Winter Wonder at Wilder on the Taylor

Elk Migration at Wilder on The Taylor

The heartbeat of the ranch is the Sabrowski family who have lived at Wilder for 20 years and raised their family here.  They manage the entire ranching operation at Wilder which includes the historic hay and cattle operations that have been the center point of the Taylor canyon for over 110 years.  They also provide a turn-key operation for the owners at Wilder. In this letter from Shelly, she shares why she enjoys the changing of the seasons and the excitement that wintertime at Wilder brings.

Winter brings a slower pace for our family along with breathtaking beauty and the challenges snow can bring.

Cattle at Wilder on The TaylorBy this time of the year, all of the cattle are off of the high summer pastures and are making the snow covered hay meadows their home. Their routine consists of our son Clay coming out to feed them every afternoon as soon as the school bus drops him off. He drives the John Deere 4230 with the round bale feeder out to a swarm of hungry cattle in the middle of the west hay meadow. He is pushed and nudged by wet cold noses of the “pet” cows we have. He obligingly scratches cows #19, #8, #10, the black baldy cow, and too many others to name. With experience beyond his years, he cuts the strings on the round bale, hops up in the cab and begins feeding a nice row of hay. On the weekends, he plows the snow into wide rows so the cows can eat on solid ground.

All of the hay stacked high in hay shed is almost gone from Don selling it to local horse owners. He has quite a number of local buyers who even go so far to call in June asking him to save hay for them to buy once it’s baled.

Hay Harvest at Wilder on The TaylorWilder’s native Timothy hay is also sought after by the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) held in Denver every January. For the past three years, Don has sold them three semi-loads of hay. This is the only source of hay they sell to all of the horse and livestock exhibitors who come from every state to show their animals. The cherry on the top is both of our sons, Calvin and Clay, have the opportunity to go with the hay and offload it each year. It takes about two days to accomplish this feat, and they both have a lot of pride since they are the ones who harvest it. As soon as the first semi rolls in, lines of people form waiting to buy it. (Calvin pictured harvesting the hay in August)

Calvin Sabrowski Jr AngusA couple of weeks after stacking all that hay at the NWSS, we head back to Denver so the boys can show their Angus breeding heifers against some of the best cattle in the country. Last year, Calvin placed fifth in both his breeding class and open class with his heifer, Chevelle. At first Calvin was disappointed until the breeder we bought her from told him he placed very well considering the heifer who won his classes was bought for $180,000 and the second place heifer went for $80,000. He was shocked! It’s called the Super Bowl of livestock shows for good reason. It takes lots of hours washing, working their hair, exercising and practicing setting up to show. Every day they are able to, the boys spend four hours working their show cattle.

Elk Migration at Wilder on The TaylorWith the snow on the ground and weekly storms bringing in more, we also see changes in the wildlife migration and changes in the Taylor River. By early December, I start looking for elk migrating from the south side of the ranch heading to the Almont Triangle. Jack’s Cabin Cut-Off is closed for the season to allow the elk a place to eat and calve in peace. This wintertime at Wilder, we didn’t get our first snow until later so that delayed the migration but when they came, they did not disappoint us. This year was really special because for the last month, there have been 250+ bulls, cows and yearling elk hanging with the cattle in the west hay meadow. They come and go, but it’s quite a sight even for us.

It was especially exciting for one of our homeowners who came to Wilder to celebrate Christmas on the ranch. They had family in who never had seen elk before. It was neat for me to hear how much they enjoyed seeing not only elk for the first time, but that many at once.

Wilder on The Taylor Ice PackWe had another exciting event take place on the Taylor River. On New Year’s Day an ice floe occurred to the magnitude by which we had never seen before. It began as an ice dam in the river above Rosie Lane Campground. As the water freezes and thaws, it builds layers of ice. When the conditions are just right, the dam breaks and the sudden flow of water flushes ice down river. We have seen this happen every year that we have lived here. What made this one different was the sheer amount of ice and water coming all at once. Calvin was able to witness dozens of Bald Eagles swarming over the ice, picking up fish that had surged on top of the flow. What a sight to see!

Wintertime at Wilder on The TaylorI go down every few days to see if any of the ice that backed-up has melted or shifted. The river has made a channel through the ice and still runs underneath. The ice creaks, moans and sometimes pops. I could stand there for hours watching and waiting amazed at this sight.

