The Gunnison River is one of Colorado’s most sought after rivers.  A good majority of the river flows through the famous black canyon which is difficult but rewarding access boasting over 20 miles of Gold Medal Waters within its canyon walls.  The Gunnison can be divided into the upper reaches which is above Blue Mesa Reservoir up to the headwaters of the Gunnison in Almont (Taylor and East rivers create the Gunnison) including the lake fork, and the lower section which includes the black canyon, north fork , smith fork and confluence of the Gunnison forks and the final confluence it has with the Colorado river.  There are miles of fishable water, and even more in it’s tributaries and sub-tributaries.

The Gunnison river holds all kinds of trout within it’s forks, but most of the fish caught will be rainbows and browns.  The upper reaches of most rivers including the Gunny can begin to hold brook trout and/or cutthroat when the elevation gets high enough to keep cool water temps.  The Gunny is a large river and most of it can be floated when the flows are high enough.  Ample wade fishing is available as well throughout the year.  Fishing varies from easy to moderate and most anglers will be able to find some fish on the sections they choose to explore.  Though it is dammed up in several areas, it fishes most like a freestone and contains a ton of stoneflies, mayflies, midges and caddis to keep trout rising and feeding 24/7.

Black Canyon

The black canyon is a brutal hike in and out and requires permits to camp and fees to access.  That said, there is some phenomenal fishing for those who decide to make the journey.  You can float and wade the gorge, but you need to be experienced to float the river and know the float for your own safety.  Rescue is not easy in this canyon due to the difficulty of access.  This section is Gold Medal Waters and has some ginormous rainbow and brown trout.  You can catch a lot of fish on dries, even more on nymphs and some of the biggest fish you’ll ever see on streamers.  Floating will give you the best chance to see the entire canyon, but fishing small areas hiking in is a great option too.  Time how long it takes to hike in and double that time or more to get out.

Smith Fork

The smith fork is overlooked often but holds some cutthroats in the upper reaches.  You can access it by travelling up into the national forest section above the private land.  When you get to the campground you can fish upstream.  Fish aren’t large up here but it’s a great place to avoid some crowds and explore some new water.

North Fork & Pleasure Park

The confluence of the north fork and main fork of the Gunnison creates a great opportunity to fish.  The main area is pleasure park which provides plenty of access to fish and catch the “tail end” of the canyon.  Great dry fly fishing can happen in this section and is a fun place to spend a day.

Gunnison Gorge

Below pleasure park is another gorge seperate from the black canyon that is slightly more accessible but requires 4WD and a bit of hiking.  It isn’t as tough as the canyon to access so it may be a good option if you aren’t up for a brutal hike.  Fish are large in this section as well and fishing is great.