Taylor River Monsters

July 29, 2009 by Will Leave a reply »


If you are a Rocky Mountain fly fisherman and you enjoy catching monster-sized trout, the Taylor River in Colorado should be near the top of your list of rivers to visit.  Unlike most Rocky Mountain rivers where anglers dream of a 20-inch trophy fish, anglers on the Taylor have thoughts of  30+ inch fish, with a 40-inch fish landed several years ago.

These trout receive a steady diet of freshwater mysis shrimp which are the equivalent of steroids to fish.  The shrimp were originally planted in the Taylor Park Reservoir to help grow the trout contained in the reservoir but there was a immediate benefit to the tailwater below.  Mysis shrimp reside near the bottom of Taylor Park Reservoir and some get flushed out into the tailwater.  This creates an all you can eat buffet of dead or stunned shrimp for the trout below.  The mysis shrimp diet  leads to some of the largest and most brilliantly colored trout in North America.


These trophy fish can be taken using a variety of fly fishing methods.  This is another fantastic quality of the Taylor which contrasts most Rocky Mountain rivers.  Most often when targeting the largest fish in the river, mostly trophy browns, the only productive method of fishing is stripping large ugly streamers with sinking or sink tip lines.  With experience in both methods I can tell you that catching trophy fish on dry flies is a much more rewarding experience.  One of the more popular methods is the use of a mysis shrimp nymph, an imitation of the trouts main food source.  Other very small size 18-22 nymphs such as pheasant tails, hare’s ear, copper johns, and various midges get the job done during low water when the shrimp are not as available to the fish.  The green drake hatch in July has all of the largest fish looking up for the huge mayflies.  These fish are very picky and anglers find it necessary to use very long leaders and go down to 5X and often 6X fluorocarbon tippet to get a take.  Use of such light tackle means that the fun has just begun at the hookup, landing fish requires expert ability and a lot of luck.


The trout pictured were taken from the Taylor by several of my co-workers on a recent trip to the Taylor.  The large rainbow to the left was taken early in the morning on a stonefly dry.  The cold water likely prevented the fish from breaking off in the logjam pictured in the background.  The long skinny brown pictured was spotted nymphing near the bank.  The angler drifted his dry dropper combo over the fish several time with no takes.  At this point the dry fly indicator was removed and on the first drift the angler saw the fish take the nymph and set the hook New Zealand-style by sight.  The third fish, a 28 inch rainbow was taken on a nymph and put up the hardest fight of any fish landed on the trip.  The largest fish  is the 30 inch cutbow pictured twice below.  Several offerings, dries, nymphs, emergers, etc., were drifted by the fish with refusal but the cutbow finally took a large bright streamer stripped though his feeding zone.

guide-30-inch-cutbow john-t-30-inch-cutbow

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One Response

  1. Mackeran says:

    Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.

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