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June 15, 2021
As the second-largest river in Colorado, the Gunnison River is known for some of the best river and lake fishing throughout the Centennial State. The 180-mile long stretch of the Gunnison River, nicknamed the Gunny, forms at the confluence of the East and Taylor rivers in Almont, CO.
From there, it generally flows southwest, passing through the Blue Mesa Reservoir, the Morrow Point Reservoir, and the Crystal Reservoir in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Then, the Gunny continues on to Grand Junction, eventually joining the Colorado River in Mesa County.
Offering exceptional fly fishing year-round, the Gunnison River enjoys dueling designations as Gold Medal waters and Wild Trout water. That makes the Gunny an ideal spot for fly fishing in Southwest Colorado, where beginner and avid anglers alike can land record-breaking catches.
If you’re looking for a great place to fish in Southwest Colorado or if you’re planning your next trip to the Gunny in Black Canyon, here is everything you need to know about Gunnison River fly fishing so you can make the most out of your next adventure.
Best Places for Gunnison River Fly Fishing
The Gunnison River has two Gold Medal water stretches. Each has distinct characteristics that offer unique opportunities for fly fishing in Southwest Colorado.
With good water quality, favorable stream flows, and a nice water supply 12 months a year, the Gunnison River has optimal conditions for trout populations to thrive. In fact, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) estimates that the Upper Gunnison alone has:
By comparison, the minimum to qualify as Gold Medal standard in Colorado is 60 pounds of trout per acre and a minimum of 12 trout (measuring at least 14 inches) per acre.
These conditions make the Gunnison River an excellent choice for wade and float fly fishing (Class I & II at many flows) throughout the year.
There is no shortage of public access points for Gunnison River fly fishing. The best ways to access the Gunny will depend on whether you want shore or boat access—and that can depend on the time of year you go and how high the waters are (you can use this tool to check current water levels and flow conditions at the Gunnison River).
Some shore access points to the Gunnison River include:
Boat access points include (and are not limited to):
Check out the CPW Gunnison River access map here to view the locations of some more popular access points on the Gunny.
Best Time Fly Fishing on Gunnison River
There’s no bad time for Gunnison River fly fishing, but there may be better times to go based on:
Flies Recommended for Gunnison River Fly Fishing
Midges are available year-round on the Gunnison. Blue-winged olives, available in April, May, and from July through October, are usually better than midges for anglers in Black Canyon.
The table below shows some more options that can put fish in your net at the Gunny.
Salmon Fly, Pale Morning Duns, Blue Winged Olives, Gray/Slate Drake, Caddis, Terrestrials, Green Drakes
Pupa Caddis, Net builder, Birds nest & Hares ear; Prince Nymph; Slim Shady, The Barrs Emerger & Pheasant tail; Deep Dish Green Drake, Green Drake nymph, Defcon 5 Green Drake
Elk Hair, X caddis, Butch Caddis; Coffin Flies & Adult Green Drakes; Tilt wing PMD, Improved Sparkle Dun & Extended Body PMD; Parachute Blue Winged Olive & RS-2
Gear for Fly Fishing in Black Canyon & on the Gunnison River
The best gear for fly fishing on Gunnison River also depends on what you want to catch and your skill level. It’s also important to think about the type of flies you are throwing. While your fishing license and waders will be mandatory, some other gear that can help you enjoy a fun, successful fly fishing trip in Black Canyon include:
Gunnison River & Black Canyon Fly Fishing Regulations
No matter when you want to fly fish in Black Canyon or along the Gunnison River, it’s key to know and abide by all regulations. Please be aware that different areas of the Gunny can have different regulations during different seasons of the year; so, it’s always good to check before you go if you’re at all uncertain.
Below are the regulations for fly fishing the Gunnison River in Black Canyon (as well as between the Crystal Dam closure and Black Canyon’s boundary):
To view the regulations for any specific area of Black Canyon or the Gunny, check out the CPW fishing regulation guides here.
Plan a Gunnison River Fly Fishing Trip
Are you ready to experience some of Colorado’s best fly fishing on the Gunnison River? If so, Riversmith has the top-quality, durable equipment you need to easily, safely transport your gear. With our rod tubes, rod racks, and more, it’s simple to pack for your next fly fishing trip to the Gunnison River, the Gore, the Pan, or beyond.
At Riversmith, our anglers, engineers, and guides are always searching for ways to solve fishermen’s problems and make the adventure that much better. We love what we do, and we are known for designing premium fly-fishing products. If fly fishing is your passion, Riversmith is here for you.
Wherever your journey takes you, we’ll keep you geared for the catch.
July 16, 2021
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