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Gold Medal Quality Fishing On The Taylor River

You have just found one of the best cold water fisheries in the state of Colorado! Our 3/4 of a mile of waters including the Taylor River and tributaries has been said to be "twice the fishing at half the price" of the Frying Pan near Aspen.  No guides required. Our fee to fish per person is $100/day for folks not staying on the ranch OR just $20/day if you are a guest staying at Harmel's. Come to enjoy our beautiful scenery and the wiley trout; stay to enjoy our comfortable accommodations, great food and friendly staff.

Harmel's Ranch Resort trophy fishery is known as "Rainbow Heaven". Fed by high mountain lakes, (Taylor and Spring Creek Reservoirs), Harmel's Gold Medal quality waters are at the confluence of Spring Creek, Beaver Creek, and the famous Taylor River. Just downstream the Taylor River meets the East River to form the Gunnison River which flows into Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest lake in Colorado.

At an altitude of 8,412 feet and surrounded by 1.6 million acres of the Gunnison National Forest, Harmel's has posted private rivers, beaver ponds, and a stocked kids pond to chose from. We catch BIG FISH; rainbows, browns, cutthroat, and brookies right out your cabin door. Our helpful guides are equipped to satisfy your every fishing need, and would be happy to answer any questions you have about our private stretch or the local public waters.

Fly and tackle shop, casting lessons, and guided fishing service. You will need a Colorado State fishing license to fish our waters. Sorry, we do not sell Colorado State fishing licenses at Harmel's.  You can pick one up at a sporting goods store along the way or order yours online: click here

Area attractions: Gunnison, Taylor, Spring Creek & East Rivers, Taylor Reservoir, Spring Creek Reservoir, and Blue Mesa Reservoir.

  • Fly and Tackle Shop
  • Casting Lessons
  • Guide Service
  • Rod, Wader, and Boot Rentals
  • Friendly and Helpful Staff
Sorry, we do not sell Colorado State fishing licenses.

10 reasons to fly fish at Harmel's on the Taylor River

  • Cozy cabins next to the best stretch of fly fishing habitat on the world famous Taylor River, gold medal water standards 7 times over! 
  • Harmel's Ranch Resort's private access to our improved gold medal quality river habitat that boasts at least 12 trout over 14" per acre or 60 lbs. of trout biomass per acre. 
  • Private, guided fly fishing tours of our manicured 11 surface acres of "Fishing Heaven". 
  • Our Taylor River Guides teach the proper techniques, from fly casting, to setting the hook, to netting and releasing trophy size trout. 
  • Harmel's Taylor River Fly shop has waders and fly rods available for rental, along with a wide range of tackle and supplies, everything necessary to learn the art of fly fishing. 
  • The best après fishing in Colorado at Harmel's Firepit Saloon, enjoy a cocktail or fine brew, while recounting the fish stories of the day. 
  • Harmel's Taylor River Guides know what natural insect life is currently hatching, and they will share this vital knowledge with you in selecting the flies that are working 
  • Our staff every year has been heralded as "some of the finest young folks around". 
  • To reclaim your sanity... and
  • We catch BIG TROUT!

Colorado Gold Medal Waters

Colorado is blessed with over 9000 miles of rivers and creeks, but only 168 miles of these are considered Gold Medal Water. The Colorado Wildlife Commission has designated these stretches of water as offering the greatest potential for trophy trout fishing.

The official criteria for gold medal water is 12 trout per acre over 14" or 60 lbs. of trout per surface acre. Our stretch of the Taylor River meets and exceeds this definition by seven times.  We are currently trying to get this stretch of the Taylor River classified as gold medal, however, this is proving to be a long and arduous process.

The restoration of the Taylor River has been a fun project for us. The first improvements were done back in 1984 by the Roberts family.  Now, along with our resort, the private land owners in the area have recognized that improving the habitat would have a positive impact for the properties on the river.  Because of this, we have seen great improvements throughout the canyon.  And our yearly stocking program of 100 trophy trout (2 to 3 lb fish) stocked three times per summer in June, July, and August has been a huge success.

All in all, Harmel's Ranch Resort has some of the best fishing in Colorado. This, combined with all of our other activities, makes Harmel's a terrific vacation for the whole family! 

And for the icing on the cake - don't forget to wet a line up at the famous Taylor River Catch & Release - also known as the Hog Trough - just 14 miles up the road from our resort.  The record for the longest rainbow caught in the state measured in at 40 1/4" long and was caught (and released) at these headwaters of the mighty Taylor River.

The Restoration of a River to Gold Medal Quality Waters

Improving the habitat is not just pushing around a few big rocks in the river. Careful study of the river by experts determines what can be done.

Balancing the potentials of water flow is the first area of concern. Fish dams, rock clusters, and dead falls must be mapped out to take advantage of the natural terrain. Fish dams create slow moving water are designed with natural spillways that make deep pools. The result; fast moving water from the spillway moves small gravel to create shallow riffles downstream.

The second area to consider, now that we have created a variety of water speeds and resting areas for the fish, is food supply. No matter how expertly the rocks have been placed, fish won't stay unless the food supply is consistent and abundant. Downed trees, submerged hay bales and brushy areas are encouraged to improve the amount of naturally occurring insect life. This all important component is the ultimate limiting factor in the gold medal definition; 12 trout over 14" per acre with 60 pounds of fish per surface acre.

All of these physical improvements to the habitat have to be maintained, of which we are happy to do. Harmel's Ranch Resort has been very fortunate to have started out with the blank canvas and we were able to create Mother Nature's true masterpiece; gold medal quality waters!

This year we are continuing our stocking program as we have since 2007. Instead of filling the river with 300-400 trout at the beginning of the season, as we did from 1999-2006, we are spreading it out.  Harmel's will be stocking 100 trophy sized rainbow trout in the river typically once per month in June, July and August.  And at the end of our season we'll seine the pond of the rainbows we have been feeding all summer long and place them in our stretch of the Taylor.  October is an awesome time to stop by to fish.  Be prepared to catch some of those hungry trout!

Practicing Catch & Release

Returning fish alive is not as simple as it sounds. There are ways of handling fish that can kill them. Follow these steps to insure the best chance of survival for the fish.

Rules pertaining to Harmel's private stretch of river:  fish MUST be released alive (all river and stream fishing) immediately in the same water where they were caught.

  • Please put them back ALIVE!
  • Do not "play" the fish to exhaustion.
  • Keep fish in the water as much as possible when handling and removing the hook.
  • Make sure to wet your hands before handling the fish.  Dry hands can take off the slime coat - this coat prevents the fish from contracting infectious diseases.
  • Remove the hook gently, don't squeeze the fish or place your fingers in the fish's gills.  Handling trout is a bit different than handling those large mouth bass!
  • If deeply hooked, cut the line, do not remove by pulling out.
  • Release the fish only after it's equilibrium is recovered. If necessary, gently hold the fish facing upstream and slowly move it back and forth. Release the fish in quiet water.
  • If you are fishing in catch and release waters, strongly consider crimping the barbs on the hook or you can buy barbless hooks.
If you are not familiar with Catch & Release techniques here is a great article we found online written by Rick Schroeder: Trout Handling - C.P.R (Catch, Photograph, & Release).  It's great to be informed so we can keep our fisheries as stellar as possible!