On the Fly column: The Ute Trail offers spectacular fishing and views
On The Fly
Looking for something different, Taylor Creek guide Jerry Pazar and I went to the Gunnison River last week. Jerry has been billy goating up and down the Ute Trail for years, but this was my first time to this section of the river. We decided to camp overnight, and I’m glad we did, because I haven’t hiked like that since I went to Philmont when I was 15. The trail is over 10,000 years old, used by the Utes and those who came before for generations. The hike was strenuous, but the vistas made up for all my huffing and puffing. I felt like I was being watched the whole time.
You’re in the desert there, no bones about it. Gorgeous banded lizards, rabbits and various birds are here and there, but it is a pretty desolate place. The hike is around five miles each way, and it took us a few hours to get down into the canyon. Camping spots can be found up and down the river; some are designated for float fishers, others for hikers. This section of the Gunnison is somewhere between Cheesman Canyon on the South Platte and the A section of the Green River in Utah. Deep, fast water punctuated by enormous boulders, cliff walls and tons of beautiful trout.
One of the most notable attributes of this river was the complete lack of trash left behind. The only human evidence is a few campsites and the remains of an old stone house that was once bravely built long ago. No airplanes. No wires. No trash. Total silence, except for the gurgling water, trout slurping insects on the surface, and the occasional whoop from Jerry as he came tight to a fish. We could use some of that around here, the amount of trash on our rivers is disappointing.
The fish cooperated, the stargazing was out of sight, and after fishing awhile the second day we starting preparing for the ascent. You can’t help but turn around and look often as you climb out of this canyon — the views are nothing short of spectacular. If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it. Sometimes we all need a little variety, and the Ute Trail certainly offers that.
This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at (970) 927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.
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