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Gunnison and Crested Butte Fly Fishing Report- May 16th, 2023

Reporter: Dan Jones

It’s runoff season in the Elk Mountains of Colorado. Freestone rivers are running fast, many streams are off-color, and it’s time to choose wisely when deciding when and where to fish.

Gunnison River Fishing Report

The Gunnison River is the beneficiary of the Taylor River and the East River, which meet in Almont, Colorado. The Taylor, which is a dam-released river below Taylor Reservoir, holds (somewhat) steady stream flows, even during runoff. The East River, however, is a freestone river, and its flows are purely dependent on natural snow melt. The Gunnison has other tributaries near town, such as Ohio Creek and Tomichi Creek, contributing to this bountiful watershed. 

The Gunnison has been bouncing between 1800 and 2500 for about a week, with its dips coming in the late evenings and during prolonged stretches of cooler temperatures. Flows over 1,800 with off-color water make the Gunnison River challenging to fish. 

When the water is high and dirty, bugs are tricky for fish to spot, making it difficult to present your fly to a trout. Therefore, we recommend oversizing nymph choices by a size or two and targeting the slowest-moving water near banks or eddies for the best chances. 

Darker-colored nymphs (black and brown) and ones with brighter attractor colors often perform better in off-color water because it provides some contrast and flash for the fish to see. 

Dead-drifting black streamers with delicate twitches and slow retrieves can also be productive when the color of the water is less transparent and moving swiftly. 

Heading into June, we expect day and night air temps to rise, contributing to an even more ferocious runoff. Flows north of 3,000 cfs (or more) will soon be expected on the Gunnison River. The river looks very different than it did this time last year. If you’re not familiar with the Gunnison at these levels, don’t plan to float.

Taylor River Fishing Report

Due to the Taylor being a dam-released river below Taylor Reservoir, its flows are more consistent the further up the river you go until you reach the dam. As you can see in the Taylor at Almont streamflow graph, flows are increasing and are more variable due to tributaries such as Spring Creek, Lottis Creek, and Cold Spring between Almont and the dam.

At the C&R, fishing has been steady, as always. However, another flow increase is scheduled this week, which will once again change how fish behave. Midges, Mysis shrimp, and, recently, BWOs are all on the table for hungry trout. 

The C&R trout buffet has begun expanding its menu!

This tailwater fishery will contain more transparent water than the freestone rivers but will also be more hazardous to wade as flows skyrocket. We advise anglers to fish cautiously with a friend and choose softer water to wade in. 

Or, if in doubt, fish from the bank during the bulk of the runoff. 

When fly fishing the Taylor River, we recommend BWO, Hares Ear, Stonefly, and egg patterns in sizes 14, 16, and 18. Trailing a size 20 tailwater midge behind larger flies such as a black beauty, RS2, or zebra midge can also be productive to catch a weary trout.

Casts should be concise and aimed towards pocket water where fish likely hold.

It’s spawning season for rainbows. Keep an eye out for redds, don’t step on them, and leave spawning fish alone!

Gunnison County Fishing Report

The remainder of Gunnison County is also in full runoff mode, and fishing conditions vary from river to river and often from week to week. Before driving an hour+ to remote lower-elevation streams, call us at 970-349-1228 for the most updated beta on fishing conditions. 

The East River has been flowing above 1,200 for about a week, which is typically too high to effectively fly fish. It’s worth noting the East River is expected to continue becoming more violent for the next several weeks. Consequently, we recommend punting on any East River fly fishing until its flows come down.

In some of the smaller tributaries of the East River and the Taylor, anglers can find medium-dark water and favorable wade-able conditions. Throwing small caddis dries with a light dropper in soft water can be enough to initiate an explosive take by a hungry trout.

Stream flows on creeks south of Blue Mesa Reservoir are more mellow than in the higher elevations near Crested Butte. We advise seeking clear to medium-dark water for the best chances to catch fish. 

Large stonefly patterns such as size 8-10 Rubberlegs, 12-14 Copper Johns, 14-16 pheasant tails, eggs, and worms are now the best go-to flies. 

Have fun, stay safe, and thanks for reading.

Team Dragonfly

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Gunnison and Crested Butte Fly Fishing Report- April 16th, 2023

Gunnison & Crested Butte Fly Fishing Report

April is here, the runoff has begun, and fishing conditions are variable as ever. 

Early spring is one of our favorite times to fly fish near Crested Butte and one of the most challenging times to find consistency from day to day. 

We like to call this lack of consistency the April Scaries

Regardless, angling is lovely due to the peaceful, uncrowded nature of being on the river. The East, the Taylor, and the Gunnison Rivers are now open for business. Further, many of the massive snow banks from the past winter are becoming less hazardous to negotiate.

And on the Gunnison town section and the lower section above Blue Mesa, some folks have begun float fishing — YES!

Nevertheless, fishing conditions are changing drastically from day to day and from week to week. 

Early April started with a bang after Crested Butte Mountain Resort closed. The sun was shining, some ice was melting, and we were finding fish in all of the predictable early-spring locations: deep runs, feeding on eggs, midges, BWOs, and the occasional brown or purple jig pattern. 

Then things changed, and they changed fast. 

Temperatures were in the 50s for several days during the second week of April, melting much of the low-altitude snow in the valley floors. On some rivers, flows bumped up by 3x-4x what they were in previous days. 

