Upper Gunnison River
Rob Herrmann Photography

Gunnison River - Upper (Lite Report)

Difficulty Intermediate
Ideal Days To Fish N/A

Weekly Report

Report DateSept. 2, 2022

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 Blue Mesa is in good shape and fishing well. While somewhat variable, flows have trended down and water clarity is good. That being said, extended periods of rain have led to brief water clarity impairments, but it is clearing up relatively quickly. While water temps have largely held below dangerous levels (67 deg F), they have regularly flirted with the line during peak heat hours and especially during extended warm spells. It is currently safe to fish all day. However, you’ll want to keep an eye on water temps and recognize that midday fishing may not be quite as productive and could potentially lead to stressed fish. Regardless, trout are favoring the deep and slow water most of the day, but have been prone to move in and out of the slower riffles, seams and transitions to feed on emerging bugs. Hopper droppers have been highly effective as of late with terrestrial activity picking up so come prepared for some aggressive surface takes and a fun fight! An Amy’s Ant, Chubby Chernobyl, PMX or Hippie Stomper to one or more smaller searchers/attractors fished along the banks will be a good place to start. Otherwise, if you find yourself immersed in a hatch, something more imitative might be better suited. Midges, tricos, PMDs, BWOs, red quills and caddis are all making regular appearances throughout the day, but have been most prevalent between the late morning and early afternoon. The trico hatch, in particular, has been a lot of fun as trout are gorging themselves on duns and the subsequent fallen spinners. Streamers have also been fairly effective, especially in the low light hours of the day and during periods of cloud cover. Otherwise, the tried and true nymph rig should produce as well. During periods of lower water clarity, throwing a San Juan Worm, bigger stonefly or leech that is dark in profile and moves a lot of water will do wonders.

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.