Long known as a best kept fly fishing secret, Gore Creek is a little gem of a fishing spot just outside of Vail, Colorado.
The area is better known for its fresh powdered slopes, gentrification, and expensive homes than it is for fishing a general rule though, so if you are smart about your timing in the winter and fall you can bag yourself some serious Gold Medal-sized trout.
Gore Creek Fly Fishing Short by Eric Braker
The creek itself runs through Vail, and the Gold Medal stretch of the water is right where Red Sandstone Creek meets the Gore (a little west of the town of Vail itself) and runs all the way to the Eagle River in Leadville.
The upper Gore is faster running, and you can find strong populations of Brook trout, Browns, Cutthroats and Rainbows. The fish in Gore Creek grow bigger because they are smart though, so come prepared with stealthy skills and a patient mind-set.
The urban sprawl of Vail has expanded to the degree that many people struggle with sorting out the different boundaries of West Vail, Vail proper, and even the town of Avon. A good navigation rule to remember is that Gore Creek follows the I-70 and the frontage roads. Don’t be too concerned about traffic noise though, as that will die down the closer you get to the creek itself.
Access points (see map below) are largely along the frontage roads, but there are a number of public parks and pull offs that somehow escaped the general landgrab that drove the real estate boom. Bear in mind that kids on bikes, families, and other traffic are common when you fish near these access points. If you are willing to walk a bit though, the noise and the crowds die down, and you can find yourself some really excellent trout fishing.
The certified best place to fish along Gore Creek is just below Lionshead all the way to where the Gore meets Eagle River. You may want to explore along the Gold Medal expanse a bit to find a good spot, and you may need to move a couple times up and down the creek between Red Sandstone Creek and the Eagle River to find yourself a real heavyweight catch.
While you are in the area, you might also try your luck along Eagle River, and take a break from fishing with trips to the gorgeous mountain ranges that surround Gore Creek and Vail.
The 14’er and Mount of the Holy Cross are just a short drive from town, and it is always worth getting out of the city in Colorado and seeing what makes this place nestled among the Rockies one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The best season of the year to beat the crowds is the winter time. You will have to contend with the peak ski season fanatics, but if you love to ski and fish there isn’t a better time of year to visit.
The spring is generally a poor choice due to the colder temperature of runoff season, but summer and fall provide excellent conditions for trout up and down the Gold Medal section of the river.
There are number of flies that work well year round, but your should pack your gear according to the typical hatches along Gore Creek: blue-winged olive, pale morning dun, and caddis flies.
Here is a list of flies that are known to work well:
Nymphs: Barr Emerger BWO 16-18, Skinny Nelson PT 16-18, Flashback PT 14-16, Soft hackle PT 14-18, Pats Bread Crust 16-18, Hare's Ear 14-16, Buckskin Caddis 16-18, DB Rib Worm Pink/Red, Heavy Metal Worm Pink, Sparkle Worm
Dries: Foam Para Adams 16-18, PMX 14-16, Pearl and Elk Caddis 16-18, Clacka Caddis 14-16, Parawulff 10-18, Patriot 14-16
Streamers: Jig Thin Mint, Baby Gonga, Sparkle Minnow, Baby Sculpzilla
Dry dropper is the best way to approach this small creek. You may have to cover more ground but any seam or hole will hold fish. Target spots in front and behind boulders and rocks.
If you decide to nymph, use a little weight and a smaller indicator to detect the subtle take. Small tippets (4X to 6X) are a must on the Gore.
If nymphing and dry flies are not working or if streamers are you thing, throw small sculpin patterns to entice the angry aggressive ones.
A 4-wt fly rod is plenty for Gore Creek.
There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Gore Creek fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.
Gore Creek fishing regulations include a bag limit of two, and anything smaller than 16 inches needs to be returned to the water immediately. Only artificial lures and flies are permitted.
Eagle County Regional Airport is right off of I-70 on the western side of Eagle County, and is only a 35 minute drive to Vail or Beaver Creek.
Typically, direct flights from major US cities to Eagle County Regional Airport are only running during ski season, so if you plan your trip during the winter months you may be able to get a flight directly there.
Otherwise, you are flying into Denver International Airport, which is a 2.5 hour drive at best to Vail. Thanks to the ski industry accommodations are plentiful nearby, and tend to be much less expensive in the off season. There are also large numbers of vacation rentals and cabins for rent within easy driving distance of I-70 between Gore Creek and Eagle River.
Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.
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