Arkansas River Fishing Report - May 18 2022
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Kayla Maddox (Upriver Owner and Trip-Booker) displays a quality brown trout, that fell for an articulated streamer pattern on a 5/18/ float down the Ark.
Date: 05/18/22 @ 9:00am
Arkansas River Flows
Leadville: 335 cfs
Browns Canyon/Nathrop: 1270 cfs
Wellsville: 1290 cfs
Twin Lakes Release: 17 cfs
The past 4 days have been quite warm and sunny in the upper Arkansas River valley, causing a significant rise in river flows (~450cfs in Browns Canyon). Rising river flows often make the fishing more challenging to fish effectively. Our staff has had 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. Today and tomorrow we will see warm and sunny conditions in the valley, so we expect the flows to bump up even more. Friday and Saturday are forecast to be much cooler and overcast, which should help slow the runoff pattern down a bit. We expect fishing to be very good following that cooler weather window, so stay tuned!
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 are relatively 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.
The famous “Mother’s Day caddis hatch" is right on time as well. Currently the hatch is centered around Buena Vista and is continuing to improve. Although we are in the midst of the hatch, the rise in flows has cooled the water and therefore has reduced the caddis activity. In addition to caddis and mayflies, golden stones have been moving around within the river and are always a great bet for a larger, protein-filled trout snack.
Upstream: Anticipate cooler, lower, and somewhat clearer water. In the late morning, expect roughly 2 feet of visibility in the Ark near Hayden Meadows Reservoir. Our staff has experienced quality fishing on the upper Ark lately. Focus more on nymphing the obvious lies.
Downstream: Expect slightly higher, off-colored water with fish gorging on BWOs, Caddis, Golden Stones, smaller fish, and pretty much anything they can swallow. Our float trips have had great fishing action from Buena Vista downstream.
Dream Stream: The spring rainbow run has come and gone, and fishing on the dream stream is currently somewhat of a challenge. Plenty of quality, resident fish to be caught, but larger lake fish are few and far between. 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 for the past month or so... 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. Balanced Leeches and Chironomids fished in the chop are a good bet. Fish on drop-offs where there is an obvious color change in the water. If this isn't fruitful, take time to search the banks, fish in all of these reservoirs will cruise shallow looking for easy meals. If indicator fishing isn't productive, try stripping larger streamers, leeches, and crawfish patterns for shallow-munchin' monsters. That being said, as these lakes see continued angling pressure and warmer weather, these fish will start to move towards their summer lies. This includes drop-offs (specifically near structure), as well as shallower flats near weed-beds that are home to all their favorite food sources.
Some of the lowest elevation lakes in our area are now open! The vast majority of our quality high lakes will not open up for another few weeks. However, it is never too early to swing by the shop and talk high lakin’!