San Miguel: Among the last free flowing rivers, the San Miguel is Telluride’s backyard gem, a stream where the angler enjoys all of the natural components of trout fishing. Water levels and temperatures are in constant flux as snowmelt, rain and sun influence the streamflow. The San Miguel possesses a rare diversity of aquatic insects which hatch throughout the year, including many species of caddis, stoneflies, mayflies and midges. We have over 20 miles of high quality public water downstream from Telluride, so our guides move freely, potentially fishing several sections of the river in a day. Noted for natural beauty and feisty trout that eat dry flies, our beloved San Miguel is a gifted fly fishing classroom. [FISHING REPORT]
Dolores: We fish every reach of the lovely Dolores, a river that may be characterized as many in one. Divided from the San Miguel by Lizard Head Pass, we’re on the headwaters in just 25 minutes from Telluride. The main Dolores offers over 40 miles of public and private access, augmented by the West Fork, Lower Dolores and countless alpine creeks where wild trout and solitude reward the wandering angler. [FISHING REPORT]
Uncompahgre: The Uncompahgre tailwater flows north from Ridgway Reservoir, approximately one hour by car from Telluride. Predictable flows, constant water temperatures and abundant aquatic insects make the Uncompahgre an excellent dry fly fishery in summer and a uniquely productive winter fishery. Here, we take a more technical approach than on the San Miguel or Dolores. The Uncompahgre’s heavy trout require stealthy presentations and exact fly imitations, an excellent opportunity to practice the timeless art of match-the-hatch fly fishing. [FISHING REPORT]
Gunnison: The Lower Gunnison offers a classic western float through remote high desert on one of the richest trout rivers in the Southern Rockies. Hatches range from the giant Pteronarcys Californicus stonefly to the diminutive Tricorythodes mayfly, a food spectrum surpassed by no river in Colorado that keeps trout rising and anglers reaching for their fly boxes. The Lower Gunnison is located 2 hours by car from Telluride, but well worth the long day trip for the experienced angler who seeks a first class float that remains off the radar for most fly fishers. [FISHING REPORT]
Miramonte Reservoir: Miramonte offers one of the highest quality fly fishing experiences in our region, a stillwater with impressive hatches and unmatched sight fishing opportunities. From late April through November, we fish Miramonte on foot and by driftboat for rainbows, browns and cutthroats that may exceed 20”. Dry flies and streamers are primary techniques at Miramonte, so it’s a great place to practice your cast with the potential reward of a trophy trout. [FISHING REPORT]
Stalk trophy trout in unique solitude! Telluride Outside holds 8 exclusive guiding leases on the Dolores and San Miguel rivers, plus Gurley Creek, Fish Creek and more. Please review our "Private Water Menu" for a complete list of exclusive locations.
Camp Caddis for kids
Hosted by Telluride Outside on the magical rivers of Southwest Colorado, Camp Caddis inspires and educates young people in the captivating sport of fly fishing. This week-long camp for kids aged 8-14 is typically scheduled in late July when our rivers are low and easily accessible. Camp Caddis is the pride of our summer season!
Winter Fly Fishing
The Uncompahgre River is noted for high quality winter fly fishing. Sight fishing for heavy rainbows, browns and cutthroat trout is a compelling experience for beginners and experts alike, so if you're in Telluride to ski, take a break to fish!
Telluride Outside is proud to book destination fly fishing travel on both a hosted and non-hosted basis to many of the finest international fisheries, including Christmas Island, various lodges on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, the Bahamas, Alaska, British Columbia, the Amazon, the Seychelles and the outstanding trout lodges of Patagonia.
Fly fishing equipment for Telluride
- 9’ 5-weight: most versatile fly rod for SW Colorado, including stillwaters and larger rivers such as the Gunnison
- 8’6”-9’ 4-weights: local’s favorite for the San Miguel and Dolores, both medium sized wade fishing rivers
- 6’-7’6” 2&3-weights: highly recommended for fishing Telluride’s famous alpine creeks
- 10’6” 3-weight: best choice for Euro nymphing on the San Miguel and Dolores rivers
Machined reels with adjustable drag systems are recommended for all local waters except alpine creeks, where click-and-pawl style reels provide sufficient drag.
We fish floating lines on all local waters except potentially a designated sink-tip streamer line for the Gunnison River.
Breathable chest waders are the best choice for the Telluride region. We often “wet wade” from late June through mid-August, but anglers are advised to bring or rent chest waders throughout the season because weather conditions are notorious for changing quickly here in the mountains.
Felt soles remain the preference of local anglers because the San Miguel is a slippery little river, especially in summer when aquatic vegetation grows on the rocks. For those who prefer rubber soles, wear boots with new treads. Cleats and studs are not particularly recommended on these rivers due to streambed impact. Anglers floating the Lower Gunnison are advised that studs are not allowed in driftboats.
