The Roper Cabin – A Reflection of Ranch Beginnings

Roper Cabin

The Elmer family purchased the Roper cabin from Albert Roper. The young girl in the front is Alta Marie Dunbar, who was born in 1898 and died in 2002 at the age of 104. Her parents started Harmel’s Ranch Resort nearby.

The Elmer family purchased the cabin from Albert Roper. The young girl in the front is Alta Marie Dunbar, who was born in 1898 and died in 2002 at the age of 104. Her parents started Harmel’s Ranch Resort nearby.

Commonly known as the Roper Cabin, the hand-hewn log structure located near the crossroads of County Road 742 and Jack’s Cabin Cutoff breathes history. Although sights and sounds of occupants are long gone, the home with a split-rail fence was carefully crafted and signifies the beginning of the historic ranch now known as Wilder on the Taylor.

“The house is where the Stevens brothers set their roots down and filed for an easement for Spring Creek irrigation to come in. Spring Creek ditch ties into Rarick Creek by the house,” says Ranch Manager Don Sabrowski. “The ranch had the first irrigated hay meadows in Gunnison County.”

James E. Stevens filed to homestead the ranch in 1898 and the footprint of the original house is visible, Sabrowski confirms, but there have been various additions and owners over the years.

Jim and Clara (Haymaker) Boyd lived in a house on the upper ranch, with Jim working for Albert Robert, who at that time owned the lower part of the ranch and lived where the historic Wilder cabins now stand along the Taylor River. In 1920, the Boyds bought 40 acres that included the cabin from Charles T. Stevens for $500. The ownership ended up being short-lived as Boyd was thrown from a horse and killed that fall while guiding hunters to earn extra money.Roper Cabin

Albert Roper bought the land and cabin from Clara and relocated the spruce trees that still stand today from the lower ranch with the help of his children in 1923. Roper also built the hay barn and calving shed near the cabin.

When Don and his wife, Shelly, started managing the ranch in 1995 and first went into the Roper Cabin, one of the first things he noticed was that 1946 newspapers from St. Louis covered the walls to make the home more winter resistant. “You could go in and read about what was going on at that time.” The logs for the walls are still in good shape and if a roof were added, the cabin probably could last forever, Don notes. “Someone went to a lot of trouble to make it a nice place.”

Anita Leonard, who managed the ranch with her husband, Cass from 1953 until retiring in 1995, never mentioned anyone living in the Roper cabin during their tenure, Don recalls. What she did relay is that rooms were added onto the house and it became a saloon and dance hall of sorts that was frequented by workers building the Taylor Park Dam. Next door, there was a schoolhouse that kids attended while the dam construction was underway. The schoolhouse was moved to Harmel’s Ranch Resort just down the road years ago and still stands today.


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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

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report: August 18, 2015

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportAn updated Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report written by Wilder’s Master Fly-Fishing Guide, Lu Warner. 

So far August has provided excellent fishing on the Taylor River. Flows at Wilder have remained about 30% above the 100 year average at approximately 485 CFS, with a drop of 50 CFS forecast to occur in the next few days. Despite the high water, the dry fly fishing has been phenomenal as hatches have occurred almost every day between noon and three p.m. Cloudy days have the strongest hatches and on peak days, the hatch can last from noon until 4:30 pm. River temperatures are about 52 degrees in the mornings and warm up slightly to reach the mid – fifties on warm afternoons.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

As usual, as the season progresses, the bugs get smaller and the fish more selective. We are still seeing a few Green Drakes but most insect activity is coming from PMD ‘s and BWO’s. The PMD’s are a size 16 and the BWO’s are smaller and average about a size 20. The BWO’s will become more important as we approach Fall and anglers should come well stocked with some different BWO patterns including emergers, dries and nymphs.

Caddis are still a factor, particularly the pupae, however the prolific hatches of June and July are behind us. Evenings and early mornings provide the best dry fishing with Caddis and skating a small dry seems to be much more productive during these periods than a dead drift.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

Mornings are typically slow on the river, yet fish can be found rising in calm water for spent Mayfly spinners, Caddis and Midges. If you can find some fish feeding, making a stealthy approach and presentation will increase your odds of a hook up. Otherwise we have had excellent luck with a large PMX dry and a variety of droppers underneath. Good patterns include: Bead head Pheasant tails and Hare’s Ears, Rockworms(Caddis pupae) Midges and micro Mayflies. Tippets for the Droppers should be fine, 5-6x and the length and weight should be adjusted for the water that you are fishing.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportTowards noon, especially on cloudy days, you will start to see PMD and BWO Mayflies hatching. When you see lots of bugs flying and/or fish rising, it is time to change over to a small dry. I recommend a double dry with a size 14-16 Para Adams or PMD above and a size 18-22 BWO behind. This makes it possible to fish a size 22 dry and maintain visual contact by watching the larger dry. Any rises near the larger dry signify that a fish has eaten the small one. Leaders should be long(over 9 feet) and tippets should be 5x and 6x. Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportDuring this time, if you are patient and pay attention, you may see some larger fish slowly sipping these small bugs. If you do, watch carefully and try to present your fly exactly to the fish that you see rising. If you are not on target, there is a good chance that a smaller fish will grab your fly first and spook the bigger fish out of the pool.

