5 Tips For Fly Fishing Colorado’s Wilderness 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!

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.

Here are five tips to remember when fly fishing any of Colorado’s small wilderness rivers:

  1. 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. 2. 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. 3. 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. 4. 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.

5. 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!

Featured River: The Arkansas River

The whitewater rafting season has been outstanding here in the Vail valley and across Colorado, and we’d like to introduce you to another one of our favorite rivers.

In case you missed our previous featured river, go back and check out our profile on the Eagle River, which offers some of Colorado’s best seasonal rafting from Vail, down through Avon and Beaver Creek.

This time, let’s talk about the Arkansas River. The ‘Ark’ is well-known in Colorado for it’s incredible whitewater all summer long. But there’s more than just rapids that make the Arkansas special.

“The Arkansas River brings to mind crystal clear, relatively warm water, in a semi-arid desert with warm air temps that create a perfect rafting environment,” Commented Cole Bangert, owner and guide here at Sage.  “It’s totally unique in the west. The flows on the Ark are augmented by reservoirs upstream, so rafting is phenomenal all summer; not just during early snow melt periods, like you see on the Eagle River or Clear Creek.”

According to Cole, the backdrop on the Arkansas River also makes it unique. The entire corridor is lined with towering 14,000-foot peaks, the highest concentration of “14-ers” in the state. With snow-capped peaks above and desert granite boulders below, the banks of the Arkansas River are scattered ponderosa pine, and the vanilla aroma from their bark fills the air.

If all that isn’t enough, the whitewater is top quality. 

“The upper stretches of the Arkansas boast big class V rapids, with the steepest commercially run rapid in the U.S.,” Cole added. “The Pine Creek section drops at a gradient of over 200 feet per mile. This is a mile-long class V rapid with tricky moves, fast water, big waves, and big hydraulics that must be run with precision and power.”

Just below Pine Creek is the popular, “Numbers” stretch, where rafters will find some of the most fun class IV drops anywhere in Colorado.

And finally, below the town of Buena Vista is the most popular stretch on the Arkansas River, Browns Canyon National Monument. This spectacular canyon was designated a National Monument in 2015, and for good reason.

“Here, you have the opportunity to float through a jaw-dropping gorge,” Cole concluded. “It consists of ten miles of class III rapids, where groups and families can enjoy an incredible experience amid these impressive natural surroundings.”

For more information on our rafting trips, or on any of the great outdoor adventures that we offer from Sage headquarters in Vail, explore the rest of our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com or call us at 970-476-3700.

Guided Fly Fishing Expeditions on The Piney River

Piney River Guided Fly Fishing

Here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, we are extremely proud to have exclusive access to the famed Piney River near Vail for guided fly fishing trips! 

Sage is the sole fly fishing outfitter on the Piney Valley Ranch, and it’s only available to our guests. We offer fully guided adventures to this pristine alpine stream, tucked away in the spectacular Colorado backcountry.

The Piney River is a classic, Colorado wilderness gem. With its headwaters at Piney Lake at the foot of the rugged Gore Range, this freestone river tumbles through a roadless wilderness canyon for 25 miles until its confluence with the Colorado River. 

As the Piney River approaches its confluence with the Colorado, it flows right through the Piney Valley Ranch, a sprawling, 30,000-acre mountain paradise. Guests of Sage Outdoor Adventures have exclusive access to a stretch of water has never been available to the public.

The team at Sage Outdoor Adventures was able to secure this premier fishing lease thanks to a longstanding relationship with the owners of Piney Valley Ranch, who previously owned Castle Peak Ranch. Castle Peak is where we offer ATV tours, snowmobiling, horseback riding and sporting clays. There were several reputable fly fishing businesses knocking on the door for the Piney River lease. But after seven years of working together at Castle Peak, and knowing first-hand the quality of Sage operations, the owners chose to sign with Sage.

We offer half-day and full-day trips to this remote, private stretch of the Piney River. Trips will include side-by-side ATVs to navigate the ranch and high-end fly fishing gear. Full day trips also include a streamside lunch.

