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Gunnison and Crested Butte Fly Fishing Report- July 12th, 2023

July Fly Fishing Is On In Crested Butte! 

This is the report you’ve been waiting for and the one we’ve been yearning to write since last summer. We’re thankful to have gotten through a long and cold spring, and the fishing is pretty damn good right now. 


All primary watersheds near Gunnison and Crested Butte are fishing well. Each stream requires unique tactics, so do your research and contact a pro if you need further beta. 

On bigger water at higher elevations (Taylor and East Rivers), fish are on the move and can be found in many areas of the river. Because flows are still high, your best chances of hooking into one will be in the softest and slowest water. On the Gunnison River, water temps have allowed trout’s metabolism to reach its prime stage. The best way to fish on the Gunnison right now is via a float trip, although some areas still offer excellent wading opportunities. 

Stream flows and water temps are fantastic on many smaller trout streams near Crested Butte, including some at higher elevations (Coal, Brush, Cement), and dry fly fishing is heating up. 

Let’s dig into the specifics of how anglers can be most successful.

Taylor River Fishing Report:

  • Fish are in all types of water and all water columns. Caddis hatches have fish looking up during the late morning/early afternoon. Stay alert for the ones feeding in the top 12-16 inches of water. If you visibly spot them, consider using an emerger pattern. 
  • If the dry fly/emerger fishing isn’t happening, fish a nymph rig, making short casts (under 15 feet). Heavy jig patterns are our preference to target fish feeding on the bottom. Remember: Short and precise casts are crucial on the Taylor River. No Brad Pitt shadow casting!
  • Wading can be challenging in spots, but with the help of a fly fishing guide, they can help you remain safe and focused on the task at hand – netting trout!
  • Best flies for the Taylor River: Elk Hair Caddis (olive, brown – 14-18), Rubber Leg Stimulator (yellow, 14-16), Spanish Bullet (olive, quill 16- 18), BWO Comparadun (16-18), Soft-Hackle Pheasant Tail (14-16).
  • Check the flows here

East River Fishing Report:

  • Flows are on the way down, and wade fishing opportunities will get better by the day, but still be super cautious when wading on the East.
  • Dry-dropper is the best approach on the East for most of the day. However, we’ve begun experiencing nice caddis and golden stonefly hatches in the afternoon/early evening.
  • Flows have dropped substantially in the past several days, with water temps reaching the low 50s by the afternoon. We expect fish to begin focusing on more realistic patterns in the coming weeks as water clarity improves and temps continue rising. 
  • Consider using soft hackle jig patterns for your droppers, to help trap some air in a nymph. CDC or other soft hackle materials help trap air near the nymph’s body and help your fly appear larger to a trout. 
  • Roaring Judy offers excellent wade fly fishing opportunities for families to fish on the ponds if stream flows are too high for your group.
  • Other public access points to the East River are beginning to fish well closer to Crested Butte. Please stop by our shop for more information on the best fly fishing on the East River. 
  • Best Flies for the East River: Psycho Price (12-16), Bead head Rubberlegs (8-12), Elk Hair Caddis (olive, brown 16-18), Bead head Pheasant Tail (14-16), Soft hackle jig patterns (12-14). 
  • Check the flows here

Gunnison River Fishing Report:

  • The most effective way to fish the Gunnison is by floating it. Flows have dropped enough that floating is now possible on all sections from Almont to Blue Mesa, and the fishing is on fire. We still have some availability for float trips throughout July, so give us a shout if you want to go!
  • The dry fly fishing is pretty damn good.. We’re seeing Green Drakes on the lower sections just above the reservoir, as well as PMDs, yellow sallies, and golden stones. Throughout the rest of the day, fish dry-dropper rigs about 3′ in length, using a Chubby Chernobyl or other big foam dry and a size 12-16 Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail or a size 14-16 Spanish Bullet in Brown or Olive.
  • Contact Dragonfly for beta on wading opportunities on the Gunnison River. It’s still tricky to cross side channels down by the Mesa, so be careful out there.
  • Best Flies for the Gunnison: KGB (killer green bug) Green Drake (10-12), Rubber Leg Stimi (yellow, 14-16), Parachute Adams (10-14) Hares Ears (14-16), Pheasant Tails (14-16), Pat’s Rubber Legs (brown/black, 6-10)
  • Check the flows here

Small Stream Fishing Report:

  • Dry-dropper fishing is most effective. The MFC Micro Chubby is one of our favorite dries for dry-dropper rigs on small creeks and beaver ponds. Stimulators of all colors in sizes 12-16 are another go to. Keep your droppers on the smaller side (16-18).
  • Single and double dry-fly action can also be particularly productive, especially where wild Brook Trout are found.
  • Many small streams haven’t been fishable until now, so most trout likely haven’t seen an artificial fly yet in 2023. Now is the time to avoid taking angling too seriously and get out for some of the best small stream fly fishing you’ll ever experience. 
  • Best flies for small streams: Micro Chubbies (14-16), Stimulators (12-16), Parachute Adams (14-18), Elk Hair Caddis (12-18), Comparadun Emerger (16-18), Barr Mayfly Emergers (16-18), Frenchie (16-18)

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.