If you are lucky, the hatch will last until about 3:30 – 4:30, then things will slow down considerably. Post hatch, between 4:30 and 7 pm., is a good time to fish a heavy Dry/ Dropper rig in the deeper holes and look for a larger fish. During this post meal time, the fish react pretty slowly so takes can be very subtle.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportWith any luck there will be some degree of a Caddis hatch from 7 til dark but recent hatches have not been consistent. Try skating a Caddis dry or fishing a large Moth type pattern as dusk approaches. If you find yourself on the river at dark, this is the time to try a large Mouse pattern over good holding water. Do not try to wade after dark, but fish carefully from the banks and skate your Mouse over the deeper holes.

Even on slow days on the Taylor, some fish will always respond to a well presented Para Adams in almost any size. The key is a soft presentation on the water and a good drift. Yesterday we had a son of one of our owners catch 2 fish on the same cast with one eating the Adams and the other, the dropper.

If you find yourself out of the action on the River, try a large terrestrial such as a Hopper, Beetle or Ant pattern. Oftentimes a juicy meal such as this will entice a lazy fish into eating.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

I look for slowly decreasing flows into September and increasing BWO and Mahogany Dun activity both on top and sub surface. As the water drops, fish become more spooky so remember your two best weapons as an angler: Stealth and Observation. Move slowly, look around and use a long leader to present your fly softly.

As flows drop, this is the time to search the deep holes for big fish that have remained out of site during the early season. If you spot a monster, take your time and figure out the best approach and rig to get your fly right in front of it’s face without spooking it.

With all of the thunderstorms and rain in July, the hay cutting in the meadow has gone slowly. At the moment Don and his crew are cutting the last of the hay along the Upper part of Rarick Creek. This is the best time to throw a Grasshopper pattern and big fish oftentimes forego all caution to eat a well presented Hopper. As always on Rarick Creek, your best bet is to start with a dry and see how it goes. If you do not have any action, then it may be time to try a small Pheasant tail dropper tied about 2 feet below your dry. Last week we hooked and landed an 8 lb rainbow in the Creek and several fish in the 20-24 inch range so make sure that here, you use larger tippets such as 3 and 4x.

If you try a variety of Hopper patterns without success it may be time to size down and try a smaller dry such as a #16 para Adams or BWO.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

When you land one of the larger fish in the Creek, make sure that you take your time and revive the fish well before releasing it. Oftentimes it is best to carry the fish quickly up to faster water and hold him there in the current until he recovers. Once he swims away, keep your eye on him until you are sure he is ok. Oftentimes the fish will take off quickly and then turn belly up a moment later. If so, try to recapture the fish and revive him well.

As with all of our waters at Wilder, barbless hooks are required so please carefully check or de-barb each fly before you tie it on. Fish mortality rates increase dramatically with a barbed hook.

All of our 6 ponds are full of large Rainbows and Browns. We caught a Rainbow 2 weeks ago that was close to 10 lbs. While on the spooky side, these fish can be caught with a well presented dry or dry/dropper combo. There are still a few Damselflies around but mostly the fish there are looking for Hoppers. I like to throw the Hopper pattern well in front of a fish, twitch it a couple of times and see how he reacts. If he doesn’t eat it the first time, keep presenting your fly directly to the fish until he either swims away, spooks or eats it. I always like to try a fly on 2 or 3 different fish before I change patterns. Remember the basic rule: If what you’re doing isn’t working,change and try something else!
Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

As with the stream, please take the time to revive your fish until he swims away strongly. With warm summer temperatures, oxygen content of the water drops and the fish have a hard time recovering after a lengthy battle. Try to play your fish quick and hard and bring him to the net as soon as possible to avoid over tiring him. After landing a fish, check your tippet by carefully running your fingers along it. If it feels rough and abraded, take the time to change the tippet as abraded tippets will likely break on your next hookup.

Despite it being the dog days of mid August, fishing is still excellent on all of our waters at Wilder. Hope you have a chance to get out there and enjoy it.

Please feel free to contact me directly for an up to the minute fly-fishing report or any questions that you may have. I can be reached at 970-946-4370.

Tight lines,

Lu

Taylor River Fly Fishing Report: July 27, 2015

With the Spring runoff finally gone, flows on the Taylor River at Wilder have stabilized around 500 CFS with the dam release set at 400 CFS until mid August. This is still about 100 CFS above normal for this time and even though a bit on the high side, the River is on fire with large hatches occurring everyday and dry flies being the fly of choice.

Taylor River Fishing ReportMorning river temperatures are about 49 degrees and as usual the fish can be a bit sluggish in the mornings as they await the big hatches of the afternoon. Try fishing shallow riffles with Green Drake spinners and Para Adams on the surface. Concentrate on these areas with your dries as in the deeper pools fish will be unwilling to rise until about mid day. If you choose to start off with a dry/dropper or nymph rig, one of your droppers should be a Green Drake Nymph and the other a small Caddis pupa or micro Mayfly. Make sure that your presentation is getting down to the fish before changing your rig. Oftentimes a small split shot on a nymph rig can make all the difference in your success.