The ranch will be limited to very few fishing guests each day to maintain a high quality experience. As with everything we do, we place a high priority on the quality of the fishing, the undisturbed wilderness experience, and the quality of guest service.

The exclusive fishing lease on the Piney Valley Ranch also includes a premier section of private water on the Eagle River. This will allow us to offer premium half-day trips just a few minutes from Vail and Beaver Creek.

In addition to these new private waters, Sage Outdoor Adventures will continue to offer guided float trips on the Eagle and Colorado Rivers.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit our Fly Fishing Page. If you’d like to chat with us in more detail or check availability, you can call us at 970-476-3700 or contact us online. 

Tag #SageOutdoors in Your Summer Adventure Photos

We’re having a blast this summer, meeting visitors to the Vail Valley from all over the U.S. and the world! Most of our guides will tell you that the best part of their job is having the opportunity to meet so many awesome folks and to show them this beautiful Colorado mountain country.

We love seeing and sharing all the great photos that our guests share on social media. We count ourselves very fortunate to be a part of your vacation memories. Being able to look back and see some of those photos makes it that much more special.

If you’re visiting the Vail or Beaver Creek area this summer and enjoy an adventure with us, we would encourage you to use the hashtag, #sageoutdoors on Instagram. Whether you are getting ready to hit the river, on a side-by-side ATV tour, a horseback ride, fly fishing or shooting sporting clays, we would love to see it and share it with the rest of the Sage Outdoor Adventures family!

Be sure and follow the #sageoutdoors hashtag to see all of the other fun shenanigans going on around here!

Our summer rafting season is going full-force, and side-by-side ATV riders are enjoying some serious mud-on-the-face fun. And with all that spring snowmelt, horseback riding guests have enjoyed a wonderful year for wildflowers. No matter what you snap a picture of, be sure and hashtag it with #sageoutdoors to share the adventure with the rest of the family here at Sage Outdoor Adventures!

instagram (@deviesurb)

instagram (@timviv)

 

If you have questions about our trips, or if you’d like to learn more about any of the adventures we offer, you can contact us online or call us at 970-476-3700. Please also explore the rest of our website at SageOutdoorAdventures.com.

What’s the Difference on a Private Mountain Horseback Ride?

Horseback riding in the Vail valley is a popular activity. But not all horseback rides are the same. The average experience might be a nose-to-tail ride on a busy trail that’s choked with other users and where you’re not allowed to stray from the path. But we don’t believe in average.

Instead, imagine an authentic, western horseback experience on a historic private mountain just outside of Vail and Beaver Creek. Here, you can avoid the crowded trailhead. You can explore forests, aspen groves, meadows, and rolling sage flats. And you’re not stuck in single file.

Most horseback riding operations are limited to US Forest Service trails and regulations. Forest Service permits limit exactly where horses can ride and stop. Taking groups of horseback riders off trail and cross-country is not allowed in many of the high-use areas like the trails around Vail and Beaver Creek.

Here at Sage Outdoor Adventures, we do things differently. Our base of operations is a 6,000-acre private mountain. That’s larger than the Vail ski area! This extraordinary location is home to expansive meadows filled with wildflowers, creeks and ponds, old-growth stands of aspen trees and historic cabins. The mountain here is teeming with wildlife like elk and deer.

Horseback rides on our private mountain are not limited by Forest Service permit regulations. Our riders are free to explore the entire area, follow game trails through the woods and trot through the sunny meadows. On a horseback ride with us, you won’t be riding single-file down a narrow dirt track. You’ll be able to explore the beautiful country that Colorado has to offer.

So next time you think of going on a horseback ride when you’re visiting the Vail area, break away from the pack and the standard nose-to-tail rides. Join us as we set off across a vast and historic private mountain. Experience what a horseback riding experience should be!

To learn more, please visit our Horseback Riding Page. You can book or chat with us online. Or give us a call at 970-476-3700 to begin planning your adventure. We hope to see you on the mountain this summer!