Curecanti National Recreation Area

Fishing
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Curecanti National Recreation Area
Curecanti National Recreation Area (National Park Service)
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Find out more about Colorado rivers and fishing in Gunnison National Forest
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Brown, rainbow, Mackinaw, and brook trout and kokanee salmon attract anglers to the park's waters in both summer and winter. The three dams of the Wayne M. Aspinall Unit dramatically changed the area's fishery. Where once the rainbow and brown trout of the Gunnison River fed predominately on aquatic insects, some fish of Curecanti's lakes feed on plankton.

Plankton are microscopic plants and animals that flourish in this new lake environment. Brook trout favor the lake's tributary streams. The lakes' concentration of plankton is suitable for maintaining kokanee. Kokanee lure many people to the area and particularly during the snagging season, which generally begins in October. Rainbow trout are the most commonly caught fish. In Blue Mesa Lake's deep subsurface canyons lurk cold-water-loving Mackinaw (lake) trout caught at more than 30 pounds here. Rainbows, introduced in the Gunnison River in the 1880s, are still stocked along with kokanee salmon. During the summer season you can learn more about the park's fish by joining a ranger for fish feeding at the Elk Creek Visitor Center's fish pond.

Fishing Tips
The best fishing times are early morning and late evening when fish are feeding. Flies work best in evenings.

Troll at five miles per hour for rainbow, slower for kokanee. Kokanee travel in schools. If you get a strike but don't pull in a fish, it may mean that you are trolling too fast for this tender-mouth salmon. Troll deeper for cold-water-loving Mackinaws. In summer, run leaded lines 40-70 feet deep.

Shore fishing is best when lake levels are low, in late spring and early summer. As the lake level rises and the water warms, the fish are found deeper and in the middle of the lake.

Snagging for kokanee begins in October. For exact date, call park headquarters.

Fishing Regulations
A Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 15 years of age and over. Buy licenses at the marina or at a number of area sporting goods stores. Know the regulations. Note that daily bag and possession limits are often the same. Check before fishing for closures, seasons, bait, and any other local restrictions that may apply. Use the fish cleaning stations provided. If one is not available, use trash cans for proper disposal.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 6 Jan 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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