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Gunnison and Crested Butte Fly Fishing Report- June 25th, 2023

Fishing conditions in the area are changing & improving daily, use the links below to check streamflows as they may have dropped considerably since this report was published, or call the shop at (970)-349-1228 for the most up to date conditions.

Willow Creek on 6.20.23- Photo Credit- Dan Jones

We’re confident that the Gunnison River Basin is currently experiencing peak flows, meaning the best time for fishing near Crested Butte is rapidly approaching.

During a year when we experience an average snow-pack, peak flows generally begin to decline in mid-June, making late June and early July perfect for fly fishing. We believe we are about 3 weeks behind that schedule this year, and the year’s best fly fishing near Crested Butte will begin sometime in early July. 

The valley’s primary watersheds, discussed below, have experienced a bump in flows, followed by a dramatic drop in flows over the past seven days, resulting in complex fishing conditions. 

Trout are feeding, but the challenge lies in naturally presenting an artificial fly through deep, fast, and off-color water.

This fishing report shows that most of our primary trout streams are not producing exceptional fishing results. Thus, we’ve offered great alternatives for better fly fishing during peak runoff. 

East River Fishing Report

The East has been bumpin’ with flows north of 1,200 cfs for several days. These flows are too aggressive for most anglers to fly fish successfully. We advise waiting to fish on the East River until flows have dropped to around 1,000 cfs or lower, likely in early July. 

We advise casting from dry land with precise drifts through soft water near the banks if you’re inclined to fish the East before optimal flows arrive. One of the best ways to get these drifts is via a contact-nymphing method (aka Euro Nymphing). 

Dragonfly Anglers employs several contact-nymphing experts, including long-time local and Dragonfly Guide, Jim Garrison. Please call or stop by our Crested Butte fly shop to learn more about a guided fly fishing trip with one of our professionals.

There is no streamflow gauge for the East River near the ghost town of Gothic. However, we put our eyes on it this week and can attest that it is not ready for angling. 

Alternatives to Fishing on the East River: The Roaring Judy Ponds are great for fly fishing near Crested Butte and the East River. The ponds contain numerous stocked trout and are a family-friendly fly fishing destination during high streamflow years. 

We recommend gently floating a size 12-16 elk hair caddis across the surface toward feeding trout. A light caddis or mayfly emerger pattern can be dropped 12-15 inches below the dry fly to help entice a fish feeding subsurface.

Taylor River Fishing Report

Below the dam, water has dependably been released at approximately 475 cfs since May 24th. Due to the Taylor’s several tributaries between the dam and its confluence with the East River, flows near Almont have bounced between 900 and 1,100 since the beginning of June.

Because of these high steam flows, fly fishing on the Taylor River is substantially not recommended unless you’re fishing at the C&R.

Alternatives to Fishing on the Taylor River in the Canyon: The Catch & Release (C&R) section of the Taylor is fishing well, with trout feeding on rubberlegs, midges, worms, Mysis, and the occasional streamer pattern. 

Be patient, be mindful of others, and bring your technical fly fishing skills when fishing on the C&R.

For a more relaxed and less crowded angling experience, we recommend fly fishing on Willow Creek, about 3 miles above the Taylor Reservoir Dam. 

Worms, perdigons, and smaller soft hackle nymphs have been the most productive. The water clarity in Willow is high, resulting in fish being easily spooked. Use stealthy approaches, always cast upstream, and provide yourself cover from the fish by casting from areas with turbulent water between you and the zone trout are feeding in. 

Gunnison River Fishing Report

Anglers can now find productive fly fishing on the Gunnison River by targeting the slowest seams coming off eddies. An indication of where trout are feeding are bubble lines where they feel they have cover from predators. 

Find the foam, then find the fish.

Larger patterns and attractors remain the best fly choice on the Gunnison. Rubberlegs, worms, and size 12-14 soft-hackle jig patterns are the best way to capture a fish’s attention. We recommend nymphing the fishiest areas with plenty of weight and long tippets to get your flies deep. 

If you are fishing with flies that don’t have enough weight, try using a drop shot technique. Stop by Dragonfly Anglers to chat with an experienced guide to learn how to use drop shot in your system. 

*** NOTE: The Upper Gunnison from Almont to the whitewater park in town is still too high to float. Visit our last fishing report for more information on the dangers of floating this section when stream flows are too high. ***

As peak flows progress over the coming days (and maybe weeks), we advise anglers to review the current streamflow reports from the USGS here before launching your boat for a float trip. 

We expect conditions on the lower Gunnison (currently floatable) to change daily as air temperatures climb and snow continues to melt. We have been offering guided float trips on the Lower Gunnison for the past few weeks, and we expect conditions to improve daily as flows decrease. 

Please call us at 970-349-1228 for more detailed information on fishing the Gunnison River. 

Alternatives to Fishing on the Gunnison River: Small, lower-elevation creeks have begun to hit their stride, with more favorable fishing conditions and trout eagerly taking artificial flies. In most instances, a hopper-dropper setup allows anglers to target fish feeding subsurface, on the surface, or both. 

We recommend a size 10-16 Chubby as the dry fly and a mayfly or caddis imitation for the dropper in sizes 14-18. Soft-hackle jig patterns are a versatile and popular fly for this type of fishing. 

If the water is muddy or off-color, we recommend sizing up on your fly choice and using black, dark brown, or purple-colored imitations. 

Since the small trout streams remain fuller than in an average year, the use of heavier flies or weight is crucial to get nymphs in front of a fish. 

A few of the smaller creeks near Crested Butte include:

  • Spring Creek
  • Willow Creek
  • Tomichi Creek

If you are unfamiliar with these waters, we advise anglers to hire a guide to show you the public access points and the best sections of the river for angling. 

You can contact us at 970-349-1228 or stop by the shop located at 307 Elk Ave in downtown Crested Butte for more information on guided fly fishing trips near Crested Butte and Gunnison.

Thanks for reading,

Team Dragonfly

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Dragonfly Anglers is a premier Colorado fly shop based out of beautiful Crested Butte. We specialize in guide services and retail sales of fly rods, reels, tackle, and Crested Butte-themed merchandise. We are an authorized dealer of Scott Fly Rods, Ross Reels, and other foremost fly fishing brands. 

Stop by our shop today to visit with a local fly fishing expert.