Flowing out of Pueblo Reservoir, the Arkansas Tailwater meanders through vast cottonwood groves in the Lake Pueblo State Park and through the City of Pueblo. The upper 4 miles of this tailwater was featured in the top 50 tailwaters in North America and is featured in the book, "50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish," by Wendy and Terry Gunn. Our very own Taylor Edrington wrote the chapter on the Arkansas Tailwater, during which he describes the vast bio diversity, strong structural habitat, and high fish populations that make this tailwater one of North America's Premier Tailwater fisheries. Our Arkansas River Guided Fly Fishing can show you the ropes, if you truly want to learn how to be productive on the Arkansas.
Please enjoy our in depth reports on the Arkansas Freestone and Tailwater, and we look forward to seeing you in the flyshop! Toll Free (888) 994-6743
The Arkansas River (Freestone)
May 2nd 2016
**Clarity: Clear from Stem to Stern. **With a warm up coming, anglers may see short cells of off-color water moving through the canyon as a result of low level snow melt from this past weekend's storm. It will be easy to get upstream or downstream of these cells if you encounter them.
The last 4 afternoons have featured epic BWO hatches in Bighorn Sheep Canyon with this cooler overcast weather! Several of our guides described this past weekend's BWO Hatch Activity as "silly at times." Things will change in the next 48 hours from a BWO focus back to Caddis, and we may very well see Caddis activity blowup again in a large section of Bighorn by Wednesday or Thursday. Last week when this last cold front hit, heavy Caddis activity had made its way to Cotopaxi. As soon as water temps kick back up into the mid 50's we expect to see Caddis Lifecycle activity fire back up where it left off and expect to see solid activity from Spike Buck through Coaldale. By this weekend we may indeed see some Caddis Hatch Activity into the Salida area, however you will most likely be more productive on the full lifecycle in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.
Although we are in the thick of the Caddis Hatch time period, it is crucial that anglers not forget that BWO's, Stoneflies and Midges are key food sources for our trout population. In fact, some of the better dry fly activity will remain in the BWO category, even during the heavy pieces of the Caddis Hatch. In addition, it is key that anglers focus on Caddis Larvae and Pupa (Emergent Caddis) during the early stages of this hatch, as sometimes it can take fish a while to "warm up" to the Adult stage of the hatch, even if there are a lot of bugs on the water. There are a lot of things to be prepared for in the next few weeks in Bighorn Sheep Canyon....anglers should be prepared with Caddis Lifecycle, BWO Lifecycle, Stonefly Nymph, Midge Larva and Streamer patterns and rigs....for best success!
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Finally, we have some release out of Twin Lakes....giving us a 350-400 CFS ballpark flow at Wellsville. This is a prime walk/wade and floating flow. This is well within the parameters of the Voluntary Flow Management Program which plans for native flows for Rainbows to spawn and for the Brown Trout Fry to hatch. We expect to see a bit more release over the next month or so, so expect flows to maintain in the sub-400cfs level, with should be perfect for a solid month of Caddis and BWO activity prior to runoff.
Arkansas River Video Fly Fishing Report
Triple Nymph Rigs are still name of the game in the mornings right now on the Ark. Deeper running Euro or Western systems are called for in the mornings as fish hug edges of deeper runs picking up molting Stoneflies, large mature BWO Nymphs, Midge Larva and free swimming Caddis larvae. As soon as water temperatures reach the mid 50's in Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon (Mid-Day), expect heavy Caddis Pupation to occur, followed by Caddis Adults and then Egglayers on the water. In addition to heavy Caddis Lifecycle be prepared with BWO Dries and Emergers in Lower Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Mid-Day in the Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon/ Salida area could bring sporadic Caddis Activity, along with strong BWO Hatch activity....be prepared with the BWO lifecycle. Fish are also in chase mode with heavy emergent activity, so a tandem streamer rig with a large attractor streamer up front with a small trailing fly on a short fast sink polyleader will produce some nice fish!
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The Arkansas Tailwater below Pueblo Reservior
Flows are irregular, as Pueblo Water Board is moving water to make room for runoff contributions in late May. Pueblo Reservoir is full to the brim, so in order for the Reservoir to not spill over when snow melt occurs on the Upper Arkansas in late May, water movement is crucial. However, flowrate has fluctuated. If flows can hold in the 300-400cfs range, fishing will be very productive....if it doesn't expect fish to disperse and fishing to be marginal.
Royal Gorge Anglers happens to hold the oldest permit on the Arkansas Tailwater, and our very experienced tailwater guides grew up fishing this section. Ready to learn this section the right way? Give us a call Toll Free (888) 994-6743, to book your tailwater guide today! Prebook for fantastic Winter Fishing Online Now
The tailwater is a technical nymphing fishery for the most part. However, BWO and Midge activity will have fish up for several hours a day. Our emphasis is placed on czech nymphing and high stick nymphing, using many methods similar to the Upper Arkansas, however, with different bugs. Focus on a heavy attractor nymph, i.e. San Juan Worm, Pig Sticker, Crane Fly Larva, etc. And, depending on your rigging (Std, or Czech), drop or lead with a bright (orange/ red/ chartreuse) Midge Larva, or dark BWO Nymph (Purple, Black, Dk. Brown). When fish key to a hatch, anglers will need to focus on very long leaders and small tippet, especially on the bigger fish. 12 ft- 7x leader rigs with size 20-26 BWO Adults, and size 20-26 Midge Adults will be the ticket. Of course emergers in the subsurface film will also be productive. With lower flows, hatches may become quite productive again….