Enveloped by the Gunnison National Forest, “Wildflower” at Crystal Creek affords a world-class fishery featuring rainbows, browns, and cutthroats averaging 16 to 24 inches. Ranch fishing records document numerous rainbows in excess of 31 inches. Clearly, no fishing trip to Colorado is complete without fly fishing the Taylor River.
As proof of its productivity, the Taylor River currently holds two Colorado state released fish records: a rainbow trout of 40.25 inches and a Snake River cutthroat trout of 30 inches. The Taylor River is also home to some of the largest stream-born trout in the lower 48 states. Their large size is attributed to the tailwater from the Taylor Reservoir Dam providing a constant food source throughout the year, the bulk of which is protein-rich Mysis shrimp. The past three state record catch-and-release rainbows have come from the Taylor River tailwater. Successful fishermen can reasonably expect to catch 4-to-8 pound brown and rainbow trout. The possibility of attracting a 20-pound rainbow is within reason and 10-to-15 pound fish are not unheard of.
The Taylor River tailwater below the dam flows for approximately 20 miles before merging with the East River and creating the Gunnison River. After a short stretch of fairly flat water just after the dam, the river increases gradient and speed throughout upper Taylor Canyon. Beginning 6 miles below the dam, the pocket water gives way to a series of riffles, pools and runs as the river enters the ranch.
Approximately 2± miles of water on the ranch have been professionally enhanced to create improved holding water and feeding lanes for trophy trout. The fish in this section of the ranch are leaner than the Mysis-fed trout upstream on public waters. They are also significantly less educated and will strike a streamer or dry fly with abandon. In addition, Wilder on the Taylor also offers challenging small stream fishing via a 2/3-mile creek in the lower meadow, fed by diverted river water, to provide another fishing resource and spawning habitat.
In addition to the Taylor River, the ranch enjoys another 1.5 miles of Hall’s Run – a spring-creek style fishery, mere steps from “Wildflower” at Crystal Creek. Comprised of two main sections, Hall’s Run affords a spectacular timbered setting for fishing, as well as a meadow-style fishery for “spot and stalk” style. As a side-channel fishery, it produces extraordinary line-ripping trout that hide in the undercut banks and deep holding pools.
With its improved habitat work, the Taylor River and Hall’s Run offer a trout fishing experience that exists in very few places. Be on the lookout for classic riffles and deep pools, met by epic hatches and abundant natural aquatic life which create the high quality of trout that are present here.
Homeowners Association Fishing Regulations
The Homeowners Association requires that owners and guests abide by the following regulations to ensure the continued productivity of the fishery and enjoyment of all anglers.
- Fly fishing with barbless hooks and catch-and-release only.
- Each member is urged to exercise great care in the handling of all fish.
- All Colorado Fish and Game laws must be observed and obeyed at all times and shall be incorporated and become part of the Homeowners Association fishing regulations.
- An official armband must be worn at all times with each member’s lot number.
- Each member is limited to 4 rods on the river and stream at one time.
- A daily log and/or fishing report form must be completed showing the total number of fish caught, released and kept. This report must be maintained and submitted to the ranch manager at the end of the day.
- Each member is required to maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from another member while fishing.
- A member must not occupy a “hole” for any longer than 60 minutes.
- Catch-and-release daily limit of trout is a total of 20, including those fish “hooked and played” and those “landed.”
- All trout over 14 inches must be returned to the stream alive.
- The daily limit of 20, as established by the Colorado Department of Wildlife, for trout caught between 8 and 14 inches may be kept for premises consumption.
- No trophy fish are to be destroyed. If a member wishes to display a trophy mount, it must be measured, weighed and photographed. A taxidermist must prepare a replica.
- No fishing from the bridges on the property.
- Artificial feeding is prohibited.
- All members of the Homeowners Association are responsible for the behavior of their guests including strict compliance with the fishing regulations. All fishing guests must be either visiting members who are present or residing in members’ homes if members are not present.
- Pond Fishing - Armbands are not required for fishing in the two stocked ponds on the property. Fly fishing and spin fishing are allowed however, all fishing is to be done with a single barbless hook. A maximum of two fish per day can be removed. It is preferred by the Association that the fish used for on-premises consumption be taken from the ponds.
With over 1.7 million acres of pure Colorado forest and wilderness, Wildflower at Crystal Creek offers an abundance of recreational opportunities. In 1853, Capitan John Gunnison explored the area searching for a route through the mountains and over the continental divide to develop a railroad. President Theodore Roosevelt created Gunnison National Forest, originally called the Cochetopa Forest Reserve, on June 13, 1905. Also adjacent to the property is Fossil Ridge Wilderness and Recreation Management Areas. An additional 31,539 acres was completed in 1993 offering more than 22 miles of established trail systems. There are several forest access points from the ranch that are not available to the general public.
Located 7± miles upstream of the ranch is the 2,033 surface acre Taylor Park Reservoir. The lake boasts excellent year-round fishing, summer and winter activities and seasonal boating recreation. Another attractive recreation area is the Curecanti National Recreation Area, located just west of Gunnison and consisting of 41,972 total acres. This designated recreation area has three major reservoirs: the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Morrow Point Reservoir and Crystal Reservoir. Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest man-made body of water. At maximum capacity, the reservoir is 20 miles long with approximately 96 miles of shoreline. In May of 2007, a state record lake trout was caught in Blue Mesa Reservoir weighing 50.35 pounds and measuring 44.25 inches in length. Blue Mesa Reservoir is also recognized as the largest Kokanee salmon fishery in the United States.
Morrow Point is the beginning of the famous “Black Canyon” and the Crystal Reservoir is further downstream on the Gunnison River. Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs are only accessible by a designated trail system and boating is limited to hand-carried crafts and guided tours.
The Black Canyon is a geological marvel with enormous vertical walls rising to a height of 2,722 feet and stretching more than 1,500 feet at its widest point. The name “Black Canyon” is appropriately titled due to the dimensions of this natural wonder — sunlight is precious and only illuminates the canyon for a short time. The Gunnison River has carved its way through this 47.26- mile long canyon and created one of the most beautiful landmarks in the western United States. In 1933 The Black Canyon was designated a National Park.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is a short 35-minute drive from the property and is a very attractive family-friendly ski resort known for extreme skiing, offering 121 established runs, 2,775 feet of vertical drop and 300± inches of annual snowfall. Monarch Mountain, approximately a 50-minute drive east of Gunnison, boasts 350± inches of annual snowfall, 54 runs, a vertical drop of 1,170 feet and some of the best powder and tree skiing Colorado has to offer.
Directly south of Gunnison is the Dos Rios Country Club featuring a 6,535-yard 18- hole golf course stylishly intertwined with the Gunnison River. The Skyland Mountain Golf Resort at Crested Butte offers a 7,208-yard 18-hole Pete Dye championship course and the large golf school known as John Jacobs Practical Golf School.
This area is widely recognized as one of the best locations in Colorado for its tremendous wildlife and hunting opportunities. Elk, mule deer, bear, mountain lion, Merriam turkey, blue grouse and several other species of small game animals inhabit the adjacent national forest. Several of Colorado’s state record big game Pope and Young and Boone and Crockett record animals have been harvested from this area.
Habitat and migration maps furnished by the Colorado Division of Wildlife are available upon request. These maps cross-reference the location of the Wilder on the Taylor property with specific species data taken by the division of wildlife offices.