Posted on

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~