Telluride Fishing Report

Fishing Conditions

Fishing Report April 3, 2024

It is almost time to put the downhill gear away for the season with less than a week until closing day on Sunday the 7th. I got some good days on the hill, more skiing with loved ones and old friends that made it for me, but luck laid a handful of powder days in my lap. Closing weekend is a big time around here. The infamous KOTO Street Dance is Friday and the biggest party of the year is Sunday for closing day. I hope to see y’all there. The fly shop is closed on Monday the 8th for annual recovery, but we’re open every day through the offseason, 9-5.

Spring weather brings a little bit of everything around here and you can experience the full spectrum in the span of an hour. This is my favorite time of year to fish. There are too many factors to list, but in a nutshell, the fish have been cold and lethargic with not a whole lot to eat or do over the winter and they haven’t seen many flies during that time. Their metabolism kicks in and their inhibitions are low until they get settled into the Spring pattern, pre-runoff. That time is right now and everything, aside from the creeks, is fishing.

The summer is setting up just right regarding water. SNOTEL gauges across our basins are at one hundred percent of average, with the median peak day landing within a week of today’s date.  All of this means that we are right at average.  Average is good. We get a bulk of our snow water equivalent from around March 15 to June 1, so there is a lot to be determined in the next few weeks, but right now we are on a good course.


San Miguel

Flows are 80 cfs, the ice is off the river, and it is just before the river and her banks get that burgeoning look of Spring. Air temperatures in the San Miguel canyon have been dipping down to 20 degrees at night and rising into the mid 50s on the sunny days. Typical Spring weather right now, some mixed precipitation, some sunny days and coldish nights warming up during the day. Fish during the warmest part of the day and be on the noon patrol, rather than dawn patrol. Follow the path of the sun on the water and look for spots that are in the sunlight or the sun has just left. Don’t linger too long in the shade. The San Miguel is fishing from Telluride to below the Norwood bridge. The valley floor has a decent amount of snow making access still a little testy. Small dries and droppers will work the best in town as the chair lifts wind down. A Parachute Adams or caddis with a Zebra Midge is all you need. Don’t be surprised if even the small trout prove illusive until you dial it in. They are wise in the low, clear water.  The upper river between the South Fork and Placerville is your best nymph water during the warm window of the day, but don’t overlook a dry dropper in this stretch, especially with a little sun on the water. Pat’s Rubber legs, San Juans, eggs and larger Prince nymphs are good large nymph choices. Smaller sub surface flies should be around #18 to #22 and keep them dark and/or bright. A little loudness in a small package is a good combination in the Spring.

Below Placerville is where I expect to have the best fishing and I’m fishing a simple dry dropper. Use a larger dry for floatation with a bigger nymph, but a bushy #16 with a #18 dropper is a great searching combination. Neversink Caddis, small Chubbies, #14 Stimulators, #12 Bugmeisters or PMX and #14 Parachute Adams are some of my favorite dries. #18 Doubledowns, #16 Rainbow Warriors, #18 Jiggy JJ nymph, #16 and #18 Prince and Psycho Prince, #18 Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear, #18 Soft Hackle PT, #18 Perdigon-style Euro jigs. Pat’s Rubber Legs #8 through #12 black or brown are always winners. Fish these below a large Chubby with a small dropper off the Pat’s if you really need to catch them without the bobber. Small buggers in olive and black and little flashy streamers can be a lot of fun too. Fishing will remain good until runoff begins in earnest, usually in the middle of May. Warmer days and stretches of warmer days will offer the best fishing on the San Miguel.



The gauge is registering at Rico, a good sign indicating the river has thawed its way through the winter ice. It’s flowing 24 cfs at Rico and 64 cfs in the town of Dolores. The water above Rico is close to ready for initial annual exploration, but a little bit more water melting and flowing into the upper D will help. It’s still snowy up there. The fishing will improve as you get closer to the town of Dolores. You will do better with a nymph rig on the Dolores this time of year. Look for long slow runs with some depth and fish it slow and carefully. Big rainbows and cuttbows running up from the lake are the most hopeful targets. Spring is short on both the Miguel and Dolores. The window on the Dolores is a little shorter as the river seems to wait to thaw out and then does so in a hurry. Runoff usually starts around the end of April and by mid-June on a normal year we’re starting to fish the Dolores. Pat’s Rubber Legs, San Juan Worms, egg patterns and streamers are best for early inquiries on the Dolores. Start looking closer to the town of Dolores, working your way upriver as the weather warms before true runoff.



