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 27th, 2016
**Clarity: Less than a foot of clarity, better on the edges (Amber Stain)
Clarity has diminished over the course of the last 5 days all the way to the headwater. Right now fishability exists on the edges (which is where most of the fish are moving), however, that fishability won't last long. We are still running great trips on the Arkansas Tailwater and South Platte, we will resume guided operations on the Arkansas Freestone as soon as flows begin to recede and edges clear (ballpark 2nd week of June).
This is a time of flux on the Arkansas...in between prime Spring Conditions and True Runoff. In a nutshell, fish are very opportunistic feeders, trying to gain calories prior to big runoff. Our guides have been running relatively large (Size 10-14) Foam Attractor Dries with key hatch lifecycle patterns as droppers. We are finding more fish on the edges, as they prepare for more water. This is almost Summer Hopper/ Dropper fishing, and can be a lot of fun. Caddis have made their way into Brown's Canyon, and can still be found sporadically as far down as Lower Bighorn. We are still seeing great activity on subsurface Caddis Lifecycle (Larvae & Pupa) up and down the river. BWO lifecycle activity will continue to take center stage with the lingering Caddis activity mixed in, so be prepared with both lifecycles for best success. Craneflies are also very present in all of Bighorn Canyon through Salida, so having a good Crane Larva and Dry imitation is a must. Streamers are a must have for this time period...fish are opportunistic feeders prior to runoff!
There are a lot of things to be prepared for in the remaining time prior to runoff....anglers should be prepared with Caddis Lifecycle, BWO Lifecycle, Stonefly Nymphs, Midge Larva, Cranefly Lifecycle and Streamer patterns and rigs....for best success!
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Flows are above 1000cfs and rising (average flow for this time period) in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. This is the beginning of runoff, and while we have some edge fishability, visibility will diminish by the day. Peak flowrate could be quite high, considering we have right at 100% of average snowpack on the drainage. Typically the Arkansas will reach peak flow by the first or second week of June and then begin to recede. Remember, as the river recedes, edges will begin to clear rapidly. Even if flows are in the 2000cfs range in the middle of June, if the river has clear edges....fishing will be very productive.
Arkansas River Video Fly Fishing Report
**Our text reports are the best source of up to date information at this point in time, due to changing daily conditions prior to runoff. Please feel free to Call Us Toll Free (888) 994-6743, and we can give you an up to the minute report on conditions and fishing.
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 sporadic 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
It is a time of flux on the Arkansas Tailwater, and while flows may be elevated, clarity is strong and so is fishing. Anglers need to watch for increases however, as flow bumps will push fish out of feeding lies and disperse fish. When the river is stabile for 10 hours or so, fishing will again be very productive. Our guides have seen very strong BWO activity in the afternoons, and good nymphing and streamer fishing int he mornings. Again, stabile flowrate is the most critical element of being productive on this watershed as more releases occur....
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….