Note: This report is a part of the FlyCast Lite reporting program and is updated seasonally or in the event of substantial changes that alter fly fishing tactics. FlyCast Lite reports are intended to give anglers a high level overview on seasonal conditions and general fishing tactics.
It is winter fishing on the Taylor River, below Taylor Park reservoir. This time of year you can expect stable flows, high water clarity and sluggish trout. While the winter is comparatively slower when it comes to angler pressure, the water has been and will continue to be busy, especially along the stretches nearest the dam. At this point, a clean drift and proper presentation will go a long way when it comes to landing these fickle trout. Additionally, sight fishing will dramatically improve your odds so do your best to locate holding trout before aimlessly casting. If you can spot one, there are likely more lurking around close by. Trout are holding in their typical winter lies (deep and slow pools and runs), but have been prone to spread out and rise to the surface upon hatch activity, particularly on warmer days and during peak heat hours. Small and simple nymph rigs with a Mysis Shrimp or Scud at the lead followed by one or more midge or baetis will do most of the heavy lifting. However, smaller searchers/attractors like a Flashback PT, Rainbow Warrior or Hare's Ear have been effective when thrown into the mix as well. We're continually seeing sporadic midge hatches so come prepared to fish some dry flies if you see trout actively feeding on the surface.
The Taylor River is the largest tributary to the Upper Gunnison River and originates in the high country of northeast Gunnison county near the continental divide. From the headwaters, the Taylor River flows southeast to Taylor Park Reservoir before turning southwest, through Taylor Canyon, for about 26 miles toward Almont where it meets the East River. Below the Taylor Park Dam, is one of Colorado’s most prized tailwaters and is home to some beefy rainbow, cutthroat, cutbow and brown trout. While there is some incredible fishing near the headwaters, above the dam, this report will emphasize the tailwater section and to a lesser extent the subsequent 26 mile stretch through the canyon. Below the dam, you’ll find some deeper runs, slow pools and pocket water. Whereas, further south, water velocity picks up making the pockets and faster riffles more attractive holding places for trout. The Taylor is a must for every angler as it offers some incredible landscape and fishing. That being said, this tailwater see’s its fair share of angler pressure, so come prepared for crowds.
Like any tailwater, the Taylor has its pro’s and con’s. On the plus side, you can fish it year round as the trout receive consistent bug life from the Taylor Reservoir and it doesn’t freeze over in the winter due to warm water being released from the bottom of the dam. As a result of consistent bug life, trout here gorge themselves year round and you can expect to find a few trophy trout. The “Hog Trough”, in particular, holds some of the biggest Taylor River trout and is located just below the dam. While you generally can’t go wrong as far as timing goes, the summer through fall offers some incredible hatch activity in the green drake, caddis and BWO variety making for great dry fly fishing. Otherwise, small and simple nymph rigs will be the most effective mode of fishing regardless of the time of year. On the downside, these trout are picky and skittish due to consistent angler pressure. As such, you’ll need to be at the top of your game. Short clean casts, yarn indicators and light tippet will work in your favor. Additionally, this is certainly a destination location, so don’t expect to have the river to yourself. Fishing is at its best in the late morning to evening, but make sure to get there early to beat the crowds.
The tailwater section of the Taylor River is located roughly 26 miles northeast of Almont. From CO-135, take CO Rd 742 up the Taylor Canyon toward the dam. Here you’ll find a number of walk-in access points throughout the canyon, just off of the road. While the lower Taylor will offer some solitude, the larger trout can be found within a mile of the dam.