Fishing Report for the Arkansas River

 

 

Arkansas River Fishing Report

 

 

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May 23rd, 2020

 

Arkansas River (Lower Freestone Basin)

 

General Overview

Its that time of year, we're moving into runoff, and conditions are relatively day to day on the Freestone. Today, flowrate is approaching 1700cfs in Bighorn Canyon and edge clarity is about a foot. We expect that we'll be seeing more and more water come down the hill with warmer weather on the horizon. A return of gin clear conditions won't return until after runoff, but remember that fish still eat in tinted water. Use darker contrasting flies, and make sure keep your drifts on the edges (6ft and in). Keep in mind as we start to edge up to runoff that we have limitless other great fishing options in the Royal Gorge Region and will continue to run guided float trips on the Arkansas Tailwater stretch (its Primetime down there as flows begin to bump). Snowpack is lower than average and a good portion of that has either evaporated or melted already, so the Freestone should be back in good fishing shape alot earlier than normal once heavy runoff does start (mid June).

On the bug front, BWO lifecycle activity continues to be very heavy...along with solid Stonefly Nymph and Cranefly larva activity. While we're not seeing the blizzard hatches we experienced in the 3rd and 4th week of April, there are still a ton of residual Caddis and good numbers of new bugs every day. The BWO fishing has been as consistent as we've every seen it, and fish have continued to key on BWOs even through the heaviest Caddis activity. With increased flows, fish will be more condensed on the edges and very receptive to large attractor nymphs and streamers. 

 

For guided trip bookings on the Arkansas Freestone/ Tailwater, other drainages and our private ranches..... Call Us Toll Free (888) 994-6743 or CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Stream Conditions

Wellsville Flowrate: 1600 CFS

Canon City Flowrate: 1580 CFS

Clarity: Turbid (12" Edge Clarity)

 

We're now beginning to see some substantial release water out of Twin Lakes and native flows are ramping up in our tributaries. Clarity is poor, but there is still some edge clarity. Look for prime conditions to return much earlier this year (mid-June), as snow pack is already heavily depleted.  

 

Suggested Methods

Its Springtime on the Lower Basin, one of our favorite times of year. From a strategic standpoint, you should be ready for anything in the April/ May time period. Full lifecycles will be present in both the BWO and Caddis populations, and Stonefly Nymphs and Cranefly Larva continue to be very active. Mornings will continue to be more nymphing focused until we build up a healthy number of Egglaying Caddis, at which time you expect very solid dry fly activity in those early/ low light time periods. Otherwise, be prepared with a good selection of emergers (weighted and non-weighted) as those will be key in both the BWO and Caddis segments throughout the day. Remember, fish eat emergers throughout 80% of the watercolumn, as well as trapped emergers in the surface-film. If you don't see bugs in the air, or fish just aren't rising...simply get back to nymphing. As water temperatures get into the low-mid 50's more consistently, be sure to keep streamers in you gameplan as well. Lastly, with rising tinted water (pre-runoff), be sure to have darker rubberleg stones, leeches and worms in your arsenal. 

Royal Gorge Anglers operates the oldest fly fishing guide service and full service flyshop on the Arkansas River Freestone and Arkansas River Tailwater. Our guide service also offers various guided fly fishing experiences on the South Platte River, Gunnison River, Stillwater, Private Ranches, Backcountry and more. CLICK HERE to Learn more about our Guided Trip Options or Call us (888) 994-6743 ext 2 to talk to us directly...

 

Interactive Arkansas River Map

 

 

Arkansas River (Upper Freestone Basin)

 

General Overview

*Note: Please CLICK HERE for Chaffee County’s current restrictions and guidance for recreation.

Lake County has not placed restrictions on recreation, and as we move further into Spring this Upper Section from the headwater down to Lake Creek can offer some nice opportunity. Still, the majority of the public water resides in Fremont County. As restrictions lift in Chaffee County, we'll open up reports for that section.

Stream Conditions

Leadville Flowrate: 274 CFS

Granite Flowrate: 1260 CFS

Salida Flowrate: 1470 CFS

Clarity: Turbid

 

Suggested Methods

Its Springtime on the Upper Basin, one of our favorite times of year. From a strategic standpoint, you should be ready for anything in the April/ May time period. Full lifecycles will be present in both the BWO and Caddis populations, and Stonefly Nymphs and Cranefly Larva continue to be very active. Mornings will continue to be more nymphing focused until we build up a healthy number of Egglaying Caddis, at which time you expect very solid dry fly activity in those early/ low light time periods. Otherwise, be prepared with a good selection of emergers (weighted and non-weighted) as those will be key in both the BWO and Caddis segments throughout the day. Remember, fish eat emergers throughout 80% of the watercolumn, as well as trapped emergers in the surface-film. If you don't see bugs in the air, or fish just aren't rising...simply get back to nymphing. As water temperatures get into the low-mid 50's more consistently, be sure to keep streamers in you gameplan as well. Lastly, with rising tinted water (pre-runoff), be sure to have darker rubberleg stones, leeches and worms in your arsenal.

Royal Gorge Anglers operates the oldest fly fishing guide service and full service flyshop on the Arkansas River Freestone and Arkansas River Tailwater. Our guide service also offers various guided fly fishing experiences on the South Platte River, Gunnison River, Stillwater, Private Ranches, Backcountry and more. CLICK HERE to Learn more about our Guided Trip Options or Call us (888) 994-6743 ext 2 to talk to us directly...

 

Interactive Arkansas River Map