The Arkansas River
The headwaters of the Arkansas river start near Leadville, CO, and flow uninterrupted for roughly 150 miles before entering Pueblo Reservoir. Although this river has been historically plagued by mining activity, the California Gulch Superfund site, established in 1983, has helped create a thriving freestone ecosystem for Brown and Rainbow Trout. Today, 102 of these river miles are designated as Gold Medal Trout Waters, the most of any river in the state. To qualify as “Gold Medal”, a trout stream must produce at least 60 pounds/acre of trout mass, and must also produce at least 12 quality trout (larger than 14”) per acre. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists, the Ark has been exceeding these standards for a couple decades now. The recovery of the trout population in the upper Arkansas River is an exceptional success story. Expect to find incredible quantities of fish from Leadville to Cañon City, with wild trout averaging 12-14 inches, and 18-20 inchers becoming more common every year.