Updated: Jun 16
The Arkansas River hydrograph at the Nathrop (Brown's Canyon) gauge for the past month. Cooler weather has really impacted our runoff pattern, relative to a "normal" year. Grey dashed line shows the historical average, and the blue line is this year's data.
Data pulled from dwr.state.co.us.
Date: 06/02/22 @ 8:45 am
Arkansas River Flows
Leadville: 155 cfs
Browns Canyon/Nathrop: 1080 cfs
Wellsville: 1170 cfs
Twin Lakes Release: 362 cfs
After a couple of overcast/cool days here in the valley, the clouds are lifting this morning and the sun is shining. One look at the Ark River hydrograph from the past month, and you can recognize just how unique the flows have been over the past 2 weeks, specifically. A couple of cold fronts put a complete halt to rising flows, and so we are stuck to deal with exceptional flows/visibility on the Arkansas River. Fishing on the river has been very good lately. Visibility on the upper Ark has simply remained remarkable for late May/early June. Dry-dropper rigs, tandem nymph rigs, streamers... Pick a method and get on the water for an exciting outing. Swing by the shop to ask about patterns that have been very productive for us, and we will set you on your way.
The forecast calls for a week straight of 70 degree days in Buena Vista, while overnight lows will be in the 40 degree range. We expect the river to begin to rise once again, but how high and how quickly is tough to determine. For now, however, the river is in great shape. The trout are comfortable in their lies, and they are on the prowl for food.
When conditions are right, 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. Focus most of your fishing effort close to the banks where water velocity is slower.
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 have been recently 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.
Caddis and Mayflies are very present currently. 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 clearer water. Our staff has experienced quality fishing on the upper Ark lately. When flows are up this high, try working a streamer right against the bank, let it sink, then use quick strips or twitch your rod tip to create action away from the bank. Be ready!
Downstream: Expect high, more off-colored water. Our float trips have had great fishing action from Buena Vista downstream, mainly focusing on streamer fishing or big bugs that will get trout's attention.
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 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. Currently, a slip indicator rig set at 10-15 feet, fished in depths of 10-20 feet has been a good approach.
Twin Lakes lake trout are fired up and still shallow. These fish are gorging on freshly stocked rainbow trout. Fish large streamers on gravel flats, or get out on a boat and try and sight fish cruising monsters. if this isn't productive, try covering water or trolling at different depths until a bite pattern is figured out.
All of our low elevation lakes have now been open for a couple of 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.
The vast majority of our alpine lakes are still frozen, or are difficult to access due to remaining snow. A lot will change in the next week or two, so be sure to check back with us. We love fishing the high country! Our staff will begin making trips into some of our area high lakes to check on conditions. Stay tuned...