Some scenes from a recent scouting mission to the high alpine.
Date: 06/12/2022 @ 9:00 am
Arkansas River Flows
Leadville: 382 cfs
Browns Canyon/Nathrop: 1810 cfs
Wellsville: 1890 cfs
Twin Lakes Release: 479 cfs
It looks like we are currently experiencing peak flows on the Arkansas River. This morning the Nathrop gauge recorded 1,810 cfs, the highest we have seen this spring. Yesterday and the day before, we saw the same gauge peak at around 1,700cfs. After 8 consecutive days of a slowly rising hydrograph, flows had plateaued for 3 days straight. Now, with warm weather and increased release from twin lakes, we have seen a slight bump. Fishing the river right now, although challenging, should be worth the effort right now. Streamers or a hopper (chubby)-dropper setup should have you on plenty of fish. Focus on fishing the slower velocity water near the banks. Swing by the shop and we can get you all set up for a quality outing!
Arkansas River Fishing Report:
One look at the Ark River hydrograph from the past month, and you can recognize just how unique the flows have been over the past 2 weeks, specifically. A couple of cold fronts put a complete halt to rising flows, and so we are stuck to deal with exceptional flows/visibility on the Arkansas River. Fishing on the river has been very good lately. Visibility on the upper Ark has simply remained remarkable for late May/early June. Dry-dropper rigs, tandem nymph rigs, streamers... Pick a method and get on the water for an exciting outing. Swing by the shop to ask about patterns that have been very productive for us, and we will set you on your way.
Our staff has had very good action fishing streamers from a boat, or using a large/attractor style dry-dropper rig. We are seeing some fish come up to the attractor dries, but they aren't exactly devouring those patterns yet. Focus most of your fishing effort close to the banks where water velocity is slower.
A good approach in runoff conditions is to throw larger, flashier patterns such as; Streamers, Golden Stones, Pats, Crane Larva, and any oversized nymph patterns that'll stand out in the off- colored waters. A large attractor dry that can suspend a heavy nymph dropper will likely produce action close to the banks. With higher water like this, fish tend to seek easier lies behind rocks and up shallow on the banks. Streamers are incredibly effective for targeting fish during these transition periods containing constantly changing flows and temps.
In general, the river will fish best on days when the flows have been recently stable. This is also when you will find better water clarity. Trout don't seem to feed as actively immediately following significant changes to flow. If able, try to fish days when the hydrograph has plateaued or stabilized to have better action.
Leadville Area: Anticipate cooler and clearer water. Although flows are much lower up near Leadville, the river channel is much smaller, so the same highwater challenges apply here. When flows are up this high, try working a streamer right against the bank, let it sink, then use quick strips or twitch your rod tip to create action away from the bank. Be ready! If streamer fishing isn't your cup of tea, go for a dry-dropper setup and focus on fishing near the bank, or any areas where water velocity has been slowed.
Buena Vista Area: Expect high flows, with sub-par water clarity. All methods described for upstream will apply in the BV area as well.
Salida and Downstream: Expect higher, more off-colored water. However, water clarity is remaining very good until you get down near the Vallie Bridge area. Our float trips have had great fishing action in the Salida area, mainly focusing on streamer fishing or big bugs that will get trout's attention.
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:
All of our low elevation lakes have now been open for a couple of weeks. These lakes make great day-trip opportunities to catch cutthroat or brook trout. Swing by to ask us about a good day trip option, we will put you on some high country trout.
Recently, a couple Upriver guides went into the high country to get a look at some lakes sitting at ~12,000 feet. They found that most snow drifts are retreating in areas that receive consistent sun. Above ~12,500 feet, there is still considerable snow, and these upper level lakes are mostly still iced over. 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 were 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 those upper lakes thaw and everything starts to warm.