River, Snow  and Blue Sky

Winter wonderland: looking downstream on the Eagle River

the guidemobile is full of them, full-rigged - and our midday window of opportunity seems short.

But here on the Eagle River, fifteen miles down the valley from Vail, my guide's confidence is contagious, and his words float out after me over the ice shelf:

"Lookin' like a great day!" crows Alex Parsons. "Can we really have lucked out this much?"

Out here in the sunlight, I'm asking the same thing. And there's just one way to find out. I lengthen line, land the weighted dropper rig squarely where the current slows into the pool, and meet sudden, solid resistance while the light rod's still pointing into the cast.

Something shakes, deep in the dark water, and heads for the far bank. Too desperate to stop it, I hang on grimly... and everything goes slack.

"Give and take, give and take. Theo, these fish are subtle! Subtlety is their specialty!"

I nod and catch my breath. Up on the horizon, a herd of maybe fifty migrating elk are still chewing the cud on crossing Interstate 70. The klaxon howl of a big-nosed truck, one of those American classics that only Eubank could shoehorn onto an English road, seems to make them think twice. Needs must, where the blizzard drives: it's rare to see elk this far down the hills in daylight.

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