The best thing about living at Wilder is nothing ever stays the same. The seasons change, our jobs change accommodating the seasons, and I get to watch my boys grow up right before my eyes. I truly feel blessed calling Wilder my home.

All Things Wilder by Shelly Sabrowski

Bald Eagle at Wilder on the Taylor
Calling Wilder on the Taylor’s 2,100 acre ranch home since 1995, Shelly Sabrowski works alongside her husband, Don, to protect and preserve the historic hay and cattle operations that have been the center point of the Taylor canyon for over 110 years.  At Wilder, Don and Shelley manage the ranch and we feel blessed to have them as part of the team.  Shelley finds joy in raising her two sons, Calvin and Clay, in an agricultural environment.  In this letter from Shelley, she shares her thoughts about why this is her favorite time of year at Wilder.

Wilder on the Taylor RiverI love this time of year. It’s my absolute favorite on the ranch. The hustle and bustle of the summer season is gone and things are settling down into a routine that I can live in the moment and simply enjoy being here.

Wilder on the TaylorThe Aspen and Cottonwood trees did not disappoint us this year. At their very peak of color, I was able to take one of my friends, Michele Wheeler horseback riding on the south side of the river. She had never seen the south side this time of year and I knew she was in for a real treat. We planned for a one hour ride and it turned into three. I never tire of hearing the sudden intake of breath from the people I take riding when they experience the sheer beauty of the ranch.

Wilder on the TaylorI also love this time of year because of the fall gathering of the cattle. Don and I saddle up our horses and push all the cows and calves into the corral. Our veterinarian, Dr. Darby Sullivan is ready to pregnancy check all the cows and Don and I give each one several preventative vaccines. We then push all of this year’s calves into the squeeze chute and give them their vaccines too. I wait with anticipation for this one event all year. It’s the time we choose Clay’s next Grand Champion steer. The one we’ve had our eye on finally comes through and I make everyone wait on me while I look over him closely and feel his coat for the very first time. Don calls his mother “Crazy” for good reason. She really is. She will either run away from you or charge at you. Don keeps her as a cow because she raises some of the best calves in the herd. We kept her heifer calf last year as a replacement heifer and she’s one of our biggest pets. She will come stand next to you out in the pasture for a scratch between her shoulders. If you ignore her, she will head butt you. We are hoping Clay’s steer will have the same personality. I will keep you updated as we halter break him in a few weeks.

Wilder on the TaylorOne of the other events I wait for all year is the first snow. It happened early this year on Wilder. I never get tired of snow falling on the ranch. I was born and raised in the desert where literally one inch of snow would shut down the entire city. I get as excited as any little kid. I drove all over taking pictures to text to Calvin who is attending Oklahoma State University as a freshman. I couldn’t let him miss it. We had a total of two inches which melted by the next day but I can still see snow on the south side under trees which hasn’t melted yet. My very favorite thing to do is stand outside in the evening when there isn’t any traffic rushing by and listen to the snow falling. If it’s quiet enough I can hear my own heart beating. I live for those moments.

Bald Eagle at Wilder on the TaylorWith fall comes migration of the wildlife. Almost all of the Robins and Stellar Jays have left replacing them with Bald Eagles. Yesterday morning my cell phone was ringing urgently with Don on the other end telling me to go out back of our house and see the Bald Eagle circling high above. He knows how much I love seeing them return to the ranch for the winter. There’s several dead standing pine trees along the river by Camp that the eagles will perch on all winter. Don leaves these trees standing just for the eagles. And just for us to enjoy watching them.

Wilder on the TaylorWe are waiting for the snow to accumulate in the high country to bring the elk back to the Wilder. We usually see them the first week of December. They will migrate from the south side, cross the hay meadows and head toward the Almont Triangle for the winter. When they cross the ranch it’s a sight I feel blessed to see each year. Elk Migration at Wilder on the TaylorThere will be at least one hundred cows, bulls and calves all in one herd. Last fall, Calvin and I needed to go to an owner’s cabin at night because I forgot to turn up the heat. We ran into that herd of elk and that had to be one of the most amazing sights I had ever seen. Calvin turned off his truck and we sat in the owner’s driveway for an hour with the windows down in freezing cold weather. It didn’t matter to us. The truck was surrounded by elk. So close we could hear them calling to each other in chirping tones. We could see their breath in the dim light of the moon. As we sat there losing feeling in our fingers and faces, I told Calvin he was really lucky to be able to experience this. There are many, many people in the world who would never get the chance to.

