Suited to Fishing - the Taylor River

by Karen Christopherson

If you're near Gunnison, and looking for a mountain river to flyfish in, look no further than the Taylor River. It's a perfect fit between good mountain fishing and a Colorado experience.

The Taylor starts up in the high country, traveling south past several 14'ers. It runs into Taylor Reservoir, which has a beautiful setting overlooking the Collegiate Peaks. There are seven 14'ers looming off to the east. From here, the river travels west eventually meeting up with the East and merging with the Gunnison.

taylor reservoir
Taylor Reservoir in May - terrific views of the Collegiate Peaks

Fishing the Taylor about the reservoir is a high-mountain experience. There are numerous feeder creeks and beaver ponds where one can get away from it all. If one area is too crowded or not fishing well, move on to another. Some of the beaver ponds hold incredible amounts of brookies.

That portion of the river below the dam travels through a canyon of granite walls and is filled with lodgepole pine. The river contains some large boulders, fallen from the walls above. The tailwaters right below the dam are renown for big trout (some of the largest rainbows in Colorado) who are hard to catch and like mysis shrimp. It can get a little crowded here. But, travel downstream, past the few miles of private property, and you are in fishing heaven. Efforts in recent years have really improved this part of the fishery.

taylor river tailwater colorado
Below the dam

How to get there?

From Gunnison, travel north on state hwy 135. At Almont, take the right fork, on USFS Road 742. It is 18 miles to the dam at Taylor Reservoir. There is private property (well marked) the last few miles before the public tailwaters of Taylor Reservoir. Access is available along most of the river, at campgrounds and turnouts.
large rainbow Colorado taylor tailwater
There are some awfully large rainbows in the tailwater!

Some history:

  • Gold was discovered in Taylor Park in 1859, but it wasn't until 1878 that a small settlement was formed at Tin Cup. The town of Tin Cup lies about 6 miles southeast of Taylor Reservoir. This was a mining town during the late 1800's. It was incorporated as Virginia City in 1879. However, much confusion arose as there were also towns named Virginia City in Montana and Nevada - mail was being delivered to the wrong state! In 1881, a town meeting was held and the name was changed to Tin Cup.
  • The Roberts (at Harmel's Ranch) told me that the mule trains used to bring ore down the Taylor River canyon en route to the train in Gunnison. They would stay overnite at Harmel's old ranch.
  • Almont is named after a famous Kentucky race horse. This stallion sired a horse owned by Samual Fisher. The railroad was complete to his ranch in 1881 and a town sprang up, named for the father of Mr. Fisher's horse.
  • The Taylor River and Taylor Park are named after Jim Taylor, one of the first men to discover gold in the area. Taylor Reservoir and Dam are named for U.S. Representative Edward Taylor, who lived in Glenwood Springs and helped get the reservoir built by a Congressional bill. The dam was constructed between 1935 and 1937.


Public access is prohibited from the top of Taylor Dam to 325 yards downstream. From 325 yards downstream to the upper boundary of "Sam's" private property (about 0.4 miles): fishing with artificial flies or lures only, and all fish must be returned to the water immediately. On the rest of the river, the regular Colorado DOW rules apply.

Where to stay?

There are a few resorts offering cabins near Almont. There are lots of campgrounds in the area along the river both downstream and upstream from the reservoir.


Gunnison River Colorado Click here to buy a Downloadable Digital Fishing Map for the Gunnison from the headwaters to Blue Mesa Reservoir. Includes the East and Taylor Rivers

Colorado fishing booksBuy an ebook on CD: Fifty Colorado Tailwaters: A Fly Fisher's Guide Click here for info or to purchase. Includes the Taylor tailwater

Colorado fishing mapsClick here to buy topo maps for this area. You need maps 131, 132 for the Taylor River from above Taylor Res. to Gunnison.