Taylor River Fishing ReportTowards Noon you will start to see a variety of bugs hatching on the water, particularly on cloudy days. These will include several types of Stoneflies, Caddis, Green Drakes, PMD’s and BWO’s. When you see the first insects hatching…get ready! Change up to a long leader(9 plus feet) and 5x tippet, tie on a Green Drake Dry with a smaller Dry such as a #18 Para Adams, #16 PMD, #18 Para Caddis or #20 BWO about 20 inches behind and cast to rising fish. This double dry rig can save time in helping you figure out which fly they want. We have seen the most intense hatches occur during the hardest rainstorms as the rain traps the emerging insects on the surface and the fish literally go crazy eating these helpless bugs.

Taylor River Fishing ReportOn Saturday at 1 pm, the rain was pounding on the river and I witnessed one of the most intense rises I have ever seen. For about 20 minutes, it seemed as if every fish in the river was crashing the surface eating Drakes, PMD’s and BWO’s. These intense feeding periods are often short lived, so assuming that there is no lightning, it is worth standing out in the rain to experience one of these incredible moments in fly fishing. These are times when the big fish come to the surface so try to target a larger fish with your dry. Many times what happens is that the small fish beat the bigger fish to your fly. To avoid this, watch carefully and look for a big fish to target.

Taylor River Fishing ReportWe have had success with a variety of Green Drake and PMD patterns during the hatch. If you are sure that you are getting a good drift and the fish aren’t eating your fly, try different patterns until you find something that they like. Make sure that the fish you see is actually eating on the surface and not below. If you see heads popping up, it’ a good sign that a dry will work. If all you see is the fishes backs, there is a likelihood that they are eating emergers just under the surface and a floating nymph or emerger pattern will be your best bet. These fish can be finicky during the hatch. If you are not having luck with a dead drift, try skating your fly and bouncing it along the surface. Often times this will trigger a strike that a dead drift won’t.

Taylor River Fishing ReportWe are currently experiencing the best dry fly fishing of the year on the Taylor. The fish are eating like crazy and it is a perfect time to be on the river. Last week with a crew from Tennessee we caught the same 22 inch Rainbow on 2 different days on a dry, a sure sign that the fish are looking up and willing to eat.

Peak activity is from around 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. This is when you want to be on the water. It seems that between 4 and 7 p.m., the fishing slows quite a bit until the evening Caddis rise begins around 7-8 pm. We generally do better during this Caddis hatch by skating rather than dead drifting our Caddis patterns. Cast across and slightly down, hold your rod way up and try to tease your fly along the surface. Be careful with your hook set when skating with a tight line as it is easy to over set and break off the fish.

Taylor River Fishing ReportI would like to caution everyone to be watchful of the sky and at the first sign of lightening or nearing storm cell, please reel up and get off of the water. Oftentimes these storms will be violent and fast moving but also short lived. Waiting until they pass is the right call no matter how many fish are rising. Remember that no trout is worth the risk of waving a 9 foot graphite fly rod around in a lightning storm.

I look for flows to hold in the low 500 range through mid August and fishing to continue to be excellent on top. The Green Drakes will pass soon but smaller dries will continue to bring up fish for the rest of the season.

Taylor River Fishing ReportRarick Creek has been providing explosive surface action with Hopper and Damsel patterns. As the hay meadow is cut, Grasshoppers flock to the stream banks and particularly on windy afternoons, the fish are just laying in wait for one to hit the water. They are liking a #8 Parachute Hopper pattern presented very lightly on the water. Look for foam lines and deep edges along the banks to present your fly. Last week we had a guest land a heavy 25 inch Rainbow that absolutely annihilated a Hopper pattern the instant it hit the water. If your Hopper pattern goes untouched, try a #16 Pheasant Tail dropper about 18 inches below your dry and see what happens. Taylor River Fishing ReportAs you walk the Creek, fish the shallow riffles as well as the deep holes as you may find some large fish hiding in shallow
water.

Taylor River Fishing ReportIf you catch a fish in the Creek, please take the time to revive it well before releasing him. If the fish is not looking good, quickly take it to a riffle and hold the fish pointing into the fast current until he swims away. Then watch him as he swims off to make sure he is ok. Sometimes the fish will appear ok, but then a couple of minutes later will turn belly up. If this is the case, re-net the fish and revive him some more. Please do not hold the fish out of the water for any longer than necessary to take a quick photo.

Taylor River Fishing ReportOther successful patterns have been a #16 Para Adams, Green Drake and Damselfly dries.

After releasing a fish, run your fingers along your tippet to check for abrasions. These big fish like to rub your line against the rocks and will do a good job of weakening it. If you feel any roughness, cut off the tippet and replace before casting again.

The Ponds have been kicking out some big Rainbows on Hopper and Damselfly patterns. Walk the edges and try to sight a big fish, then throw your fly about 10 feet in front of it, give it a twitch or two and see how he reacts. Try this on a few fish before changing your fly or adding a dropper. These are big, powerful fish so when you hook one make sure to let it run when it wants to to avoid breaking off what could be a trophy Rainbow. If the larger patterns are not working, scale down and try a smaller dry. I try not to use any tippet lighter than 4x here as 5x will lead to many broken off fish.

Taylor River Fishing ReportIt is common that after hooking a few fish, the rest will spook and stop eating. If you find yourself in this situation, walk away, try another Pond and return an hour or two later to try again.

