The Gunnison River begins at Almont, Colorado, where the Taylor River and East River merge to form its headwaters. The river grows in size as it flows down through the Gunnison Valley and into Blue Mesa Reservoir. Blue Mesa is the first of several dams as the Gunnison continues its flow through the Black Canyon and eventually into the Colorado River. Our section of the Gunnison River, the upper Gunnison, is from the headwaters in Almont all the way to Blue Mesa Reservoir.
The upper Gunnison River is impacted by both snow-melt and the controlled releases from Taylor Reservoir. The Gunnison is best fished from a boat in the early season during high water. There are plenty of public access points for wading the river during summer and fall.
The Gunnison River contains a very high density of trout, including browns, rainbows, and cutthroat. There are long riffles and runs, and a lot of deep pools which hold large trout. There are good hatches of stoneflies, caddis, and mayflies during the season. The peak season is from mid June to mid September, and fall can offer excellent fishing on the Gunnison. The fall kokanee salmon run brings very large numbers of hard-fighting sockeye salmon up the Gunnison River from Blue Mesa as they run all the way to Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery on the East River.
There is a catch-and-release season for kokanee from August 1 to October 31. And big trout will follow the salmon up to feed on their eggs. A 9-foot 5-weight fly rod is a good all-purpose choice for the Gunnison River. A 6-weight rod can also be used during the salmon run.