Thursday, October 31, 2013

Almont Part 3... The Gunnison River

Day three found us waking at 6:00 am to the sounds and smells of Bryan preparing breakfast burritos. We are talking made to order, fresh out of the pan tortillas filled with all the fix’ins and smothered in salsa. A single burrito was the size of a large plate and one was plenty to keep the edge off for most of the day!

It was another beautiful morning. While the sun evaporated the dew that had gathered on everything,we loaded up. Clear skies, no wind and weather predictions of temperatures in the 70’s held promise for another fantastic day on the water.

We left the cabin and drove southwest through Gunnison  on US 50 to fish a stretch of the lower Gunnison that last year produced some really nice bows and browns. After a short driving, seven of us were ready to get boots wet. One by one, everyone found a spot on the water that looked fishy to them and lines got wet.

The water level was lower than the year prior; however, the day still held promise. The balmy 62 degree water moving, yet allowed great visibility if you had your polarized shades. I remember the days of running right down to the water and getting after it. The things I missed.  

Standing on the bank of the Gunnison, the amount of vegetation in the water was impressive. I saw two 3” stone flies scamper up on shore. The stone fly husk numbers were too many to count. I thought to myself how amazing it would have been to have been on the water the night prior! Throughout the day, the prolific hatches of blue winged olives and caddis revealed a glimpse into the secret of the size of the Gunnison browns and bows.

I fished my 9 foot St Croix 6wt with a 91/2 foot tapered leader. I dropped a #12 gold bead head hares ear chased by a #14 ABU and a #16 black zebra midge to complete the 12 foot set up.

The Gunnison is a wide river, and if you just look at the vast water it is easy to see nothing but water and nothing that looks fishy. Breaking the big water down into small water was very helpful for me. Even though the fish were hung over from their stone fly "all you can eat buffet," some nice browns and rainbows came to hand.

I imagined a small river along the bank I was on, a small river in the middle of the Gunnison, and then a small river on the opposite bank. If I could, I would fish the “small rivers” in that order. Sometimes the depth and flow prevented fishing the middle or far bank. That’s okay, because I know the fish were laughing and communicating to each other, “Let’s see him come over here!”

Any structure produced fish. We found fish tight on all sides of rocks; the head and tails of deep pools; in riffles; and any slack water we could find.

I wish I could tell ya that we did not see any other fly fishers, but I can’t.

We loaded up and head to a section of the river above Blue Mesa Reservoir. 

As we drove across a bridge on CO 149 which, during some seasons, has water a few feet from the base of the bridge I had to laugh at the sign telling anglers “No fishing from the bridge.” It was funny this year because the bridge was easily the length of a football field above the water. Would definitely make catch and release difficult.

The section of the Gunnison we moved to was just as visually pleasing as the section we had fished the first part of the day. 

With the exception of the occasional wind gust, it was clear, and sunny; yet, the clouds on the horizon promised the potential storm that would challenge our conviction to stay on the water. You could smell the moisture in the air.

The amazing water clarity and flow revealed tons of vegetation and masses of insects above and below the surface if one looked. 

The grasshoppers were only out done by the huge caddis hatch which was followed closely by an amazing variety of midges.

The stretch had huge holes, long deep troughs, and runs that were stacked with Volkswagen sized rocks in sections. 

If salmon were in the river, this would be the place to get lucky! Dave is the mad salmon hunter of the group; however, even though the promise of “salmon were in the river” had him excited, the salmon would have to wait to be caught on another trip.

I fished the same three fly rig and made sure that I was constantly adjusting the depth of my flies. 

JT has made a number of comments, non flattering, about the number of times I adjust the depth of my flies during a day of fishing. 

I strongly believe that if an area looks fishy and no fish are interested in playing, I just have not found the correct depth.

I worked the bubble lines in the deep runs and any current that was broke by any structure.

I enjoyed landing some nice rainbows and browns. 

The fellas were also successful in landing browns and rainbows. It truly is as much fun watch my friends catch and land fish as it is to land my own.

The clouds came in and the rain fell. Thunder sounded in the distance and it got the immediate attention of JT and Mike. 

We had fished all day and it was time to head to Mario’s Pizza for the traditional pizza and beer dinner that we have all grown so found of. 

If you are in Gunnison, you have to stop into the small, cramped pizzeria and enjoy their large portions, great beer, and great staff. 

The pizza and calzones are delivered piping hot and chased down with ice cold micro brews or any other beverage that the day requires.

We closed the place down at 9:00pm and headed back to the cabin hoping the four legged hairy critters stayed off of the road as we made it back to Almont and  discussed the next day’s fishing…The Taylor River.

Tips of the Trip…
Radios: Make sure they are secured otherwise your radio becomes a gift for the next fly fisher that happens upon it. A neck lanyard is priceless, just make sure is breaks away in case of emergency.

Work the bubbles in deep water: Deep runs with minimal or no visible structure work the bubbles. Try to get you nymphs to travel the speed of the bubbles and every once in a while give them some action.

Remember to break the big river into smaller rivers: Fish the closest "small river", then the middle, and finally the far banks. I am sure it would shock us to know how many fish we really scare off by our impatience and desire to wade out to the fishy water instead of fishing out to it.

Catch and release: Remember to land the fish you catch quickly, minimally handle them, revive them and get them back into the water.

Come back for Part 4…The Taylor River


  1. Sounds like a great trip for sure! Beautiful water and some very nice fish to go along with it.
    There's no better way to start the day than waking up to the smell of fresh coffee and a hot breakfast (that someone else got up early to make!!).

    1. Jeff! So true! To wake to someone else taking care of morning coffee is a bonus; but I have to admit we cant touch the camp fare you whip up for you and Joe! We will keep working on it! As always buddy thank you for stopping by. Cant wait to hear about your next adventure

  2. You are fishing in paradise there and those trout were dressed up with their fall colors. The waters you guys were fishing are awesome, I really enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing

    1. Bill thanks for stopping by! Any time ya get a chance to get out here we can sure take you to as much water as you would like. The fish were definitely colorful. Thanks for the support and comments. I will have some flies to swap with ya soon. Send me an address at and we can make that happen.

  3. Bill is right, it is fishing paradise. Nice fish, great advice and keep an eye out for a a gray fly box I lost about 40 years ago.

    1. We are pretty blessed Howard! Thanks for your support and always taking time to leave a few inspiring thoughts! Send me an address so I can send ya some

  4. Great tips and story! You catch a ton of fish using your proven technics, so thanks for sharing. I often don't adjust the length of my indicator as much as I should...I need to make sure that I don't. Seeing those photos bring back great memories, especially on a cool fall day like this morning.

    1. BDF! Thanks for the memories! It was a pleasure fishing with ya and thanks for helping me net that pig! Would have been interesting if you didn't have that man size net! You just keep throwing those BDF buddy and you don't need to adjust for depth! Looking forward to next year already! Tight lines


Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you found something that interested you. Leave a comment and I'll get back to ya. Happy Nymphing!