Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report – May 2017

Lu Warner master fly fishing guideHello everyone. I hope that you all are well and looking forward to another exciting fishing season at Wilder on the Taylor. I sure am!!

Enjoy my first Taylor River fly-fishing report of the season …

Two weeks ago week I returned from closing our Valle Bonito in Southern Chile for the season and here at Wilder, the grass is green, water is running everywhere and the trout season is just getting underway. Despite the big snows of December and January, at this point it looks like we have a slightly above average snowpack which is predicted to result in moderate to high flows throughout the summer. Expect levels below the dam to range between 275 CFS and 520 CFS through September and peak run off to occur as usual in early to mid June depending on what the weather brings in the next few weeks.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

While most of the local waters are un fishable and dirty during this period of high water, the Taylor river, Dream Stream and Ponds at Wilder remain fishable and very productive throughout the run off season.

Current flows on the Taylor are about 840 CFS and climbing rapidly. Lowest flows each day are about 4 pm and maximum flows are about midnight. Expect flows to rise through May. Water temps are in the high 30’s and will slowly begin to warm over the next few weeks.

A word of caution to all of you Taylor river anglers out there: Be careful wading at these river levels. This is a powerful river with lots of large slippery boulders that can make for tricky footing. Move slowly in the water and don’t wade if you don’t have to. Many fish will be on the edges and near the shore so reaching out to or wading to the middle is not necessary.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

Dry fly fishing is limited right now but with patience and in the right time and place it can produce some nice fish. Hatch wise, there are a few minor events going on. Midges, Caddis and Blue Winged Olives are hatching every day and in certain places, despite the high water, fish can be found feeding on the surface during the peak of the hatch between 1 and 4 pm. These fish are very selective but a size 18 dark winged BWO pattern on 5x tippet is deadly if you can locate rising fish. Look carefully as surface feeders are very hard to see and watch the feed lines as they form for slow rising fish. Over the next few weeks, we’ll see lots more bugs and the fish will be looking up for Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, Green Drakes, PMD’s, BWO’s and Caddis.

95% of the fish are eating 95% of their food sub surface this time of year. With cold water temps and high flows most fish are laying low, moving slowly, expending little energy and yet eating well on the variety of nymphs in the water. Stoneflies of a few varieties, Caddis larva, Green Drake, PMD, BWO etc are all on the menu.

Now is the time for a typical dry/dropper set up of a large Chubby Chernobyl (or bobber if you must), 6 feet of 4x tippet to a # 6 Pat’s Rubber Legs or Stonefly nymph and another 14 inches of 5x with a #20 micro Mayfly or Midge. Adjusting your leader lengths to water speed and depth is important to keep from hanging up but you do want your flies to run deep with the slowest drift possible. Fish are not very active so fish each place carefully with numerous casts. Many times you will catch a fish after 10 or more casts in the same place. Concentrate on perfect drifts as any drag is a deal breaker. Many flies can work this time of year so if you’re not having luck don’t be afraid to experiment with San Juan Worms, Stonefly nymphs and different small droppers.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

As a fisherman you have many choices on how to approach the Taylor at this time of year. If throwing a big nymph rig isn’t your thing, you can still fish successfully with a small dry dropper set up if you work the soft edges and find slow shallow areas that hold fish. A #12 para Adams with 3 – 5 feet of 5x and a #16 – #20 BH Pheasant tail is always productive in calmer water.

Another option is streamer fishing. This time of year I prefer a 150 grain sink tip to help get the fly down to where the fish are but a floating line can also work. Cast across and mend trying to keep your streamer swimming as slow and deep as possible. Black is hard to beat but we have had luck with a variety of streamers including Thin Mints, Dalai Lamas and Sculpzillas in flesh and olive colors.

Over the next few weeks we will see many changes in the fishes feeding habits as bugs start to hatch and the fish leave the bottom of the river and begin surface feeding in earnest. Look for Stoneflies and Mayflies during the days and strong Caddis hatches in the late afternoons and evenings.

Rarick Creek at Wilder on the Taylor

The “Dream Stream” is in good shape and several large Rainbows over wintered and make for some tough adversaries. These fish are not only selective, they are powerful and a handful once hooked. As in the river, there are times when you can be successful on dries, especially if you see fish rising. If so, you can bet that they are eating BWO’s and a small BWO dry should do the trick.