Don and Shelley SabrowskiI feel incredibly blessed to call Wilder my home for the past twenty years and to have raised my sons on this beautiful ranch. As a family we have many memories we have made over the years living here. I am truly excited to see other families make their memories here too.

Shelly Sabrowski

Tour de Forks at Wilder July 21, 2015

Tour de Forks, Crested Butte, CO

Tour de Forks at WilderENJOY A GLASS OF FINE WINE, and soak in the soothing cadences of the trout-rich Taylor River from the spacious lawn at Wilder on the Taylor, a working ranch dating back to 1910. Lounge in the safari-style Founder’s Porch, recline in hammocks along the river, try your hand at horseshoes
and enjoy great company by a crackling fire. This preservation-oriented, 2,100-acre ranch community, well known for the picturesque hay meadow at the intersection of County Road 742 and Jack’s Cabin Cutoff between Crested Butte and Almont, features 26 homesteads, five miles of private fishing waters and access to extensive onsite and nearby trails.

Chef Andrea Frizzi was born and raised in Milan, Italy where his passion for fine Italian cooking was fostered by his Venetian mother. He graduated with honors from the prestigious Italian Culinary Academy, and was awarded the “Distinguished Diploma o Merito” as the top graduate in the class. Andrea refined his culinary prowess in Milan for 12 years. As the Executive Chef at Saint Abroeus, he cooked for late Pope John Paul II, late US President Ronald Regan, Russian President Michael Gorbachev, Italian Prime Minister Andreotti, and many more. In the United States he served as Executive Chef for Bice Restaurant in Washington, D.C. and was named by Williams of Sonoma as “one of the new rising best chefs,” and “best new young chef” by Dining Digest. At his own restaurant, Il Posto in Denver, Andrea pays homage to a cuisine that relies on the day’s
freshest ingredients.

For information and tickets visit

Breaking Ground on Another Custom Home at Wilder

We recently showcased the beautiful architectural drawings provided by Cottle Carr & Yaw of Aspen Colorado of a Wilder resident’s main home. We are excited to see that ground has been broken and construction has begun! The family, who built their guest home at Wilder a few years ago, will soon be able to enjoy their custom built home!

Custom Home at WilderThere are still a few homesteads available for sale. Visit for more information about the exclusive opportunity to own and build your Colorado custom home.

Taylor River Fishing Report – October 2014

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

By Lu Warner, Master Guide at Wilder on the Taylor

Well, it’s hard to imagine a better ending to a great season of fishing at the Wilder on the Taylor.  As the river settles into the low flows of Fall and early winter, Mayflies and Midges are still hatching in big numbers, Fall Caddis are dancing on the water and fish are rising as well or better than they have all summer. This should continue until the icy grips of winter set in.

Mother Nature has been particularly good to us this past year as an above average snowpack and timely summer rainfalls have maintained the Taylor flows above the historical average and the fish are strong, healthy and extremely well fed. The recent drawdown of the dam at Taylor Reservoir has reduced the current flows at the Wilder to 240 CFS up about 25% from this time last year.

At this level you can literally see fish everywhere and with the wading being a bit easier with the lower water levels the fishing is incredible. Especially noticeable are the large female Brown Trout that huck themselves into the air in an attempt to loosen up their eggs before the upcoming spawn. It’s hard for 10 minutes to pass without seeing a big fish splash.

Learning to Fly Fish with Lu

If you want to try to catch a trophy Brown Trout, this is the time to do it. Large Browns are getting territorial as they approach spawning and at times can be very aggressive to a well placed streamer. This is not a numbers game and one might have to cover a lot of water before luring one of these brutes into a strike. Pay attention to the very tail outs of the the shallow slicks..Recommended Streamers are: Egg Sucking Leech, Sculpzilla -Black and Olive, Olive Wooly Buggers.

Otherwise both Dry and Dry Dropper have been very effective. Mornings always start a bit slow on the Taylor because the water is so cold. A size 10 Bead Head Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ears fished deep under a large dry in soft water can be deadly.

Around 10 a.m. things start to happen and huge clouds of Midges begin to hatch as the day warms. If you look in the stillest currents and thin foam lines, you can see larger fish slowly sipping these tiny midges and target them with a well placed Griffins Gnat or equivalent on 6X. This is exacting fishing and a slow stalk and gentle cast can yield surprisingly big fish.

