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.
With runoff behind us, flows on the Gunnison have gradually dropped over the last month and currently sit in the low 400 cfs range. This is on the low end for this time of year and while there is still plenty of good fishing to be had, anglers should keep a close eye on water temps during the afternoon. If water temps near 67 degrees, pack it up and give the trout a break. Luckily, the morning hours are the most productive anyway, so you won’t miss out on much. During the morning, trout are looking up during midge, trico and stonefly hatches. Parachute Adams, Griffiths Gnats, Parachute Tricos, CDC Trico Spinners and Chubby Chernobyls are all good patterns to have on hand. If trout are selectively feeding on the surface, trail a Chubby Chernobyl with an attractor pattern and a baetis emerger (olive RS2, Darth Baetis etc.). If you’re fishing faster water, adding a split shot above your first dropper may be necessary. If water temps hold below 67 degrees during the afternoon, nymph rigs are the way to go. Patterns such as Pat’s Rubber Legs, Two Bit Stones, Electric Caddis, Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ears and Pine Squirrel Leeches are productive lead flies. For your trailer, stick with a baetis emerger or flashy attractor (Rainbow Warrior, Frenchie, Copper John etc.). Trout will feed in the soft pools and runs during the morning but after 11 am, it’s time to focus on riffles, transitions and pockets.
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.