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 olive or tan, TDJ Golden Stone size 10 -16, Tungsten Iron Sally size 16-18, Jigged Tungsten Flashback Pheasant Tail size 12, Micro Mayfly yellow size 14-16, Charlie’s Chronic Caddis size 14-16 chartreuse, Tungsten CDC Hare’s Ear size 14-18
Dries To Try: Chubby Chernobyl black/tan size 8-12, Chubby Chernobyl olive or gold size 12-16, KK’s Henneberry Hopper size 10-14, Amy’s Ant size 14, Parachute Extended Body PMD size 16, Thorax Emerged PMD size 14-16, Missing Link Caddis size 14-16, Matthew’s Sparkle Dun BWO size 16-18
Streamers To Try: Dungeon in black or white, Gonga in Brown Trout or Rainbow Trout theme, Home Invader in black, Articulated Dirty Hippy in Rainbow or Brown Trout colors, white or black Slump Busters and Wooly Buggers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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