The Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida offers at least 10 boat ramps for float fishing, and numerous wade fishing access areas.  There are some serious class III-IV rapids throughout this zone, so educate yourself before you go.  Being a freestone river, the Ark supports diverse bug life, including tons of caddis, Baetis, PMD's, drakes, golden stones, and more.

 

Nymphs To Try:  Size 8-12 Pat’s Rubber Legs in coffee,  olive, or tan | TDJ Golden Stone size 14 -16 | Tungsten CDC Hare’s Ear size 14-18 | K’s Latex Caddis Larva size 16-18 | Mercury Black Beauty size 18-22 | Rojo midge red or chartreuse size 18-22 | Two Bit Hooker black or dark olive size 18-20 | Purple Zebra midge size 18-22 | Bling Midge cream size 18-24 |

Dries To Try:  Parachute Adams size 16-24 | Brook Sprouts Midge black, grey, or cream size 18-24 | CDC Morgans Midge size 18 - 22 | Snow Shoe Midge Cluster size 18-22 | Hi-Vis Griffith’s Gnat size 18-22

Streamers To Try:  Kyle’s Super Yummy Yellow size 04 | Zonker white size 04 | Wooly Buggers black and  olive size 04-08 | Near Nuff Sculpin tan or olive size 04 - 06 | Crystal Buggers white size 08-10

 

 

2/13/2020

       River flows are 400 CFS, and above as you head downstream, with water temps in the 30's through 40's.  Cold nights and morning often see slush in the water, but trout are normally ready to feed during the warmer parts of the day, after the slush has melted.  There has been some solid mid day midge hatches, and fish rising to them occasionally, but we have been having the most luck nymphing deeper runs, pools, and tailouts.  Attractor nymphs along with Baetis, midge, and caddis larva imitations have been our go to flies.

 

12/13/2019

       200 CFS of water is still being released from twin lakes, so flows will be 300 CFS and greater on the Arkansas from Twin lakes to Pueblo Reservoir.  The Arkansas Valley has been seeing significant snow storms from Leadville through Salida, so expect snowy banks and wintery conditions.  However the river is still very fishable, and a nymph rig can be productive when fished through deeper and calmer water that provides holding areas for trout during winter.  Adolescent stonefly nymphs, and midge larva/emergers are providing the most food for trout at the moment. Egg imitations can also still produce takes from trout on the lower sections of the Arkansas at this time as well.  Warmer days could also see some trout chasing small small to medium sized streamers when given the opportunity.

 

11/23/2019

        River flows have gone up and are currently near 600 CFS in this zone.  This is due to increased releases from Twin Lakes Reservoir, and it sounds like this will continue until the reservoir is low enough to make room for the majority of spring runoff next year.  There has been some off color water with the abrupt rise in flow but this should clear up fairly quickly.  Nymphing with larger attractor patterns imitating stonefly nymphs, and caddis larva etc. that have been stirred up in the fresh release of water could be effective.  Midges, Baetis, eggs, and smaller fish will also be part of the trouts diet in this stretch of water as well.

 

11/15/2019

       Flows are still near 400 CFS in this Zone with water temps in the mid to high 40's.  This stretch of river will be a bit more active then the Arkansas near Leadville, as it is quite a bit lower in elevation, and therfore warmer in general.  Trout are feeding on golden stonefly nymphs, Baetis nymphs, and midge larva/emergers for the most part.  It is also full spawn season for brown trout, so egg imitations are also producing.  Streamers imitating small trout, and leaches can also be effective during the spawn season.  Please keep an eye out for spawning beds and do not wade on, or fish over them.

 

11/8/2019

        River flows are up a bit this week, and current flows are just above 400 CFS.  Water temps are varying between the mid 40’s to low 50’s.  Weather taken a warmer trend over the last week, and daytime temps have been in the 50’s and 60’s.  Trout have transitioned to deeper/slower lies for feeding and holding, but there will be brown trout in shallow riffles for spawn season.  BWOs and midges have been hatching, with stonefly nymphs, and caddis larva also available to trout. Eggs and baitfish can also catch a trouts attention at this point in time.  nymph rigs, and streamers will be are usually the most productive angling methods here at this point in time.

 

11/1/2019

       River Flows are near 350 CFS here, with water temps varying in the 40’s-50’s.  Last weeks cold spell has caused fish to starting to hold in deeper water more consistently, and brown trout are starting to spawn.  The weather ahead looks warm, and BWOs, and midges are still active in this zone.  Some golden stonefly nymphs, and caddis larva are available to trout here also.  Eggs will also be on the menu, and brown trout will be more aggressive towards other fish.  Please be aware of spawning beds, and do not wade on, or fish over them.

