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Telluride Fly Fishing Spots : An Overview

June 1, 2015

Telluride's fly fishing water is primarily rivers without dams, or freestones. However, the Gunnsion, Lower Dolores and the Uncompahgre are below dams and are called Tailwaters. These tailwaters hold the most and the largest fish, but the free stones are solitary and can easily out perform the tailwaters on many days. The freestone rivers ebb and flow with the snowmelt and rains and are subject to droughts and floods. Our proximate freestone fisheries start getting good around the latter third of rafting season which is usually in mid June. Our, more distant, tailwaters are good when the water coming out of the dam is low enough to not flood the structure of the fishery.

Its easiest to think of our fisheries as watersheds. Each of these watersheds has multiple creeks, and many these creeks are fishable holding small wild Brookies and Cut Throat trout. This creek fishing is spectacular with a small three weight rod. Our five watersheds are the Dolores Main Fork, the Dolores West Fork, the Gunnison, the San Miguel, and the Uncompaghe rivers. The Telluride Angler looks for clear and low flow water, and to this varies on dam releases, rain and snowfall run off. I avoid water that is muddy or at high flows, which floods the fisherers' structure.

Regarding our nearby freestones, the Dolores and West Fork of the Dolores watershed become fishable before the San Miguel watershed because the Dolores watersheds have more southern exposures which melt earlier. The Dolores has public water upstream and downstream of Rico, downstream of Bear Creek and upstream of the town of Dolores. The West Fork's public water is at the West Fork Campground and around the Burro Creek Bridge Campsite. The San Miguel has miles of public water and I focus usually on the water down stream of Placerville. This water becomes fishable below 270 CFS. You can check the San Miguel, and most local river, streamflows on this USGS link:,00060