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AEI's Backyard - Fly Fishing the Taylor River

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

Fishing The Taylor River – A River For Everyone

The famed Taylor River, has a little something for all levels of anglers. From it’s upper reaches where the trout are less selective and where a beginner can succeed to the Catch and Release section that humbles even the most astute angler, the Taylor River gives everyone a chance at glory.

The Upper Taylor River – If you are looking for more seclusion and less crowds, this upper, freestone, section is for you. The nearly 15 miles of river above Taylor Reservoir holds good numbers of mostly browns, a few rainbows and an occasional brook or cutthroat trout. With numerous deep holes, runs and riffles, this upper stretch also has a little bit of everything. As the flows reduce after runoff and throughout the summer, you will want to focus on the deeper moving water. Focus on getting good drifts towards the outside turns and always expect fish to be hanging out in the undercut banks. Most of the time, a dry/dropper rig is the ticket, but sometimes you only need a single dry fly. In the crux of the summer, I like using bugs that float high and dry such as Parachute Adams, Hi Vis Caddis or Amy’s Ant variations. Later in the summer, larger stonefly and hopper patterns can work well. Don’t hesitate to try stripping streamers if the water is high or slightly off color though. Access is great after the first mile or so of private property. The further upstream you fish, the skinnier the water becomes, but even those upper stretches can fish well. 

The Catch and Release Section (Below Taylor Reservoir) - This .4 mile stretch of water has very strict regulations. It is a catch and release, flies and lures only fishery. Producing three state record rainbows in the last 10 years, these fish see a good bit of fishing pressure throughout the year as anglers pursue the monster trout that call this tailwater home. Currently, this section has the state record rainbow at 40 ¼” inches long and the record snake river cutthroat at 31”. This trophy tailout stretch is not very long, but you have a great shot of catching resident trout up to 30 inches and sometimes larger. Tiny shrimp called mysis shrimp, pour out of the reservoir to fatten up these fish and are the major reason these fish get so hefty. Consequently, mysis shrimp patterns charm fish regularly in these waters. So make sure that if you fish these waters, you have various mysis patterns in sizes 14-22. You should also have variety of tiny midges (sizes 18-24) in assorted colors and shapes. The key here when nymphing is to make sure that you get your flies down to where the trout are, so don’t be afraid to use plenty of weight. Weighted leech and wooly bugger streamers in the deeper runs can also be effective here. If you hit a dry hatch right during the summer months, you can be rewarded by huge trout sipping bugs off of the surface. Make sure you match the hatch as perfectly as possible as these fish are just as selective on top as they are under the water.

The Lower Taylor River - While the Taylor C&R receives most of the glory, the lower Taylor River, which extends from the C&R downstream for 21 miles to the fly fishing hamlet of Almont, provides fly aficionados with almost 12 miles of tremendous public fly water.  During the spring and autumn months, the lower Taylor is a nymph fisherman’s paradise, while the summer months provide some of the best dry fly fishing to be found anywhere in the Centennial State.  Strong hatches of blue-winged olives, pale morning duns, green and grey drakes, along with various species of stoneflies and caddisflies and the ever-present midges keep the lower Taylor’s trout well-fed and rotund.

The lower Taylor River hosts solid populations of both brown and rainbow trout, with fish exceeding 20 inches regularly caught by fly anglers throughout the entire year.  In addition to the browns and ‘bows, a few cutthroats, brookies and cutbows can be found in this trout stream as well, making the lower Taylor River an exciting place to try for the “grand slam”.  So robust a fishery is the lower Taylor that the entire fishery below Taylor Reservoir qualifies for Gold Medal status, which is the highest designation available to a Colorado fishery.  To qualify as Gold Medal water, a fishery must have 60 lbs. of trout greater than five inches in length per acre, and have at least 12 fish over 14 inches per acre.  No need to use that aquatic biology degree you struggled to get in college to realize the lower Taylor contains a mess of trout…and big ones!

While the entire lower river is phenomenal, some good water can be found in the first 5 miles above Almont.  Deeper, nymphing water is more common in the middle reaches of the lower river.  A little secret is the further you go upstream on the lower Taylor, the bigger the trout get, but that’ll be just between us.  No matter where you wet a line on the lower Taylor, you’ll experience amazing scenery and nothing short of a world-class fishery.    

Many anglers love to take on the challenge of learning for themselves, the ebbs and flows of the famous Taylor River. Fishermen and women can be successful by taking these few tips and recommendations to heart and utilizing their own fishing experiences. However, if you are looking to significantly cut down the learning curve, then hiring a professional fishing guide to show you the ropes may be a very wise option. AEI Guide and Outfitter and our professional and knowledgeable guides would be honored to show you the intimacies of our home waters on the Taylor. 

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