Fishing Is Not Just A Sport
It's a Way of Life
The Gunnison Valley is home to Colorado’s state-record brown, rainbow, kokanee salmon and lake trout and offers the best fishing in the state. Our valley offers both great river and stream fishing and lake fishing. Colorado’s largest body of water—Blue Mesa Reservoir—is just ten minutes west of Gunnison. Other popular stretches of river are the Catch and Release section of the Taylor River and the East River at the Roaring Judy State Fish Hatchery.
Thank you to PhelpsOnTheFly for this awesome video
CLICK BELOW TO READ MORE
Photo by gunnisoncrestedbutte.com
Photo by icefishcolorado.com
Photo by Dragon Fly Anglers
Use the Gunnison Valley hatch chart below to plan your visit.
Late June & Early July: Green Drake Hatch
The Green Drake hatch, typically in early July, is the best valley dry fly hatch of the year. Big fish move to the surface and drys and spinners patterns all get a look. This hatch lasts weeks as it moves its way up the Gunnison to the East and Taylor Rivers. If it hits the Catch and Release be ready to fight some big fish eager to snatch up all Drakes they can.
July-October: The Heart of the Season
BWO’s, a variety of nymphs, dry caddis and other dry mayfly patterns rule the day for the heart of the fishing season. Even in October, there are hatches most days. A good Red Quill pattern is a go-to dry fly during the fall. Don’t underestimate the power of the Parachute Adams, a variety of sizes from 10-18 will land fish in the hatches throughout the season.
September & October: Largest Kokanee Salmon Run in the US
The Gunnison and East Rivers see the largest kokanee salmon run in the United States. These freshwater Sockeyes start their spawning run in the Blue Mesa and end at the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery where fingerlings are reared over the winter and released to return to the Blue Mesa in the spring. The kokanee hit sparsely dressed wet flies fished as nymphs or as streamers. The salmon are in the 2#-3# range, with larger fish present.
Rainbows and browns move in behind the salmon clusters and absolutely bang egg patterns and bunny flies. Fishing the salmon pods for trout produce some very big fish—often the biggest fish of the year.
December, January, February: Trout Fishing the Taylor River Catch and Release
The upper stretches of the Taylor River (known locally as the Catch and Release) regularly produce the valley’s largest trout, many in the 10# range. The Taylor, a tailwater, fishes well through the winter months. Mysis shrimp patterns work year-round, as well as midges and other small nymphs. The fish are selective and 6-7X fluorocarbon tippets are the rule, even knowing that the larger trout will have more than an even chance of breaking off.
March & April: Pre-Runoff
As the days warm and before runoff, the Taylor, Gunnison and East Rivers and some of the lower valley creeks and streams begin fishing well. Spring pre-runoff provides some of the best fishing of the year. The trout are hungry. As the water starts to stain San Juan Worms, stonefly nymphs, and big hare’s ears are the ticket. Streamer fishing can also be a blast.
May & June: Runoff! Fish the Taylor River
Our free-flowing rivers are blown out, and although the Taylor River runs clear it will be high and pushy for the wading fisherman. The Taylor will be the best bet for fishing during the runoff months.
June: Black Canyon and the Father's Day Hatch
The Black Canyon is rightly famous for its big wild fish and great natural beauty. But the fish in the Black Canyon are picky most the year, the noticeable exception being the giant stone fly hatch often called the “Father’s Day Hatch” because of its timing. This hatch can only be described as spectacular. Bottom dwelling 20”-30” browns and rainbows come up and slap wildly at Sofa Pillows and other dry stone imitations. 30 minutes can go by when literally there is a fish on every cast. Don’t imagine you can hook and land any of these big fish in this swift water without a sturdy, 3X tippet. Anything lighter than a 5 wt. rod is not recommended and it is not uncommon to see fishermen with 7 wt. gear.