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Arkansas River Fishing Report - March 15, 2024

Updated: Mar 20

Top photo: Upriver guide Eric Smith is hooked up on a nice brown in Brown's Canyon. Bottom photo: A gorgeous BV town resident Rainbow caught by shop manager Michael Atwood.

Date: 03/15/2024 @ 11:00am

Arkansas River Flows

Leadville (Empire Gulch): unavailable

Browns Canyon/Nathrop: unavailable

Wellsville: 275 cfs

Twin Lakes Release: 25 cfs

Arkansas River Fishing Report:

General Fishing Report: Spring conditions are creeping into the Arkansas River valley. We just got hit by a significant snow storm that brought around 10'' of that wet stuff to the Buena Vista area. Moving into early next week, as this storm rolls out, we will see consecutive warm/sunny days (low 50's). With the weather shift, we should see a resumption of real quality midge hatches. And we should expect to start seeing some blue winged olives (bwos) show up as well. Some sporadic appearances of bwos have already been taking place, but we haven't yet seen and real prolific hatches. Late March and the month of April are all about the bwos, which can offer some of the best dry fly and sight fishing on the Ark. Flows remain low and visibility is crystal clear, giving the stealthy wade angler a plethora of approaches and opportunities along the Arkansas River.

Update 3/20: Upriver guides went on a float trip from Salida East to Rincon on 3/18, and the bug activity is really turning up! Midges were the most plentiful, but the blue wings had a strong emergence as well in the early afternoon hours. Believe it or not, a few adult caddis flies were even spotted on the boat. The trout were up and feeding near and on the surface. Many fish had moved into more shallow riffle-type water to take advantage of the food abundance. There were lots of opportunities for dry fly fishing, if you're into that....

Right now we are fishing mostly 5x or smaller leader/tippets and nymphs ranging from size # 16-20. Lighter tippets are less likely to draw attention from the fish, and light tippets allow your small flies to behave a bit more naturally during the drift. The smaller diameter of tippet means it is less likely to be dragged around by the current, allowing your flies to be at desired depths for longer periods of time. We recommend using small or yarn indicators, to minimize the spooking of fish when they land on the water surface. We love using fluorocarbon tippet for our sub-surface flies, and nylon tippet for our dry flies. Some patterns that have been effective for us lately are; #18 tungsten perdigons (olive, brown, black, even bright colors are working), #16-18 frenchie variations, #14-16 golden stonefly nymphs. For dries, we were fooling fish with #18-20 Griffiths Gnats, and #16-20 parachute Adams, but try your favorite midge and bwo imitations.

March and April are considered by many to be the best fishing months on the Arkansas River, so we hope that you can get out and enjoy the current conditions!

Lake County: Still lots of snow and ice to deal with up North, but a determined angler could find some water to fish around Granite and upstream into Hayden Meadows.

Buena Vista/Browns Canyon: Mostly wide open and fishing quite well. You should be spotting lots of feeding fish if you are observant and slow-paced.

Salida and Downstream: Fishing well! Reports of more bwo action downstream of Salida. Particularly on the overcast snowy/drizzly days.

South Platte Tailwaters:

The Dream Stream had a recent bump in flows from 60cfs to a nice 120cfs, but it has since come back down to a flow of 80 cfs as of 3/14. Some nice lake fish have made their way into the river system. As usual, the Dream is getting fished pretty hard. Remember to be courteous to your fellow angler, pick up after yourself, don't walk through the redds, and don't cast to fish that are on the redds.


Still frozen over for now... Check back in a month or so when Antero and Spinney Mtn will be iced of and firing!

High Alpine Lakes and Streams:

Still early for the high country... Look for updates in May/June!


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