Last weekend, I made the trip up to and around Blue Mesa Reservoir to Gunnison for a summer float on the upper Gunnison River from Almont down to the town of Gunnison. The skies were blue, the winds were light and it seemed to be just about the perfect day for fishing on that stretch of water.
What I found when I got to the put-in was a melee of other rafts, kayaks and guides who had the same idea as I did. Of course, I am (although I hate to admit it) one of those weekend warriors who get out of work on a Friday and rush into the hills for some Colorado camping and fishing during the summer months. Well, this was the obvious case last weekend when it was me and just about everybody else putting on the Gunnison River that fine day.
And a fine day it was except for the fishing, which sucked. The water level was a little boney and it took some angling to get the flies into some of the deeper holes. The fishing remained sub-par at best for everyone in our boat. The scene that day had reminded me of the log flume ride at the old Elich Gardens. One boat after another. A never-ending train of floating objects. No wonder the fishing was just OK that day.
I have had some great days on that stretch especially during some heavy rains but the traffic that day along that river was just too much for me (and apparently the fish as well) to handle. It made me realize that while I felt I had to get away from the Uncompahgre and San Miguel rivers for a weekend, some of the best fishing is always where the anglers aren’t. That variable alone can simply make the fishing much, much better.
This weekend, I would recommend going to the San Miguel River below the Norwood Bridge for a day of fun and (hopefully) some river serenity. The public lands below the bridge offer plenty of opportunity for an angler to get away from the crowds and perhaps find one of those rare, big browns that I know hold in the deeper pools.
Keep throwing those hoppers with a dropper behind it (red copper John or hare’s ears). By now, these fish have seen hundreds of hoppers thrown at them so don’t be afraid to change the size and style of the hopper. If you haven’t noticed it yet, the nights are getting cooler in the region, which means wading in these beautiful these local rivers will soon be a thing of the past. Enjoy it now, while you can.