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River: Arkansas River Lower

River help

Post By: Angler Jack      Posted: 4/18/2018 4:27:28 PM     Points: 434    
My buddy and I are heading to buena vista may 4-6 and thinking about trying the Arkansas. I never fished a river before, mainly 11 mile, pueblo, antero. I heard browns canyon is good? Looking for any tips or areas we might have good look. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 4/18/2018 9:24:05 PM     Points: 6130    
If you are a fly-fishermen, there are plenty of excellent shops in Buena Vista and Salida. Talk to them to get the good word on flows, hatches, and spots to try.

The whole river contains nice fish, primarily brown trout with some rainbow trout. There is plenty of state and federal access from Canon City all the way up to Leadville. River fishing is usually done while wading or in a drift boat. Colorado's trespass laws mean it is important to be aware of where public land ends and private land begins, even while wading or boating. Maps sold at fly shops can assist with staying legal.

In early May the river could be high and off-color due to runoff. This could mean difficult fishing conditions and dangerous wading/boating conditions. If conditions are good, fishing should be excellent.
 Reply by: deadpoint07      Posted: 4/19/2018 7:20:27 AM     Points: 1601    
You are talking about the fabled Mother's day caddis hatch timeframe. My best day ever on a river was near Salida in early May. For sure I agree with Brookie that you'll need local knowledge of where the hatch is at. Probably near Canyon City that early. If you find the bugs, you'll find the fish.
 Reply by: Angler Jack      Posted: 4/19/2018 7:30:22 AM     Points: 434    
I will talk to the local shops no doubt! I wouldnt call myself a fly fisherman, i am giving a fly and bubble a shot just to see what happens. I adventually want to learn with a fly rod, but for now i will just be using my spinning reel. I didnt go too crazy at Sportsmans but i bought 20+ flies just as a starter. As far as brown canyon, is there easy access to the river? We will only be on foot walking up and down the river with waders, no belly boats yet.
 Reply by: richw88      Posted: 4/19/2018 8:22:05 AM     Points: 15    
Never heard "easy access" and "Brown's Canyon" mentioned in the same sentence. Unless there was a "There is no ..." in there somewhere.
It's a wilderness. No road access. Best way in is from the upstream end, where all the rafters will be launching. If you can cross (doubtful in May), you can walk the tracks down on the east side.
Google it, but not someplace I'd send someone who's never fished a river or used a fly rod.
Lots of good lakes SW of Salida. Or go over to Taylor Park.
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 4/19/2018 1:47:11 PM     Points: 6130    
I'll add some more advice. I like the Ark quite a bit, so it's hard not to add more:

I highly recommend getting a guide to fish the Ark. Fly fishing is a lot of fun, especially on a river like the Arkansas. You'll learn everything you need to know about flyfishing, including how to read the water, how to safely wade, etiquette, and all about the bugs and fish that make that river special.

If you can't afford a guide, I mentioned there is plenty of public access all over the river. Browns is a tough access but it's awesome because of its wilderness quality. If you are in shape you will be fine. If not, I would stick to state and federal access closer to roads.

Rich makes a good point about some of the water in the mountains to the west of the Ark valley.

And as an aside: never take a belly boat down a river. They're not maneuverable enough to avoid dangerous chutes and hydraulics. Best case your lower half will be pretty black and blue at the end of the day. Worst case, you'll get a flipper stuck between two rocks and you'll get ripped under and drowned.
 Reply by: Angler Jack      Posted: 4/19/2018 4:46:50 PM     Points: 434    
Right on! Thanks for all the advise, that helps a lot.
 Reply by: Anteroman      Posted: 4/19/2018 5:55:44 PM     Points: 5098    
I also, primarily, use spin tackle fishing the Ark. If you have several Blue Fox Vibrax minnows in brown trout color, along with a hanfull of black 1/8 oz. Panther Martins you shouldn't need anything else. I generally fish the North end of the Ark from Hayden Meadows down to Salida lthough these same lures have worked well for me in the Salida to Wellsville water as well.
Hope this helps,
Always crush your barbs!!!!!