The Headwaters of the Arkansas start near Climax Mine along Fremont Pass (Highway 91 South), and then flow along Highway south of Leadville, all the way to Buena Vista. The upper stretches near Leadville offer tighter fishing along cut banks with willowy vegetation. Good dry fly fishing can be found here as a large variety of aquatic insects dwell in the freestone river. The Caddis Population is especially high, and is always a good insect to imitate in the Arkansas River. As the Arkansas Flows downstream it becomes wider, with fast canyon areas containing large boulders. These lower stretches from Granite to BV are sometime better fished with a heavy hopper dropper set up, or a nymph rig.
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River Flow (Cubic Feet Per Second):
Flows have been on the rise, but have seemed to level out near 400 CFS(Hayden Meadows) for the time being.
Water Temperature (degrees F):
High 30's through mid 40's
1-2' currently, a bit of stain on the water (tea colored) but very fishable
Current Food Sources:
stonefly nymphs, Baetis, drake nymphs, caddis, eggs, worms, small fish
Flies to Try:
Guides Choice Dozen $24.99
| Pat's Rubber Leg's black size 8-10 | Egan's Iron Lotus olive size 14-16 | Egan's Jig Frenchie size 14 | Tungsten RS2 olive or grey size 18-22 | Shot Glass Baetis size 18 olive or brown | Tungsten Skinny Nelson size 18 |Poison Tung Blue size 18-22 | Pretty in Pink SJ worm size 16
Crystal Stimulator yellow size 10-14 | Elk Hair Caddis size 12-18 |Parachute Adams size 16-24 | Quigley's Film Critic BWO size 18-20 | CDC Morgans Midge size 18 - 22 | Snowshoe Dun size 18-22 | Parachute Extended Body BWO size 16-22 |
Double or Baby Gongas | Craven's Dirty Hippie | Super Bugger tan size 04 | Near Nuff Sculpin tan or olive size 04-06 | Ishiwata’s Articulated Snitch olive | Bead Head Pine Squirrel Leech black size 12 |
guide tip of the week:
Flows are a bit high but clarity has been quite nice for fishing on most days. Take advantage of side channels, and other pieces of soft water that are not usually fishable during lower flows. A nymph rig with constant weight/depth adjustment will be your best tool currently, but as days get warmer we are seeing more aquatic, and terrestrial bug activity so dry flies have potential too.
Our guide Mike Wallace (who also happens to be an avalanche forecasting professional) has done it again, and come through with another stellar fishing report. Have a read about a few days he spent fishing on the upper Ark.
Upper Arkansas Report 5.10.20
As air temps warm and snow melt fills the creeks, the Upper Ark shapes up into a decent fishery. The water clarity does suffer a bit, but not too much as to get “blown out” and cloud up dramatically. I enjoy fishing the river when the flows are around 250-300 cfs. The pools fill and once the fish settle into their feeding lies, they stay hungry as they navigate the higher flows. One main variable that can slow the fishing is overnight freezing temps in the valley. This can knock the river water temps back into the high 30’s and low 40’s. However, when clear skies allow the sun to heat the water, afternoons can be productive as the fish feed on Baetis, Caddis, and Stonefly nymphs.
CFS: 200 to 275 on a diurnal flux with night and day air temps.
Weather: Clear to partly cloudy skies most days with winds westerly 5-15 mph gusting to 25. Temps are mostly in the mid 50’s to mid 60’s in the afternoon.
Water Clarity: The water is a consistent “tea” color with visibility around 8-10”.
Water Temps: 40-42 until 11:00-ish then warming about 2 degrees an hour, reaching 48-50 by 3:00 or 3:30.
Trout Holding: A few fish are sitting higher in the faster seams at the tops of pools but the majority of the action is in the middle and the tail-outs of the larger pools. Also, try drifting nymphs through the bubble lines that are next to deep cut banks as aggressive browns are feeding in these zones, as well.
Hatches: BWO’s are hatching in the late afternoon but are not consistent. Depending on the day, some hatches are heavy while on other days, very sporadic. I didn’t see any surface action during the hatches and stayed with nymphs and emergers, which were both productive.
Guide Tip: Take a thermometer and get water temps every hour or so. I took temps in the shallower riffles and gravel bars, as that’s where the sun heats the water. When water temps reach 46 and up fish takes should increase. Where the gravel bars end and drop into the pools is where the action will be, especially the seams, middle of the pools and the tail-outs. Try not to rush your next cast after a drift. Allow the nymphs to “swing” back toward the bank and watch for your indicator to disappear on the take.
The views fishing the upper Arkansas at this time of year are matchless, just have a look at these photos from Mike Wallace.
Bug samplings are looking very similar to that of some taken a week or two ago, Green Drake Nymphs, Baetis Nymphs, and another large dark stonefly.
1st week of may:
Water Clarity was quite nice for angling at Hayden Meadows
This stonefly nymph has caused some talk at the shop, it could be a dark colored golden stone, skwala etc., but it looks a lot like a Salmon Fly Nymph, which where introduced into the Arkansas River in an effort to create a sustaining population. Is it starting to work? Anywho, a size 8- 10 black Pat's Rubber Leg's was a good fly this day.
Drake nymphs, and Baetis where found in the highest numbers. Didnt get a good picture of the Baetis, but they were dark olive in color and size 18-ish. We did not have a ton of luck on drake patterns, but maybe soon. Baetis patterns, like the Tungsten Skinny Nelson were pretty hot though.
This brown hammered a Pretty in Pink SJ worm size 16, and then bent a Sage X 6 weight fly rod nearly in half, if you can believe it.
Start 'em young, but make sure they are happy and comfortable, or you won't be. The Simms Solar Tech Kids Hoodie is a perfect summer sun and bug protection layer for the kiddos this summer.
"Foam is Home" is how the saying goes, Cam Carlson proves it with this photo....Blue Wing Olive Duns accumulate in a foam eddy on the Upper Arkansas River Near Kobe Ranch.
Colorful Brown taken on a size 16 Parachute Extended Body BWO. This custom engraved Rising Net made landing, and taking a photo of this trout a breeze.
Beers, babes, and browns, a classic spring day on the Ark. Our flies of the day where the gey/blue Poison Tung, the zebra JuJuBee Midge, and the Jigged Biot Epoxy Stone.