Arkansas Upper Basin

Fishing Report

UPDATED: 5/11/24          

Flows: 450 CFS At Empire Gulch

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 sometimes better fished with a heavy hopper dropper set up, or a nymph rig.

Current Conditions:


450 CFS




3-6ft to minimal visibility after inclement weather. 


Small Golden Stoneflies | Caddis | Midges | Baetis | small fish, leeches, eggs, etc. |

Flies to Try

Guides Choice Dozen $24.99


 | Pat's Rubber Leg's olive, or black size 10-12 | TDJ golden STone size 14-16  | Egan's Iron Lotus olive size 14-16 | RS2 olive or grey size 18-22  | Sunkist 18 | Ninja 18-20 | Foamback emerger brown 20-22 | Two Bit Hooker dark olive size 18-20 | Bars BWO Emerger | Natural pheasant Tail or black Pheasant jnTail size 18 -22 | UV midge black & brown size 20-24 | Zebra Midge Purple or Blacksize 20-22 | Eggs


Parachute Adams size 18-24 | extended Body BWO 18-22 | CDC Baetis Dun Size 18-22 | CDC Morgans Midge size 18 - 22 | Snowshoe midge size 18-24


Baby Gongas | Craven's Dirty Hippie | Barely Legal olive/white | Thin Mint size 04-08 | 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:

Big water has finally hit on the upper Ark. 400+ CFS can be daunting in the upper stretches. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t good fishing to be had. Nymphing will be a little tough. If you do decide to nymph, you may cover a lot of water before finding the right place. Smaller pats, zebra midges, worms and heavy jigs will be the ticket. On the contrary, streamer fishing is a great option. Smaller streamers like the mini dungeon, Goldie, & sparkle minnow now have all been turning up fish. If you are fishing streamers, you will definitely need a versaleader in 6 or 4 IPS. When fishing high water, always play it safe and wear your wading belt. 



Also check out the Town of Silverthorne's Blue River Fishing Access Map


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