Cold and wet seems to be the norm for now, but it's keeping the flows down and the fishing good!
Current river conditions:
Flows are staying down with all this cold weather and moisture that we have been getting, this is good for right now, but expect flows to sky rocket as soon as the sun comes out and the days and nights get warmer. The forecast says it will be cool for the next 10 days, so there's still great fishing to be had.
Where to fish:
Fishing is good in most all sections of the river from Coaldale to Leadville. Water clarity is going to be better in the upper sections Buena Vista and up but don't stray from fishing the Salida area even if the water is stained.
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 bulk of the caddis hatch is over in the Salida and Buena Vista areas, but look for rising fish in the afternoon and evenings. Mayfly and caddis hatches are happening and fish are feeding on them. With Spring conditions upon us the fish can be temperamental feeders as the flows come up. When the flows have bumped up and it seems like the fish are not eating anything, its time to huck some meat. Streamer fishing on these cloudy days with irregular and rising flows have been very productive.
What to fish:
With the flows slowly increasing the fish are being pushed to the edges of the river. The Arkansas River hopper dropper rig is the best way to present to these fish without constantly getting snagged on the bottom, a shallow nymph rig works too, but when a nice big brown comes up and hits your strike indicator your will wish you had a tan Chubby Chernobyl in size 8-10 holding up your nymphs. A couple options for your wet flies are a coffee colored Patts Stone size 10 or a Dirty Bird size 14. Mayfly nymphs are also a good one to drop, the Frenchie Light and the Element Quill Body BWO pattern should hook a couple fish. These are great patterns right not as they imitate BWO and cased caddis, which the fish are feeding on.
When your normal tactics just does not seem to be working or if you like to strip streamers, now is the time! I've had several outstanding days fishing streamers this past week and with similar conditions in the days to come you should string up the 6 weight and get after it, big fish eat meat! My go to streamer lately has been a tan Sex Dungeon, but an olive Bugs Bunny has been a good alternative.
Many of the freestone's around the state are already blown out with spring run off, but the Arkansas is holding in there giving us a few bonus days/weeks of fishing this spring before runoff. So come and get it while you can. 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. If you are in the Buena Vista area check out BV Fly, our new fly shop, located inside CKS Main Street. BV Fly is now open, supplying all you will need to get out and land fish on the Upper Arkansas River.