 

10/25/2019

       River flows are just above 300 CFS,  and water temps are varying between the mid 40’s to mid 50’s.  Weather has been variable but we are still seeing some sunny days in the upper 50’s to mid 60’s mixed in with colder snowy days.  There are a few terrestrial insects still available here, and some trout can still be taken with attractor flies on the top water.  However fish are feeding more consistently sub-surface on midges, BWOs, stonefly nymphs, and caddis larva. Dry-Droppers, nymph rigs, streamers, and dry flies are all viable angling methods here at this point in time.

 

10/18/2019

       Our 10/10 report still holds true in this zone.  Check the recomended patterns above for some fresh flies to throw!

 

10/10/2019

       The Arkansas River near Salida has been holding near 300 CFS for about a month, and current water temps are between 50 - 60 degrees for the most part.  The warmer daytime air temps in this zone will prolong hopper and other terrestrial bug activity, so a hopper dropper set up is still a viable method of angling here.  However we have been having more success with a nymph rig, as fish have been holding deeper on clear days without much cloud cover.  Golden Stoneflies, Baetis, midges, and a few caddis are still the main food sources for trout currently, but small fish and eggs could some attention at this point in time as well.

 

10/6/2019

      The Arkansas River near Salida has been flowing near the mid 200 CFS mark over the last week, with water temps in the upper 50’s to low 60’s.  Large Golden Stoneflies, a few caddis, strong hatches of Blue Wing Olives, and strong hatches of midges have been the most prevalent aquatic insect activity lately.  Some days have seen good dry fly action on BWO’s and midges, as well as terrestrial insects like grass hoppers which have still been active in the area. Clear, sunny days could be better for a nymph rig as trout hold in deeper water to provide cover for themselves.

 

9/13/2019

       The Arkansas River near Salida has been holding near 400 CFS with some fluctuations up and down.  There are still lots of terrestrial insects near the bank, and we have been seeing Giant Golden Stoneflies, Baetis, caddis, and midges hatching in strong enough numbers to get the trouts attention.  A hopper-dropper rig has been very effective in wider, slower areas of the river, and during periods of near surface feeding activity from trout.  However a nymph rig may be need to get down into faster water, especially on sunny days.

 

9/6/2019

       The Arkansas River near Salida has been flowing close to 400 CFS for the last several weeks, but some heavy storms earlier in the week did cause a spike in flow combined with some muddy water.  Water clarity should be looking clearing now and fishing below Buena vista through Salida should be a go for the weekend.  Keep on eye on the weather though, and beware potent rain events as they could turn the water dirty again.  Grasshoppers, large golden stoneflies, Red Quills, caddis, and Tricos are all important food sources for trout at the moment.  A hopper-dropper set up has been effective when fished along banks, through pocket water, and in riffles.  On hot, sunny afternoons trout may move into deeper water that is broken up enough to contain lots of oxygen.  A deep dropper, or nymph rig may be needed to reach these fish.

 

8/23/2019

       The Arkansas River near Salida has taken close to a 400 CFS drop over the last week, and is currently flowing in the mid 400 CFS zone.  Water clarity has been good barring heavy precipitation, and temps have been in the low 60’s. Trout are still eating terrestrial bugs, and larger aquatic insects like golden stoneflies, PMDs, red quills, and caddis. However, the low and clear water, combined with recent hatches of insects like Tricos, Baetis, and Midges  are causing trout to begin feeding more frequently on smaller food sources.

 

8/15/2019

       The Arkansas River near Salida has finally dropped close to its historic seasonal average flow for this time of year, which is about 800 CFS.  Water clarity has been good in general, but heavy localized precipitation can turn things off color quickly.  We are in our rainy season currently so make sure to check the past, and present weather conditions before you head out, or call local shops in this area for an instantaneous water clarity update. Current hatches include large golden stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, PMDs, and caddis.
       Dry fly fishing has been good here, but it does seem like fishing pressure is starting to make trout a bit hesitant to fully commit to surface feeding. A lightweight, short hopper-dropper rig fished close to the banks is a good second option to dry fly fishing. If that isn’t working either try running a heavier hopper-dropper, or nymph rig 4 or 5 feet deep, and further off the bank.

 

8/9/2019

The Arkansas River near Salida has taken a slow and steady drop from 1500 CFS, to about 1000 CFS over the week.  This will allow trout to move a bit further off the bank in some areas, but in general most angling opportunities will still be tight to the bank.  Large Golden Stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, and caddis are the strongest hatches currently.
       Dry-droppers, and single or double dry flies have been our most productive rig as of recent.  Single, or double dries will allow for easier casting tight to the bank where we are seeing most of our eats, while a dry-dropper rig will also entice trout that are eating sub surface.

