

If you’re in the Vail or Beaver Creek area this summer, consider joining us on a fishing trip to the Piney River. It’s an experience you’ll never forget! We have exclusive access to 7 miles of this incredible freestone river. The Piney River tumbles out of the rugged Gore Range and into a jaw-dropping wilderness canyon. As it flows through the 30,000-acre Piney Valley Ranch, Sage guests have exclusive access to this wild and scenic river, loaded with trout. It’s truly an angler’s paradise.

To learn more and to reserve your spot, please give us a call at 970-476-3700 or visit the fishing page.

Fly Fishing on the Eagle River

Vail Colorado: A Summer Playground

Summer Rafting near Vail, Colorado

Feeling a tinge of cabin fever? We’ve got you covered. This summer, we will be back to enjoying our favorite summer activities here in Vail, Colorado. Just minutes from both Vail and Beaver Creek, we’re ready for whitewater rafting, fly fishing on the Piney River, side-by-side ATV rides, horseback rides and sporting clays. Make plans to get busy this summer on your Colorado summer playground!

Rafting Trips

We have 40 years of experience here in the Vail Valley and we operate from three great locations for each river destination. Our guests enjoy brand new equipment and outstanding river guides that will make your trip both safe and a ton of fun.

Learn more about our rafting trips here.

Whitewater Rafting Trip

Side-by-Side ATV Trips

Come drive your own ATV as we explore a 6,000-acre private mountain with an adjoining 14,000 acres of public land near the Castle Peak Wilderness Study Area. We’re talking about an expansive chunk of wild country where you can feel the wind in your hair.

Learn more about the ATV trips here.

Side-by-Side ATV Trips near Vail

Guided Fly Fishing Trips

When you fish with us, you get exclusive access to some of the best water in Colorado. The Piney River begins high in the Rugged Gore range and flows through a wilderness canyon to the Piney Valley Ranch. Here’s we have private access to seven miles of incredible trout water. Sage Fly Fishing guests are the only anglers on this sprawling 30,000-acre ranch. The experience here is simply unbeatable.

Learn more about our fly fishing trips here.

Fly Fishing on the Piney River near Vail

Horseback Riding

Here at Sage, we rarely stick to trails and we avoid riding nose-to-tail. Come explore this 6,000-acre private mountain with breathtaking views of Castle Peak and the Vail Valley.  Ride through fragrant Sage meadows, towering aspen groves and dense pine forests. This is like no other horseback ride you’ve ever experienced!

Learn more about our horseback rides.

Experience a September Adventure in Colorado

September in Colorado

It has been a beautiful summer here in the Vail Valley. We’ve had a blast on rafting trips on the Eagle, Colorado and Arkansas Rivers. The fishing on the Piney River has been excellent. And at our mountain base, we’re having a blast on horseback rides and side-by-side ATV rides with all of our guests.

As we welcome September, we’re thrilled for one of the best months of the year here in Colorado. The temperatures are still warm, and the September weather is idyllic. Cool mornings lead to warm, sunny afternoons. Soon, the aspens will be turning a bright gold. And wildflowers are still growing throughout the mountain meadows. This is where summer meets fall, and it is spectacular!

September Horseback Rides

Horseback riding here at our private mountain base is an awesome experience in September. You’ll ride through old growth aspen stands and witness incredible scenery. And in typical Sage fashion, these are not your average nose-to-tail horseback rides. Being on a 6,000 acre private mountain means that we aren’t restricted to designated Forest Service trails. We can explore the entire place, and ride freely through this historic ranch that’s larger than the Vail ski area!

Side-By-Side ATV Adventures

Side-by-side rides are also a great way to see Colorado in September. These rides also take place on this expansive private mountain, where you’ll have incredible views of the entire Vail valley.  In addition to the adjoining public land, we have more than 20,000 acres of wild country to explore!

Scenic September Rafting in Colorado

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the incredible rafting opportunities here in Colorado in September. River conditions are perfect on many of our favorite stretches of river. There are a number of fun and incredibly scenic river trips to experience in September around Vail and Beaver Creek.

September Fly Fishing on the Piney River

And finally, this is one of the best times of year to experience fly fishing in Colorado. In September, big brown trout begin moving in advance of their fall spawn. And rainbow and cutthroat trout take advantage of grasshoppers and big hatches of late summer insects as they prepare for the lean winter.