If not, try a dry/dropper with a small MadameX on top and a #16 BH Pheasant Tail on the bottom attached with 4x. If this is not working, try a San Juan worm dropper and hang on.

When fishing the stream, try to have a good look into each hole as during the winter fish have relocated a bit and some holes are empty while others hold several large fish. Be sneaky as always when fishing the stream. These fish feel your vibrations a long ways off and spook quite easily so despite the time of year, fish the stream like it is August and move quietly while you are fishing.

All of the Wilder ponds are good to go and a few monsters have been spotted cruising the shorelines in shallow water. I always prefer to sight fish in the ponds so I recommend walking slowly and using the sun to your advantage as you search for moving fish. It is a bit early to get these fish to rise for a dry so I suggest fishing a long 4x leader with a small nymph and retrieving it very slowly. When you are bringing in your line watch the fly line/leader junction knot carefully to detect any movement. Oftentimes these fish eat very softly and the only indication of a strike is that your line begins to straighten out or move slowly in one direction or the other. If you even suspect that your line is tensioning up, lift the rod and set slowly and firmly and then get ready to let the fish run. These are big fish and hard, fast sets only lead to broken lines and heartbreak.

If the small nymph is not working you can try either a larger Damselfly nymph and/or a small black or Olive Bead Head bugger style streamer retrieved slowly as well. Keep showing the fish different flies until you find the one that they will eat.

As we begin our 2017 season at Wilder I want to wish you all tight lines and good fishing. Conditions look great for another awesome summer and it won’t be long before the fish are rising and our anglers are experiencing some of the best dry fly fishing in the West.

If any of you are planning a trip to the Wilder on the Taylor, please feel free to write or call me for an up to the minute Taylor River fly-fishing report and gear and fly recommendations.

Cheers

L:u Warner

P.S. Keep up with the latest fish catches on our social media.  Like Us on Facebook and Follow Us on Instagram.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

Taylor River Fly Fishing Report- Fall 2016

Fly Fishing Report

Wilder’s Master Guide Lu Warner gives his end of season Taylor River Fly Fishing Report. Detailed as always, follow this advice to land a trophy before the snow flies for good!

Taylor River Fly Fishing ReportWell, hard to believe we are nearing the end of our fishing season here at Wilder and it is already time for my final Taylor River Fly Fishing Report of 2016. The summer has gone by quickly and we have had many owners and their guests enjoy the wonderful fisheries that we have here.

Currently, the Taylor River has dropped to its winter levels and flows at the dam are down to 100 CFS and 150 CFS. These levels should be maintained until Spring. Water temps are in the high 30’s to low 40’s and should remain there for another couple of weeks before the winter season that brings so many to the Crested Butte area sets in and ice begins to form on the sides of the river.

Taylor River Fishing ReportThis is a perfect time of year to sight larger fish and present a fly to them. The river is low and the water is absolutely transparent. Fish can be seen everywhere, generally holding on the bottom and they will not move far to eat your fly. In these conditions the fish are extra spooky so long leaders and soft presentations are key. In the afternoons you can expect strong BWO hatches on cloudy days and Midge activity regardless of weather. These BWO’s are getting very small right now and imitations need to be in the size 20-22 range to bring up the fish.

Taylor River Fly Fishing ReportMany of the Browns are beginning to spawn so please be careful wading and avoid the redds as they can be damaged by walking through them. Redds can be identified as patches of clean gravel in fairly swift and shallow water, normally in the tail outs of the bigger pools. If you see fish spawning please do not fish for them. Leave them alone and let them do their thing so we will have plenty more fish in the future. One of the beauties of the river here is that it is a healthy wild fishery and we want to do our best to keep it that way. That being said, none of the Rainbows or Cutthroats (and not all of the Browns) are spawning, so there are plenty of fish to cast to.

Typically in this low, clear water, the fish will spook as soon as you step into a run. Before you make your first cast, it’s a good idea to start with a few soft casts from the bank before announcing your presence in the river. When the fish spook, they will move to the deepest water and congregate there in numbers. These fish won’t come up for a dry fly but can be caught using a dry/dropper rig with the dropper fished near the bottom. Small bead head Pheasant tails, Hare’s Ears, Egg patterns and Midges will work well when fished with light tippets of 5x and 6x. Fish these deep spots thoroughly and slowly as the trout are not that active right now and sometimes you have to hit one on the head to get him to eat. Make your dry fly as small as you can to still float with a dropper below. Large indicators can work in some areas but generally they will scare more fish than they fool.

