Updated: Jun 22, 2022
Upriver guide, Eric Smith, with a classic Arkansas River brown trout caught by his client on a recent float trip.
Date: 06/21/2022 @ 9:00 am
Arkansas River Flows
Leadville: 256 cfs
Browns Canyon/Nathrop: 1080 cfs
Wellsville: 1160 cfs
Twin Lakes Release: 127 cfs
Good morning, and happy Summer solstice to you all! It is another beautiful morning here in Buena Vista, and the river is calling. Flows on the Arkansas River have changed very little over the past 4 days since our last update. A couple of quality rainstorms gave a slight bump to stream flows higher in the watershed, which helped keep things very consistent down in the valley bottom. The fishing right now has been good to outstanding. If you have the luxury of fishing from a raft, the streamer bite is still an excellent choice. Dry-dropper rigs are probably netting more fish, but the streamers seem to bring more quality and excitement to the boat.
If you are fishing from shore, take your time and work all the quality water thoroughly. All methods of fishing that we have tried have been successful right now. Even a nymph rig with a single large Pats Rubberleg have produced some very exciting eats. Try adding a little twitch and movement to your large nymphs during the drift. We have seen nice browns chasing down some large nymphs. Get out there, and enjoy the vastly improving conditions.
Hot flies: 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:
Mid-June and dropping river flows always make for outstanding fishing on the upper Arkansas River. Feels like we had to wait a little longer than usual this year, but we have arrived! Flows are dropping, water temps are increasing, and trout are looking up for a meal. This 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.
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.
Leadville Area: This may be the place to be 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.
Buena Vista Area: Flows are still a bit high, but dropping nicely. Visibility is excellent, and the fishing should be very good.
Salida and Downstream: Expect high flows, but they are becoming more manageable for the wade fisherman. Visibility has been excellent, and same goes for the fishing.
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 lower and mid elevation lakes have now been open for a few 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.
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!