Around 11 a.m., the Midges die off and lots of Mayfly Spinners lay their eggs and hit the water.  The majority at this time of day are Mahogany Duns and a size 14-16 Rusty Spinner can be the ticket to any rising fish that you see. If nothing is doing on top, then tie on a size 10-14 Orange Stimulator and fish a #16 Pheasant Tail underneath it. The big Orange Stimulator looks exactly like the Fall Caddis that are hatching sporadically throughout the day. If a dead drift doesn’t bring up a fish, try to skate it a little and twitch a fish up. Many times the fish react better to the twitch than a dead drift.

Nice catch!

Sometime around noon, Mayflies start to hatch and the fish start to rise consistently. Typically the best fly is a small Blue Winged Olive, however with a variety of Mayflies still hatching, many other patterns can work well. I suggest Mahogany Duns, Gray Drakes, Para Adams in different sizes depending on what you see on the water. Excellent dry fly fishing can continue right up until 5 p.m. or so. This is a good time of year to catch large Browns and Rainbows on small dries as they are fattening up before winter. Last week in one pool, I saw 4 Browns in the plus range sipping tiny Blue Wings very quietly. If you see a strong hatch, it is a good time to go to the deep, slow pools where large fish live and find one to fish to.

The best tip for fishing at this time of year is to move slowly and look carefully. There are fish everywhere but they are spooky. Long, light leaders and soft presentations are key. Many large fish can be sighted in shallow water and if you can get your fly to them without alarming them, the odds are high that you can catch them. Expect peak activity between 12 and 4 pm.

Rarick Creek has lots of big Browns and Rainbows that have not seen a fly in almost a month. These fish will move willingly to your fly and a good session out here will be sure to put a big smile on your face. While some fish will still eat Hoppers, a better call right now might be a smaller dry such as a Gray Drake and if needed a small dropper below.

The Ponds are full of very fat and very selective Rainbows and Browns. We have had the best luck with small leech patterns and damselfly nymphs. A long cast followed by a slow, twitchy retrieve seems to produce the best results. I find it best to sight fish here. Walking along the bank until you see a big fish and casting to it increases the odds that you will hook one. Walk slowly and cast your fly well in front of a cruising fish. If you try a few fish and none eat, change your fly and keep trying until you are successful.

Well, next week I’ll be heading to our place in Chile to join Antonia and Vicente until we return in April of 2015. We all want to thank everyone who came and fished, worked, wined and dined, laughed and spent time with us at the Wilder this season and hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did. For me it was a pleasure to spend quality time on quality water with lots of great people. Cheers!

Fly Fishing on the Taylor River

The Wilder is a special place and we look forward to seeing you out there next Spring.

Keep your backcasts high!


Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report – September 15, 2014

By Lu Warner, Master Guide

Fly-fishing on the Taylor River at Wilder for the first two weeks of September can best be described as ridiculous. Cool weather, cloudy days, good flows, and lots of Blue Winged Olive and Pale Morning Dun hatches have kept the fish looking up. Small, softly presented dry flies on 5x and 6x tippets have been extremely effective, particularly in the afternoons.


The amount of fish on the Taylor River is staggering and these are 95% wild fish. This fishery is nothing short of amazing so get out and enjoy it, respect it and help preserve it as one of the best wild trout fisheries in the Western U.S. This season we appear to be seeing an increase in “wild” Rainbows as the recovery from whirling disease continues. While the fishery is 80% Brown trout, we have caught a few very big Rainbows this year and look forward to seeing more in the future.

River flows bumped 25% due to hard rain in the high country last week and have recently resettled in the low 300 range. These “average” lows are predicted to last through the month of September. In early October, we will see a “draw down” to leave the river in the low 200 range for the month.

River temperatures have been cold. It has been 48 degrees in the morning and warming into the low 50’s in the afternoons. Fishing as usual is best in the mid-afternoons as the water warms up a bit and bugs start hatching. Leaves are changing color and so are the Brown trout. As they approach spawning time the males get a beautiful golden orange color and their lower jaws (kype) get a pronounced hook. Female Browns are jumping high in the air and slapping the water in each pool loosening up their eggs to get the next generation of Brown trout started.