Taylor River Fly Fishing ReportExpect the mornings to start slow and the fish to get more active after noon and before 5 p.m. Keep your eyes open for spawning Salmon which congregate in the deeper pools. There are several around the camp area in the deeper pools. If you find a pod of Salmon, look behind them as many times large trout will lie below and eat their eggs. Egg patterns ranging from orange to chartreuse can be very effective in catching these fish.

After noon keep your eyes open for hatching BWO’s. On certain days we can have some of the best dry fly fishing of the year. Remember that these Mayflies favor cloudy conditions and have an aversion to bright sun, so those blustery, cloudy, even snowy afternoons will have the strongest hatches. Otherwise stick with a dry/dropper and change the dropper if you are not catching fish. Think small!

This is also a great time of year to throw large streamer patterns particularly on cloudy days when the big Browns may be active. I recommend Dalai Lamas in olive and white or Sculpzillas in almost any color. Swing your flies through the runs and vary your retrieves from super fast to slow to find a pattern that may catch you some big fish. During the next few weeks, look for the trout to start grouping up in the deep holes as they dig in for winter.

Taylor River Fly Fishing Report- The Dream Stream

Taylor River Fly Fishing ReportThe Dream Stream right now is low and crystal clear as well, so use caution when you approach. These fish are not stupid and spook very easily! Be patient and you will see a number of large Rainbows and Browns suspended in the foam lines and eating on or just under the surface. They are quite active. Once you locate a fish, take your time and concentrate on one or two good casts to him and you may hook into a monster. Fish can be seen rising to Midges and BWO’s throughout the day and there are still plenty of Hoppers flying around on warm afternoons. Ideally one would be fishing with 6X tippets here now, but the odds are slim of landing that 6 lb. plus fish with such small tippet. Better to use a longer leader of up to 12’ tapered down to 5X for your smaller flies and 4X for a small Hopper. Even then it can be a challenge to land a hot fish. If you show a rising fish your dry a couple of times and he doesn’t eat it, rest him for a bit and try another fly. We have had very good luck with #20 BWO patterns over the last week but some BWO patterns seem more effective than others so experiment until you find the right one.

Taylor River Fly Fishing Report- The Ponds at Wilder

Taylor River Fly Fishing ReportAll of our ponds are full of feisty Rainbows and Browns and after a summer of fine dining some of these fish exceed 8 lbs. Despite their size, you can find these lunkers sipping small Midges and Mayflies throughout the day. I always like to show them a small dry first and see how they react. Keep your tippets to 4X or larger and try to put your fly in front of several different fish before changing. If a small dry proves unsuccessful, try a larger Hopper type dry and see what happens. I have seen some of these large fish ignore a Hopper for several casts and then all of a sudden decide to eat it. So be patient! Otherwise I would suggest fishing a small bead head nymph or #6-8 Wooly Bugger attached directly to your leader. Slow crawl your fly and make sure to let it drop down between strips as this is generally when they’ll eat it. Strip, pause, strip, pause etc. Watch the end of your fly line between strips as many times when the fish take on a slack line the only way you will know is if your fly line starts moving one way or another. These fish are not easy to hook but persistence will pay off and if you stick to it you may land a trophy fish before the snow flies for good.

As mentioned this is my final Taylor River Fly Fishing Report of the season. In another couple of weeks, I’m off to open up our Valle Bonito Lodge in Southern Chile and join Antonia and Vicente for our Patagonia fishing season which runs from December through April. If any of you want to escape winter and get some fly fishing in while things are frozen up here, drop us an email at Luwarner@mac.com. Otherwise I wish you all a great winter and look forward to seeing you in the spring. Thanks for another wonderful season at Wilder on the Taylor!

Cheers,

Lu Warner
Master Fly Fishing Guide, Wilder on the Taylor

Wilder Building a Riverside Cabin Available for Purchase

Untitled design

Wilder is offering the convenience of a brand new, riverside cabin along the Taylor River.

