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 near Hayden Meadows have leveled out to around 125 CFS
Water Temperature (degrees F):
upper 40's through low 60's
3' through 4' or better, exlcuding heavy perciptitaion
Current Food Sources:
large golden stoneflies | Yellow Sallies | caddis | Baetis | Green Drakes | PMDS | small fish, leeches, etc |
Flies to Try:
Guides Choice Dozen $24.99
| Pat's Rubber Leg's olive or coffee size 10-12 | TDJ golden STone size 14-16 | SChmidt's yellow sally size 14-18 | Egan's Iron Lotus olive size 14-16 | K's Latex caddis larva | Tungsten RS2 olive or grey size 18-22 | Barr's Tongue teaser size 12-16 | Tungsten CDC Hare's Ear size 14-20 | Flashback Pheasant Tail size 14-20
chubby chernobyl olive or gold 8-16 | Hippy STomper Yellow size 10-14 | Crystal Stimulator yellow size 10-14 | Colorado Green Drake size 12 | Green Hackled Spinner size 10 | Elk Hair Caddis size 12-18 |Parachute Adams size 16-24 | Quigley's Film Critic BWO or PMD size 16-20 | CDC Morgans Midge size 18 - 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 nearing perfect for this piece of water. Aquatic insect activity is very strong currently, and we are seeing hatches of a variety of caddis, Green Drakes, PMDs, Yellow Sallies, a few Baetis, and midges. Dry fly and dry-dropper fishing has been good on most days, but always come prepared with a nymph rig if needed. Casting a light hopper-dropper rig through fast water containing sheltered pockets, or along banks has been productive for us recently. Another fun tactic to use here is a double-dry-fly rig. Try a larger dry up front with a smaller trailer 16-20 inches behind.
We love seeing and hearing about your outings as well. Send any fishing photos or stories you want to share over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll throw 'em up in the reports.
The most exciting info as of recent is the start of the green drake hatch...Thanks to our good buddy Kris Tikkanen for snapping this picture of a Green Drake Dun that emerged from the water right in front of him.
(the wings are still drying in this photo, and an aquatic insect in this state is often called a "cripple". Sometimes fish focus on eating the cripples during a hatch as they are easier to spot on the water, and are less likely to get away as the trout attempts to eat them.)
Jacob Lutz spent some time turning over rocks and flinging some flies this past weekend. Here's what he found...
Got on water around 10:30
Checked river rocks before rig up
Lots of caddis, cased and free living.
Green drakes nymphs. And a variety of smaller mayfly nymphs.
Rigged up with size 14 hopper, trailed 6-8 inches below by a green size 16 attractor nymph.
Caught fish on the dropper in the faster/deeper section of a side channel to start with.
Green drakes started hatching around noon, and after I started seeing a few rises I switched the hopper to a green drake dry.
Fished main channel of river with that rig. Caught fish in faster riffles on the dry, with some dropper eats mixed in as well.
Picked off fish rising in back eddies for at least half an hour after the hatch, as drowned adults and crippled will collect in these areas.
Hatches and surface eats slowed down after the wind picked up cosniderably.
Here's some pictures from his day...
Dry fly fishing between Leadville and BV has been productive recently, quite a few fish are sitting in pocket water, and shallow riffles looking up for adult insects.
golden stoneflies, caddis, and drake nymphs are very active on the Ark right now...
A Yellow sally nymph (small species of golden stonelfy) compared to an adult, both are about a size 14...
Green Drake Nymph, hopefully some of these start to hatch soon!
A cased caddis larva and free living caddis larva...
lots of small cased caddis on a piece of scrap wood...
Still working on Identifiying this Mayfly...
A view of the water conditions...
Brown trout produce golden smiles...
Three generations on the water fishing together this day...
Whoops I mean 4, and paws off my rod...
Quick Guides eye view of a day out on the Upper Ark (photos below) with our Seasond guide and fly designer Charlie Schmidt ...
Upper Arkansas River Fishing Report Saturday May 23
"The Ark fished fair yesterday at both Kobe and Hayden Meadows. We started at Kobe around 10am with perfect tea colored water and at least 12 inches of clarity. Our first fish was on the size 10 Brindle Pat’s Rubber Leg and then another on TDJ Golden size 16. We fished the softest water and best available shelves. Not many bugs getting up other than the occasional caddis and baetis. Fish were in predictable places like shelves and foamy eddies. We relocated to Hayden around 1:30 when the heavy cloud cover came in. TDJ Golden 16 was the hot fly for the remainder of the afternoon as well a couple takes on my new TDJ Baetis. Total fish count was 7 landed/14+ hooked. Rainbow..browns...and a cutt-bow blessed the net."
The views fishing the upper Arkansas at this time of year are matchless, just have a look at these photos from our guide Mike Wallace.