The Arkansas is the longest river in the state stretching more than 300 miles before crossing into Kansas. Anglers mainly focus their interest on the area between Leadville and the Royal Gorge. While the rubber hatch may be too much to contend with on certain stretches, the Arkansas has many superb floats for fly fishermen. The river is very technical to navigate, so we usually float the Ark in a raft. If you plan to float the Ark on your own, be sure you know what lies downstream.
The Arkansas is famous for its Mother’s Day caddis hatch in May, but the early season baetis hatch and mid summer golden stone hatch are our guides’ favorite. We like to dedicate a full day to the Ark since it can be fickle and 2 hours of intense feeding by the fish can make your day.
The Upper Ark lies along Highway 91, southwest of Climax Mine before Buena Vista. This is smaller, more intimate water than sections below Buena Vista, offering gorgeous views of numerous 14ers. The Hayden Meadows/Kobe/Granite zones offer more than 10 miles of public access, which allows anglers ample opportunity to spread out. The Upper Arkansas is an easy wade, stretching to offer fantastic dry fly fishing. The riffles and undercut banks are perfect dry-dropper water for brown and rainbow trout.
Beginning in the upper reaches of the Sawatch/Ten Mile/Mosquito Mountain Ranges, the Arkansas River flows through the shadows of the state's highest peaks – Mt. Elbert (14,443 ft) and Mt. Massive (14,421 ft). This is a large white water rafting destination in late spring and early summer, leading to ample amounts of floating access points. The river between Buena Vista and Salida boasts extremely good dry fly fishing for feisty brown trout. Anglers can experience nonstop action on a dry-dropper combo, double dries, and streamers. Not to mention, Buena Vista and Salida are both cool little towns for tourists to visit when they aren’t fishing.