All in all the fishing at Wilder has been off the charts for the past week. If you want to experience world class dry fly fishing, schedule a trip with us soon and enjoy our amazing fisheries.

Please feel free to contact me directly for an up to the minute fly fishing report or any question that you may have. I can be reached at 970-946-4370

Tight lines,
Lu

Taylor River Fishing Report: June 12, 2015

Crested Butte Fly-Fishing

The recent storms have made a big impact on the summer fly-fishing forecast.  Wilder’s Master Guide, Lu Warner, gives his updated Taylor River Fishing Report

This April, we were very concerned about our low snowpack as totals for the Gunnison River basin were in the 65% range and all indications pointed towards low river flows for the summer. In early May, all water level projections were thrown out the window as storm after storm pounded the mountains. Over a 10 day period, our snowpack increased from 65% of normal to 95% of normal. Cold temperatures delayed the runoff as the snowpack increased. In early June the runoff started, triggered by a few warm days and river levels rose to normal historic flows. Just when it looked like flows had peaked at 1050 CFS, the rain began again and combined with accelerated snowmelt from the rain, river flows spiked again and some rivers in the area like the East and Slate reached record historic flow levels as of today. Taylor Park reservoir filled to the brim and currently outlfows at the Dam are at 775 CFS and expected to climb into the 900’s over the weekend. Last night the Taylor at Almont reached 1700 CFS and I expect that figure to increase over the next few days before we reach peak flows sometime next week. Water is off color but fishable and water temperatures remain in the low to mid 40’s.

Crested Butte Fly-FishingAt this moment river fishing in Gunnison County is pretty much on hold due to high water. The Taylor is one of the few exceptions and although high and slightly off color fishing can be productive using weighted nymph rigs and fishing “soft spots” and pockets along the banks. Wading is dangerous at these river levels and anglers should use extreme caution when entering the river. My recommendation is to fish from the bank as plenty of fish move out of the heavy water and can be found near the shore.

The most important thing when fishing the runoff is to make sure that you have enough weight to get your fly or flies down to the fish. This is more important than what pattern you use. Adding and removing split shot to your flies can make a big difference in your results.

Crested Butte Fly-FishingAt this time of year, the fish are quite opportunistic and will eat a variety of nymphs including large Princes, Pheasant tails, Hare’s Ears, Stonefly, Caddis and Mayfly nymphs as well as San Juan Worms and Streamers fished deep on a slow swing. Find places where the water slows down and fish these spots carefully, making several drifts before moving on. The water is cold, visibility is below normal and speedy currents move your fly in strange ways underneath the surface. Your fishing speed should slow down to compensate for these challenges. Many times you will get a strike after 5 or 6 casts in the same area. There has been a little hatch activity along the edges of the river during the afternoon and some fish can be seen rising for BWO’s and Caddis. Look for the surface activity to increase throughout June as flows drop, water temperatures warm and visibility increases.

Crested Butte Fly-FishingThe “Dream Stream” is an excellent choice right now while the river is high. Water is clear and fish are responsive to a variety of Dries and Droppers. Mid-day they concentrate on Blue Wing Olives and the hatches on the Stream have been quite strong, with many fish rising in each hole. To fish a small Dry here successfully your approach and presentation must be quiet and precise. These rising fish will not tolerate a sloppy cast and will spook quickly if you get to close. Long (12”) leaders tapered to 5x are a good choice here. If the fish go down(Spook) when you begin fishing a hole, it’s time to switch to a Dry/Dropper set up as spooked fish will hardly ever eat on the surface. Try a small Hopper pattern with a #14 Bead head Pheasant Tail dropper and fish the main seams and currents as this is where the fish will try to hide. The Rainbows are fat and aggressive in the Stream right now and it is a great time to get out there and test your skills against these little torpedoes.Crested Butte Fly-FishingAll of the Wilder Ponds are clear and fishing well. The water temperatures are perfect for the fish to be very active and feeding fish can be seen throughout the day on any of the Ponds. Right now, the fish have a preference for small Dries but soon, the Damselflies will begin hatching and non-stop surface action can be had with the right Damsel imitation. If you’re not having luck on top, try a Dry/Dropper set up with a #16 Bead head Pheasant Tail nymph Dropper. As the fish approach, twitch your fly slightly to get their attention and then let it fall. These fish have a habit of eating the fly on the fall so watch your Dry carefully as there might be only the slightest indication that a fish has taken your fly. Some of our ponds contain some monster Rainbows so make sure to play your fish carefully as it doesn’t take much for one of these slabs to break you off.

All in all we are right on track for another awesome fishing season at Wilder. By the end of June we should be greasing up the Dry flies and fishing to rising fish as the big hatches get underway.

If any of you are planning a trip to Wilder on the Taylor, please feel free to write me at Luwarner@mac.com for an up to the minute Taylor River Fishing Report.

Tight lines,

Lu

The Impact of Snowpack on Summer Fly-Fishing in Gunnison Valley

Fly Fishing in Gunnison Valley
Article written by Guest Author, Jim Garrison.  Jim is a 23 year resident of the Gunnison Valley, fly-fishing guide, and photographer.

