It’s ski season, but winter fly fishing in Colorado goes on all year long. On the Taylor River near Almont, Colorado, there will typically be frozen sections but there are pockets of open water here and there. During big snow years, snow shoes may be required to access the river in some areas. The well known “catch and release,” or “C&R” section of the river just below the dam, stays open to fishing all year. The five flies listed here are my solid go-to’s, for winter fishing.
Miller’s D-Midge, sizes 18-20
The D-Midge is a go-to pattern for me at the Catch and Release section of the Taylor River. This pattern was designed and tested by Dennis Miller, Fly Shop Manager at Willowfly Anglers, and master fly tier. I like to run the D-Midge as a lead fly in red, especially on cloudy days when there isn’t much of a hatch going on. On sunny, warmer winter afternoons, I like to fish the D-Midge in grey or black. This pattern will produce well into the summer months too, since midges are always on the menu in most trout streams.
Charlie’s Mysis, Sizes 16-18
The Taylor River is pretty well known for its Mysis Shrimp, and for good reason. These small crustaceans have created some monster trout over the years. I will fish Charlie’s Mysis outside of hatch times, particularly in low-light conditions. Some of the best fishing I’ve had at the C&R was on this fly right at dusk or when a large cloud temporarily covered the sun. This is a pattern you should have in your box at all times when fishing the Taylor River.
Barr’s Flashback Emerger, Sizes 18-22
This is a go-to terminal fly for me year-round at the Catch and Release. The small profile of this fly along with a subtle wing and tail and a hint of flash make it the perfect meal for selective tailwater trout. When fished behind a red midge or Mysis Shrimp, the Barr’s Emerger often seals the deal on fish that just won’t commit to eating anything else.
Craven’s (or Charlie’s) Mole Fly, Sizes 18-24
Wintertime can offer up some excellent dry fly fishing, you just have to be there at the right time. When fish start sipping, the Mole Fly is a deadly pattern that most tailwater fish cannot resist. I like to fish it 12” to 16” behind a size 18 Parachute Adams so I can see my drift. Since the wing of the Mole Fly is CDC, be sure to apply a powder desiccant, such as Frog’s Fanny, to the wing of the fly only.
Flashback Pheasant Tail Slim, Sizes 20-24
No list of must-have flies would be complete without the pheasant tail. This fly should be in every angler’s box year round. In winter the PT can imitate midges, BWO’s, and stoneflies, making it a very versatile pattern and a great starting fly on any given day.
About the Author
Patrick Blackdale is the Assistant Outfitting Manager, and a fly fishing guide at Three Rivers Resort in Almont, Colorado. He guides on all of the local rivers including the Gunnison, Taylor, and East Rivers. Three Rivers Resort is the perfect base camp for a variety of fishing adventures. The resort offers cabins, lodge rooms, and vacation homes plus a full fly shop and Orvis Endorsed guide service with premium leases for private fishing on local ranch lands. Contact at 970-641-1303 or www.3riversresort.com.