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.

 

Nymphs To Try: Size 10-12 Pat’s Rubber Legs in olive or tan | TDJ Golden Stone size 14 -16 | Mercer’s Poxy Back Micro Stone size 14-16 | Bling Midge cream size 20-22 | Zebra Midge Purple size 18-22 | Miracle Midge size 18-24 | Black Beauty size 18-22

Dries To Try:  Parachute Adams size 16-24 | Dandelion Midge grey size 18-22 | Solitude Midge black or olive size 20-24 | Hatching Midge black size 18-22

Streamers to Try:  Super Bugger tan size 04 | Near Nuff Sculpin tan or olive size 04-06 | Ishiwata’s Articulated Snitch olive | Bead Head Halebop Leech wine or olive size 08 | Bead Head Pine Squirrel Leech black size 08

 

2/13/2020

       Most of the Upper Arkansas is iced over from Leadville to Twin Lakes.  However, the river is fishable from Twin lakes downstream as 200 CFS of water is being released from Twin.  Nymphing with attractor patterns trailed by small baetis nymphs, and midges is often productve here.  Warmer days can also see midge hatches, and a few rising trout.

 

12/19/2019

       Unfortunatley last weeks powerfull storm system, combined with this weeks extreme cold front have iced over most of the upper Ark.  However a warm front is moving in next week, and daytime temps in the 40's could produce some fishable water here.

 

12/13/2019

       Flows here are near 100 CFS, with water temps in the 30’s through low 40’s.  Some ice is developing in areas, but a lot of the river is still fishable.  Trout have moved into winter time lies, and it is common to find lots of trout holding in slower deeper areas, and hardly any in shallower stretches of river. Primary food sources have been adolescent golden stonefly nymphs, and midges recently.  A nymph rig will be the most efficient technique for probing into the deeper pools where fish are holding.

 

11/23/2019

       River flows are near 50-100 CFS between Leadville and Granite, with water temps in the low 40s and high 30s.  Winter weather patterns have taken effect in the area as consistent storms are predicted to hit the rest of the month through early December.  Expect trout to hold in deep slow pools and tail outs feeding on small midge larva and Baetis nymphs.  Larger attractor patterns could also produce some opportunistic strikes. 

 

11/15/2019

       Not much has changed in this stretch over the last week, flows and water temps will be similair to our 11/8 report.  Slower/deeper water such as the "tail outs" of pools will be more productive than faster water.  Baetis, midges, caddis larva, and golden stonelfy nymphs will make up most of the trouts food sub surface.  Some brown trout may still be spawnign so egg patterns could potentially work as well.  Keep an eye out for spawning beds and do not bother them.

 

11/8/2019

        River flows are near 50-100 CFS between Leadville and Buena Vista, with water temps in the 40’s.  There weather in this stretch of water has been sunny and mild this week, with temps in the 40’s. Trout have transitioned to deeper/slower winter lies, and are feeding on midges and BWO nymphs primarily.  Although trout will also opportunistically forage for caddis larva, and stonefly nymphs as well.  There could also be a few eggs around from the tail end of spawn season in this zone.

 

11/1/2019

       Flows on the Arkansas between Leadville and BV are between 100-200 CFS, with water temps in the 40’s.  Last week was cold and snowy, so trout are holding in deeper, slower water.  The warmer temps over this weekend should see some BWO, and midge hatches with trout feeding on them.  Other food sources include caddis larva, stonefly nymphs, and a few possible eggs from the end of spawn season here.

 

10/25/2019

       River flows are near 50-100 CFS between Leadville and Buena Vista, with water temps in the 40’s.  There weather in this stretch of water has been consistently cold recently, with a few inches of snow on the ground in Leadville.  Trout are being found in deeper slower water for the most part, and are mainly feeding sub surface on midges, and Baetis nymphs.  Brown trout are in full spawn here, so please keep a look out for spawning beds and do not wade on, or fish over them. A nymph rig featuring midge lavra/emergers, Baetis nymphs, eggs, and caddis larva is the best bet here currently.

 

10/18/2019

       River flows are about 100 - 125CFS between Hayden Meadows and Beuna Vista, and water temps are starting to drop as we are seeing winter weather starting to move in.  Trout are being found more consistently in slower/deeper winter lies now.  nymph rigs, smaller dry flies, small to medium sized streamers, and pegged eggs should produce the most action for the time being.

