Upper Gunnison River
Rob Herrmann Photography

Gunnison River - Upper (Lite Report)

Difficulty Intermediate
Ideal Days To Fish N/A

Weekly Report

Report DateOct. 29, 2021

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.

It’s fall on the Upper Gunnison and that means low flows, clear water and spooky fish. Flows currently sit in the mid 200 cfs range and should hold at this level, assuming no major changes are made to Taylor River flows. At this level, wade fishing is the most effective mode of fishing as trout are stacked up in the deeper runs, pools and pockets in the middle of the river. Focusing on deeper water will also help you avoid redds, which are typically located in shallower water along gravel beds. With that in mind, please avoid stepping on or casting to trout on redds. Nymph rigs and streamers have and will produce the best results as we move deeper into the fall season. Leeches, worms, eggs and searcher patterns (Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, Prince Nymphs etc.) are productive attractors when trailed with small midge and baetis offerings. Double midge, double baetis and midge/baetis combos are viable setups when trout aren’t responding to larger offerings. Blood Midges, Red Zebra Midges, Mercury Midges, Black Beauties, JuJu Baetis, RS2s, Darth Baetis and Mercury Baetis are all good patterns to have on hand throughout the fall. Dry flies will get attention during heavy midge or BWO hatches but this can be hit or miss depending on the weather. This is a great time of year to cover a lot of water, so don’t get sucked into fishing one run all day. Spend time exploring every inch of a pool/run and if you’ve made multiple depth and pattern changes, move on and sample new water.

Recommended Flies

River Flow

Flow Region

Detailed River Info

Background

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.

Angling

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.

River Access

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.