Friday, April 23, 2010

On the River: Gunnison Gorge (Chukar Access), CO

April 8, 2010

My sister and brother-in-law came out to Colorado for a little visit. Whitney (brother-in-law ... don't let the name fool you. He's from NY and will mess you up if you think his moniker is sissy!) had only been to Colorado for Michelle and I's wedding, and had never fished here before. I thought there would be no better way to give him an experience he would not forget than by taking him to the Gunnison Gorge to see the sights and hook some of those fish!

It turned out that we picked one of the best weather days I HAVE EVER HAD in Colorado. We got to the river by about 10:30, which is when the sun is just coming over the canyon walls this time of year, and the weather report for the day actually said "brilliant sun" ... no kidding! But to top it all off, I have never fished a day in Colorado that was as windless as this day. Not even a puff of wind! It was crazy!

Oddly enough, we fished most of the morning without success, and even saw very few fish. After spending most of the morning in slow, deep pools and side eddies, we decided to head down to some faster water and riffles. The action picked up, and we hooked a few fish on baetis, but certainly nothing to write home about. To be honest, after lunch (around 1 PM) the sun was already setting behind the cliffs and we had enjoyed the day so much we weren't opposed to wrapping up. Until everything changed, that is ...

We had been noticing baetis rolling off at an ever increasing rate since about 11 AM, but there were just no fish responding to them. By about 1 PM I was almost starting to think the fish migrated down stream to different water types for the winter (especially since Michelle and I did so well 3 weeks before 8 miles downstream at Pleasure Park). That's when Whitney said, "there are a few risers up here, one of them looks pretty decent". We were standing in the sun and the risers he saw were just on the edge of the canyon shadow. I rolled upstream and immediately recognized a pod of about 6 fish feeding heavily.

The risers were much too far of a cast, but we decided to look for more on our side of the river upstream. Once we crossed into the shadow and our eyes adjusted ... OH SNAP!!! We realized that there were PODS of risers as far as you could see upstream! And, due to the low light conditions, none of the fish were too reluctant to take a fly. In fact, for visibility we switched up from an emerger pattern to a quill body adams.

Like two kids in a candy store, Whitney and I proceeded to spend the next 2 hours in a giddy state of enthusiasm. When you haven't hit a "true" hatch in a while you start to forget what it's like.

It's like "good times"! That's what it's like!

We rounded out the day with about 8 fish each on dries (we opted for comradery over fish quantity and decided to share a rod), and none were too small! It was a day that will not be forgotten soon. And, as for my theories of migrating fish ... I've decided they were all hunkered down during the day since they knew the all you can eat buffet was coming that afternoon.

Tight lines,


  1. Right on jeff!! Glad to hear about the dry action.. and glad to see the water looking that good!! How was the road to the trail?

  2. The road was great! In fact, it was much mellower than I ever remembered it in the past. Seems like they've done some work to it.

    Have you made it to the portal yet?

  3. Yea I made it twice but one of the times it was free week at the parks and you know what that word means this day in age.. hooked up with a couple fish no giant rainbows,, Its tough when its off color a bit + I havent been there enough to memorize all the depths with out being able to see atleast that, I dont know if anything but luck will grab ya a lunker

  4. Sounds like a great day. You gotta love it when everything comes together like that and the fish start feeding on a good hatch...

  5. I hear you on the depths issue. That place can be a rough go if you don't know what your fishing to. I tend to just target fish I can sight (when the water is clear). I'm itching to get down there and land some 18" rainbows.

    David: it was pretty sweet. I grew up back east, so I definitely miss good hatches!