When purchasing a homestead at Wilder on the Taylor, people typically build their own custom homes and fishing cabins, resulting in a variety of beautiful structures that complement the historic ranch’s landscape. In order to make it easy for someone who desires the convenience of a turnkey residence, Ron Welborn, Partner of Wilder and Architect, Dan Murphy have collaborated for months to create the ideal riverside cabin on homestead 11.

Phase 1: Riverside Cabin

The 2,200-square-foot cabin, designed by Crested Butte architect Dan Murphy, has exceeded our goal of creating a one-story home that is nestled on the edge of the Taylor River and aesthetically fits on the ranch. The cabin features covered porches for a relaxed and comfortable setting and other outdoor living spaces that capitalize on the surrounding natural beauty at Wilder.

Wilder in the Taylor Riverside Cabin InteriorSpecially selected reclaimed woods are being used in the interior as well as the exterior to provide a warm and welcoming feel, including Douglas Fir beams from Montana that are more than 100 years old and heated hardwood floors. A low stone foundation fashioned from local moss granite rock also is part of the architectural fabric.

Designed for two families to enjoy with privacy, the riverside cabin comfortably accommodates four adults and their children. The kitchen, dining and living areas casually flow together in one large great room and a master bedroom and bathroom on one side and a junior master suite and bunk room, both with private bathrooms, on the other. A mud room on the riverside of the house has plenty of nooks for fishing poles, waders and other items, with the Taylor River only steps away.

Wilder in the Taylor Riverside CabinAdditional highlights are a soaking tub and steam shower in the master bathroom and a great room with a large rock fireplace, sure to leave guests warm, cozy and relaxed. A breezeway connects to a garage and covered outdoor dining space, handy for those cool summer evenings.

The riverside cabin is masterfully situated with views up and down the Taylor River. The architect, Dan Murphy, carefully planned each room with views of the river.  “With the open floor plan and large windows across the back of the cabin, you have a view of the river from every room of the cabin except the bunk room,” commented Dan Murphy.

This stunning riverside cabin is currently available for purchase directly through Wilder on the Taylor.  Click here to view photos of progress being made. Contact us for a private showing of this rare offering.

Taylor River Fishing Report – August 2016

Taylor River Fishing Report from Wilder on the Taylor – August 24 2016

taylor river fishing reportAs we enter the last week of August, fishing conditions are prime on the Taylor river at Wilder. With flows just below 300 CFS and water temps in the mid 40’s, the last blast of the summer monsoon is bringing large hatches of Blue Winged Olives in the afternoons and the dry fly fishing is excellent. As we enter September these BWO hatches combined with Midge, Caddis, Gray Drake and PMD events will continue and keep the surface activity rolling through October.

As usual on the Taylor, mornings can start slow on the river as the fish are cold and slow to activate knowing that the afternoons will bring a feast of mayflies. There have been a few trico spinner falls around 10 am that can bring up fish in glassy water. This event doesn’t last long and generally an hour is all you’ll have to put on your best trico imitation and try to fool these wily trout. 6x is a must and a 12 foot leader will assist in keeping your presentation light and drag free. Don’t overcast these fish or they will disappear on you. Try a couple of drifts and if they don’t react wait until they begin rising again and try a few drifts with a different fly.

There have also been some PMD spinner falls in mid morning and a size 16 Rusty Spinner can be a great pattern. Look for mayflies dancing up and down over the water doing their mating flight and again, look for smooth water to find fish sipping these dead mayflies.

Otherwise I have been liking a size 12 Para Adams with 3-4 feet of 6X and a size 20 Pheasant tail dropper. Until you see fish rising, this is a very effective way to begin the day.

As the water warms in the afternoon, bugs will begin to fly and you will find the best fishing between 12 and 5 pm. On sunny days, we have already had numerous flying ant hatches so pay attention as these bugs can be hard to see on the water. One clue is that you will see fish rising and nothing on the surface. Closer inspection will reveal thousands of tiny black ant bodies in the surface film. A size 20 Para ant will work well. If you find yourself with no small ants, take a black perma marker and blacken the body of a size 20 para Adams. Flying ants come out in the early fall on a sunny day after a hard rain, usually the day before. They wait until the dirt gets wet and softens before they fly and mate so the females can burrow in, lay their eggs and start a new colony.

taylor river fishing reportSometime in the early afternoon you will start to see fish rising more aggressively as the BWO’s begin to hatch. When you see this, make sure to lighten and lengthen your leader/tippet and be ready to try some different BWO patterns until you find the right one. Make your presentations soft.  This is key on the Taylor.