Fly Fishing in ColoradoIf you find yourself in Vail or Beaver Creek this September, consider yourself one of the lucky ones! Not only is it one of the most beautiful months of the year in Colorado. But it’s also usually a little bit quieter after the peak summer season. Take advantage of it, and find some adventure!

For information on our trips, please explore our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com. For details and booking you can contact us online or give us a call at 970-476-3700.

5 Tips For Fly Fishing Colorado’s Wild Rivers

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Fishing conditions on our private stretch of the Piney River are at their best. River flows have come down to the perfect level and summer dry fly fishing continues to be outstanding. When it comes to fly fishing Colorado’s remote and scenic rivers, it doesn’t get any better than this!

To learn more about these guided trips and this epic stretch of private water, see our recent post on guided Piney River fly fishing. In the meantime, here are five tips to remember when fly fishing any of Colorado’s small wilderness rivers!

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Fly fishing on small wilderness rivers, like the Piney River, comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Even our guests who are experienced anglers might learn a few new tricks if they are used to fishing on bigger waters.

  1. Pay Attention to Your Profile

The water here can be crystal clear. It’s beautiful, and it’s fun being able to spot the fish. But it’s important to remember that the fish can also see you.

Colorado Fly Fishing Trip

On a guided trip, pay attention to how our guides approach the river. When fishing small wilderness rivers, it’s important to be aware of your profile. If you walk right up to the edge of a cut bank and see the shadows of trout skittering across the river, you’ve gone too far.

Instead, you may need to approach the river cautiously. Don’t let your profile loom over the places where fish are most likely to be holding.

  1. Make Upstream Casts

In many other situations, anglers are used to making quartering-upstream casts, allowing the fly to drift downstream, past the angler’s position.

Here on the Piney River, take note of where your guide positions you for the cast. When fishing these high alpine streams, it’s more common to make upstream casts and allow the fly to drift back down toward the angler.

Fly Fishing in Colorado

Trout tend to face upstream in the current, opportunistically feeding on insects that come drifting down to them. By making an upstream cast, you’re approaching the trout from behind, where they are less likely to see you.

  1. Start at the Bottom of a Run

When you approach a new run or riffle, it’s often beneficial to begin at the downstream or tailing end, and work your way up. This allows you to target the downstream fish first, without spooking the fish at the head of the run.

Vail, Colorado Fly Fishing

This technique isn’t unique to wilderness fishing. The same principle applies to larger rivers. However, it’s especially important on these small alpine waters. In such clear water, it’s easy to spook fish if you’re not careful. When you target fish at the bottom first, and then work your way upstream, you’ll maximize your opportunities.

  1. Don’t Ignore the Little Pockets

Most anglers have a tendency to fish the biggest, most promising-looking runs and riffles on the river. But when you’re fishing on wilderness creeks, don’t skip over the small pockets. You might be shocked at where you’ll find big trout holding. This is true here on the Piney River and most other high country creeks.

Don’t be surprised when your guide asks you to make a cast into a surprisingly small and innocuous-looking piece of pocket water. These little holes can be full of surprises. You might only get a two-second drift through one of these little pockets. But sometimes, that’s all you need for a fish to attack your fly.

Stop and Look Up

When you’re fishing these mountain rivers, the fast-action fishing is exciting. On each cast, you’ll be expecting the water to blow up beneath your dry fly. It’s addicting. And while it’s tempting to keep your head down and tell yourself, “Just one more cast!” don’t forget to lift your eyes and look around you.

The scenery here on the Piney River Ranch is nothing short of stunning. Every once in a while, take a break from casting and enjoy what’s around you. Enjoying the mountain scenery here in Colorado is an important part of the experience.

Colorado Mountain Scenery

Join Us on the Piney River

Our private stretch of the Piney River near Vail is exclusively available to Sage guests and receives no public fishing pressure. Additionally, our knowledgeable guides help maximize our guests’ experience. Whether you’re a beginner angler or a crusty old veteran, we work hard to make the most out of your time on the water.

We offer half-day and full-day guided trips on the Piney. To learn more, please explore our Fishing Page. If you have questions about availability or other details, please contact us. We look forward to helping you plan a memorable fly fishing adventure!