Note: This report is a part of the FlyCast Lite reporting program and is updated seasonally or in the event of substantial changes that alter fly fishing tactics. FlyCast Lite reports are intended to give anglers a high level overview on seasonal conditions and general fishing tactics.
The Gunnison River between Almont and Gunnison is transitioning from winter to spring mode. Ice is quickly clearing, opening up more fishable water. With that said, there are still a number of sections with ice, so focus on sections that receive ample sunlight and are free of ice. Flows are quickly rising due to warm spring weather and this trend is expected to continue. Streaks of warm weather will encourage pre-runoff on feeder creeks/rivers, so don’t be surprised if clarity and color is off. If you can, fish the morning hours when clarity is best. Large and/or flashy nymphs are and will remain highly productive attractors when nymphing this spring. Think Leeches, San Juan Worms, eggs, Pat’s Rubber Legs, Wired Stones, red Copper Johns, Pheasant Tails and Rainbow Warriors. #18-20 midge pupa and baetis emergers are productive trailer patterns. As we get closer to May, caddis larva and pupa patterns will heat up. For the best results, focus on deep pools, slow runs and slack water with ample split shot. Dry fly action is hit or miss depending on weather conditions. Warm afternoons with cloud coverage tend to be the most consistent. Household classics like Griffiths Gnats, Cluster Midges and Parachute Adams will get attention over the next month. Once the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch hits, Elk Hair Caddis will be lights out. Anglers looking to fish streamers will find the best results during the afternoon when water temps are at their peak.
The Gunnison River (referred to as the Gunny by locals) is a highly renowned trout river located in Southwestern Colorado. Designated as a gold medal and wild trout river, it attracts anglers from all over the state and country. The Gunnison originates in Almont, Colorado at the confluence of the East and Taylor River, which are two incredible rivers as well. At the confluence, the Gunnison flows southwest through the town of Gunnison and spills into Blue Mesa Reservoir. In comparison to other Colorado rivers, the Gunnison is a large river that maintains healthy flows year around. As a result, the river is most accessible by raft or drift boat. While that is the ideal mode of fishing, anglers looking to wade will have several access points that provide decent bank fishing. The Gunnison is famous for its large brown trout population but don’t be surprised if you find yourself hooked into a few healthy rainbows. In addition to trout, Kokanee salmon migrate from Blue Mesa Reservoir every fall and spawn in the Gunnison.
The Gunnison is a large freestone that provides anglers with a variety of fly fishing tactics. During the winter, anglers willing to brave the cold will experience the most success nymphing. As water temperatures rise in the spring, trout will begin feeding above and below the surface on midges, BWOs and caddis. The summer and fall months are where the Gunnison really shines. With a variety of midge, baetis, caddis and stonefly hatches, anglers will be equally successful fishing dry droppers along the banks and drifting nymph rigs through the deep runs and outer seams. Considering the size of the river, throwing streamers from a drift boat is another great way to cover a lot of water, especially during the fall when lake run brown trout move into the river from Blue Mesa Reservoir. Like most freestones, these trout aren’t terribly selective, so don’t overthink your pattern selection. Classic searcher and attractor patterns are consistent and productive options, especially if trout aren’t responding to imitative patterns.
The Gunnison River conveniently parallels two highways, highway 50 and 135, making access relatively easy. To fish the stretch between Almont and Gunnison, exit Highway 50 and follow highway 135 north along the river. Along this highway, you’ll find a number of boat ramps and public access points for wade fisherman. Fishing between Gunnison and Blue Mesa Reservoir is accessible via highway 50. Refer to the map below for the major access points.