During this time period keep your eyes open for Gray Drakes and PMD’s. The Gray Drakes are big, size 12 or so and when they hatch larger fish will come to the surface. Watch closely what the fish are eating. The other day during a BWO hatch, I noticed that many fish were eating Caddis. A size 20 Elk Hair fooled 11 fish in front of camp in just a few minutes before writing this report. Whatever is going on out there, be observant and take the time to figure out what the fish are eating before casting your line.

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll see the female Brown trout begin to jump high in the air and slap the water to loosen up their eggs as they prepare to spawn in October. Not only is this a thrill to watch, it tells you exactly where the fish are. This time of year Streamers can be very effective in triggering a large Brown to strike. If things are slow on the river, don’t hesitate to tie on a big black Sculpzilla and swing it deep through the runs and tailouts. Use a minimum of 2x tippet and try to work your fly slowly through promising looking lies that include structure of some sort…rocks, trees, logs etc. Cloudy days and low light times will be best for Streamer fishing throughout the fall.

taylor river fishing reportLook for flows to drop in early September and be ready to spot some monsters as the water drops and the larger fish become more visible. If you do spot a monster, take your time and make a plan to get your fly into his face without spooking him. Oftentimes it is a process of trial and error to find the right fly. Make a couple of good drifts to the fish and if he doesn’t react change. Last week, we landed out biggest Cutthroat ever at the Wilder, a 25 inch male that was one of the most colorful fish I have ever seen. We spotted this fish and changed flies 5 times before he finally ate a #6 Olive Pat’s Rubber legs.

The Dream Stream has been on fire since the hay meadow was cut in July. Big fish are laying by the banks just waiting for a fat grasshopper to fall in. We have had some incredible days out here throwing a large Parachute hopper. Several rainbows well over 20 inches have been landed and a couple have topped the scales at over 6 lbs. Additionally we have caught numerous Browns, Cutthroat and Brook trout throughout the summer.

taylor river fishing reportIt seems like the fish are getting a bit leery of the large hopper patterns, so recently I have been throwing a #16 Madame X as a smaller hopper imitation and it has been working very well. Typically, the hoppers start to fly when things warm up a bit so don’t be surprised if fewer fish react in the morning than the afternoon. There have also been some strong BWO hatches on the stream. If you see fish rising and they ignore your hopper, change to a #16 or smaller Para Adams or BWO and try a few casts. If you don’t and the Hopper isn’t working, tie on a #16 Pheasant Tail dropper or San Juan worm and work through the deeper holes.

Always check your tackle before casting into the Dream Stream as there are some tackle busters in here. I suggest a minimum of 4x tippet even though it can be hard to push through the eye of a size 16 fly. If you hook a large fish in here it may take some antics to land it as these fish try to burrow under the rocks and can break your tippet pretty easily. Try to work the fish around the rocks keeping your rod high while engaged in battle with one of these monsters. Please release your fish carefully and don’t remove him from the water. Remember any fish you catch has been fighting for his life so take the time to revive him well before continuing on your way. While we all love pictures of our big fish, more important is to release the fish in good condition. Holding a fish up for a picture is fine if you do it quickly but please remember that the fish is suffering when out of the water and that they do not breathe air.

Approach the Stream carefully so you don’t spook all the fish before your first cast. Fish cannot hear you talk but they can feel every vibration of your feet hitting the ground so walk softly along the stream. Your best shot is the first cast so make it count and get ready.

The 6 ponds at Wilder are full of very large trout. Some Rainbows are close to 10 lbs and they pull hard. At this time of year, the fish are looking for Hoppers, Midges and small nymphs. I always like to start by throwing a big Hopper out there and see what happens. If the fish ignore it then it is time to either try a smaller dry or to slow crawl a small nymph through the weed beds. If both of these techniques fail, don’t hesitate to try a #6 or #8 Black or Olive Wooly bugger dragged slowly near the bottom.

taylor river fishing reportAs in the stream, make sure to check and re check your terminal tackle and use tippets of 4X or larger to handle these bruisers. When you hook one let him run..don’t try to stop him or you will hear the sickening snap of your tippet breaking.