Timing is everything and being on the water between 1 and 4 pm with a small (size 20) dry can maximize your fishing time and success. In this time period you can catch a lot of trout very quickly. Other patterns that have been successful are a size 14 Royal Madame X and different sized bead head Pheasant Tails for droppers. It’s not rocket science right now!

When the bugs start hatching (cloudy afternoons are best) fish will be seen rising throughout the river. The trick to catching a big one is patience. Take your time, move slow, look around, ignore the smaller fish rising, and find a big fish. Then make your presentation exactly to that fish. Otherwise a smaller fish will be sure to grab your fly and spook the big one. Easier said than done.

Fly-Fishing on the TaylorIn the mornings, I suggest beginning with a smaller Madame X and a long 5x dropper line with a #16-20 bead head below. In the afternoons a size 20 BWO or 16 PMD can be all you need to wear your arm out in a short while catching fish. Most important is making a soft presentation with whatever you are fishing. Even though there is a lot of water in the Taylor River, fish are spooky and the larger fish especially don’t like noisy presentations.

The big Browns getting ready to spawn will not be eating these dries. To catch one of these trophy fish your best bet is to get down and dirty with a large dark streamer during low light periods of the day. Fishing this way is not usually a numbers game but once in a while you might find a huge predator Brown trout attached to the end of your line. Concentrate on the tail outs of the pools and under structure i.e., logs, big rocks.

This time of year is one of the most beautiful and also most productive fishing wise. Fish are fattening up for spawning and a long winter. BWO and PMD hatches can be epic. The worse the weather, the stronger the hatches, so look for the cloudy, nasty days to produce longer and more intense hatches that can last from 12 – 5 pm or so. Dry fly-fishing should continue to be excellent throughout the end of October.

Rarick Creek has had little pressure, great flows all season and is fishing super well. A strong population of wild Brown Trout are growing fast and these fish pull hard and are well fed. Several Rainbows over 20 inches have recently been caught on dries but a dropper is almost a sure bet in the deep holes. The Browns seem to prefer smaller dries while the Rainbows are a sucker for a large Hopper imitation and a large nymph hanging underneath.

The Ponds are full of big fish with several Rainbows over 8 pounds swimming around in plain sight. The problem is catching them as they can see you as clearly as you can see them. Best advice is to approach the water slowly and try to sight the fish. Present a small Hopper/Dropper combo and see what happens. Then try it on a few more fish before changing. Evenings, early mornings and cloudy days are best. Bright sun, middle of the day can be challenging.

Overall we are winding down the season with the best dry fly-fishing of the year.

For up to date fishing reports, gear, fly selection, river conditions, and more, feel free to call me directly at 970-946-4370.


Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report – September 2, 2014

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

By Lu Warner, Master Guide

The month of August is one that I usually consider to be a slow time for insect hatches as well as the fish. After the frenzy of hatches in July, the fish generally lay a bit low in August, most likely waiting for the Fall hatches to begin in September. This year was different as unsettled weather, cooler temperatures and good flows kept the fish and bugs happy throughout the month.

River levels dropped to the sub 300 range in mid-August as the dam release from the Taylor reservoir was cut by 150 CFS during that time. Recent rains have brought the river back up to the low 300’s and it should stay there until mid September when another draw down is expected. This is a fantastic level to fish the Taylor as it is much easier to get around the river when flows are below 400 CFS.

When the river dropped, we were able to access many spots on the river that had not seen a fly all year and the dry fly-fishing was and remains incredible. Even on hatch less days, fish move to small dries on every part of the river and all of our anglers were rewarded with some great days on the water fishing a single small dry fly on light tippets.

Morning fishing on the river usually starts a bit slow. Some fish will respond to a Dry but most fish lay low, waiting for

Father Son on Taylor River

the lunch time feed when the water warms up a few degrees. Before noon I recommend fishing a Dry/Dropper set up that can vary depending on the water that you are fishing. In deep runs and pools, it is necessary to use a heavily weighted set up to reach the fish as they won’t move far to eat your fly. A very large and buoyant Dry with a Stonefly and Midge imitation hanging below can produce good results. Another morning option is to fish shallower water such as riffles and tail outs with a small Dry/Dropper set up such as a #10 Para Adams with a #20 Bead head Pheasant Tail underneath. If neither of these produce, it may be time to consider a Streamer or wait a bit for the fish to get more active in the afternoon.