Wear thin long underwear or lightweight pants for use with chest waders. Wet-wading anglers are advised to wear lightweight long pants for protection against brush and insects. Fast-drying longsleeve shirts are recommended for summer fishing, along with a decent shade hat and potentially a Buff for face and neck protection. Fall and winter anglers should dress for the season with heavier fleece layers. Spring, summer and fall anglers should bring a rain jacket and winter anglers should consider a nice, warm puffy jacket along with an insulated beanie.
Winter anglers, please read [Winter Trout Fishing: Techniques and Apparel Strategy]
The following core items are available for rent at Telluride Angler for both guided and DYI anglers.
- Fly rod and reel: generally 9’ 5-weights with appropriate reels and weight forward floating lines.
- Waders and boots: high quality breathable waders (generally Simms or Patagonia) with traction soled wading boots from Simms, Patagonia or Redington.
- Boots and neoprene socks: for wet wading
Fly Fishing Pricing
|Half Day Walk & Wade||$360||$440||$610|
|Half Day Walk & Wade Uncompahgre||$395||$480||$660|
|Full Day Walk & Wade||$525||$625||$750|
|Full Day Walk & Wade Lower Dolores||$580||$695||$775|
|Full day Walk & Wade Uncompahgre||$550||$660||$775|
|Full day Lower Gunnison float||$740||$795|
*3/1 guest-to-guide ratio is recommended only for advanced anglers and only bookable by phone
- Fly rod, reel, waders, and boots ($60 per person)
- Fly rod & reel ($30 per person)
- Waders & boots ($30 per person)
- Wading boots and neoprene socks ($15 per person)
FAQs/advice from our experts
Is this your first guided trip with Telluride Outside? Here is a little more on what to expect during your adventure. Please keep in mind that no two trips are the same!
Half day itinerary
8:00am (or 1:30pm): your guide will pick you up at your lodge or meet you at a prearranged location. Friendly introductions are typically followed by sharing information about the fishing experience and objectives of your party members.
8:10-8:30: drive to a location of your guide’s choosing
8:30-9:00: put on wading equipment, casting instruction
9:00-11:30: catch and release fly fishing with professional, hands-on instruction. If fishing with multiple guests, everyone fishes in close proximity with the guide sharing time.
11:30-noon: change into street clothes and return to your lodge
Full day itinerary
8:30am: your guide will pick you up at your lodge or meet you at a prearranged location. Friendly introductions are typically followed by sharing information about the fishing experience and objectives of your party members.
8:40-9:40: drive to the specific private water destination or first location of the day on public water
9:40-10:00: put on wading equipment and hit the river
10:00-12:30: morning fishing, often heavy on instruction
12:30-1:15: break for a streamside lunch, provided by your guide (lunch time varies greatly)
1:15-4:30: catch and release fly fishing with your guide(s) splitting time between party members. Guides sometimes change locations at lunch or between fishing intervals throughout the day.
4:30-5:30: return to Telluride.
Absolutely. Our guides and rivers are beginner friendly! The San Miguel and Dolores are wade fishing rivers, ideal for instruction.
Half-day trips offer a quality learning experience for beginners and the opportunity for experienced anglers to make an efficient strike on water close to Telluride. Full day trips considerably expand the playbook, allowing access to all four rivers in the region, including our private water leases, most of which lie outside the ½ day zone. From a teaching and learning standpoint, we often find that a morning of instruction pays off with an afternoon of catching fish.
Parties of 3 should book 2 guides unless: a) all three anglers are experienced enough to fish independently from the guide and mobile enough to negotiate a rocky streambed in forested terrain, or b) one of the guests isn’t fishing, like a parent who is accompanying children. The additional guide doubles the instruction quotient and significantly improves mobility. Also, our trips are priced to incentivize hiring the 2nd guide.
We float the Lower Gunnison River, approximately 2 hours north from Telluride. This trip is highly recommended for experienced anglers but a challenging scenario for beginners. The San Miguel, Dolores and Uncompahgre are wading rivers more suited for inexperienced anglers.
We fish year-around in Telluride. In December, January and February, we guide the Uncompahgre River, which provides consistently suitable conditions. In November, March and April, all of our rivers are generally fishable. Winter fly fishing is recommended for all skill levels, including beginners!
A 9’ 5-weight will cover all of the water in this region, but locals mostly fish 4-weights from July-September on the San Miguel and Dolores. If you own a short 3-weight, make sure to bring it during the summer months for alpine creeks. If you plan to fish the Gunnison, 5 & 6-weights are most suitable.
Wet wading is popular from late June through mid-August, but watch the weather forecast because a sunny morning can turn into a wet, cool afternoon. Upon request, we’re happy to provide neoprene socks for anglers who prefer not to wear full waders.
On these mountain rivers, the non-angler can’t really see the action or follow along without being a full participant. Non-anglers are welcome to accompany the excursion but are advised to provide independent transportation.
If you are 16 or older, you need a Colorado fishing license! 1-day, 5-day and season licenses are available online from Colorado Division of Wildlife or visit Telluride Angler to acquire a license in person. Make sure to bring your license with you for fishing. If you don't receive the license in time for your trip, please bring a screen shot of your license confirmation.