SnowpackSnowpack in the Colorado mountains is a critical part of our lives. As a flyfishing guide and landscape photographer I pay attention to the snowpack each year. I have lived in the Gunnison Valley for 23 years. My work time is divided between guiding flyfishing and photography. This snow season has been a unique one. Early snow storms had us set up for a good snowpack but an unseasonably warm January, February and March brought us down to 56% snowpack. February and March were great fishing months this year but we were worried it could be a dry Summer. Fortunately April had a “normal” amount of snow and May has been one of the wettest, coolest ones I can remember. We went form a 56% to a 74% snowpack and still have wet weather in the forecast.

Fly Fishing at Wilder on The TaylorI feel confident that our snowpack will get us through the Summer and Fall in good shape. Most of our insect hatches should be close to their normal schedules this year. One thing that is unique this year is our run-off was not as big as usual so our trout had a less stressful Spring.

wildflowers at WilderThis year, fly-fishing in Gunnison Valley at Wilder on The Taylor should be great, as will the wildflower season. Speaking of Wilder there has been constant improvements to the property and new construction has been ongoing. The Gunnison Valley derives quite a bit of its income from tourism and second home owners. I personally feel that second home owners are the driving force behind our local economy. All of the construction guys I know, several are working on Wilder homes right now, are thankful that we have the second home owners here. I guide and sell my landscape photographs to several second home owners and have become friends with some. Projects like Wilder on the Taylor bring a lot of positive energy to the valley.

To view photos of the progress at Wilder, visit our weekly updated photostream.

About the Author:
Jim Garrison started his second career as a magazine photographer in 1985. From 1987 -1990 he took his family with him during the summer months and toured the state of Colorado doing arts festivals. During this time he was able to see every part of Colorado.  Out of all the beautiful places, he chose the Gunnison Valley as his home in 1991. Since then, his focus is area photography, the Paragon Art Gallery, and fly-fishing guide. Jim states, “I am lucky to have vocations that allow me to enjoy the beauty that God has created.”

Taylor River Fishing Report : May 10, 2015

Rainbow TroutWilder’s Master Guide, Lu Warner, gives his updated Taylor River Fishing Report. Before heading out for your next fish, be sure to take advantage of his expertise…

Springtime in the Colorado Rockies this year has brought much needed moisture to the region as a continual line of small, wet storms have helped to make up for the light winter snowpack. On May 1, the flows out of the dam on the Taylor were increased from 96 CFS to 150 CFS. Yesterday after a wet snow in the mountains and rain following, the Taylor bumped up from 250 CFS to 315 CFS at Almont signifying that the runoff has begun. I look for flows to peak in the low 600 range in late May and early June. Last year we peaked at 1560 CFS on June 3rd. Flows should maintain in the 300 range through Oct. 1 which is great news for fly fishermen as these levels are plenty to maintain a healthy fishery and just right to afford anglers reasonably good wading.

Currently, the river is slightly off color which is normal for this time of year and the fish are getting quite active feeding on a variety of nymphs but at the right times you can find fish rising for BWO’s and Midges in the eddies and seams. After a long winter of low flows and cold water, the Spring runoff helps to stir things up in the river and get both the bugs and the fish moving. We are fortunate at Wilder on The Taylor because the Taylor remains fishable throughout the runoff season while many other rivers in the area do not. ??Green Drake Nymph

Screen tests in the river reveal a huge biomass of Mayfly and Stonefly nymphs , Caddis Larva, and Midges. Colors average from light olive to a very dark olive/black and the majority of sizes range from size 14-20. During this time of year there is a ton of food available for the trout and they are not as selective as they will become when our legendary hatches begin. As the flows increase fish can always be found on the soft edges and banks with a Dry/Dropper set up or Streamer. I like to start with a #8 Madame X and a #16 tung head Prince nymph about 4 feet below.

Green Drake, Caddis and Stonefly nymphsIf you find yourself fishing the deep holes, it is probably time to fish a Bobber set up and allow as much as 8 feet from your Bobber to your nymph. Generally I find this unnecessary as lots of fish are in shallow water and can be caught without a Bobber and many will actually eat the Dry.

Around 1 p.m. look for Blue Winged Olives and Midges to begin hatching. You may also see some #20 or smaller Caddis and Stoneflies. If so, take a walk and look for seams and slower water where fish may be rising and sight fish a small dry. Peak activity seems to be between 12 and 5 p.m. and as usual the strongest hatches occur on the cloudiest, worst weather days.

Over the next few weeks we will begin to see stronger hatches and it won’t be long before a Dry fly is all that will be needed to have an action packed day at Wilder on The Taylor.

