Upper Arkansas River Fly Fishing Report

Last Update 08/26/2016 - The Ark can be hit or miss on the upper river or during the middle part of the day. The River would best be approached early or late and focusing on the middle river from above BV to Salida. Hopper dropper rigs and single Caddis dries can be stellar along the banks and shallow runs. Try and avoid fishing when the water temp gets above 65 degrees as it can be lethal on the fish and degrade this gold medal fishery. Look for sporadic hatches of various Drakes, Quills. Late Stoneflies, Sallies, PMD’s and various Caddis. If fishing slows, switch to a double or triple nymph rig with a stonefly nymph on top, followed by a soft hackle or caddis larva then finishing with a midge or RS2 on the bottom. Fish this set up in the dark, deeper runs, pocket water and pools.

River Information

The Arkansas River begins it's 1500 mile journey towards the Missisippi right here near the town of Leadville, CO. Ideal for a 3-5 wt rod, this portion of the Arkansas is largely a meadow stream and provides anglers the chance to target rainbow and brown trout in a high altitude, extremely scenic environment. 

Aside from fishing the Arkansas River, there are countless lakes and small streams that offer anglers a variety of places to spend a day. Turquoise lake, Hayden Meadows, Crystal Lakes, Busk Creek, Halfmoon Creek and the East Fork of the Arkansas are just a few of the many nearby waters this area has to offer. Many of these smaller creeks provide the oppurtunity at a "Grand Slam"-- a Rainbow, Brown, Brook and Cutthroat trout all out of the same river in the same day! 

Match the Hatch

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Winter/Spring: Midges, sporadic Baetis

Summer: Caddis, Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, PMDs, Terrestrials

Fall: Baetis, Caddis

Seasonal Conditions

The primary months to fish this section of the river will be from late March-November. Due to the altitude, (approx 10,000 feet) this area is very cold during the winter and the fish quite lethargic. Seasonal closures on some stretches exist as well. 

It is without a doubt the warmer months that make this river come alive. Anglers can expect to find fish heavily relating to the various and prolific mayfly, caddis and stonefly hatches this river sees. Terrestrial patterns can also be very effective during the summer. 

River Access

River access for the upper portion of the Arkansas River is plentiful as well. Hwy 24 parallels much of the river and multiple parking areas, designated with a "P" sign,  can be found along the roadside. Crystal Lake State Trust Lands, Reddy State Wildlife Area and the hayden Ranch Recreation Area are all productive areas to check out when fishing this stretch of river.