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 Rubberlegs in olive, brown, or sand, TDJ Golden Stone size 10 -16, Charlie's Chronic Caddis 14-16, tungsten bead and flashback Hare's Ear's 16-18, Barr's Graphic Caddis black size 16-18, Double-Down Pheasant Tails, Two-Bit-Hooker in black size 18, JuJu Baetis in grey size 18-20, RS2 olive size 18-20 .
Dries To Try: terrestrials, larger golden stone patterns, Elk Hair Caddis, Peacock Caddis size 18, Spotlight Caddis Emerger size 16, Missing Link Caddis, Parachute Extended Body Blue Wing Olive size 18-20, Matthew's Sparkle Dun size 18-22, Parachute Adams 12-20.
Streamers To Try: Gonga in Brown or Rainbow Trout theme, Home Invader in tan, Articulated Dirty Hippy in Rainbow or Brown Trout colors, various Slump Busters and Wooly Buggers.
The water near Salida is on the low side of things and clear, barring any heavy precipitation events near feeder creeks in the area. Browns Canyon is good choice for wade fishing at the moment, as you can cross the river easily. There are still a few larger Golden Stones hatching, but fish did not seem to be keyed in to them. Small black Caddis have been effective in the morning hours, with Blue Wing Olives starting to hatch in the afternoon. A hopper dropper set up has been working fairly well, but if you are not getting many looks on the hopper it may be more effective to fish a nymph rig in order to get down deeper in the swift canyon currents.
Water clarity will typically be great for fishing this time of year on the Arkansas river near Salida, unless any heavy precipitation falls near feeder creeks draining into the Ark. The water will normally clear up in a day or two, so check the past, present, and predicted weather for the general area you plan to fish before you are heading out. River flow is currently great for float fishing at about 650 CFS. Look to fish pocket water tight to the banks with dry flies, or a dry-dropper set up. Currently the best aquatic insects to imitate are Gaint Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, a variety of Caddis, PMDs, and Red Quills.
We are hearing good reports from the lower basin of the Arkansas River near Buena Vista and Salida. Clarity is good, and the flows are lower due to a decrease in release from Twin Lakes and Clear creek Reservoirs. Trout are moving into summertime type lies (shallow riffles, and pockets along banks), so a hopper-dropper, or short nymph rig is a good way to target fish at the moment. Golden Stoneflies (small and large), and Caddis Pupa seem to be the hottest bugs at the moment. Streamer fishing has also been decent using small Rainbow, and Brown Trout imitations.
Sounds like conditions are shaping up inbetween Buena Vista, and Salida on the Arkansas River. We are hearing of water clarity right around the two foot mark, with active Stoneflies, Caddis, and Baetis.
Warmer temps are bringing down spring snowmelt in feeder creeks, and more water is being released from reservoirs throughout the drainage to make room for it. The Arkansas near Salida is high with about a foot of clarity. Look to fish slower pockets of water along the banks with nymphs, or streamers. Streamers in general, and brighter nymphs such as caddis pupa fished on the swing have been especially good. Expect better clarity upstream towards Buena Vista, especially above Chalk Creek.
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