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Arkansas River Fishing Report - June 20th, 2024

River Conditions in Buena Vista on 6/20/24 - Notice the outstanding water clarity, and velocity refuge of the current close to the river bank. The browns

were aggressively eating a sz. 14 Pearl and Orange Perdigon suspended 3 feet underneath a sz. 12 Chubby.

Date: 06/20/2024 @ 4:20pm

Arkansas River Flows

Leadville (Empire Gulch): 860 cfs

Browns Canyon/Nathrop: 2600 cfs

Wellsville: 2450 cfs

Twin Lakes Release: 400 cfs

Turquoise Res. Release: 240 cfs

Arkansas River Fishing Report:

The Latest:   We have finally made it past our peak flows for the season on the Arkansas River! Runoff was big this year... Bigger than we have seen it in around a decade! But flows are now consistently trending downward, and water clarity is improving significantly. Now is the time to leave the waders at home, go wet wading, and tie on your favorite hopper/dropper combination.

Today (6/20/24) our shop manager Michael went out to fish the BV town section during lunch, and the action was very good. 18 fish caught in under 2 hours simply wet wading and fishing the slow water close to the banks. All of those fish were caught on the dropper nymph, while only one fish came up to swipe at the chubby dry. In BV we are now dealing with ~3 feet of visibility in the water column, which is more than enough to have some serious success. It also means safer wading conditions because you can gauge the depth and see where your feet can safely be planted.

A bobber rig with two tungsten beaded nymphs is really good option as well right now, simply because you can adjust your depth appropriately for the water you are fishing, and you'll likely catch more fish if you're able to dial in your depth on the fly.

General Fishing Report/Tactics: Dry-dropper fishing with a big foam attractor becomes a very good method now throughout the duration of the summer. With high water, we can fish heavier leaders and tippets. I would recommend 3x to the big dry, with 4x down to the dropper nymph. This just simplifies the fishing experience, leading to less tangles, and gives you the ability to horse in those trout in heavy flowing water. As the flows drop and the water becomes very clear later in July-Sept, we will have more success sizing down our tippets to 4x and 5x respectively. Using an indicator with a couple of larger nymphs is also a great options right now, and allows you to adjust your depth on the move. Remember, not every nymph eat will result in a "dunk" of your bobber or attractor dry. Sometimes you need to watch for more subtle cues that a fish has eaten your nymph. Watch for your chubby to stop, twitch, or slightly change direction. Setting the hook on these more subtle takes will significantly increase the number of fish you catch.

For fly selection right now, we like a sz. 10-14 chubby or other foam attractor dry, with sz. 14-16 tungsten beaded nymph 2-4' underneath. It is clear that the fish are willing to eat a wide variety of fly patterns right now, the most important factor is fishing the right water type, and making sure those nymphs are getting down the the desired depth. You are looking for the slow moving water and seams, which are usually anywhere from 1 to 12 feet out from the bank. This is simply where most of the trout are concentrated, as they are unable to hold in the main current of the river.

Suggested patterns: sz. 14-16 spanish bullets, flashy perdigons, CDC pheasant tails, coppertop duracells, pats rubber legs, and so on! Do you have a favorite nymph that has worked for you in the past? Give it a go right now, and those Ark River browns probably won't refuse it.

Lake County: The upper Ark through Hayden Meadows is still running at a high level, but it has improved significantly over the past week. Water clarity is quite good up there, but water velocity is still a bit of a challenge.

Buena Vista/Browns Canyon: Fishing very well! Perhaps even outstanding.

Salida and Downstream: Fishing very well! Typically the river downstream is a tad bit more off-color than the BV/upstream sections.


Antero and Spinney have fished quite well this spring. Chironomids under a bobber have been the ticket in most of my outings, but a recent switch over to callibaetis patterns has proved effective as well. Into carp fishing? Consider roaming the S. shoreline of Elevenmile Reservoir to stalk these spooky fish.

High Alpine Lakes and Streams:

Many of our local alpine lakes are open now!

Some of the higher elevation lakes closer to 12,000+ feet are still frozen and/or mostly frozen. But lakes like Grizzly, lower Hancock, lower Pomeroy are all wide open and ready to fish. The roads to those lakes have also very recently cleared all the way to the end, making access much simpler. These lakes can be a bit tricky early in the season, as the water temps are still very cold. Midges are typically the way to go in the early season (scuds and leeches too, depending on the lake). Small chironomid patterns with a white bead are a personal favorite in the alpine lakes.


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