SAN MIGUEL RIVER

Fishing report

CURRENT CONDITIONS

SAN MIGUEL RIVER

Last Update: September 19, 2023


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 San Miguel River has been fishing excellent this season. Water clarity has been variable due to afternoon monsoons, but the river remains at a fishable clarity even during rain. Don’t be afraid of a little color on the Miguel, it takes a ton of rain to blow out. And don’t forget your raincoat. The fish are actively feeding and in a favorable mood. The dry dropper technique has been highly effective. Foamy terrestrials are perfect for dry droppers, and hopper season should last into October. We recommend switching to a nymph rig for deeper or stronger runs, with a larger stonefly trailed by an attractor nymph. As flows decline, expect robust Caddis, PMD, and Golden Stonefly hatches. When fishing, focus your efforts on the slower pockets and eddies as you move upstream. These areas tend to hold more fish and provide better opportunities for success. To locate these prime spots, we recommend either hiking along the river or using your vehicle to access different pull-offs throughout the day. This flexibility will enable you to explore different sections of the river and find the most productive pockets, especially when considering isolated afternoon rain showers.

Recommended Fly Patterns
Hi-Vis Skinny Chubby #14, Rouge Foam Stone #10, Jakes Blackout Stone #10, Neversink Caddis #14-16, PFD Parachute #14, Two Bit Stone #12, Micro Flexi Girdle Bug #16, Tung Micro Worm #16, HAD Fav Variant #14, Light Brite Perdigon #16, Sweetmeat Caddis #16

Discharge, cubic feet per second: 97.4 ft3/s

Discharge, cubic feet per second: 97.4 ft3/s

See Streamflow on USGS

HANDPICKED

FLIES FOR THE SAN MIGUEL RIVER

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

TIPS FOR

THE SAN MIGUEL RIVER

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.
Sorry, weather.gov is experiencing issues. We are unable to load the weather data at this time.

GUIDED TRIPS

LEARN THE RIVER WITH AN EXPERT

RECOMMENDED SAN MIGUEL GEAR