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Gunnison River Fishing Information
Lower Section - near Delta, CO
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fish: Many Medium-Sized Fish
Best Techniques: Dries & Nymphs
Best Seasons: Spring - Fall
River Type: Large Freestone
Fish Types: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Whitefish
Dog Friendly: Yes but Leashed
Located in the Gunnison River Basin near Delta, CO
Fishable Seasons & Current Weather
The best seasons to fish this river are Spring - Fall. See the current weather reports for the next 5-6 days listed below for the nearest city.
wind: 3mph SW
H 79 • L 75
Weather from OpenWeatherMap
Knowing what flies to use is only have the battle. You have to know when the insects are active on the water and when it's likely the trout are feeding on them. Refer to our hatch charts below to understand when the insect categories and some of the possible hatches on the river.
Midges hatch year round, but their importance is from September through winter into April. During the warmer months, the trout often focus on larger insects as they are more active on the water like mayflies, caddis and stoneflies.
Aside from Blue wing olives, mayflies are active most commonly from May to August in Colorado. There are many different mayfly hatches found on most rivers and the most common are listed below.
Blue Wing Olive: September throut winter to April
Pale Morning Dun: June to Mid September
Colors: White, Yellow
Sizes: #14 - #20
Caddis hatch starting early in May and continue to the end of October.
Colors: Olive, Green, Yellow, Tan, Orange, Brown and Black.
Sizes: #10 - #20
We have some great stonefly hatches in Colorado and while not all rivers carry all species of salmonflies, you can often fish stonefly adult patterns with confidence from May to September. Start off in bigger sizes and get smaller till September hits (size 8 - 16)
Golden Stone: June to August
Colors: Yellow, Tan
Sizes: #8 - #14
Yellow Sally Stonefly: Mid June to August
Colors: Yellow, Tan
Sizes: #12 - #18
Salmonfly: Mid May to Mid July
Colors: Orange, Red, Brown
Sizes: #6 - #14
Terrestrials don't hatch since they are out of the water, but they can have importance starting in Mid April and ending in September.
These are the the top flies we sell for this river. Use the hatch chart above to know what flies you will want to have in your fly box during your adventure on the river and then select the flies here 30 days before your trip to get them at a great price. All of our flies are hand tied to each order to ensure quality and to keep our prices low for you.
Click on a fly below to select a size and color for purchase.
If you need an easier solution than selecting each fly and size, try out our top fly assortments for this river that will put all the flies you need in a single order for this river. We've already selected the flies we use in our fly box for this river including the sizes and colors and put them in these assortments so you can fish with the confidence that you have the right flies in your box.
Click on any of the pictures to see what flies, colors and sizes we recommend in each assortment.
Use these epic resources to get ready for your adventure. Whether you're planning your trip, learning your insects, improving your fishing with expert tips or getting detailed resources from the USGS streamflows or DoW, we got you covered to help you find the river and find the success you want.