Just 35 miles west of Vail, located in the Town of Eagle, this little treasure is often overlooked by all but local fly fishers. The open space through the development of Eagle Ranch is worth a morning or afternoon, and the upstream sections approaching Sylvan Lake are excellent producers as well. This report relates to the most commonly fished section, from the Eagle River confluence through town.
Conditions in Brush Creek
2014-07-11: Brush Creek has come down and cleared entirely, but recent storms have given it a little tint that would hide fishers well. There is no USGS streamflow measurement for this creek, but it might be flowing around 40 cubic feet per second. Its temperatures are fluctuating significantly, but it is currently sitting in the high 50s, with occasional 60-plus degree spikes. Significant algae growth has started, but it seems to be lagging a couple of weeks behind its usual summer pattern by a couple of weeks. Brush Creek is is a great choice for a short evening fly fishing session or some time walking the banks with the kids.
Caddis are hatching regularly. Elk Hairs (#12-#16) in black or tan will work well, with presentation being less important than getting those bugs close to the undercut banks. A pearl-and-elk (#14 or smaller)or X-2 Caddis works well as a second dry Skating a high-floating caddis pattern is a productive technique. Some yellow sally stoneflies are present, though a royal or tan stimulator (#14-#18) seems to be just as effective as a more specific sally pattern. Mayfly hatches are more sporadic on Brush Creek through the town of Eagle than caddis at this time of year. A larger (#12) parachute Adams or trude (#12-#14) will work in many of the side channels, but a humpy (#14-#18, red, yellow or lime) draws a lot of attention in the faster seams.
As with the dries, the trout in Brush are not too choosy, though they love caddis and soft hackles. Green Copper Johns, hare’s ears, various tan and green caddis larvae, Graphic Caddis emergers, all in about size 14-16 produce well. Turning rocks will reveal a balance of caddis and small (#18-#22) mayfly nymphs, as well as the omnipresent midge larvae. Keep those trailing emergers small (#20 and below) for an extra chance with Brush Creek’s browns and occasional rainbows, especially as you work towards the confluence with the Eagle River.
Where to Go in Brush Creek
Brush is filled with hungry browns that will give your flies an honest look, but they will shut down quickly if they see a shadow or get stung just once. With its variety of habitats (braids, undercuts, riffles, recirculators, shady and sunny spots, etc.), there’s always something new around the bend. The closer you get to the Eagle River, the more likely there will be an over 12″ ‘big daddy’ in each pool. The new Brush Creek Confluence open space along Violet Lane has clearly been discovered. The confluence is well fished, but it still produces hard-fighting rainbows, when fishers have had enough of the small-stream browns. To get more of the high-country feel, keep traveling upstream to the public water near Yeoman campground (on the East fork) or below Sylvan Lake. The lake itself is regularly stocked, and it often looks like it’s boiling in the evening. While the creek itself ought to be catch-and-release territory, Sylvan is a great place to catch a ‘bow to stick right on the grill at the edge of the water.