Upper Arkansas River Fly Fishing Report

Last Update 09/28/2016 - The upper Ark is at its typical low/clear late season flow and can be a challenging fishery in bright sunny conditions. Look for fish to hold in the deepest/darkest water when the sun is out, some fish can be found in deeper riffle/runs during a morning/afternoon Midge/BWO emergence. With a stealthy approach and perfect presentation you can get a few on a Hopper or attractor dry fly. The fishing will get more productive as you move downstream and Clear Creek/lake Creek add a bit more water to the flow. The deeper pocket water can be provide a fun day of technical nymphing or great BWO hatches during overcast conditions. Stonefly/Midge or Golden Stonefly/BWO nymph combos can be deadly here. Small streamers can also work well on this River. - Mike Price, Professional Fly Fishing Guide

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.