Master Fishing Guide, Lu Warner, shares the 5 Traits of a quintessential fishing property and what makes Colorado’s Wilder on the Taylor a world-class fishery.
Not all fishing properties are created equal. When shopping for a slice of fishing paradise, there are several qualities to consider.
Wilder on the Taylor’s Master Fishing Guide Lu Warner offers several suggestions based on his more than three decades of guiding experience in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Argentina and Chile. With more than 2,100 acres located along a two-mile private stretch of the Taylor River, Wilder on the Taylor offers ownership in a ranch community that dates back to 1893 and is ideally situated in the Rocky Mountains between Gunnison and Crested Butte, Colorado.
For the serious fly fisherman, it’s all about the water, fish, insects, weather, knowledge and equipment. Low moisture years can be devastating as warm temperatures and low river flows create stress outon the trout, resulting in high mortality rates and fewer aquatic insects they feed on such as mayflies, caddis flies and stoneflies. “Trout are happiest in water temperatures between 45 º and 60º F,” confirms Wilder on the Taylor’s Master Fishing Guide Lu Warner.
During 2018, many freestone rivers across the West were closed down during the peak summer months due to these adverse conditions, and ethical anglers voluntarily stopped fishing because of the damage that might be done to this important natural resource. Tailwater fisheries such as the Taylor River in Colorado’s Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley can be a saving grace in these tough years. “Regulated flows assure a minimum of water, and the cold, well-oxygenated 45º F water being released from the bottom of the Taylor Reservoir is a haven for trout, their food, and fishermen as well,” Warner says. “Fish are able to find their comfort spots and stay there instead of constantly moving to find good conditions when times get tough.”
With a 2-mile private stretch of the Taylor River running through Wilder’s 2,100+ acres, hatches have been consistently strong and fish fat and healthy throughout the summer and fall. He notes, “Our owners and guests were able to fish uninterrupted throughout the season while in nearby rivers anglers were challenged to find acceptable conditions to fish under.”
A wide range of options on-site and nearby
Not everyone is ready to wade in a flowing river, while others are looking for waterways that test their skills. What are the on-property and nearby options available to beginner, intermediate and experienced fishermen?
At Wilder on the Taylor, for example, six fishing ponds are sprinkled around the historic ranch property for people who want to learn or to share fly-fishing techniques with family and friends. Rarick Creek, casually meanders through picturesque meadowlands to provide sublime experiences when the river is running high from snowmelt in spring and early summer and for people who are learning and growing into their fly rods and waders. The base camp lawn located at center of the property, all 15 of the Taylor River homesteads and various entry points provide direct access to one of Colorado’s best-known fishing waters.
Nearby are several stretches of the Taylor River that are open to the public as well as the East, Slate and Gunnison rivers, Cement Creek, Taylor Reservoir, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery and several other mountain lakes and creeks.
Access to fishing knowledge
No matter how experienced you are, the availability of an on-site fishing guide or outfitter is priceless. Warner bring years more than 30 years of experience to his role as master fishing guide for Wilder on the Taylor.
His childhood years were spent fishing the small streams of New England and Quebec and adulthood brought him to Alaska, New Zealand, British Columbia, Quebec, Argentina, Chile and the Rocky Mountain West. Since 1985, Warner has worked as a fly-fishing guide in the United States and South America. He has guided the summers in the Crested Butte/Gunnison area since 2000, including ## seasons at Wilder. From October through May, Warner is in the Patagonia of Chile where he owns and operates the Valle Bonito Lodge, which specializes in fly fishing, hiking, multi-sport and family vacations.
Stewardship of natural resources
How has the land and waterways been maintained and improved now and in years past? Since 1893, Wilder on the Taylor has been owned and managed by families that have made it one of the most iconic and well cared for properties in Colorado. Don and Shelly Sabrowski have served as ranch managers since 1995 and work closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Warner is charged with watching over the health of the waterways and fish.
“The Taylor River is an incredible wild fishery, and we do not stock it because we don’t need to. Most fly fisherman appreciate the challenge of fishing for wild fish and with more than 6,000 trout per mile of river, we feel that we have one of the finest fisheries in the western United States,” Warner says. “We do stock Rarick Creek which runs through the property, and our six ponds as they provide a great learning experience for kids and adults who have little or no fly-fishing background.”
Wilder also is involved in several philanthropic causes such as hosting wounded soldiers and military veterans through the Fort Carson chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing nearly every year and welcoming other wounded warrior groups and providing fund-raising auction packages for the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte.
Swapping stories and insights
What’s the point of fishing if you don’t have a chance to share photos, stories, information and experiences? Wilder on the Taylor’s base camp is where fishermen connect with Warner and other guides hired from local outfitters and where he keeps fishing equipment current and in top-notch shape.
The Founder’s Porch and spacious lawn are the perfect places to relax, enjoy a beverage and check the fishing board for conditions, tips for flies to use, and more. Concierge/Chef Elena Marquez is available to prepare lunch during a busy fishing day or dinner after a morning and afternoon on the water. Plus, there are miles of on-property and nearby trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding to mix up activity options.
Wilder on the Taylor is an angling paradise and a recreational and preservation-oriented ranch community located on more than 2,100 acres. The historic cattle and hay ranch is conveniently situated on County Highway 742 between Gunnison and Crested Butte and surrounded by the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Each homestead is a minimum of 35 acres and has access to miles of private fishing water and trails, master guides, concierge services and a base camp for dining, relaxing and socializing. Wilder is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the traditions of western Colorado. For additional information, follow @WilderColorado on Facebook and Instagram.