In the Gunnison Country, excellent fishing begins close to home. In fact, it begins in our own back yard. Drive west on US 50 one mile from downtown to the bridge and turn left immediately after crossing the bridge. From here downstream 2,000 feet is an excellent public stretch of the Gunnison River that includes the Gunnison Whitewater Park.
Continuing west on US 50 another three miles, look for a sign indicating a picnic area to the south. Turn off on County Road 32 (McCabe's Lane) and drive the short distance to the National Park Service's Riverside Picnic area. Park and cross the bridge to fish the Gunnison upstream.
Farther west on US 50 about one and one-half miles is Neversink, which connects with Coopers Ranch. Both are Park Service picnic areas that provide parking, picnicking and restrooms. Public access begins above Neversink and continues to Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Cebolla Creek (pronounced Suh-Voy'-Ya) and the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River are accessed by turning off US 50 onto Highway 149 at the first bridge over Blue Mesa Reservoir. This road will take you to Lake City.
Drive 16 miles up Highway 149 to the Powderhorn turnoff and then proceed on a good gravel road one mile to Powderhorn and on up seven miles to the Cebolla Creek Campground. Here you have about one mile of public fishing. Upstream another four miles begins a mile of public fishing at the Mason Family State Wildlife Area. Driving another 4.5 miles upstream brings you to the Forest Service Boundary and about 8 miles of public fishing including the Cebolla, Spruce, Hidden Valley and Deer Lakes Campgrounds.
The Lake Fork of the Gunnison River is accessed from Highway 149 about six miles beyond Powderhorn. Watch on your right for a sign reading "Red Bridge and Gateview." Exit 149 onto a good gravel road (Cty Rd. 25). Public fishing starts about a half mile down that road and continues all the way downstream to Blue Mesa Reservoir. There are a number of parking areas, campgrounds and restrooms along this stretch.
On Highway 149 south of the "Red Bridge - Gateview" turnoff on the way to Lake City, it is mostly private land with a few small patches of public land. Watch for signs that read "Entering Public Land" and "Leaving Public Land" along the highway. There are usually similar signs along the river. Click here for the first page of a detailed BLM handout describing the various fishing access points along this stretch of river. Click here for page 2.
Just as Cebolla Creek and the Lake Fork are excellent fisheries entering Blue Mesa on its south side, the north side tributaries to the reservoir also offer good fishing.
Starting back on US 50 at the Highway 149 turnoff, travel eight miles west on US 50 to the Rainbow Lake turnoff. This good gravel road goes 12 miles north to Rainbow Lake and the trailhead to the West Elk Wilderness.
Just west on US 50 a couple of miles past the Rainbow Lake turnoff is the entrance to East Elk Creek. You can park at the Park Service site and fish upstream about three miles along the creek, crossing it occasionally. The road is blocked by a beaver pond but with waders you can access this productive brook, brown and rainbow trout fishery.
Soap Creek and Curecanti Creek are reached by driving along US 50 to the Highway 92 turnoff, which will take you over Blue Mesa Dam. Shortly after crossing the dam, look for a right turn onto the Soap Creek road.
In good weather, a car will take you six miles to Ponderosa Campground and another two miles to the Soap Creek Campground, and another 2.5 miles to the Commissary Campground. This lower section offers good stream fishing on public land.
A 4wd is best to access the next six miles into Big Soap Park which is bumpier and can get very slippery in wet weather. The panorama from this park is as noteworthy as the fishing.
To reach Curecanti Creek, drive over the dam and stay on Highway 92 for about seven miles. This is a great little stream and all public once you pass the first mile of private property.
Before you reach Curecanti Creek, look for the signs that direct you to the Pioneer Overlook and trail. The trail is well marked and takes you down into the Black Canyon and the upper reaches of Morrow Point Reservoir. It is a medium difficulty hike that can produce large trout. Count on double the time hiking out that it takes hiking down.
Another way to access the Gunnison below the Blue Mesa Dam is the Pine Creek Trail. Travel one mile on US 50 beyond the turnoff to Highway 92. You will see a sign for fishing access. The Pine Creek Trail allows you to hike on a very good trail with steps and handrails to the base of the dam. Once in the bottom, you can hike along the old railroad grade. In addition to some good fishing for large trout, the Pine Creek Trail is access to a tour boat trip down the canyon. For boat ride details, contact the Elk Creek Marina.