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.
At 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.
At 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.
The “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.All 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.