 

8/1/2019

       The Arkansas River near Salida has been holding in flow at about 1500 CFS all week, so not much has changed in that front.  Trout will still be holding in pockets along banks for the most part, and a hopper-dropper rig is a great tool for targeting these pockets.  A larger grasshopper or golden stone pattern will be good options for the dry fly, with a heavy golden stonefly nymph dropped about 3 feet off the back.  Yellow Sallies, PMDs, and caddis are also hatching, and imitations of them can work well as light weight, secondary droppers. 

 

7/26/2019

       The Arkansas River near Salida has dropped about 1000 CFS over the last week and is currently flowing near 1500 CFS.  Water clarity has been between 2’ - 4’ on most days, however localized precipitation in large amounts can turn water cloudy quite quickly, especially in bighorn sheep canyon. Giant Golden Stoneflies and Yellow Sallies are the main hatch currently, along with caddis, and PMDs hatching in good numbers on some day as well.
       Even though the flow here has dropped significantly, the current is still very fast, and powerful.  Trout are not likely to be found struggling in the faster areas of the river, instead they will seek calmer pockets of water along banks, and behind larger structure (boulders, logs, etc.).  Drifting imitations of available aquatic insects through, or beside these pockets of water should produce takes from trout which are not letting opportunities at an easy meal pass by.

 

7/19/2019

The Arkansas River Near Salida is flowing about 2200 CFS, and the water clarity is getting much better with about two or three feet being seen on most days.  Giant Golden Stoneflies and Yellow Sallies have been the best hatches recently, with a few caddis and PMDs around as well.  Baitfish such as sculpin, and juvenile trout are also on the menu at this time.
       At this flow the Arkansas is still on the fast side of the spectrum, but it is very fishable, especially from a raft. Target softer water along the banks, and pockets behind larger boulders.  A nymph rig 4 or 5 feet under an indicator will be productive for fishing deeper seems off the bank a few feet,  while a hopper dropper set up will be better for hitting spots right next to the bank, or in shallower pockets behind boulders.

 

7/12/2019

       Conditions are looking better on the Arkansas River near Salida.  River flows are on the decline, and smaller tributaries are running clear, so the water clarity in the lower Arkansas is quickly improving.  The current is still very fast at about 2200 CFS, so target pockets of softer water along banks, or bigger back eddies. 
       A short to medium depth nymph rig featuring a heavy attractor nymph will be an effective set up in this scenario.  We are also getting into terrestrial insect season in warmer areas like Salida, so don’t discount a hopper-dropper rig here either.  If you do choose to fish a hopper-dropper set up use a large foam bodied hopper in order to float a heavy attractor nymph 3 or 4 feet below it.
 

 

7/4/2019
       Run off is still in full effect here, and water clarity below Salida is about 1’ or worse on most days.  If you do fish in this area target pockets of still water along banks with heavy, high visibility, attractor style nymphs.  Streamers are also a good idea in off color high water.

 

6/30/2019

        Conditions are about the same as out 6/13 update at this point, however smaller streams are starting to clear up and mellow out a bit so those can be a good option at this point.

 

6/13/2019

       Run-off is in effect in the Lower Arkansas River Basin, expect to find barely fishable water clarity below Salida.  Consider fishing streamers, and heavy attractor nymphs close to the banks during this time.  Conditions can change on a day to day basis so check in with the local shop of you preference for real time updates, we are a bit to far away from the action for daily updates on this peace of water.

 

5/23/2019

        Cooler than average temps have lowered the amount of water draining into the Ark from tributary creeks.  This is producing a nice window of fishable water during what is normally a period of high and off color water.  Visibility is currently hovering between 1-2' which is great for fishing.  Expect to see hatching Blue Wing Olives during overcast days, with heavier caddis on warmer sunnier days.  Golden Stonefly nymphs and Cranefly Larva could be on the menu as well.  Streamer fishing has also been good along the banks, especially on cloudier days. 

 

4/18/2019

       The Arkansas is fishing well in general, and the salida area has been seeing warm temps for quite some time.  This means that aquatic insects have had some time to adjust to the spring weather and are hatching more frequently.  At this point in time midges and Blue Wing Olive Mayflies are the most consistent souce of food, although Golden Stoneflies and Caddis are becoming more important as well.  Water clarity has been good above Coaldale, but expect to se some off color water downstream.  Releases from Twin Lakes and Clear Creek are expected to remain close to the natural inflows through most of May so the Arkansas should remain at great level for fishing for the time being. 

 

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