Before you release your fish, please take some time to revive it and make sure it swims away right side up. Many times these fish will be stunned from capture and will go belly up. If that happens either re capture and revive the fish or give him a poke with your rod tip. Oftentimes this is all they need to wake back up and swim away in good shape.

As we come into Fall, I look forward to seeing the leaves turning, the big browns jumping and the BWO hatches getting thicker as the fish put on some pounds before the long winter that lies ahead.

Enjoy your time on the water in this beautiful place.

Cheers,

Lu Warner
Master Guide, Wilder on the Taylor

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Taylor River Fly Fishing Guide Sends Letter from Patagonia

From Lu Warner, Master Guide at Wilder on the Taylor

Hello All,

Greetings from Southern Chile. I hope you are all enjoying the Crested Butte winter activities and getting ready for another fun season of Taylor River fly fishing at Wilder. I will be arriving there on May 2nd and am looking forward to getting out and spending some time on the water with all of you and doing whatever I can to help you enjoy and fish well in this amazing place.

Wilder on the Taylor River Fly Fishing Guide, Lu WarnerThe Taylor is truly a world class fishery and all signs indicate that the river is super healthy and so is the large population of fish that live in it. Last year, Taylor River fly fishing at Wilder was nothing short of awesome and I think that despite higher than normal flows, all of our owners and guests enjoyed some very productive days on the water from mid May right on through October. On my last day of guiding last year, the river had just dropped to 150 CFS and I was astonished at the amount of huge fish that I saw throughout the entire river. Beware: there are some monster fish in there!

Rarick Creek and all of our Ponds also fished well and a large number of wild Browns and Rainbows mixed with a few wild Cutthroat and Brook trout moved in through the ditch system connected to Spring Creek. Hatches were strong and the fish were large and powerful.

Although we had a few fairly busy days, for most of the season the fisheries had very little pressure and due to higher water levels much of the river went un-fished until the late season. The current 2016 river level forecast predictions range from about 130 CFS in May to a high of 400 in early July and then dropping to between 300 and 150 in September and October. These are less than the predicted flows for 2015 but the reality is that lots can change in the coming 3 months in terms of the snowpack. Last year peak high water was forecast to be around 530 CFS yet the actual flows were double that due to lots of late snow in May. So it is really too early to tell. Regardless, on Wilder’s stretch of the river, Taylor River fly fishing can be excellent in both high and low water years.

One of the first orders of business this season will be to rebuild and fix the River trail where impressive ice dams tore it up over the winter. During this time we will see how the Dream Stream and Ponds did over the winter and make a stocking plan if needed. I will continue to dial in our fly selection and will have on hand an even better selection and larger stock of patterns and essentials for our owners and guests. Additionally, our stock of waders and boots will be upgraded.

Once we get all caught up with that, we will begin working on a Fisherman’s trail on the South Side upper part of the river and burning the brush piles from last years trail work projects as the weather conditions allow. This will open up access to a few spots that are almost impossible to access right now. During the summer we will continue removing branches and dead trees from strategic places to provide as many fishing locations as possible and as usual I will be sending out a detailed fishing report about every two weeks and will include info about the flows, hatches and best techniques.

Until then, I’ll be finishing off my season down here in Patagonia and will be available by email for any questions, requests or concerns that you may have regarding Taylor River fly fishing. I look forward to seeing you all this coming Spring and Summer.

Tight lines,

Lu

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

Taylor River Fly Fishing Report: September 10, 2015

Taylor River Fly Fishing ReportThe leaves aren’t the only things changing at Wilder! Changes in the season bring changes in fish behavior and water conditions as well.  Be sure to read Master Guide Lu Warner’s Taylor River Fly Fishing Report before your next fish. In search of big fish? Read why Lu says now is the time to land one.

