With all the excitement of the spring dry fly hatches also comes the fluctuations of water in the river and weather in the valley. I'll fill you on what's to come in the next week here on the Upper Arkansas River.
Current river conditions:
Flows have jumped up in the last two days to almost 900 C.F.S. this will be a short lived flow increase. They are moving an extra 285 C.F.S. out of Twin Lakes until April 15th after that they plan to cut 200 C.F.S. back out bring the river down. We are also expecting colder temps starting today and going into the weekend. This may help reduce flows a little more as we go into next week.
Where to fish:
If you are visiting the valley to fish this week, I would look to fish above the confluence of the Lake Creek and the Arkansas River if you are looking for clear water. The temps are still pretty cold up there, so lean more towards winter fishing tactics. Although fishing will still be great in the Salida and Buena Vista areas, just expect cloudy water.
Below Coaldale is still not fishing well due to added sediment in the water from a burn scar. Fish numbers are down and the bug life is limited.
The Blue Wing Olive hatch should really be going strong for the next week here. Cloud cover and precipitation are all it takes this time of year to have some incredible dry fly action. If you brave the less then ideal weather over the next week you will be rewarded with some quality fishing.
What to fish:
Start your day off fishing a nymph rig and key in on the deeper runs. Run a size 12-14 tungsten Prince Nymph or other attractor nymph as your lead fly then tie on a smaller size 16-18 tungsten Zebra Midge (Element Baetis in red was also working well). Tie that second fly on no more then 12 inches behind your first fly.
With color in the water don't rule out some good streamer action, throw it tight to the banks and you will for sure turn a few browns that are lurking.
Pat's Rubber Legs and red San Jaun worms can also be very productive with these spring time fluctuating flows. Make sure you have a few of those in your fly box.
When you find some fish actively rising during the day, they are likely feeding on BWO's; switch up fast and take advantage of the opportunity. A size 18-20 Parachute Adams should do the trick. If you get into a really strong BWO hatch and there seems to be too many bugs on the water and the fish are not finding your fly, throw on a size 12-14 Royal Wulff or other attractor dry and then add your Adams or size 18-20 BWO dry behind that. That Wulff will get their attention, leading them to see your other fly and give you a better chance of hooking up. This also makes it easier to see those tiny BWO dries. Once the surface activity slows down switch back to the nymph rig.
We found fish all over in the river. They were in deep runs, in the fast riffle water, up next to the bank and in pocket water.
Don't put off a fishing trip to the Arkansas River any longer, the conditions could not be better, so come on up! If you are looking to book a guided trip give us a call (719) 221-4571 and stop by to check out the best fly shop in Salida, located downtown, The Next Eddy.