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Arkansas River Fishing Report July 2 - 2022

Upriver Guide Eric Smith with a happy client and a solid Arkansas River brown trout on a recent float trip.

Date: 07/02/2022 @ 9:00 am

Arkansas River Flows

Leadville (Empire Gulch): 194 cfs

Browns Canyon/Nathrop: 810 cfs

Wellsville: 874 cfs

Twin Lakes Release: 185 cfs

The Latest:

Good morning, and happy holiday weekend to you all! For the past two weeks, the fishing on the Arkansas River has been exceptional. Fishing with a single dry, double dries, or a dry-dropper rig should all get the job done. Fish whatever you feel most confident in, but some of our favorite patterns are listed down below. From downstream of Salida, up towards Leadville, the river is simply ON. Swing by the shop, and we can get you going in the right direction!

Hot flies: Big Chubbys, Your Favorite Caddis Dry, Coppertop Duracell #14 and #16, Callie's Jig Caddis #14, Rozas Green Tag Jig #16

Little too hot in the Ark valley for ya? The high country has really opened up nicely over the past couple weeks, and many of our favorite high lakes are wide open and fishing well. If you like sight-fishing to colored up Cutthroat Trout, then swing by the shop and pick our brains. We can help you make a quality game plan, and catch some truly beautiful trout in epic places.

Arkansas River Fishing Report:

Late June and early July fishing on the Ark is usually outstanding, and this year is no different. Flows are dropping, water temps are increasing, and trout are looking up for a meal. Thanks to the Voluntary Flow Management program, we can expect flows to stay above or around the 700cfs mark at the Wellsville gauge through July. Now is the time of year when we expect to see more stonefly action on the river, and the Ark River browns are always ready for that. Caddis activity remains very consistent, look for small flurries in the evenings.

With the dropping flows, trout are able to occupy more areas of the river, which means more opportunities and options for the wade fisherman. Tie on a chubby, with or without a dropper, and work all the breaks in water velocity. Focus a lot of attention to the banks where the water flows slowly, but begin to work other parts of the river where velocity looks like it could hold a trout or two. When the trout are keyed into big dries, it really might be the most exciting conditions on our beautiful river.

Once runoff clears out and the water warms, the brown trout in this river see their metabolisms speed up. This allows these fish to be more aggressive in how they eat. Because of this, post-runoff on this river is a phenomenal time to be fishing streamers. Try streamers of all sizes in colors like yellow, olive, black, and natural.

Leadville Area: This should be fishing very well right now. The river is naturally smaller and easier to approach in the Hayden Meadows reach. It has been over a week of dropping/steady native flows up this high, which means it is time to get after it. Fishing might be slightly more technical up here given that flows are back down and the water has cleared up significantly.

Buena Vista Area: Flows are dropping slowly. Visibility is excellent, and the fishing should be very good. Bug activity is prolific with stones and caddis around in large numbers.

Salida and Downstream: Expect higher flows, but they are becoming more manageable for the wade fisherman. Visibility has been excellent, but it can vary when we get those heavy afternoon thunderstorms.

South Platte and South Park:

Dream Stream: Fishing on the dream stream is currently somewhat of a challenge. Plenty of quality, resident fish to be caught, but larger lake fish have mostly returned to the reservoir. Covering water and fishing a combination of larger attractor patterns and small tailwater bugs will be your best bet for finding a trophy fish here as of now. Recent success has been found using med/large streamer patterns, but you’ll have to work to spot larger fish.


Antero, Spinney, and Eleven-mile Reservoirs are open and fishing pretty well, depending on the conditions. Fish are keyed into weather patterns, and bite windows seem to be concentrated around the mid-morning, early-afternoon time frame when a light chop starts to pick up. The dreaded "W" has been a nuisance for anglers all over the state all spring... when stillwater fishing, it can be daunting to try and fish through these gusty spring conditions. However, those who stick it out will eventually encounter a bite window and have the chance at crossing paths with fish in the two-foot plus range.

With recent warmth, fish in these lakes are starting to settle into their typical summer behaviors. June is prime-time for chironomids. These larger, lake-dwelling midges are hatching everyday in prolific quantities. In addition to this, Callibaetis Mayflies are starting to show in larger quantities as well. Fish seem to be suspended on submerged weed beds, cruising and eating all of these insects as they leave their vegetative home, and rise through the water column. Static nymph rigs with chironomids in black and green, and callibaetis nymphs fished deep off of the bottom have been sucessful. In addition to this, on slower, calmer days, these same bugs fished on a slow strip have been a good bet.

If nymph fishing isn't productive, try stripping larger streamers, leeches, and crawfish patterns for shallow-munchin' monsters.

High Alpine Lakes and Streams:

Upriver guides have been getting into the high country lakes sitting at ~12,000 feet. They've found that most snow drifts are gone in areas that receive consistent sun. Above ~12,500 feet, there is some snow, and these upper level lakes have the potential to have some ice, but should be just about good to go. Lakes in the 11-12,000 feet range are fully open with cutthroat and other high alpine species on the prowl for food. Some nice Cutties have been caught shallow on standard lake patterns in larger sizes. In addition to this, when the wind was mellow, fish were taken on dry flies (anything from a size 6 Chubby Chernobyl to a size 22 midge adult). Be aware that weather in the high country this time of year can be very volatile, so be prepared for anything. The high alpine lakes around Chaffee County are definitely getting there in terms of accessibility and quality fishing. However; we expect this type of fishing to really kick up in the next two weeks when the warmth settles in on those upper lakes, and fish are done with their spring spawn.

Remember, Cutthroat Trout spawn in the springtime. And up at 12,000ft. springtime is June and even early July. Expect to see trout piling into the inlet and/or outlet streams as they do their annual dance. It is a wonderful thing to observe, but lets all do our best to target the lake fish that aren't in the midst of spawning activity. Plenty of beautifully colored-up cutthroats are still cruising the shallows and shoal drop-offs looking for a meal. Best of luck out there!


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