The Dream Stream is fishing very well right now. The fish respond to many different nymph patterns and in the afternoons can be found eating small BWO’s on the surface. Flows are perfect and should remain so throughout the season. The larger Rainbows in the Stream have become very wary so make sure to approach each hole with caution. I have seen these fish bolt (spook) before anglers even got into position to cast so make sure to move slow and make each cast count. There are some lunkers in here that will eat a variety of flies if they aren’t spooked. Trout CandyThis is a perfect time of year to spend a few hours on the Ponds and test your skills with some monster Rainbows. The fish here spend their days cruising slowly around and looking for easy to get food such as Backswimmers, Damselfly and Dragonfly nymphs, Mayfly nymphs, dries and Midges. When you arrive, take a few minutes to watch the water and see if you see any cruisers. make sure to get the sun at the right angle so you can see into the water. If you see a cruiser and he is near the surface or rising, a #20 Para Adams can be deadly. If the fish aren’t looking up, at this time of year I like to fish a #14 Para Adams with a 3 foot 5x dropper to a #20 Bead head Pheasant Tail or Midge and put the fly 10-15 feet away from the fish in his direction of travel. You have to experiment as some fish will tolerate a fly landing right on their noses and others will spook at the drop of a hat. Always show your fly to a few different fish before changing the pattern. If all else fails or the light is tough, try a Black Wooly Bugger and strip it in giving long pauses between the strips. Oftentimes the fish will take the fly on the pause so make sure to watch your fly line to detect any movement and set at the slightest indication.

If you are planning a tour of the Wilder, feel free to contact me at Luwarner@mac.com for an up to date Taylor River fishing report and recommendations.

Cheers,

Lu

Learn more about fly-fishing Patagonia Chile with Lu here.

Taylor River Fishing Report : May 1, 2015

Lu Warner Surveys Taylor River

Wilder’s master guide, Lu Warner, has studied the current river conditions and gives us his early spring Taylor River Fishing Report. Be sure to take advantage of his expertise before heading out to the river!

Hello Everyone,
I hope you are doing well and looking forward to some outstanding days of fishing at Wilder on the Taylor this coming season. I know that I am. I recently returned from my Lodge in Chile after a successful season and I am excited to get things rolling at Wilder. Green grass is coming up quickly, the snow is mostly gone, and our fisheries are looking better than ever.

Fishing the Taylor River

So far we are in pre-runoff conditions on the Taylor River at Wilder. Water levels out of the Dam are low at about 100 CFS and the Taylor is running clear and about 180 CFS at the Wilder. The recent Water Users Report for the Dam indicates that flows will increase on May 1 to 150 CFS, May 16 to 225 CFS and June 1 to 340 CFS. This will keep peak levels well below those of last year and moderate flows in the low to mid 300‘s should be sustainable until October.

Fly Fishing at Wilder on The TaylorRight now at Wilder, river conditions are low and clear. This ought to be the case until May 1. Even though it is springtime, fish are very spooky in the water conditions that we now have. Anglers should approach the water with stealth and fish as quietly as possible. Fish are starting to spread out through the river but some holes still have large numbers of fish podded up. Water temperatures are in the Upper 30’s. Fishing is best in the early to mid-afternoon when the water warms up a little. The fish can be quite active during this brief time period. In terms of hatches, we are seeing some Micro Stonefly, Midges and a few Blue Winged Olives. In the right places you can find nice fish sipping these small bugs and can have good success with a #20 Para Adams, Midge or BWO.

Generally however it is time to fish sub-surface with a nymph or double nymph rig. A good choice is to fish a large dry with a two dropper set up. I prefer a large Dry such as a #6 Madame X to a Bobber as occasionally a big fish will surprise you and eat the dry.

For the upper nymph I like a (#6–8) weighted Golden Stonefly imitation and for the bottom, a small(#20) Baetis or Midge nymph(pupa). The Stonefly will help bring your smaller fly down deep in the water column and although some fish will eat it, the majority of fish are concentrated on smaller bugs and will eat the smaller Mayfly or Midge pattern. I also suggest trying San Juan Worms, large Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ear’s, Pheasant Tails and Rubber legs. Egg patterns drifted deep can also be deadly this time of year as many Rainbows have recently finished spawning and their eggs are a popular menu item for all of the fish in the river.

One of the keys to fishing a Dry/dropper rig this time of year is to make sure that your nymphs have enough weight to get to the bottom of the water that you are fishing. In the early season most fish are not super aggressive so fish slower than you do during the summer. Frequently after multiple unproductive drifts, a large fish will come out of nowhere and grab. Getting “perfect” drifts with your flies at the right height in the water column is your goal. Strikes in this cold water are most often very subtle, so pay attention to the slightest hesitation of your indicator fly and react quickly.

Fly Fishing at Wilder on the Taylor RiverStreamer fishing is another alternative for early season fishing.. Mending a heavier streamer down into the deeper holes can be very effective and can entice some larger trout to strike. I like Sculpzillas (black and white), Muddy Buddy’s and Cone head Olive and Black Wooly Buggers. Fishing these Streamers by the banks is also a good technique. Look for undercuts, brush piles and any kind of structure and work your fly slowly along the edges.

Keep your eyes open for larger Rainbows in the shallow water at the heads and tails of the runs. Many of these fish just finished spawning and are actively feeding in the shallows. If you find such a fish, I like to change up to a smaller Dry/Dropper rig such as a #16 Para Adams and a #16-20 Bead head nymph heavy enough to get the fly in the fishes face. Try a couple of drifts and if he doesn’t eat, change the dropper until you find the right one rather than continuing to stir up the water with a fly he may not eat and risk spooking him. It can be worth the time spent.

