Fishing the Arkansas River in Colorado
Believe it or not, after having never fly fished outside of Pennsylvania, I've just returned from my second fly fishing opportunity out of the Keystone State in the past 2 months. In my last post you read about my trip to Scotland. This time I have just returned from fishing the Arkansas River in Colorado.
I stopped in At Royal Gorge Anglers in Canon City, CO for some last minute advice and to buy my 1 day license ($8 plus $1 in other charges for a total of $9) and the necessary flies to assure me a good day of fishing. Unlike the Scotland trip, this time I actually caught some fish using the recommended flies. I chose a caddis (dry) selection along with some various nymphs.
It was a gorgeous day. Sunny and about 70 degrees with 10-15 mph wind gusts. The Arkansas is a much bigger river than what I'm used to fishing so this took some adjusting. The most productive part of the river is from Parkdale up to Leadville. This entire stretch follows state highways and it is part of the Colorado State Parks system. There are a multitude of named park pulloffs where fishing is allowed. To use these pulloffs, you simply pull into any one of them, pay your daily parks fee (currently $2) which entitles you to use any one of the pulloffs for the remainder of that day. I stopped at the first pulloff at Parkdale to pay my fee and to get my first look at this new river.
There were a few caddis coming off but no trout rising that I could see so I went deep. I have heard so much about the big, beautiful golden stonefly nymphs that it only made sense that I go this route to start. Well I selected 2 deep pools to start and struck out at both. So I headed up river searching for the location I thought would give me the best chance in this new adventure.
I pulled off at Lone Pine which would prove to be an excellent move. I found 2 large rocks within a few feet of the bank that provided perfect cover for trout. So I started drifting my stonefly through these pockets. Within 20 minutes I had pulled out 2 beautiful 12-13" browns. I studied these fish intently and saw that they were much more colorful than the eastern stocked trout I'm used to catching. Anyway, after about an hour I moved down the 2nd rock and duplicated my first effort and pulled out 2 more browns about the same size.
Hopefully to find some airborn critters, I hopped in the car and headed upstream again to a pulloff called Valli Bridge. Still didn't find the hatches I'd heard so much about (I was actually a little late for the caddis hatch) so I tried nymphing for about another hour with no more success here.
Exhausted, I decided to pack it in and call it a day. This had been a most perfect day and one of the best I've had the privilege to experience (considering the beautiful day, the fish caught, the beautiful mountains and scenery and the wildlife).
I look forward to my next trip to Colorado where I will explore the South Platte River.