The Gunnison River in Gunnison was flowing at 250 cfs on April 10th, and by April 14th, it was flowing at 750 cfs. And dam-released flows from the Taylor River have more than doubled in the past few days, going from 88 cfs to 200 cfs. 

To top it all off, we woke up to a fresh coating of 7 inches of snow on the mid-elevation mountains on April 15th. WOW!

These dramatic shifts in weather and river flows are part of what we expect during spring in Crested Butte and Gunnison and can predictably make trout’s feeding habits less predictable. 

During the last half of April and early May, we advise anglers to follow these general guidelines to put the most trout in the net:

  1. Seek out water where flows have been the most consistent during the previous 2-3 days. This will allow trout to adapt to their version of the ‘April Scaries’ and begin actively feeding in a more predictable pattern again.
  2. Baetis nymphs, eggs, and the occasional stonefly patterns are all on the menu for hungry trout over the next 2-4 weeks. Fish them deep and use weight as necessary. 
  3. Dead-drift streamers near the bank of rivers that are blown out or have a chocolate milk appearance. When trout can’t easily detect small bugs in a drift, they may become more opportunistic and take a larger meal, such as a sculpin pattern streamer. 
  4. Dress the part and be prepared for quick changes in the weather. For more information on what we recommend to wear when fly fishing, check out this article. 

For more Colorado Fly Fishing Reports from Crested Butte and the Gunnison Area, check out our fishing reports page here. 

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Fly fishing in Colorado is one of the most memorable experiences you can do with your family or friends. At Dragonfly Anglers, we employ premier Colorado fly fishing guides who can help you make memories that last a lifetime.

For more information on how to book a guide for the best fishing in Colorado, contact us at, or (970)-348-1228

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Gunnison and Crested Butte Fly Fishing Report- March 15th, 2023

Early Season on the Taylor River

The East River is still substantially locked up in ice. Thus, this update will primarily be a Taylor River and Gunnison River Fishing Report. 

We’re not out of winter yet, but indications of spring are here! With these signs, better fly fishing opportunities have presented themselves in the Crested Butte area. It’s this time of year when we’re reminded why some of the best fly fishing in Colorado is in our own backyard. 

We’re excited, to say the least!

Before we get to the fishing, let’s talk about what this winter has provided and how it will set up the rivers for angling in 2023. 

We are currently sitting at 149% of the median snowpack in the East-Taylor river basin and around 130% of the median snowpack for the majority of western Colorado. Snowpack generally peaks in mid-April before the runoff begins. These snowpack measurements tell us, should we get consistent (or just some) snow over the next month, we can make relatively strong estimates that our rivers will be full and healthy this summer.

Ok, so let’s talk trout.

Colorado fly fishing is often overlooked in early spring or the waning weeks of winter. Fortunately, it’s one of our favorite times to target trout in the area. Most tourists are still focused on skiing, but fly fishing is one of the best things to do in Crested Butte this time of year. 

In the last week, we’ve experienced temps in the high 30s and low 40s for several days, which melted some significant portions of ice previously covering the Taylor and Gunnison rivers. As expected, trout are still in their winter patterns and continue to be concentrated in the deepest holes and runs paired with the slowest-moving water. 

Because of the warmer temps, the Gunnison and Taylor Rivers now have opportunities for fishing that haven’t existed for months. 

We urge anglers to approach late winter fishing with the following approach:

  • Dress extremely warm, with several insulated layers, even on these spring-like days. 
  • Identify the slowest, deepest sections of open water. 
  • Dead drift your flies patiently and accurately in only the best zones. 

Trout fishing in the winter is different from the rest of the year because most fish are concentrated in one area, making it easier to identify where to target them. However, it is more challenging because trout are less willing to move far to find a decent meal. This means drifts must be precise, and your flies will often require weight to get them deep.

For tips on how to cast your flies to a winter trout, or further advice on how to dress for winter fly fishing, stop by our shop at 307 Elk Avenue, downtown Crested Butte. Or call us at 970-349-1228 for inquiries on a guided fly fishing trip on the Taylor or Gunnison Rivers. 

Looking ahead, we are hopeful for more above-freezing temperatures for the remaining days of March into early April. By May, we’ll be excited to get into the Gunnison Gorge for canyon fly fishing goodness! 

Stay tuned for our next Gunnison Valley Fly Fishing Report. 

Thanks for reading,

Team Dragonfly

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Our favorite rig this time of year:

  • 9-foot, 5-weight Scott G-Series from Scott Fly Rods
  • Ross Reels 4/5 Colorado Reel paired with an Airflo Superflo Ridge 2.0 Tactical Taper fly line
  • 9-foot 5x tapered Leader of your choice
  • San Juan Worm above an RS2, weighted appropriately to get your flies deep. 

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About Dragonfly Anglers

Since 1983, Dragonfly Anglers has been a premier fly fishing resource in Crested Butte and the Gunnison valley. We employ world-class Colorado fly fishing guides and have a wealth of knowledge on how you can experience your dream fly fishing vacation. 

Our fly shop carries only the best angling gear from Scott Fly Rods, Ross Reels, Fishpond, Patagonia, and more! For information and tips on the best fishing in Colorado, contact us at

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