Fishing Fact Sheet

With hundreds of miles of scenic waterways and 3 million new fish released each year from hatcheries, Gunnison County is an excellent choice for a fishing vacation. The county, which is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut, offers crystal-clear reservoirs, three classic rivers, countless creeks and clear alpine lakes

Types of Fish

This wealth of water makes for exceptional fishing: less pressure on the fish means more success for anglers. Gunnison County’s lakes and streams are home to kokanee salmon, northern pike, and brown, rainbow, cutthroat, brook and Mackinaw trout. Area waters entice dry fly-fisherman from June through early November with their strong fly hatches.

Great Fishing Spots

The area’s largest and most popular fishing river, the Gunnison, begins near the small town of Almont at the confluence of the East and Taylor rivers. Stretches of this legendary trout stream, including a section of Gold Medal Trout Water downstream from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, are among Colorado’s finest trout water.  The Gunnison River is the second largest river in the state and has more fish per mile than any other river of the state, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The free-flowing East River is smaller, with a section of wild trout water above and below the Roaring Judy Hatchery, located approximately 11 miles north of Gunnison and 13 miles south of Crested Butte. The Roaring Judy ponds, located beside the river at the hatchery, provide a home for record-breaking brown trout and many small rainbows.

The Taylor River flows through its craggy canyon in the shadow of the jagged Sawatch Range to Taylor Park Reservoir, a beautiful high mountain lake that teems with cutthroats, rainbows and browns. Below the dam, a prime catch-and-release area yields 6- to 12-pound rainbows and is reported to contain rainbow trout that are larger than the current state record of 18.5 pounds.

Just to give you an idea how good the fishing is, Don Walker reeled in a lake trout (mackinaw) from Blue Mesa Reservoir in May 2007 that weighed 50.35 pounds (a record that still stands!).  The previous record, set in 2002 by his brother-in-law, was shattered by about 3.5 pounds.  Blue Mesa, located west of Gunnison within Curecanti National Recreation Area, is the state’s largest body of water, has 92 miles of shoreline and is home to the largest kokanee salmon fishery in the United States.  Gunnison County also holds state records for the largest brown trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon.

State Fishing Records

By Weight
Rainbow Trout
Tiger Trout
Kokanee (Snagging)
By Length
Brook Trout
Cutthroat Trout, Snake River
Rainbow Trout
Tiger Trout


For those who prefer a guide, Gunnison County has a number of private outfitters for scenic backcountry fishing and float trips.

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