Colorado Expedition Part II: The Taylor River

This is the second post in the Colorado Expedition series that cover my recent trip to Colorado this past mid-August. I know it’s a little slow in the coming but…well real life sometimes gets in the way of cyberlife. In the first post, Colorado Expedition Part I: The Fryingpan River, I related a bit about my time on the Fryingpan River.

After our time on the Fryingpan we drove east through the mountains, over the continental divide and into the Taylor River Valley. It was a beautiful, scenic drive.

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The Taylor River is located in the Gunnison River drainage in the northern part of the southwest quadrant of Colorado. It flows 20 miles from the Taylor Park Reservoir to Almont where it meets the East river to form the Gunnison. There is scattered posting along the river – but there are many long stretches on public lands that are open to fishing. Access is not difficult – Route 742 out of Almont follows the river all the way to the reservoir. There are numerous Gunnison National Forest campgrounds along the river, which provide great base camps from which to explore.

campgrounds

We stayed at the Granite Campground. The campground is located across Rt. 742 from the Taylor River. The river in this area is beautiful water full of pools and pockets. Do not forget your wading staff. The heavy current with rounded boulders and cobbles of all sizes create some of the most difficult wading that I have ever done. Although the river is never far from the road, the scenery along the water is beautiful and the road is often far enough away so that it is not visible.
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So How’s the Fishing?
The fishing was good. After the finicky trout of the Fryingpan, it was a nice change to fish the lower Taylor River (the upper section is another story). Though not jumping on the hook with abandon, fish were willing to come from the depths of deep pockets and runs to take attractor patterns. Royal trudes, elk hair caddis, parachute drakes, stimis all accounted for fish.
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Maybe nymphing would have produced more fish, but the older I get the more I enjoy fishing dries. Casting a dry fly is just so much fun – it is what the fly rod was designed to do after all. The sport is called fly fishing and not nymph fishing. I’m not a dry fly snob though – but I’ll try dries first and resort to nymphs and streamers when it becomes apparent that the dries aren’t doing it. It hasn’t always been that way but I’ve tangled enough nymph and split-shot rigs to last a lifetime, and if I can avoid that…well so much the better.

In addition to the general action with attractors, we did run into a nice hatch of PMDs in the afternoon, along with a pool full of rising fish.

The Upper Taylor River
The upper stretch of the river, right below Taylor Reservoir has a different nature than the lower river described above. It is smooth water with plenty of visible trout. You can definitely do some sight fishing for large trout up in this section. The mysis eaters grow large and chunky – the largest trout in Colorado live here.

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We got lucky the first evening – there was a great hatch of midges with loads of rising trout. That’s not to say that I caught many, actually I haven’t been schooled so badly in a long time. Surrounded by rising fish I got only the occasional hook-up. Across the stream from me a pair of anglers caught one after another, many were nice heavy fish. It was humbling.

It was obvious we didn’t have the right fly (it couldn’t have been lack of skill). It wasn’t going to happen again though – back at the campground the next morning fly tying equipment came out (thanks to Larry). Tiny midge emergers were the ticket. It was going to be great tonight, I could just see the fish we were going to catch. It is a great story; get schooled, go back to camp tie the right fly, get back on the water, catch tons of fish. Except, nature didn’t cooperate. This evening – there were no midges! How could this happen? The water was dead, with no risers. Just when you think you have it figured out – you realize that you don’t.
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