Taylor River Fishing Report

The Dream Stream is looking fantastic right now. Due to a mild winter the Stream was basically free of ice dams throughout the winter so the natural fish population is the highest that we have ever seen. Many of these larger fish have been in the Stream for three to four years and are big and full of fight. In the afternoons fish can be found rising to small Mayflies and Midges. Before you make that first cast, take a minute and have a good look at the water to see if you see any risers. If so, tie a #20 Para Adams or BWO on a long leader with 5x tippet. If not, then it is best to try a Dry/Dropper with a #16 Bead head Pheasant Tail or San Juan Worm underneath a sized #10-14 Dry. Approach
each hole with caution as you may find fish in the very tail outs of the pools that will spook very quickly and go hide in the faster water above.

The Ponds also wintered very well. Fish are healthy and very active at this time. Most of the day you will see huge Rainbows sipping small Midges on the surface of the ponds. Best bet is to sight a fish and present a small dry on 5x tippet about ten feet away from the fish. Maybe give the fly a little twitch to attract the fishes attention and then let it sit. I like to show the fly to at least two or three different fish before changing it. If the fish eats your fly, be patient and wait until he closes his mouth completely before setting the hook. It is very easy to set to early and lose your crack at a monster Rainbow. If you can’t entice a fish with a Dry then tie on a small dropper and sight fish with this setup.

New Canal Crossover at Wilder on The Taylor RiverNow is a good time to enjoy wonderful early season fishing at Wilder. The Taylor River is easy to wade, fish are concentrated in deeper holes and the post spawn Rainbows are very aggressive as they try to put on the weight they lost during spawning. Look for the fishing to continue to improve as our legendary hatches are just around the corner.

Hope to see you on the water soon.

Cheers,
Lu

Learn more about fly-fishing Patagonia Chile with Lu here.

New Home Comes into Focus this Winter

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New Home Construction Progresses through Winter at Wilder on the Taylor in Almont, CO.

Under a blanket of beautiful white snow, progress continues at Wilder on the Taylor, as owners build their homes, add improvements, and enjoy the lifestyle of Colorado riverfront ownership. The parcel of land formerly known as lot 4 has had an astonishing transformation in the last few years. Beginning as the perfect spot on the Taylor River with the sounds of rushing water and views that heal the soul, the new owners continue adding the perfect touch of cultivated elegance allowing their land and home to become a treasured family legacy enjoyed and appreciated for years to come.

The owners have been visiting the Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley for three decades and first purchased property on the Taylor River in 1989. After many years of admiring the ranchland that is now Wilder on the Taylor, they sold their home, purchased a parcel here and began plans to build. The couple says, “You feel like you are part of life here. In places like Aspen, you have a second house, not a second home. The Gunnison-Crested Butte area and the West in general are good about offering a sense of belonging.”

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In 2012, the owners of this parcel completed their first project, a quaint guest cabin which overlooks one of the ranches six trout filled ponds. Nestled on the bank of the Taylor River and surrounded by stunning Rocky Mountain views, the family’s main home is coming into focus as skilled craftsman work through the Winter.

Gracious and elegant with all of the finest amenities, the main home is meant to be lived in and enjoyed. Beautifully designed by CCY Architects in Basalt, Colorado and built by Spring Creek Timber Construction, the structure is a contemporary twist on a classic log cabin with Coreten steel accents and standing dead Engelmann Spruce milled to 12” X 12” timbers. The Owner’s vision is to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside, using expansive oversized windows to capture the amazing views of the rambling Taylor River.

Like the guest cabin, one of the most unique features of the main home is a sod roof with wildflowers, requiring a drainage system covered by six or seven inches of soil and sprinklers. “Europeans are masters at green roofs, and it has gradually worked its way to the U.S.,” says Steve Cappellucci, owner of Spring Creek Timber Construction, noting it will be one of only a handful of sod roofs in Gunnison County.
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The vision of these owners for this particular parcel has unfolded beautifully. They have seemingly maximized every opportunity with architecture, design, stunning views, natural sounds from the river to resident wildlife, and modern amenities to make it home. –Ron Welborn, Vice President & Partner.

Truly amazing how this dream home has so naturally been woven into the picturesque landscape that is Wilder on the Taylor. Even amid the Colorado Winter, home construction continues for owners at the ranch. This new home is expected to be completed this summer. We look forward to its completion and their family enjoying all of the amenities that Wilder has to offer. From horseback riding and hiking to fishing the Taylor River, our homeowners freely experience life and appreciate the wondrous beauty which surrounds them.

Experience Wilder on the Taylor through video.  View our video library here.

Finest Purveyors of Crested Butte Winter Activities

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Winter is in full swing at “Wilder on the Taylor” and the quaint picturesque town of Crested Butte has transformed into a winter wonderland full of winter sport enthusiasts. The list of Crested Butte winter activities is long and diverse. From the expert skier to the visitor just looking to relax and enjoy the scenery, there is something in Crested Butte for everyone.

Nordic Sports

nordicFrom back country skiing and snowshoeing to ice skating we have it all. Crested Butte has been called the Nordic ski capital of Colorado. The Nordic Center, operated by the non-profit Crested Butte Nordic council, maintains of trail in and around Crested Butte. The Nordic Center offers ski and snowshoe rental packages, private lessons, tours, and fine yurt dining. As a part of Crested Butte Nordic Center’s mission, children 17 and under ski and rent for free. The Nordic Center also offers ice skate rentals.