Flows at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk are 45 cfs and steady, been that way for the winter, and the usual patterns at PaCo are still present. Tailwater midge nymphing to the educated trout, a free for all when new recruits arrive until they wise up. A little red thread midge has been the go-to fly when nothing else seems to work. Pink beaded point flies have come into favor the past year. A heavy sow-bug-looking-thing with a pink tungsten bead gets the little fly down with little or no split shot. Midges will bring more fish up on the warmer days until they begin to bump the flows. The Gunnison Tunnel is releasing 550 cfs back into the Unc so the Montrose town water dynamic has changed with more water through town and more room for those fish to spread out and get comfortable.



I wish I was fishing the Lower today. I wish it most days, but coming off a good float this weekend makes the feeling especially acute. I had the whole day and a forecast that told me to get it while I could, because the W was slated to make a grand appearance and linger like a leaky wader bootie, ever worsening. We found the fish rising where I expected. They were eating BWOs and they were eating them well. We stopped and worked rising fish where the wind allowed, picking up the anchor only after we had exhausted their interest. Eventually the wind became the dominant theme and I knew our time picking out noses would devolve to a grunty row into the teeth of the party crasher. We kept the streamer in the water with enough interest to justify running it, but with a middling response overall. Only one surprise eat on the streamer, every other eat came from the nastiest, tightest lair tucked away tight as a holed up gopher with a hawk overhead. We each landed a nice fish on the streamer and we each lost our biggest fish of the day on the streamer. It was one of those days where every pattern change seemed to get an eat, but no two fish found the net with the same streamer. One fish was caught on the trout Spey rod in the one run that we swung, good numbers in my book. It was too windy to justify swinging the best runs later in the day, but with every indication that they are ready to play when the weather allows.

Our streamer fishing reminded me that you need to be constantly working to match your offering to meet the mood. If you aren’t satisfied with the feedback you’re receiving, keep changing. I change my presentation first (how I strip my fly and which lies I target), my color second and the size third. If I work through this whole progression and I’m coming up blank, they either aren’t on it that day, or I will go back to the beginning with a historic confidence fly. There is a lot of big fish hope inherently in the streamer. If the wind is honking, I will keep fishing the streamer and hoping until the call is made to push for the ramp.

The single blue wing olive was the best play, and we didn’t fish anything fancy. A cripple and an extended body on 5X with a long leader and a 5-weight built to handle some wind. We never tied a nymph on and never felt the need to fish a dry dropper, although you would have done well with a small BWO leading up to the meat of the hatch.

April should remain very good with more BWOs on the overcast days and some caddis showing on sunnier days. In my mind this is a “fish everyday” time of year. Nice weather will warm everything up and get the fish and bugs moving around. Cloudy, overcast weather will support stronger baetis hatches. The North Fork is at 227cfs right now and putting off just a tinge of color in the upper mile or so. The main branch is running 520 cfs below the Gunnison Tunnel at the East Portal of the Gunnison. Water temperatures downstream at Delta are ranging between 40 and 49 degrees Fahrenheit this week. Fishing should be steady and really good through April provided the North Fork behaves. May will see the fish transition to stonefly nymphs and the North Fork rise. Fingers crossed we get a “normal” high water release, but I will take a scheduled one that adheres to that schedule. The time to start wandering into the Gorge is now and the National Park will come soon. Be listening for the Portal to open and the South Rim road in the National Park for access to the river.


West End San Miguel County

Gurley Reservoir remains frozen, all the way frozen in fact. I give it another two weeks until the ice is off, but that is merely a guess. Fishing access becomes legal on Gurley May 15.  I expect the fishing to be very good up there this year after the high water last year. Stay tuned for more on this one and get your dates on the books for Gurley Creek in June. It is truly some of the best trout fishing anywhere in the short window it occurs.

Miramonte is free of ice on the entire reservoir. I heard that it was mostly ice free about 10 days ago, but I went to lay eyes on it yesterday. I laid some line down too. They were willing to play, but they weren’t throwing themselves at the fly. Most of my fish came from careful observation and precise casting at fish sign. Blind area casting produced one fish and I felt like my fly wasn’t being seen. When it was seen, it was eaten. It was overcast, snowy, rainy, sunny, hailing and alternating between windy and gusty. I saw a few fish eat in the surface film, but couldn’t tell you what they were after. The shore mud is softer and a bit more sinky than in recent years, but the overall feel of Miramonte was much more familiar than last year. My sense is that the fish population is trending towards fewer fish overall, but larger fish. Bring your foul weather gear and a fly rod that doesn’t mind the wind.  If you come tight with one, I bet you’ll be happy you endured.


Cheers y’all,

Richard Post

Buyer and Guide, Telluride Angler