Overall River Rating:


Lower Arkansas River

Last Update: 6/24/16- The ark is definitely moving right now. At about the mid-2000 cfs range, the river is definitely well suited to the whitewater rafters but not so much to the discerning wade fisherman. If you are brave enough to stick it out in the high flows, expect to see fish up tight against the banks in the slowest water you can find.Use larger stonefly nymphs, attractors with a lot of weight and a lot of flash, and brightly colored caddis larva and pupa teamed up with a considerably large split shot to pull them down.

River Information

The section of the Arkansas River is what most people refer to when discussing fishing The Ark. Located along Hwy 50 between Canon City and Salida, this 58 mile stretch of Gold Medal water offers anglers the total package when it comes to a Western fly fishing experience. A freestone river in every sense of the word, anglers have the chance to fish for both rainbow and brown trout using everything from dry flies, nymphs and streamers throughout the day throughout the day. While a very wadable stretch of river, this section is also popular amongst float fishing anglers as well. From a fish-mix standpoint, the lower section near Canon City has a healthy population of brown trout in the 12-16" range. The further west you head towards Salida seems to be more "rainbow" water. Fishing around the deeper pocket water and boulders can produce some hard fighting rainbows that grow in excess of 20". The beauty of this river is that due to the vast amount of public water availble it almost never feels crowded. An angler can almost always find multiple stretches of river to have all to themselves. 


Winter/Spring: Midges, sporadic Baetis

Summer: Caddis, Stoneflies, Terrestrials, multiple varieties of Mayflies (PMD, BWO, Red Quills), Streamers

Fall: Caddis, Stoneflies, Mayflies, Streamers 

Seasonal Conditions

Early Spring and Summer/Fall are the prime times to fish this section of river. Located in the Bighorn Canyon, this area can get very cold during winter and severely suppress the trout's appetites. Early spring can be a great time to fish here as daytime/water temps start to increase and the corresponding stonefly molt takes place. Blue-Wing Olive (Baetis) mayflies can also show in abundance on certain days offering some fantastic early season dry fly action. By the time runoff hits in late spring, this river can get quite difficult to fish with the increased flows. As water levels receed by summer, the river comes alive with bug life. Caddis, Mayflies, Terrestrials, and Stoneflies will all put fish in the net. Streamers can also be quite effective this time of year. 

River Access

River access is plentiful along Hwy 50 and countless "P" (parking) signs and pulloffs are available for the entire 58 miles between Canon City and Salida. There is some private property throughout this stretch of river, however these places are usually clearly marked and won't be cause for any shortage of fantastic water to fish.  Several parking areas also have picnic tables and grills available for public use.