Upriver shop manager, Michael, holds up a quality brown trout from the upper Ark on a recent afternoon outing.
Date: 07/21/2022 @ 10:00 am
Arkansas River Flows
Leadville (Empire Gulch): 121 cfs
Browns Canyon/Nathrop: 670 cfs
Wellsville: 730 cfs
Twin Lakes Release: 320 cfs
After a month of really exceptional fishing on the Arkansas River, we have moved into midsummer conditions, and we are having to work just a little harder for fish. Flows are holding steady just below 700 cfs at Nathrop, and that will be the target flow for the next three weeks due to the flow management program on the Ark. 700 cfs is a wonderful flow for wade fishing. Go ahead and leave the waders at home, because it is wet-wading season!
Look for fish in all parts of the river right now. Really work methodically and break the river down into small sections and fish it all. Some really surprisingly nice fish have been coming out of riffles that are 1-2ft of depth. Water temps have been reaching the low 60's in the heat of the day right now, which can cause the fishing to slow a bit midday. Focus your fishing to the mornings and evenings to find the cooler water, and more eager trout.
Dry-dropper rigs are still the method of choice on our trips lately. The major change is that we are starting to fish smaller dries and droppers when the fish get a bit choosey. Perdigon patterns that have a slim body shape and an oversized tungsten bead are catching a lot of fish right now. Read on for some of our current flies of choice...
Little too hot in the Ark valley for ya? The high country will provide some relief from the heat, and provide anglers an opportunity for a little more solitude. If you like sight-fishing to colored up Cutthroat Trout, or working along a small stream catching countless brookies, 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:
Thanks to the Voluntary Flow Management program, we can expect flows to stay above or around the 700cfs mark at the Wellsville gauge until mid August. 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. Afternoon thunderstorms have helped keep the temps a little cooler lately, but they can sometimes cause temporary changes to water clarity. Run into dirty water? Time to head upstream until you get above the source, and keep on fishing.
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. Typically, evening hatches this time of year are thick to say the least. During these times, matching the hatch is always a good bet; however, throwing a general attractor version of whatever insect is hatching can be a better bet. These types of flies stand out to the fish instead of getting lumped in with the thousands of other bugs hatching.
As we move into the rest of July, it never hurts to keep an eye on water temps during those hot days. As a freestone river, the Ark is subject to fluctuations and warm water in the afternoons of summer. When water temps are over 65, bulk up tippet and rod size to minimize fighting time, and keep fish wet at all times. When water temps get past 68 and into the 70s, stop fishing, and wait for the day to cool down.
Leadville Area: Fishing might be slightly more technical up here given that flows are back down and the water has cleared up significantly. Try using lighter tippets, like 5x or perhaps 6x to increase your chances of hooking up. Walk lightly and keep a low profile, as these fish can spook easily in the smaller river.
Buena Vista Area: Fishing very good right now, particularly in the mornings and evenings.
Salida and Downstream: Fishing very good right now, mornings and evenings are best.
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 fishing decent for the experienced stillwater angler. With recent warmer weather, fish in these lakes are starting to settle into their typical summer behaviors. July is prime-time for callibaetis mayflies and damselflies. 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. Using a slip-strike indicator to nymph nice and deep is a good method.
In the morning and evenings, dry fly fishing to cruising fish in the back bays and flats can be an amazing experience. If the fish aren't as willing to look up, static nymph rigs with chironomids in black and green, callibaetis nymphs, and damselfly 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.
High Alpine Lakes and Streams:
The high country is open and in peak condition currently. Recently, 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 absolutely there in terms of accessibility and quality fishing. Most of the cutthroat trout seem to have wrapped up their spawning rituals, and are now cruising looking for a meal. Dry big fluffy dries like stimulators or elk hair caddis when there is a nice wind-chop on the water. Try much smaller dry patterns, like a Griffith's gnat, when the surface is calm and you can sight fish to rising trout.