Well, spring is finally here and it's time to put away the snow toys and get out the fishing gear. The Arkansas is fishing incredibly well and you don't want to miss out!
Current river conditions:
Flows have come down some in the past few days with the cooler weather. The river is flowing around 560 CFS. I don't anticipate this changing much in the next week. The weather is going to hold steady with highs in the 50's and overnight lows in the high 30's. This is good for water clarity and helps facilitate more predictable feeding patterns.
Where to fish:
If you are visiting the valley to fish this week, I would focus on the Salida to Coaldale section of the river. Water temps are going to be a bit warmer here and your chances of getting into some mid-day Blue Wing Olive (BWO) are likely.
Below Coaldale is still not fishing well due to added sediment in the water from a burn scar. Fish numbers are down and the bug life is limited.
It's a fun time of year to be out fishing, yesterday on my full day float trip we saw a solid midge hatch around 9 am to 11 am. Mid-day a strong BWO hatch was happening from 12 pm to 3 pm. We also saw a few caddis adults flying around. The fish were not keying in on the caddis yet, but they were there.
What to fish:
Start your day off fishing a nymph rig and key in on the deeper runs. Run a size 12-14 tungsten Prince Nymph or other attractor nymph as your lead fly then tie on a smaller size 16-18 tungsten Zebra Midge (Element Baetis in red was also working well). Tie that second fly on no more then 12 inches behind your first fly.
When you find some fish actively rising during the day, they are likely feeding on BWO's; switch up fast and take advantage of the opportunity. A size 18-20 Parachute Adams was all it took to put 8 fish in the boat. If you get into a really strong BWO hatch and there seems to be too many bugs on the water and the fish are not finding your fly, throw on a size 12-14 Royal Wulff or other attractor dry and then add your Adams or size 18-20 BWO dry behind that. That Wulff will get their attention, leading them to see your other fly and give you a better chance of hooking up. This also makes it easier to see those tiny BWO dries. Once the surface activity slows down switch back to the nymph rig.
We found fish all over in the river. They were in deep runs, in the fast riffle water, up next to the bank and in pocket water.
Don't put off a fishing trip to the Arkansas River any longer, the conditions could not be better, so come on up! If you are looking to book a guided trip give us a call (719) 221-4571 and stop by to check out the best fly shop in Salida, located downtown, The Next Eddy.