Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
(Grand Junction, CO)
Adam and Tony relaxing in camp
I must start by stating that I am not a hard core fly fisher like some people I know. And although Gunnison Gorge is away from the home waters for NoCoFlyFishing I would have to consider it my home waters in Grand Junction.
This was truly a trip that Adam had wanted to go on for a long time so I decided to invite the soon to be brother-in-law (Tony) along to get to know him better. The real vacation started the night before we left for the river. A home cooked meal of chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes. A real hardy meal for our last in 3 days. It was then followed by a few beers at the the local brewery.
Anyway on to the trip. It was the longest 1 hour trip I have ever been on. Every sight of moving water got the blood pumping a little more. But we finally got to the Montrose fly shop looking for that ever elusive local pattern for the Gunnison River that would catch the "big" one. It was a let down. We did get some good info on the salmon fly hatch that kept us from hiking the "extreme" trail of Gunnsion National Park. The guy at the fly shop informed us that the hatch was going to farther down stream and the trail we should take would be a 3 out of ten where as the Gunnison trail we had planned on taking would be a 10 out of 10. Thank goodness! The girl that came and actually rang up our overly priced, run of the mill, fly's was actually very nice and helpful. Had she been there when we first arrived the experience may have been different. Oh well.
We arrived at our camp site on the South Rim of the park for the first evening. Took a very nice sight seeing tour through the park and finally ended up at the East Portal for some fishing. Water was great and everyone we passed was catching something. By the way this is not an area to go if you want to get away from people. The water was a perfect temperature and down stream we went. To the beginning fly fisher this is some intimidating water, and I didn't catch a single fish there. So that's all I have to say about that area.
Morning couldn't come soon enough. I was just ready to get away from everyone and do a little back packing. We packed up the truck and headed about 45 min back the way we came to get the the trail head. Off we went thinking that this 3 of a trail was going to be a breeze. Now mind you that I am a local Colorado guy who grew up in the high country, Tony is a silly marathon type runner from Ohio, and well Adam is just Adam. The trail is 1.5 miles long with the last mile being straight down. I mean straight. It was a little rough but we made it in about an hour and a half. Our camp was so close to the water I could smell it. It was great. Camp got put up in a hurry and off to the water we went. The just of this day was I did catch a nice size fish so I was happy.
Nothing like waking up and tossing a fly in the river before the coffee is already done! Fishing was a blast for the whole day. I must say that the conservation area is a little more crowded than I would have liked. As I went up river (didn't see anyone that way), Adam and Tony went down and it ended up looking like an all out fly war. But it was all good.
The last day we packed up and hit the river for the last chance at catching the largest fish anyone had ever see. We did not accomplish this. But fish were caught. Hiking out sucked. Not only did we have to go up what we came down, but it hailed on us. I blamed Tony on the hail but the next trip I took with Adam it hail on the way out as well. So guess what Adam, it's officially your fault!
The trip was a blast. The only warnings of the area I have are:
1. There are a few people in and out of the area all day.
2. If you want a rubber hatch your in the right spot.
3. Be prepared for steep terrain.
The upsides of the area:
1. It's not a long hike. (kind of)
2. Camp is so close to the river you can smell it
3. There is a pit toilet (just don't camp in spot 11)
4. Fishing is great, and the average size was about 16in
4. Good friends, cheep whiskey, and fly rods make for a hell of a trip!