 

10/10/2019

       The Arkansas River near Granite is flowing about 125 CFS, and water temps are starting to drop as we seeing air temperatures stay below freezing on some days.  Trout are holding in a variety of water at the moment, as they transition from fast/shallow summer time lies, to slower/deeper winter lies. Warmer “indian summer” days in the near future could see some terrestrial bug activity again, but hopper action has slowed to a crawl for the most part.  nymph rigs, smaller dry flies, and small to medium sized streamers should produce the most action for the time being.

       

 

10/6/2019

        The Arkansas River near Granite is flowing 100 CFS zone, with water temps in the high 40’s to mid 50’s.  Terrestrial insect action is starting slow down in upper stretches o the Arkanas Valley as air temps have been getting into the 20’s regularly at night. However there are still a few hoppers active along the river banks. Blue Wing Olives, and Midges are currently making up the largest hatches, but there have also been a few larger Golden Stones hatching as well.  fishing has been good on both nymphs, and dry flies, but the colder morning hours of the day have been a bit slower due to cold temps.

 

9/13/2019

       The Arkansas River near Granite has been holding near 200 CFS over the last week.  We are still seeing some large golden stoneflies hatching, and some good sized grasshoppers along the banks.  The most prominent nymphs found when inspecting rocks in the riffles have been small, dark Baetis sizes 18-20.  Caddis Larva are also very prevalent in this stretch of water.  At these lower flows a hopper-dropper rig is a great tool for enticing trout from beneath cut banks, boulders, and shelves.  Deeper runs, and riffles may require a nymph rig to find trout on hot, sunny days. 

 

9/6/2019

       The Arkansas River near Kobe/Hayden Meadows is about 100 CFS, while further downstream in Granite flows are closer to 200 CFS.  Water clarity has been good, even during heavy rain, but we have noticed slower fishing during these periods of heavy storm. Caddis, Red Quills, Tricos, Baetis, and midges are all active aquatic insects at the moment, and dark size 20ish Baetis are the nymph we are seeing in the highest numbers when flipping over rocks.  Drifting a hopper-dropper rig through oxygenated riffles, and over shelves has been an effective technique lately, and should continue to be until we start seeing consistent heavy freezes at night.

 

8/23/2019

       The Arkansas River near Granite has decreased in flow about another 200 CFS this week, and is currently flowing in the mid 300CFS range. Action on golden stonefly nymphs has slowed down a bit, but we are still seeing solid PMD, Red Quill, and caddis hatches.  Fall bugs such as Tricos, and Baetis have started hatching as well. The water is very clear right now, and that in combination with lower flows have trout feeding slightly deeper in the water column on bright days.  Caddis pupa, and mayfly nymph imitations have been effective in hooking these deeper lying trout sub surface, and hopper patterns have been able to entice them to the surface even during the sunnier days.  Strong hatches, and lots of near surface feeding has been observed on more overcast days, especially in the evenings.

 

8/15/2019

       The Arkansas River below Leadville is flowing about 200CFS, while further downstream near Granite flows are about 600 CFS.  Near Leadville trout are holding in fast riffles, shelves, and cutt-banks, while they will be more likely to be concentrated along banks, or in pockets behind river structure in the faster flows near Granite.  Current hatches include Giant Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, caddis, and Grey Drakes.
      Dry fly fishing has been very productive over the past week or two, but it seems like angling pressure has had some negative effect on surface eats recently. A dry-dropper set up is good “middle of the road” rig to start with in these conditions.  Evaluate conditions as you fish, and change up your rig accordingly.  If trout seem unwilling to take flies on the surface then a 3’- 4’ deep hopper-dropper, or nymph rig might be a good bet.

 

8/9/2019

       The Arkansas River near Granite has finally decreased in flow to the historic seasonal average for this time of year, which is about 600 CFS.  Trout have settled into their summertime lies, and can normally be found feeding in shallow riffles, tight to banks, or at the head of drop offs behind shelves and other river structure.
       Dry fly fishing has been very productive over the past week or two, but it seems like angling pressure has had some negative effect on surface eats recently. A dry-dropper set up is good “middle of the road” rig to start with in these conditions.  Evaluate conditions as you fish, and change up your rig accordingly.  If trout seem unwilling to take flies on the surface then a 3’- 4’ deep hopper-dropper, or nymph rig might be a good bet.