There are places where fish will be eating spent Spinners in slack water in the mornings. Their rise forms will be very slow and quiet and they can be hard to spot as they sip tiny insects. These fish spook easily so approach with caution and try to land your fly just above the far and it will drag and spook the fish before it gets there.

This time of year for the Dry Fly fisherman it is all about timing and the weather. Prime time is between 1 and 4 pm and cloudy/ rainy/bad weather days produce the best hatches. Last week during a very rainy day I saw the best hatch I have seen all year that brought up the majority of fish in the river for 4 hours. The fishing was off the charts with a #22 Parachute Blue WIng. Blue Winged Olives are the main player however on certain days PMD’s, and a few straggling Green Drakes can be seen. Huge swarms of Trico Spinners hit the water when the air temperature reaches about 60 degrees and in certain slower areas fish feed on these smallest Mayflies very selectively. Caddis activity has slowed down but mid afternoons you can see smaller fish eating Caddis as they land on the water to lay their eggs.

On sunny bright days, the hatch can pass quickly so be ready when it happens as the bigger fish will only rise during the peak of the hatch. Small Blue wing Olive patterns, PMD’s and Para Adams have all been very effective just before, during and after the hatch. I recommend using long leaders and light tippets (5X or 6X) and concentrating on a soft presentation to the water. At the peak of the hatch, the Browns especially can become super selective and the bigger fish can require a few fly changes and a perfect drift to make them eat. This is a good time to try to be patient and pick out one of the bigger fish to cast to. If a smaller fish eats your fly, many times the big fish nearby will just disappear for the afternoon, so make your casts count!


With the flows around 300 CFS this is an excellent time to sight fish to bigger fish. If you move around the river slowly and watch carefully, it probably won’t take you long to find a target. Last week we were lucky enough to sight a 29 1/2 inch Rainbow that ate a big Stone and was landed and released successfully. The best way to catch big fish is to fish to big fish so if this is your goal, slow down, look around and if you sight one, make sure that you get in good position to make the cast and drift. Your first cast is your best opportunity, so take your time as these big fish won’t tolerate to much commotion before they disappear.

With most of the hatches ending at 4-5 pm and few Caddis left for the “dusk” hatch, evenings have been slow and few fish are seen coming to the surface. Late evening would be a good time to try a Mouse or large Moth pattern in the deeper runs.

We look forward to even stronger hatches in September that will include Slate Drakes, Mahogany Duns and lots and lots of Blue Winged Olives.

Rarick Creek has fished super well all summer. Artificial hoppers have been moving lots of big Rainbows and we caught a 24 incher the other day that ate a Hopper like it was his last meal. We have noticed a growing population of wild Browns in Rarick and they seem to be much more selective than the Rainbows. A smaller dry seems to work for the Browns and last week we caught an 18 inch Brown that was as healthy a fish as I have seen.

If you are on Rarick and see fish rising, take a minute and find out what they are eating, as once on a food source these fish like all others can ignore anything that doesn’t look like what they are eating. Big Rainbows have been coming from the Ponds as they have been eating Damsel Flies like crazy for the last month. At times, the water boils with rising fish as swarms of Damsels fly over the water and tantalize the big trout who jump up in the air to catch them. Some of these fish exceed 10 pounds and are easy to break off so my best advice in the ponds is beef up your tippet(to 3x) and let the fish run..don’t try to stop him until he stops himself.

This next 6 weeks can be some of the best Dry fly fishing of the year with strong hatches, beautiful Fall colors, low flows and fish that are putting on the feed bag for winter. Remember that the snowy/rainy/cold/cloudy days are your best bet to enjoy amazing dry fly action right through the month of October.

For up to date fishing reports, gear and fly selection, river conditions etc. feel free to call me directly at 970-946-4370.

Video thumbnail for vimeo video Complimentary Tour!

Couple Adds International Flair & Years of Knowledge to Wilder

Not only do homeowners at Wilder on the Taylor, a 2,100+-acre recreational and preservation ranch community located between the classic Colorado towns of Crested Butte and Gunnison, get to live the West by being owners of a historic ranch, they have access to master guides for outdoor recreation and a concierge.

