Gunnison/Crested Butte Colorado – Trout and Kokanee Fishing

We’ve lived in Colorado for 12 years now and have never explored the Gunnison/Crested Butte area. We decided we need to explore that area this summer and fish the famous Blue Mesa Reservoir for Lake Trout. We found that this area is a great place for various outdoor activities including hiking, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding and fishing. It is also full of breathtaking views.

 We found several awesome fishing holes that were family friendly and a few that required a little bit more skill. There were places where you could work on your fly fishing techniques or cast a line with a spinning reel and bobber. The fishing spots are easy to get to with some more crowded than others.

The first place we stopped was Willow Creek in Taylor Park. The creek is a tributary stream to Taylor Park Reservoir.  We were able to catch a couple nice Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout on the fly rod. There are a couple beaver dams, but they were not very productive. We hiked along the creek looking for fishable areas which were few and far between.

We decided to go try Taylor Park Reservoir. We fished the inlet and caught a couple nice sized Rainbow Trout using spinning gear and bobbers with a nightcrawler hooked about 2 ft. from the bobber. We heard the area next to the dam is good fishing, but we did not try it this time.

We tried to find places that were off the beaten path and were not busy, but this time of year it seemed like most places had people from all over the USA enjoying the Colorado outdoors. We did find a couple more fishing holes in the Crested Butte area that were a pretty busy, but we did find places to fish without issue. We first fished at Irwin Lake. (map) This was the busiest of all the spots we found. It is located 9 miles from town and sits at 10,200 ft. overlooking the Ruby Mountain Range. There is overnight camping available at the Irwin Lake Campground.

We were able to hike a little ways to the right of the parting lot to find a spot to fish. There is a trail along the lake or a dirt road you can walk down and cut over to the lake. We caught several Rainbow Trout and Brook Trout using nightcrawlers on a hook with and without a bobber. This is also a nice place to paddleboard and kayak.

Not far from Irwin Lake was Lost Lake Slough. The lake is located in Lost Lake Campground. There were only a few other people fishing upon arriving and there were plenty of places to toss in a line. There was some traffic and campers hiking by the lake. We were able to catch a few stocked Rainbow Trout on size 8 baitholder hooks and nightcrawlers. Rainbows just don’t seem to be able to resist the nightcrawler.

Probably the least crowded fishing spot was Hot Springs Reservoir. It is located about 20 miles from Gunnison. We caught several small Rainbow Trout. The size varied from 9″ to 12″. This is a great place for kids to have the opportunity to catch alot of fish. We used a size 8 baitholder hook and nightcrawlers with a small bobber about 2 feet above the bait. We also used ultralight spinning reel and rod with 6lb. line. We were able to catch and release about 30 fish between us in about an hour.

One of our favorite spots to fish was The Roaring Judy Ponds. This is actually a fish hatchery with several ponds for kids and big kids (wink, wink) to fish. This is a great place to work on your fly fishing technique or try different flies and baits using a spinning reel and rod.

We used nightcrawlers and Powerbait corn on a size 8 hook. We fished the first pond by the inlet, but there are several to try your luck or skill. Mr. Alan Schneider tried his luck in 1988 and now holds the Colorado record for a 30 lb 8 oz Brown Trout.

Note: Read more about Roaring Judy HERE.

One of the reasons we decided to explore the Gunnison/Crested Butte area is famous Blue Mesa Reservoir. The Colorado State record Lake Trout was caught here and weighted 50lbs 5 oz with a length of 44 1/4 inches long and a girth of 34 3/8″.blue mesa Res.

We arrived without booking a fishing guide. We decided to take our chances and find one when we arrive. Instead of looking online we drove down to the marina and came upon a family from Dallas, Texas beaming and eager to share their experience about their catch while the guide cleaned and bagged their fish. They let us know their guide was awesome and would highly recommend him. We talked to the guide, Jerad Cotten, and his deck hand/son, Braylen. We got lucky to find a guide at the last minute and booked for the following day.

We began our guided trip fishing for Kokanee and Rainbow Trout. We both caught several nice sized Kokanee and a couple Rainbows. We are catch and release anglers, so we let them all go.

Lisa Lake Trout Blue Mesa

The last couple hours of the trip we trolled for Lake Trout. Jerad  got us on several Lake Trout with 5 of the 8 we had on board being trophy Lake Trout including one which was 44″ in length and 35.75lbs.  Jerad’s right-hand man, Brylan was very knowledgeable also and took good care of us and the fish. This is incredible fishing and can only happen if your guide knows what he/she is doing and is familiar with the lake and conditions. This was a fishing trip of a lifetime.  I would not hesitate to book again with Colorado Fishing Expeditions. 

There are only a handful of places we plan to return to the following summer. This is definitely on our must return list. This is a great area for all ages and fishing skill levels. Enjoy your summer and stay safe. You can always refer to the COLORADO FISHING ATLAS using the phone app or website for more information and maps.


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