Fall is in the air and the last few stormy days have brought color to both the leaves and the Brown trout. River levels have been steady at right around 390 CFS and hatches are becoming stronger as the fish fatten up for the upcoming winter. Water temperatures are cooling and have dropped slightly from 52 to about 50 degrees during the last week. In almost every pool you will see large female Browns jump high into the water and slap themselves down hard on the water to loosen their eggs up and get them ready for the coming spawn.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportAll of this bodes well for the angler. Fish are hungry! As usual, mid day provides the best surface activity and particularly on cloudy, rainy, nasty days epic hatches can occur this time of year. Slate Gray Drakes, Blue Winged Olives, Pale Morning Duns, Mahogany Duns and Fall Caddis will hatch off and on through most days. While the BWO’S are almost always the trout’s favorite, we had great success last week fishing a size 12 Gray Drake pattern with a size 14, BH Hare’s Ear as a dropper. I suppose that had we fished only small BWO’S we would have done just as well on the surface but it was fun watching fish after fish come to the big dry on top and under tough light conditions, the larger dry was much easier to see.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportOne of the keys to success on the Taylor River is to see the fly you are fishing. Duh! But not always so easily done with surface glare, fast currents and fish whose preference is really for very small dries. Long leaders(9’ plus) help with a softer presentation but accurate casting is necessary to keep your fly out of the “washing machine” and riding high down the edges of the faster currents. Long casts (over 30 feet) on this river generally scare way more fish than they fool. It is more effective to move slowly and quietly in the water and concentrate on fishing specific currents and seams, making your fly land on the water as lightly as possible. Once you slap the water and announce your presence to the fish, the larger ones have a tendency to disappear.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportFish the foam lines!!! On this river with lots of varying current speeds, eddies, deep holes and riffles, your highest percentage area is in and underneath the many foam lines that characterize this water. As they ebb, flow, disappear and re-appear, so the fish will follow. Where the foam concentrates, so do insects and other debris floating down the river. For the fish, unless there is a big hatch underway, these foam lines are their highest percentage places to find easy food.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportIf you are in search of big fish now is a perfect time to rig up a streamer and mend it deep through the pools and tail outs. Larger Browns, as they approach spawning, get territorial and respond aggressively to intruders such as a #4 Black Sculpzilla. When fishing a streamer, vary your retrieves to see if you can find one that triggers an arm wrenching strike. Short and fast, long and slow, make some pauses and keep mixing it up until you connect. Most of the truly larger Browns don’t move much during the day, especially in bright sun and your best odds for finding one on the prowl is to fish very early in the morning and late in the evening…low light conditions.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportRarick Creek is on fire right now as it has been for most of the summer season. Big fat Rainbow, Browns and the occasional Brookie are very surface oriented and are still suckers for large Hopper patterns. If unsuccessful with the large Dry either tie on a #16 Pheasant tail dropper or try a smaller Dry. Some of these fish are brutes so be careful setting the hook overly hard and prepare for several strong runs before they calm down. After reviving and releasing each fish, inspect your tippet carefully for abrasions and re tie if necessary as these fish have a habit of rubbing your line against the rocks.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing ReportOur 6 ponds are full of tackle busting Rainbows and some good sized Browns. Many of these can be seen slowly cruising the shorelines looking for food. Try to time your cast when the fish is looking or heading away from you and place your fly about 10 feet in front of your target. I like Hopper patterns right now as a well placed Hopper is hard for these fish to resist. These should be fished on 2X or 3X tippet but nothing lighter. If you need to use a small dropper fly, 4X is the minimum tippet size I would use. When you approach the ponds, walk slowly and try to spot fish to throw to. Fishing to s specific fish is generally the most effective technique here. Next week at Wilder, we are proud to host Project Healing Waters and the Wounded Warriors, who will be here for the fifth season in a row. We all hope that they enjoy their stay and our special waters here on the ranch.

As usual for an up to the minute fly fishing report and information, please feel free to contact me at luwarner@mac.com.

Have fun out there,

Lu

Master Fly Fishing Guide’s Summer Wrap-Up and Fall Forecast

Taylor River Fly Fishing As the Aspen leaves turn yellow, mornings on the river become a bit frosty and the brown trout “color-up” for spawning, it is becoming quite clear that Fall is just around the corner.Taylor River Fly Fishing

So far at Wilder, we have had an excellent season of fishing, good water levels and many happy owners and guests who have enjoyed the incredible fisheries that we have at the ranch.