Lu Warner, a master guide for fly fishing and mountain biking, and Antonia Beale, who leads Wilder’s new concierge program, not only bring years of experience to their roles, the pair contributes an international flair from their time owning and operating fishing and recreational lodges in Chile and Argentina, where they reside half the year.DSCN3790

Lu’s childhood years were spent fishing the small streams of New England and Quebec and his adult years brought him to Alaska, New Zealand, British Columbia, Quebec, Argentina, Chile and the Rocky Mountain West. Since 1985, Warner has worked as a fly-fishing guide in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Alaska, Argentina and southern Chile. He has guided the summers in the Crested Butte/Gunnison area since 2000, including five seasons at Wilder.

From October through May, Lu is in the Patagonia of Chile where he owns and operates the Valle Bonito Lodge, which specializes in fly fishing, hiking, multi-sport and family vacations offering activities such as whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, horseback riding and canyoneering.

What makes fishing at Wilder so special is the two miles of premiere private fishing on the Taylor River. “The tranquility of the river here is hard to beat as it is away from any roads,” Lu explains. “The river is an incredible wild fishery, and we do not stock it because we don’t need to. Most fly fisherman appreciate the challenge of fishing for wild fish and with over 6,000 trout per mile of river, we feel that we have one of the finest fisheries in the western United States. We do stock Rarick Creek which runs through the property, and our six ponds as they provide a great learning experience for kids and adults who have little or no fly fishing background.”


A testament to the health of this fishery is illustrated by a massive 32-inch rainbow trout Warner and a homeowner pulled from the Taylor River in an epic battle recently. Because the Taylor is a wide river and cannot be fished from just one side, it offers twice as much fishing per mile as most nearby smaller rivers. An avid fisherman can spend years learning the nuances of this stretch of the Taylor, he notes.

Antonia is launching Wilder’s new concierge program and was raised helping with and managing her family’s fishing lodge, El Encuentro on the Rio Grande River in the Patagonia of Argentina. She also managed the famous Arroyo Verde fishing lodge on the Traful River, located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park in northern Patagonia, and the upscale Henry’s Fork Lodge in Island Park, Idaho. Her 6-year-old son, Vicente, stays busy exploring the valley through a variety of kids’ activities such as outdoor adventures with Gravity Groms and Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory’s Kids Nature Camp and attends Crested Butte Community School for part of the year. Lu confirms, “He also getting to be a pretty good fly caster.”

Lu and Antonia bring a taste of South America to their roles at Wilder on the Taylor. “In Argentina particularly, there is a long tradition of fly fishing and guiding. When you have people for a week-long trip, your full day is spent with the clients not just 9 to 5. It is common to have a nice barbecue lunch along the river not just a quick sandwich, and there might be a siesta after lunch,” Lu explains. “One neat thing about spending time in Argentina and Chile is that they celebrate life more and don’t seem to be as serious about work as we do in America.”

With Antonia now on staff at Wilder, tasty midday lunches can be arranged and served on the lawn and in the Founder’s Porch. To continue the experience into the evening, there is nothing quite like dining on the lawn along the Taylor River with appetizers and a meal prepared by Antonia and enjoying a game of horseshoes, lounging in the riverside hammock and sitting around a cozy fire at dusk.

She also makes sure arrival of homeowners and their guests goes smoothly and that the ambience matches the pristine beauty of the place. For women who enjoy fly fishing, Antonia occasionally works as a guide and has shown a knack for putting people on fish and returning from the river with a big smile.

“Wilder on the Taylor is thrilled to welcome Antonia and the international touch of hospitality that she brings to the ranch. Antonia’s and Lu’s experience and approach to their roles as concierge and master guide fit well with the laid back family atmosphere at Wilder,” says Ron Welborn, partner at Wilder on the Taylor and an avid fly fisherman.

When Lu isn’t busy exploring the fishing waters at Wilder, he is making sure that accessibility to these waters is good and that the fishing program is top-notch. “The fishing this year has been incredible. The flows have been good and the fish healthy. You could go out from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. now with a dry fly and catch 50 fish. At the Wilder we have a 20-fish limit so the biggest challenge can be selecting larger trout to cast to. It will begin to slow down in August as July is a peak feeding time.”

Lu’s extensive background in mountain biking also is available for homeowners and guests at Wilder. For several years, Warner owned and operated Western Spirit Cycling, a mountain bike touring company based in Moab, Utah, and guided people from around the world on multi-day mountain bike adventures in Utah, Montana, Colorado, Arizona and Idaho. 11807064143_7d6417e70a_o

“The common thread we are seeing in Chile, Argentina and here is that individuals and families want a variety of things to do in a day or a week and not always just fishing. We bring that philosophy with us to Wilder,” Lu notes.

