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Get Ready for Stonefly Season on the Gunnison

The hot late spring sun, rising rivers and lengthening days signal that BIG BUG season is almost upon us! Each year between May and July, the Salmon Flies, Golden Stoneflies and Yellow Sallies emerge from the depths of our rivers to become the lifeblood of trout fisheries across the Rockies and the Western US. Just 4 hours from Denver on the Western Slope lie the Gunnison and Taylor rivers; home to some of the best salmon fly, golden stone, and yellow sally hatches in the US. Starting in the last weeks of May and peaking through early to mid-June, the stoneflies crawl out of the river like an invading army. This hatch triggers one of the most explosive feeding events of the year with trout gorging on both nymphs and dries until they can barely flex a fin!

Tips & Tactics for Fishing the Stonefly Hatch

  • Approach the Banks with Caution - Fish will hold next to the bank in the hopes of catching clumsy stoneflies as they fall off vegetation or are returning to the water to lay their eggs. Approach the bank with caution and focus your casts along the bank where you are walking before you start working mid-channel habitat with your rig.
  • Big Flows Require Big Tippet & Leaders - The stonefly hatch coincides with runoff, and these higher flows mean that we need to increase the weight of our tippet and leaders. Fishing the Gunnison or Taylor isn't like fishing to the shy tailwater trout. High flows and off-color waters mean that fish are less likely to spook, and 1X - 4X leader and tippet may be necessary to get the fish to hand.
  • Go Big or Go Home - Big dry flies (#6-#14) are the name of the game. These stoneflies are the biggest bugs on the river, so don't be afraid to tie on a massive dry fly and slap it down on the water!

About our guest author Adam Beede of Home Waters Fly Fishing LLC.
Adam Beede is a Colorado Native and grew up fishing Bear Creek and the South Platte River for as far back as he can remember. Adam started guiding at 16 before heading to Western State Colorado University in Gunnison under the auspices of pursuing a degree in chemistry but mostly to chase Kokanee on the Gunnison and Taylor Rivers. As a freshman, Beede started the Gunnison Sockeyes River Conservation Club and spent his summers managing a private fishing ranch on the Taylor River. In 2019 Adam took the plunge and started Homewaters Fly Fishing LLC. Passionate about getting anglers on fish, Adam and his team have access to premium private waters and permits to some of the best public water in the state. If you'd like to get away from the Front Range crowds and catch some West Slope hogs, give Adam and his team a call!

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