 

8/1/2019

      The Arkansas River near Granite has been fluctuating between 800-1000 CFS over the last week due to changes in release from Twin Lakes and Clear Creek Reservoirs, as well as precipitation in the area.  The fishing has still been very quality throughout these fluctuations, with some great dry fly action to be had.  The most productive hatches have been large golden stoneflies, and small Yellow Sallies.  Imitations of Green Drakes, caddis, and PMDs have also been hooking on trout on some days.
       It can be a good strategy to start off fishing a dry-dropper rig.  This will allow the angler to determine if trout are more focused on surface vs. sub surface feeding.  If more eats are had on the dry than the dropper it could be a good idea to switch to all dry flies and refine which pattern is most productive from there.  Vice Versa, if more eats are had sub surface then switching to all nymphs, or a heavy, nymph focused hopper-dropper rig could be the best bet.

 

7/26/2019

 The Arkansas River near Granite is flowing about 1000 CFS, down 500 CFS from last week.  Water Clarity has been 4’ or better on average, including days during/following precipitation.  At these flows a wider variety of water is available to the angler, including deep seams/holes, shallow riffles, and cuttbanks.  We are seeing strong hatches of Giant Golden Stoneflies, Yellow Sallies, and caddis, with more sporadic hatches of Green Drakes, and PMDs in the mix as well.  Trout are currently feeding on nymphs sub surface, and adult insects on the surface.
       Fish holding in deeper/faster water can be targeted with a nymph rig, or heavy hopper-dropper set up.  A large Golden Stone, or Green Drake imitation will make a good lead nymph in these situations, followed up by smaller imitations of caddis, sallies, and PMDs.  The angler throwing dry flies should look to target smaller side channels, wide areas of the river with riffles, shallow water with deeper pockets, and cut banks.  Terrestrial patterns, green drakes, and the color yellow in general have all had success in targeting rising trout recently.

 

7/19/2019

The Arkansas River near Granite is flowing close to 1500 CFS at this point in time, with water clarity hovering between 2.5 - 4 feet.  This flow is still slightly faster than what we would call perfect conditions, but it is still good fishing which is getting better all the time, as flows slowly decline.  The primary hatches at the moment consist of Giant Golden Stoneflies, and Yellow Sallies.  There are also a lot of caddis being seen in and around bushes along the banks ranging from size 14-18.  Mild hatches of PMDs, and a few, sparse Green Drake duns have also been spotted in the area, but hardly enough to consider them a real “hatch” yet.
       A nymph rig is currently the most consistent method of take, but solid surface feeding activity has been observed in back eddies,  and large pockets behind/between boulders.  Target rising fish with dry caddis, golden stone, or drake patterns.  The nymph rig will be great from searching the entire water column top to bottom in a large back eddy, or for fishing 3-4 feet deep in seams of soft water found a few feet off the bank.

 

7/12/2019

       The Arkansas River near Granite is flowing in the mid 1000CFS range, and is looking fishy!  Although the current is just a touch faster than we would like to see in some areas it has good clarity, and is very fishable.  Current hatches include Giant Golden Stones, micro caddis, brown/tan Spotted Sedge Caddis, Yellow Sallies, and PMDs.  The infamous Green Drake hatch should be on the way as well.  We did not get a 100% certain identification, but one of our guides spotted what seemed to be a few green drake duns emerging last week  between Granite and Buena Vista. 
       A nymph rig, or hopper-dropper set up are both good options at the moment.  The nymph rig will allow you to target fish holding in deeper, swifter currents, while the hopper-dropper can be a better tool for enticing bank dwelling trout to come out and attack your flies.

 

7/4/2019
       The water is high in the granite area, but the clarity is good due to a high volume of clear water being released from Twin Lakes and Clear Creek Reservoirs.  Softer, more fishable water can be found in side channels, back eddies, and wider stretches of river. We have been hooking fish on large golden stonefly imitations, mayfly imitations size 12-18, chartreuse caddis larva/pupa, Yellow Sally nymphs, midges with a bit of color or flash, and worm patterns in pink or purple.  

 

4/20/2019

The Arkansas is snow/ice free from Hayden Meadows down, and is starting to fish well.  The majority of trout are being caught in slower/deeper winter time lies, but some fish are transitioning to faster pocket water.  Midge hatches have been strong, and a few Blue Wing Olives are starting to hatch, and yesterday near Beuna Vista There was a strong hatch of size 14-16 Golden Stoneflies as well!  Caddis Larva are also becoming more active, and a few fish are being hooked on their imitations too.

 

Learn More about the Arkansas River