November 29, 2011
Flow: 55 CFS
Clarity: Gin Clear
Weather: Sunny and 50-60
Water Temp: 43-50 Degrees
If you have never fish the Arkansas River below Pueblo Reservoir, then you are seriously missing out. The Arkansas below Pueblo largely overlooked by Denver and Colorado fly fisherman. I would go so much to say as it is the best winter fishery in the denver/front range area. Not only does the Arkansas have huge numbers of fish (check out our Arkansas River fly fishing reports), but it also has some fish that may raise and eyebrow or two. 18-20″ fish are not out of the question, in fact there are rumors of even larger fish calling this river home.
One of the other key features of the Arkansas Tailwater is the epic BWO hatch that seems to happen all winter. This hatch is so prolific, I have seen it last for 2-3 hours and the fish will look up and sip dries! The other bonus is the warmer temps. Usually Pueblo is several degrees warmer than Denver and Northern cities.
The last few weeks, the BWO hatch has been the strongest from 11-2PM, with lots of action on the surface. If you are fishing dries, look in the shallow riffles and at the head of runs. This is where you will see the most fish looking up. Nymphing has been the most productive way to hammer fish. Olive and green have been the name of the game. Olive RS2s, Pheasant Tails, Olive Biot Midge, Johnny Flash, Black Beauties, Tubing Midge and Red Midges. Fish light and short. Most of my rigs were in total 4-6 feet long and #04-01 weight. Be careful to not go too heavy and deep. As for dry flies, Parachute Adams, Sprout Midges, Parachute Ext. Body BWO and Griffith Gnats were all good choices. Keep them small, anywhere from a size 18-24.
Now, trout are not the only fish that reside in the Arkansas. Walleye, Catfish, Carp, Wiper and huge suckers often fall for a fly once in a while. Matt and I ran into this local who snagged a 25″ walleye a tiny #18 larva. We heard him yelling from downstream and ran down to his hole only to find a giant walleye lying on the bank. I would by lying if I said I wasn’t surprised. I knew fish flushed through every once in a while, but one that big?
At the height of the BWO hatch last week, the fish were eating so vigorously we were able to slam fish on almost every cast. This has not happened to me in a while. I experienced this one other time on opening day on Spinney Reservoir and it happened again this week! I had Dave roll the camera while I tried to catch 3 fish on three casts. Check out the video below and watch my attempt.