WON Landing Page March 2022

DamselFly Fisher: Floating with One Fin on the Gunnison

This past weekend some friends and I headed to the Pleasure Park to float the Gunnison River and we were treated to some excellent fly fishing. Our friend Jason Becker brought his big boat and I took my Water Master Kodiak made by Big Sky Inflatables out for only the second time since I ordered it at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show in Denver.

The river levels in our neck of the woods have long since dropped below floatable levels and it has been cold and snowy, so it was a treat to be in warmer weather and to float again.  The Pleasure Park is located just outside of Crawford, Colo.  Our take-out was an experimental one that was a beast to drag Jason’s boat out – even with four people.  The float started out fishing fantastic and I caught five fish right away on streamers and nymphs.  My two best streamers that day were an olive muddy buddy and a size 12 coachman.  My best nymphs that day were a San Juan worm (the water was a bit off color) and a size 20 zebra midge.  I tried fishing eggs for a while because the browns are spawning, but didn’t move anything.

Gunnison River. Photo by Katherine Browne.

Two miles into the float, I lost a fin and was on the verge of tears because I though I would have to give up fishing in my Kodiak for the day.  In our other kick boat, losing a fin ended my fishing for the day and I was convinced this would be the case.  Someone needs to invent a floating fin because I hate that every time a fin slips off I have all of half a second to retrieve it before the river gobbles it up.  I figured I might as well try fishing with one fin and I was amazed that I was able to.  The Water Master was so maneuverable and easy to slow down and the river was low and slow enough that was able to pull it off.  With any other kick boat I don’t think this would have worked though I can’t say my legs weren’t sore the next day.  I switched the fin from my right to left leg half way through, let my fiancé Eric take the kick boat while I rowed and fished from Jason’s boat, and had a fantastic day even with one fin.  I caught more fish from my Kodiak than I did in the big boat and so did Eric.  It is such a sneaky little vessel and I could stand up and walk wade in areas where fish were podded up.

DamselFly Fisher's fiance, Eric, had luck on the river ... or no, that's skill! He's one of the top fly-fishing guides in the area. Photo by Katherine Browne.

Unlike other kick boats, the Water Masters actually helps you walk-wade by providing added stability and safety when you stand up rather than pushing you or trying to peel off without you like many conventional kick boats.   I was able to stand up and walk wade in areas that I could never get to or wade in safely without the assistance of my Kodiak and fish pods of fish for longer than Jason’s boat was able to without anchoring.

I am really excited about fishing and floating the Gorge with this boat next year.  The Gorge is just upriver of the Pleasure Park and has some amazing fishing as well as some big white water.  The Water Master Kodiak is rated for Class 4 white water and should be the perfect craft for a multi-day adventure in the Gunnison Gorge.  It is light, frameless, has lots of room for storage and, the whole boat and all its accessories pack into a backpack that doubles as a dry bag.  I bought the expedition package and the heavy duty oars so my boat could handle white water and multi-day adventures.  It weighs a bit more but it’s still highly packable.

DamselFly Fisher caught this lovely brown from her Kodiak.

We moved and hooked some monsters, but we weren’t able to land any of them this time.  The fish tended to be congregated in certain areas and when we were on them we were really on them.  Brown trout were especially aggressive because they are spawning and many of the fish we caught had marks on their bellies from digging their spawning beds.  Most of the fish that we caught on streamers were on the banks and sitting in still or very slow moving water.  I was surprised at how many fish we were catching in very shallow water as well.  Overall, it was an excellent trip and it was very nice to go somewhere different and float again.  I miss floating more than anything during the winter months and it was great to get my new Kodiak kick boat out on more time this year.  Tight lines and thanks for reading!

Scenes like this one are often the reward for a day on the river. Photo by Katherine Browne.

  • About Katherine Grand

    Katherine Grand pens "DamselFly Fisher" and works as Pro-Staff and Dealer Relations Coordinator at Prois Hunting and Field Apparel in Gunnison, Colo. She also guides in fly-fishing waters near Gunnison.


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