In Colorado’s Legendary Gunnison Gorge
June’s Annual Stonefly Hatch Summons a Feeding Frenzy ~ Where 16 to 25 inch Rainbows and Browns Are the Likely Prize
The call “Down the Hatch” takes on new meaning while descending Colorado’s Gunnison Gorge in June. It’s rafting outfitter Bill Dvorak’s favorite time to guide wide-eyed fishermen on what many refer to as the “nirvana” of Rocky Mountain fly-fishing trips.
It begins in early June when water temperatures start to increase and continues for three to four weeks. Large stoneflies, aka salmonflies (averaging 3 inches in length) emerge from the river bottom to hatch, breed, flutter through the air, and land on the water. Native trout, which derive three-quarters of their year’s protein from this short-lived hatch, go into a feeding frenzy.
“That’s when the fun really begins,” says Bill Dvorak, owner of Dvorak’s Rafting Expeditions who has been leading commercial fishing expeditions through the gorge since 1982, longer than anyone else. “Every time you make a cast during the stonefly hatch you have a legitimate chance of catching the biggest fish you’ve ever seen!”
The Gunnison River as it flows through the Gunnison Gorge, downriver from the national park of the same name, traditionally has the largest stonefly hatch of any Colorado fishery. Rainbows and Browns over 5 pounds are common. It’s not hard to see why this remote stretch of backcountry water (accessible only by foot and horseback) has been designated “Gold Medal” by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
The reason for the Gunnison’s revered reputation is in its inaccessibility. There are only three trails leading into the Gunnison Gorge giving access to approximately one mile of bank fishing at each trail head. The only way to fish the entire 14-mile corridor is by raft and there are only two commercial launch permits issued on any given day. To access the launch site fishermen must hike one mile down a steep trail to the river while horses pack-in all the gear.
Dvorak Expeditions limits its trips to just eight anglers accompanied by four guides offering a choice of two days or three days on the river. Nights are spent in secluded riverside camps dining on gourmet campfire cuisine. Rates begin at $525 per person, per day and include all meals, rafting equipment, professional guides, camp amenities, and transportation to the river from Montrose, Colorado. Participants may rent or bring their own sleeping bags and tents and must provide their own tackle and Colorado fishing license.
While June is considered prime time, there’s excellent angling throughout the spring and summer from late May through late September. According to Dvorak, weekly departures are starting to fill so it is recommended that anyone interested in scheduling a Gunnison fishing trip in 2011 should do it soon. There’s a 10% discount offered for parties of four or more people.
Press Release: widnesspr.com