Crested Butte Nordic Center
620 Second Street
Crested Butte, Colorado 81224
Website: CBNordic.org

Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding

Crested Butte has a run for every level skier and boarder. There are over 80 blue and green trails for the casual skier, and for more of a challenge there are expert trails that are not for the faint of heart.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Mt Crested Butte Trail Maps

Snowmobiling

wilder snowmobileSnowmobiling is a great way to enjoy the stunning high-mountain scenery of Crested Butte with your family. Action Adventures Snowmobiling has been in business for over 25 years providing professional tours with unparalleled service.

Action Adventures Snowmobiling
(970) 349-5909
Website: ActionAdventures.com

Snowbiking

snow bikeIf you are always looking for the latest adventure, Crested Butte Mountain Resort has a new Snow Biking program which will allow snow biking enthusiast to take to the mountain. For more details visit SkiCB.com

Horseback Riding and Sleigh Rides

Sleigh ride.Looking for a fun experience the kids can enjoy? A horse drawn sleigh ride dinner may be your answer. Lazy F Bar Ranch provides old fashion fun and great home cooking. This ultimate Crested Butte dining experience is something you don’t want to miss.

Lazy F Bar Ranch
2991 County Rd 738
Crested Butte, CO 81224
(970) 641-0193 / (800) 833-8052
Website: LazyFBarRanch.com

Crested Butte Spas and Salons

wilder spa

If winter sports are not your forte, or you just need to rest weary muscles do not fret. Crested Butte has a variety of local spas and Salons to pamper you. Elevation Spa, a full service spa located in the newly renovated Elevation hotel is sure to have just the right touch to get you back to your best and ready to enjoy all that Crested Butte has to offer. If you are interested in head to toe treatment, also located in the Elevation Hotel and Spa is the Eleve’ Salon. The Salon specializes in precision cuts, full color, highlighting services and the latest chemical treatments as well as manicures and pedicures.

Elevation Spa in Mt. Crested Butte
500 Gothic Road
Mt. Crested Butte, CO 81225
(970) 251-3500
Website: ElevationResort.com

Creekside Spa
120 Elk Avenue
Crested Butte, Colorado 81225
(970) 325-3860
Website: CrestedButteSpa.com

Escape Body work Boutique
115 Elk Avenue, suite F
Crested Butte, Colorado 81225
(970) 765-8065
Website: EscapeBodyworkBoutique.com

Crested Butte Fine Dining

Wilder UleysCrested Butte is a small town with unexpected culinary treasures. There is even gem found on the mountain called The Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin. Ski or board in for a gourmet lunch with amazing views. They also offer a unique dinner experience, where getting there is half the fun. Sleigh Ride Dinner at Uley’s Cabin is an experience your family will not forget. Diners hitch a ride on a snow cat pulled sleigh up to your dinner destination. Those who enjoy a good bottle of wine will appreciate the extensive wine list and small plate menu at Django’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, the perfect place to relax and unwind. For a more traditional dining experience, Soupcon is one choice you will not forget. This French inspired Bistro is sure to please even the toughest critics. One last menu which must be mentioned, is that of Elk Avenue Prime Steaks & more. 2015 Winner of the Opentable diner’s choice award. They feature hand cut high quality USDA PRIME steaks, pastas, lamb chops, elk, pork chops, and salads. They also have a great kids menu. Every member of the family will be pleased with this choice.

Djangos Restaurant and Wine Bar
Mountaineer Square Courtyard
620 Gothic Road C-130
Mt. Crested Butte, CO 81224
For reservations call (970) 349-7574
Website: DjangorestaurantCrestedButte.com

Soupcon
127 Elk Avenue,
Crested Butte, CO 81224
(970) 349-5448

The Ice Bar at Uley’s Cabin
(970) 349-2275
Mid-mountain at the base of Twister Lift

Sleigh Ride Dinner at Uley’s
(970) 349-4554

Elk Avenue Prime Steaks & more
226 Elk Avenue
Crested Butte, Colorado
(970) 349-1221
Website: ElkavePrime.com

Crested Butte Arts and Culture

wilder artsCulturally rich nightlife takes center stage once the sunsets. Not all of Crested Butte winter activities make you brave the cold. Center of the Arts Crested Butte has been providing entertainment and activities for visitors and residents for over 20 years. They provide a full calendar of events including live music, theater and dance performances as well as art exhibits and guest speakers throughout the year. ArtWalk is another monthly community event in Crested Butte when the gallery lined street, Elk Avenue comes to life. On this night participating art galleries are open during evening hours for browsing and inspiration.

Center For The Arts Crested Butte
606 6th Street
Crested Butte, Colorado
(970) 349-7487
Website: CrestedButteArts.org

Lucille Lucas Gallery
427 Belleview Avenue, Suite 103
Crested Butte, Colorado
(970) 349-1903
Website: LucilleLucasGallery.com

J.C. Leacock Photo Gallery
327 Elk Avenue
Crested Butte, Colorado
(970) 349-1150

Paragon Gallery
132 Elk Avenue
(970) 349-6484
Website: ParagonArtGallery.com

Come join us and fill your days and evenings with Crested Butte Winter Activities. Visitors will find themselves overwhelmed with small town hospitality from the locals who are very passionate about the place they call home.