Taylor RiverOur season started with concerns that a low winter snowpack would keep river levels at minimum levels throughout the summer. However, the month of May had different ideas and record precipitation quickly raised the snowpack from 65% of normal to well over 100%. As we watched the Taylor River rise from 200 CFS to over 2200 CFS, suddenly concerns were reversed as the dam at Taylor Reservoir was at maximum release capacity for about 2 weeks.

Taylor River Fishing ReportDespite the high flows, the early season provided plenty of action as fish moved to the edges and were receptive to big dries and droppers. As we progressed into late June, the legendary Taylor River hatches commenced and dry fly fishing season officially began. Green Drakes, Yellow Sallees, Caddis, Golden Stones, PMD’s and BWO’s hatched like never before on cloudy afternoons and evenings and our anglers were rewarded with epic catches and non-stop action right on through the dog days of mid August. Then, typical of all of our western rivers, things slowed down to a dull roar as hatches became spotty and the fish were not as reckless in their eating habits. Great fishing continued but the time window for the best dry fly fishing shrank from all day to 12-4 p.m. when small hatches of BWO’s and PMD’s enticed some of the larger fish to eat on the surface.

Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report  Taylor River Fly-Fishing Report

Now as we enter September we are beginning to see stronger hatches of BWO’s, PMD’s, Slate Gray and Mahogony Duns. These will intensify through the month of September and into mid October and our fishermen will enjoy some of the very best dry fly fishing of the year until the snow flies, ice forms on the river and rod guides ice up.

Taylor River Fishing ReportRarick Creek has been consistently good for the entire season with large Rainbows attacking Hopper patterns with a vengeance. In the last month we have landed several Rainbows north of 24 inches including one monster of 27 inches that ate one of our Hopper patterns.

Taylor River Fishing ReportOur six ponds have been consistently amazing as well with many hard fighting Rainbows in the 5-8 lb range being taken on Damselflies, Hoppers and Callabaetis dries.

All in all the 2015 season has been one of the best that I can remember at Wilder. Cool days, higher than normal water levels and continually increasing fish populations have provided wonderful sport for our growing contingent of new owners and their guests. We look forward to more of the same to continue this Fall and through the 2016 season. If you haven’t had a chance to cast your line at Wilder, now is the time to see what our ranch and fisheries are all about. You will not be disappointed.

Tight lines,

Lu Warner
Master Fly Fishing Guide
Wilder on the Taylor

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Women’s Fly-Fishing Clinic: September 14 & 15

Woman Fly-FishingWilder invites the women in the valley to come out and enjoy a complimentary day of fly-fishing on the private waters of Wilder on the Taylor.  Whether you are looking for a relaxing mom’s day out with your friends or just looking for a reason to celebrate the start of fall, it is sure to be a fun day.  For those of you ladies who are not familiar with the property, Wilder on the Taylor is a historic 2,100-acre ranch located between Gunnison and Crested Butte along 2 miles of the Taylor River.

Woman Fly FishingWilder is providing complimentary instruction, equipment and a light lunch with two days to choose from, Sept. 14 or 15, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.  Our very own Master Fly-Fishing Guide, Lu Warner who is full of knowledge and always has insightful fishing advice will be leading the clinic. Whether you are a beginner that has never tried the sport or simply want to expand your current skills, Lu offers treasured pointers.

Lu-Warner-TroutSince 1985, Warner has worked as a fly-fishing guide in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Alaska, Argentina and southern Chile. He has guided during the summer and fall in the Gunnison-Crested Butte area since 2000, the last six years at Wilder. The rest of the year, Warner is in the Patagonia of Chile where he owns and operates Valle Bonito Lodge.

Woman Fly FishingAlong with Master Guide Lu, our General Manager, Brad Willet will be on-site and ready to help. Brad states, “We want to celebrate the women who live or spend time in the valley with a half-day of learning more about fly fishing and utilizing Wilder’s ponds, creek and river access. Taking a break for lunch on the lawn is the perfect time to swap stories and meet each other, and we hope it leads to more families and groups of women getting out to enjoy the sport.”

Please note that limited space is available and registration is required for this free event. You do not want to miss this fly-fishing clinic led by Lu. Register for free today by calling 970.641.4545.

Hope to see you there!

Women fly fishing clinic