Friday, June 19, 2009

On the River: Gunnison Gorge, Delta, CO

June 13, 2009
The wife and I looked at the calendar a few months back and we decided that this would be the year we blocked off all the weekends in June to make sure we hit the Salmonfly hatch. Funny, with the weather as it is this year, we might have been better off blocking July.

Things are still too cold, and while a lot of them are in the grass, the wind has played a major part every afternoon, pushing the "would be" egg layers back into the grass for cover. So, this story is not about hammering big fish on dries. Instead it is about hammering big fish on nymphs.

We parked on the south side (dirt lot) of Pleasure Park (never saw one of these lizards there before, see right) and, to avoid the crowds, hiked upstream about 1.5 miles. The bugs were "creepy" thick (pun intended, see photo above) in the grass ... on your legs ... and on you neck (which always freaks me out). There were even a fair amount in the air, but nothing happening as far as risers were concerned. So, we decided to fish a brown weighted woolly bugger (see colorado article and gunnison article) and trail it with a tungsten hare's ear.

We figured we were on the right track when Michelle's first cast of the day produced this brown. Ben got hooked up with a similar rig (using a Prince Nymph) and was up to 4 fish before I even got to break away from Michelle and hook up my rod. Oh, did I mention that Michelle's third cast was another monster that actually screamed downstream and ripped off her whole rig before she even had time to get upset about it? (and she gets upset about it very quickly)

Nymphing stayed good for most of the day, and like I mentioned before, the wind was what really kept the Salmonflies from happening. In fact, when the tally was all said and done, most of my fish came on the hare's ear. There were a lot of caddis popping off, and later in the day there was ton of PMD's. While the hare's ear is usually too light to imitate a PMD nymph, I think the fish were just gorging on any nymphs that fit the "general" bill.

If I were a betting man, I actually think without the wind we would have been fishing PMD's more than Salmonflies because there were so many of them popping off and I think we were a few days early, and about 15 degrees cooler than the Salmonflies like.

As fate would have it, I didn't take my Claritin D in the morning, and the Sudafed that Michelle took was no match for the allergies that the wind kicked up and we were forced off the river by about 4 PM.

Still ... a pretty awesome day!


  1. It's Zyrtec for me - especially when that wind kicks up, eh? Which seems to be everyday this year....

    Ah, looks like it was a good day fishing, though, allergies aside. Those are some fine ol' examples of aquatic biomass - they were hitting pretty aggressive, huh? Are those flows still up a bit?

    Seeing all these pictures and reading about it all is making my hands itch...dude, I have to get down and fish the Black Canyon...I need to add that river to my list. Soon.

  2. Nice. The Gorge is awesome.