Wilder on the Taylor also offers a master guide for ranch experiences such as moving cattle, horseback trail rides and more. To learn more about the master guides program at Wilder, visit

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report – July 27, 2014

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

We have been enjoying 2 weeks of the best dry fly-fishing of the year here at the Wilder. The Taylor river has dropped to just below 500 CFS and hatches have been prolific during the days as well as evenings. Fishing has been off the charts and several large fish have been taken on Dries including a 23 inch hefty Cutthroat fooled by a 6 year old with a Green Drake Pattern. Lu Warner, master guide at Wilder on the Taylor, provides suggestions for flies and gear as well as a full fly-fishing report.  Take advantage of this resource and download the full report [here].


This is a great time to be on the water at the Wilder so get out here and enjoy some of the best dry fly-fishing in the West while it is hot.

Click to Download the Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report-July 27, 2014

Wilder on the Taylor Fishing Report – July 14, 2014

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

July 14, 2014, Right now we are experiencing the best dry fly fishing of the year on the Taylor River at Wilder. Flows have dropped to the mid 500 CFS level, water temperatures have warmed up into the low 50’s and the bugs, trout and anglers are all happy.

Finally the Green Drake hatch has arrived. A bit late this year due to high water conditions, but today we saw our first strong Drake hatch from about 11:30 am until 3:30 pm and the fish were chowing. Pre hatch we fished large attractor dries like Madame X’s and brought several large fish to the surface. The presence of the large Drakes makes it worth the fishes while to look up for a meal and any well presented dry fly can bring a strike. These are not always easy flies to imitate so the angler should be sure to have and to try several different Drake patterns until you find on that works.

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In addition to the Drakes, we are seeing several other hatches that in themselves can provide great action. The mornings begin with Caddis and small Stoneflies on the water. Around 11am you will start to see the first Mayflies, PMD’s, and fish actively eating the emergers. Shortly after the PMD’s begin, the BWO’s and Drakes start hatching as well as making a smorgasbord of surface food for the trout. Pre hatch fishing can be easier as fish are not yet dialed into a specific kind of bug. As the hatch progresses, the fish become more selective and harder to catch. This is when to change patterns until you come up with one the fish want. A larger size 12 Drake nymph can be fished very effectively as a dropper as many fish that appear to be rising are actually eating the emerging nymphs just under the surface.

After the hatch, say around 3-4pm, the fish take a bit of a break. Big attractor dries with a large pheasant taildropper (size 12) can move fish until the Caddis hatch starts in the early evening. We have also had luck with Green Drake Cripples fished on the edges of the river.

Generally sometime around 5 pm, swarms of Caddis return to the river to lay their eggs and the fish can only stand so much of this before they come up and start eating again. When you fish a Caddis dry don’t worry so much about a dead drift. Watch the naturals and how they dance off the surface of the water. Try to imitate this by skating your fly with a high rod tip, long leader and short line. This activity can last until well after dark.

Last week, we landed a 32 inch, 14 pound plus Rainbow on the river. This fish ate a Brown trout that had been hooked on a dry. We then fished to him with a Streamer and were lucky enough to hook and land this giant fish. With the State record at 34 inches we are closing in a fish for the record book here at Wilder.

Fly-Fishing Taylor River

Rarick Creek has also had a strong Green Drake hatch about 11 am. Fish lose all caution and viciously attack the Drakes. A well presented dry is sure to be crushed by one of the hard fighting Rainbows in the stream. Last weekend we landed several up to 24 inches on dries.

The ponds can be a bit tricky right now. There are times of day when the fish eat about anything but much of the time they are very selective as currently we are having huge Dameselfly hatches on the ponds. When the fish start eating aggressively on the top, pay attention and look for the Damsels. If you can find the right imitation you can catch many big fish on a Dry. Otherwise a Damsel nymph can be deadly fished in slow strips through the weed beds.

This is the time to be out on the water as any well presented Dry fly can catch a fish at any time.

If you are planning a trip to Wilder feel free to give me a call at 970-946-4370 for up-to-date fishing reports.

Lu Warner
Master Guide
Wilder on the Taylor