Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The East River, Colorado
The East River flows south from Emerald Lake to Almont
where, with the help of the Taylor River, it forms the
Gunnison River. Emerald Lake is near Crested Butte in
Colorado's high country. This stream has some excellent
dry fly fishing and plenty of aquatic insect hatches. Fly
fishing the East River provides a diverse opportunity for
catching several different species of fish.
From the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery downstream for a
mile, the East River is Wild Trout Stream. This area is
not far above its junction with the Taylor River. The
hatchery raises fish for other locations.
In addition to trout the East River also has Kokanee
Salmon. Fishing for these is catch and release only.
They make a run every fall from Blue Mesa Reservoir to
the hatchery where they were born. These are hard
fighting fish that average from one to three pounds.
These salmon start dropping eggs in late September.
That starts some great trout fishing. The trout really
concentrate on the eggs. The trout also feed on the
decaying salmon when they die.
There's only about a mile and a half of public water on
this river. This area is Wild Trout Water - Fly fishing
only. There's some private property on the river that can
be fished, provided you use an outfitter that has rights
to the property.
Although the public access is limited, due to the large
amount of other water anglers can fish within the same
general area, the East River usually provides plenty of
water to fish without being crowded.
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing: 71/2 ft.,
3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
The season is open for fly fishing the
East River year-round.
Although you can fish during the
winter, it's usually fairly tough fishing.
Except for the runoff, Spring can
provide some early season hatches
and good fishing.
Fly Fishing Guide to the East River:
Fishing in the limited areas open to the public can be
crowded at prime times of the season. The upper East
River, above Crested Butte is in the Gunnison National
Forest. It is a small, nice little meadow stream in this
area and theres some public fishing access available.
The stream meanders through the meadows where
undercut banks are the main fish holding areas. This
part of the stream holds smaller rainbow, brown,
cutthroat and brook trout. There's also some pocket
water sections of the upper river has some fairly deep
pools that hold a lot of fish. The average size is
probably less than ten inches though.
The lower river has much larger trout. Although the
browns only average about 12 to 14 inches, they can
get quite large. Rainbows represent the other trout
population in the lower part of the river. This is where
most anglers fish the river.
The Kokanee salmon show up into the river from the
Gunnison River about the middle of August. They
travel up both the Taylor and the East River. Most of
them are around 15 inches or slightly larger. They all
run about the same size. They don't eat during the
spawning run, but they will take flies.
The Slate River, a tributary stream of the East River,
has a few places where anglers can access the stream
to fish. Although the fish are on the small side, you will
find the scenery is beautiful.
Although the section between Gothic & Emerald Lake
has some fine small stream fishing for small trout, most
of the fishing on the East River is done in the Roaring
Judy Fish Hatchery section of water.
East River Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
East River and in all stages of life that are
applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a
much higher degree of success, give us a
call. We not only will help you with
selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.
During April and for about half of the month
of May, Blue-winged Olives will hatch. They
are bi-brooded and will hatch again from
about the middle of July through the month
Green Drake mayflies hatch during the
month of July and on into the first part of
August, depending on the part of the stream
you are fishing. The Red Quills hatch during
July and August.
The most important mayfly is the PMD or
Pale Morning Dun. They can hatch on the
East River over a long period of time, from
about the middle of June on into September.
From about the middle of April through the
first two weeks of May, the Little Black
Caddis, or Brachycentrus caddis hatch. This
is a good hatch that you can fish almost like
a mayfly hatch.
Form the first of June through the month of
September, you will find hatches of different
species of caddisflies called Spotted
Sedges. It is very difficult to tell one from the
other so it appears the same caddisfly
hatches over a long period of time. They
are the most plentiful species of caddisflies
on the East River.
Little Short-horned Sedges, a small
caddisfly about a hook size 20, hatches in
large quantities during May and June.
These often crawl up your waders.
There are some great stonefly hatches on
the East River. Salmonflies hatch during
the month of June and into the first week
of July. Golden Stoneflies hatch during
the last week of June and most of the
month of July. Little Yellow Stoneflies
hatch from about the middle of July
The months of July, August and
September are terrestrial months,
meaning ants, grasshoppers and beetles
become important. Imitations of these
bugs may be the key to success during
the summer when the hatches begin to
Minnow, baitfish and sculpin are present
in the East River in good quantities,
meaning streamers work just about
anytime the water is slightly off color, or
during low light conditions such as early
and late in the day or during heavy,
If you fish during the winter months you
will probably need to fish imitations of
midge larvae, pupae and adults to catch
trout. These tiny insects hatch throughout
If you haven't already done so, please
give our "Perfect Flies" a chance to
perform for you. We have specific
imitations of just about everything trout
eat including all of the above insects in all
stages of their life.
Early summer provides the largest
hatches and the best fishing. Dry fly
fishing can be good during the late
Early Fall can be great. Late fall strictly
depends on the weather.
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
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