Arkansas Upper Basin

Fishing Report

UPDATED: 5/26/23

 Flow: 400 cfs Below Empire Gulch Near Malta (Hayden Meadows)


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:


Below Empire Gulch Near Malta: 210 cfs


Mid 30s to 40s.


Gin clear to minimal visibility. Clarity will depend on weather and current runoff conditions. Over all, things have been mostly clear. 


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:

The last few weeks have brought major changes to the upper Ark. Although flows are increasing and water is cold, good fishing has been found up high….On the right day….Twin Lakes is contributing quite a bit of additional water. Expect increased flows below granite as we get into the summer. Even on warmer days, there has been decent clarity in the upper sections. Fising with small stoneflies, Baetis and midges have been the ticket. Hot headed nymphs like the Hot Head Naughty Bunny and the good ole’ Olive Zebra Midge have been top producing flies. If nymphs do not appear to be producing, don’t be afraid to tie on a streamer either, medium to large articulated streamers such as the Goldie, Barely Legal and Gonga have all been picking up fish as of late.




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


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