Arkansas River – 03/13/2016

Time: 12:00PM – 4:00PM

Location: Five points and then up the river.

Fish Landed: 9

Arkansas River 03/13/2016 Photo Album

Double digit fish count is always my goal. I did not achieve this objective on Sunday, March 13; however, I came close and had my best outing of 2016. In addition I endured my longest amount of time casting for the new season, and I climbed over numerous large rocks, and these were notable achievements in my recovery from surgery.

Sunday’s forecast anticipated high temperatures around 67 degrees near Canon City, so Jane agreed to accompany me on the long drive to the lower end of Big Horn Sheep Canyon. We pulled into a river access parking space at Five Points at 11:45, so I immediately downed my sandwich and snacks and prepared to fish. Fortunately I placed the Colorado State Parks pass on my windshield before we left, so I did not need to worry about DOW agents citing me for illegal parking.


The Arkansas River Near Five Points


The one negative to Sunday was the periodic gusts of wind that howled down the canyon, but I have grown to expect this adversity. The wind made dry fly or dry/dropper fishing a poor option, so I assembled my thingamabobber nymphing rig. I connected my fly line to the thingamabobber with a six inch section of 0X leader and followed that step by knotting a five foot section of level 5X to the eye of the thingamabobber as well. Next I added an eighteen inch section of 5X with a surgeon’s knot and tied an Arkansas rubber legs to the tippet. The large nymph was weighted, and I expected it to serve in lieu of a split shot. Finally I added a beadhead hares ear to the terminal end of my leader, and I was set to begin my quest for Arkansas River trout.

I fished for forty-five minutes with this combination, and although I experienced two split second hook ups, I did not add to my fish count, and I began to lose confidence in my approach. I snipped off the Arkansas rubber leg, moved the hares ear to the top position, crimped a split shot to my line above the surgeon’s knot, and then knotted a RS2 to the end of the 5X. Finally with this arrangement in place, I landed a small six inch brown trout, and I celebrated despite its diminutive size.

As I moved above the Five Points access area, I encountered an island below a large bend, and I chose to explore the left braid which carried two thirds of the river volume. The most attractive portion of this segment of the river is the sharp bend where the current deflects off a large vertical rock and creates a nice deep run and shelf. I anticipated at least one fish from this juicy area, and I began to thoroughly cover the likely fish holding locations. First I probed the narrow slack water between the bank and the faster current, but this failed to yield a tug. Next I cast along the current seam next to the deep pool, but this was also futile. Finally I lobbed the nymphs to the center of the slow moving pool, and suddenly the thingamabobber took a dip. I quickly set the hook, but I was confused to discover my line flying back toward my position, while the thingamabobber drifted sideways toward the faster current. I looked on in amazement as the float and nymphs bobbed down the river while my line dangled before me. I sadly realized that the knot connecting the 0X leader to the thingamabobber unraveled, and I lost my entire system including strike indicator, split shot, five feet of tippet, and two flies. Needless to say I was a frustrated angry fisherman.


Lots of Pocket Water

I waded to the island and found a place to sit down on the soft slanted sand, and here I began the time consuming task of recreating the entire nymph configuration. Of course as I embarked on this task, I began to observe small blue winged olives as they took flight over the riffles in front of me. This always happens when I am struggling with a tangle or fly change and serves to increase the anxiety associated with not having ones fly on the water. Since I was starting over, I opted to try an emerald caddis pupa as the top fly, but I found another RS2 for my bottom offering.


Best Trout of the Year So Far

Now I was set to attack the river. The intensity of the wind increased, but I spotted more BWO’s in the air above the river, and I was certain that I had the proper set up and flies to achieve afternoon success. I waded up the river to a point above the island and prospected some nice pockets, and my confidence was affirmed when I landed a nice twelve inch brown trout that inhaled the beadhead hares ear. Perhaps I was on the right track. Next I worked my way across to the bank along the road, and here I began exploring some deep slots next to some large boulders. Unfortunately on one of the drifts, the flies wedged beneath a large exposed boulder. I attempted to wade into position to extract them, but the current was fast and dangerous, and I avoided reaching my arm into the icy water not wishing to get my shirt and Under Armour sleeve wet. Just as I broke off both flies, I heard a voice high above next to the road, and it was Jane admonishing me for wading into a fast deep segment of the river.


This Brown Trout Liked the Beadhead Hares Ear

I quickly added more tippet to my leader, and this time I reverted to a beadhead hares ear as my top fly with another RS2 occupying the bottom position. As Jane remained above me, I cast to a nice short riffle of moderate depth, and here the indicator paused. I reacted quickly and hooked and landed another 10-12 inch brown while my wife watched from the edge of the canyon above. It is always fun to catch a fish while a spectator is watching.



The remainder of the afternoon was a blast as I worked my way up the river along the left bank and landed six more brown trout. Two of the netted fish snatched the RS2, but the others grabbed the hares ear. I alternated between dead drifting the nymphs and imparting motion, but the most effective presentation was lifting or swinging the nymphs at the tail of the drift. The one constant through the last two hours of fishing was the relentless wind, and several times I stopped to brace myself by holding my flies and turning my back.


Nice Water Near End Point

At 3:50 I carefully climbed the steep rocky bank and hiked back along the shoulder of route 50 and found Jane reading at a picnic table. I requested ten minutes to try my flies in a nice deep slot that I covered close to the start of my day, and she graciously honored my request. I walked back to the river on a path and then waded the edge until I found the location that I was targeting. I covered the lower half and then the upper half of the slot quite thoroughly with lots of motion, but fish number ten eluded my best efforts. Finally I returned to the car and prepared for the drive home.

Sunday was my best day of 2016 in terms of fish count and size of fish. I fished for four hours and did not aggravate the healing parts of my body. In fact, from a physical perspective, it was the best I felt during my post-operative existence. The wind was a nuisance, but otherwise it was a sunny warm day with active fish. I remain a happy fisherman.

Fish Landed: 9

2 thoughts on “Arkansas River – 03/13/2016

  1. I must have missed out on the surgery. Been there and done that. Glad to see you’re getting out and looking forward to more of your trips. It’s like having an unpaid guide. Thanks Dave.

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