Gunnison & Crested Butte Fly Fishing Report
April is here, the runoff has begun, and fishing conditions are variable as ever.
Early spring is one of our favorite times to fly fish near Crested Butte and one of the most challenging times to find consistency from day to day.
We like to call this lack of consistency the April Scaries.
Regardless, angling is lovely due to the peaceful, uncrowded nature of being on the river. The East, the Taylor, and the Gunnison Rivers are now open for business. Further, many of the massive snow banks from the past winter are becoming less hazardous to negotiate.
And on the Gunnison town section and the lower section above Blue Mesa, some folks have begun float fishing — YES!
Nevertheless, fishing conditions are changing drastically from day to day and from week to week.
Early April started with a bang after Crested Butte Mountain Resort closed. The sun was shining, some ice was melting, and we were finding fish in all of the predictable early-spring locations: deep runs, feeding on eggs, midges, BWOs, and the occasional brown or purple jig pattern.
Then things changed, and they changed fast.
Temperatures were in the 50s for several days during the second week of April, melting much of the low-altitude snow in the valley floors. On some rivers, flows bumped up by 3x-4x what they were in previous days.
The Gunnison River in Gunnison was flowing at 250 cfs on April 10th, and by April 14th, it was flowing at 750 cfs. And dam-released flows from the Taylor River have more than doubled in the past few days, going from 88 cfs to 200 cfs.
To top it all off, we woke up to a fresh coating of 7 inches of snow on the mid-elevation mountains on April 15th. WOW!
These dramatic shifts in weather and river flows are part of what we expect during spring in Crested Butte and Gunnison and can predictably make trout’s feeding habits less predictable.
During the last half of April and early May, we advise anglers to follow these general guidelines to put the most trout in the net:
- Seek out water where flows have been the most consistent during the previous 2-3 days. This will allow trout to adapt to their version of the ‘April Scaries’ and begin actively feeding in a more predictable pattern again.
- Baetis nymphs, eggs, and the occasional stonefly patterns are all on the menu for hungry trout over the next 2-4 weeks. Fish them deep and use weight as necessary.
- Dead-drift streamers near the bank of rivers that are blown out or have a chocolate milk appearance. When trout can’t easily detect small bugs in a drift, they may become more opportunistic and take a larger meal, such as a sculpin pattern streamer.
- Dress the part and be prepared for quick changes in the weather. For more information on what we recommend to wear when fly fishing, check out this article.
For more Colorado Fly Fishing Reports from Crested Butte and the Gunnison Area, check out our fishing reports page here.
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