Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM
Location: Chafee – Fremont County Line
The last of a string of very nice days prompted me to make my second fly fishing excursion of the year. The forecast high temperature in the Salida, CO area was 72 degrees, and this prospect along with flows in the 300 CFS range enticed me to make the nearly three hour drive to the Arkansas River for a day of fly fishing on a much larger body of water than that which I explored on Friday.
I arrived at my familiar pullout by 10:10AM, and this enabled me to make my first cast to the river by 10:30AM. The air temperature at the start of my day was 54 degrees, and I wore my light fleece cardigan, and it remained in place for the five hours I spent on the river, and I was never too warm. With winds in excess of 10 MPH predicted for the afternoon, I rigged my Sage One five weight, and this allowed me to utilize my new fly line for the first time. The line was a gift from Jane at Christmas.
The only other fisherman I saw all day happened to be parked in the same pullout as me; and, of course, he was ready before me and had first dibs on the river. He hiked quite a distance east along U.S. 50, before he dropped out of view in his descent to the river. My favorite location on the Arkansas River was downstream in the same direction, although I prefer crossing to the opposite side, and I contemplated that ploy, but in the end I opted for solitude and began working my way upstream along the south bank that bordered the highway. The south bank probably absorbed more fishing pressure than the north side, but I prefer the structure of the water on the highway side of the river.
I configured my five weight line with a beadhead yellow-light green Pat’s rubberlegs, and below it I added a mini leech with no bead. These two flies were present with a nymph rig that included a split shot and a New Zealand strike indicator. I began prospecting the water and quickly learned that the slower shelf pools and seams along the faster currents provided the most action.
During the first 1.5 hours, before I broke for lunch at noon, I landed one trout and endured four temporary hook ups. The Pat’s rubberlegs accounted for the single landed brown trout, and the success story was accompanied by four temporary connections. After a decent trial period I exchanged the mini leech for a size 22 zebra midge, and I suspect the long distance releases resulted from the tiny midge fly.
After lunch I continued with the deep nymphing approach and persisted with it until I quit at 3:30PM. I never saw any insects besides tiny midges and a very rare caddis. I was anticipating some blue winged olive action, but either it was too early in the season or the bright sun combined with a lack of cloud cover prevented a BWO appearance.
I managed to increase the fish count from one to seven, and the additional six included a twelve inch brown trout, and five browns in the nine to eleven inch range. The average size for the day surpassed the length of my North Fork of St. Vrain catches on Friday, but I have to admit that my expectations for size and quantity were a bit higher.
After a lull in action with the Pat’s rubberlegs and zebra midge I switched to a 20 incher and classic RS2. Five of the six PM fish that I landed chomped the 20 incher, and one grabbed an emerald caddis pupa, after I replaced the RS2. A couple more fish felt the penetration of one of my flies, but they managed to evade my net.
Between 2:30PM and 3:30PM I covered a significant amount of water and failed to land a single fish. In fact, I never experienced a look or refusal or temporary connection. I swapped the emerald caddis pupa for an iron sally during this time frame, but the move proved futile. The wind gusts made casting upstream a formidable challenge, and I finally surrendered at 3:30PM and climbed the bank to the highway, and walked a mile along the shoulder back to the car.
Monday was a fun day under bright sunshine with temperatures eventually touching the upper sixties and possibly nudging seventy. The wind was a nuisance, but I logged quite a bit of fishing time before it became a hassle. I suspect the absence of significant insect activity explained the slightly below average catch rate. I will probably return to the Arkansas River in a few weeks when the blue winged olives make a more sustained appearance.
Fish Landed: 7