Fishing report



Last Update: April 17, 2024

The San Miguel River with its near endless public access (25+ miles) from its headwaters near Telluride, heading northwest to its confluence with the Dolores, beckons walk wade anglers to explore one of Colorado's last freestone (undammed) trout streams. Only 30 minutes from Ridgway, the San Miguel is a dry fly fishing paradise. With numerous insect hatches, you will find stoneflies, caddis, pale morning dun, blue winged olives and midges on your angling adventure. San Miguel anglers encounter steady river gradient, coupled with great stream clarity, abundant pocket water and some nice deep buckets and pools.

Happening Now
The conditions on the San Miguel River are optimal for fishing enthusiasts. Although the water levels remain low, the clarity can fluctuate depending on the previous day's temperature, necessitating attention to the weather forecast. Despite this, fish continue to occupy their winter hideouts, primarily in deeper pools and holes. To enhance your chances of a successful catch, employing the "car hopping" technique is advisable. This involves moving between various pull-offs along the river, allowing for comprehensive coverage of potential fishing spots. Additionally, progressing upstream enables anglers to explore multiple areas within a section of the river. When it comes to tackle and flies, small midges and mayflies are prevalent. Tandem rigging these behind an egg pattern can prove effective. As the sun gradually warms the water, fish activity increases, rendering early morning outings unnecessary. Allowing the waters to warm slightly before commencing fishing is recommended. The San Miguel River offers promising prospects for anglers as spring progresses and fish activity heightens. Prepare your gear, chart your course along the river, and anticipate gratifying fishing excursions during these early spring days.

Recommended Fly Patterns
Zebra Midge #18-20, Two Bit Midge # 20, Rainbow warrior #16-20, Micro Flexi Girdle Bug #16, Tung Micro Worm #16,Slim Shady Olive #20, Light Brite Perdigon #16,Pure Midge #20-22

Discharge, cubic feet per second: 180 ft3/s

Discharge, cubic feet per second: 180 ft3/s

See Streamflow on USGS



RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service SAN MIGUEL River Hatch Chart ©




While Summer and Fall are the best seasons to target fly fishing the San Miguel River, don’t discount early Spring for getting a line wet. Winter fly fishing near Telluride is best discovered at lower elevation rivers like the Uncompahgre or Lower Gunnison. “Keep moving” is the motto on the San Miguel River. With over 25 miles to pick from and quick access to multiple stops, don’t walk up on other groups or try to compete for water. Instead, explore alternate locations not to overfish any one section.

Weather on the San Miguel should not be discounted. Don’t forget you are in Colorado above 7000 feet, and weather changes quickly in high-elevation canyons like the San Miguel. So be prepared for potential flash floods and sudden shifts in temperature and weather. Consider moving upstream to locate clear water above tributaries brining in off-colored water.

Fly Fishing Gear & Equipment for the San Miguel River:

  • 3 weight to 5 weight, 7’6” to 11’ moderate action Fly Rods with WF floating fly lines are ideal for high sticking pockets or presenting drag free drifts in fast riffle water or controlled drifts near tight vegetated banks.
  • 6x to 5x leader & tippets will cover most situations. Consider shorter length leaders to turn over small attractor dry flies with a dropper in tight quarters, or slightly longer leaders to present small dry flies with improved accuracy and drag free drifts.
  • Core dry flies for match the hatch, small attractor flies, small jigged nymphs and plenty of terrestrials are essential in the San Miguel. Visit the Fly Shop for a curated selection of proven and successful fly patterns ideal for the specific drainage and time of year you are visiting.
  • Small poly yarn indicators for the occasional deep pool, and dry fly flotant or dry shake for combating turbid waters. *Don’t forget your net for proper catch and release fish handling.
  • Backcountry essentials like a quality rain jacket, day pack, bug spray, and plenty of packable food and water for a full day of exploration.
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