Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM
Location: Fremont – Chafee County line and upstream
Fish Landed: 13
Five years ago I began tracking my calorie consumption and burn using an iPad app called FatSecret. I am certain that the calories burned under the activity labeled fishing presume the sedentary version of the sport such as sitting in a boat or relaxing in a chair by a lake. My fishing outing on Tuesday on the Arkansas River is testament to fly fishing representing a far different FatSecret exercise category.
Amazingly when I arrived at the pullout along route 50 at the Fremont-Chafee county line below Salida, the air was relatively calm compared to my previous April fishing experiences. The temperature was in the low fifties, so I pulled on my gray fleece cardigan and prepared to fish. I packed my lunch and water in my backpack, as I planned to cross the river and not return until the end of the day. The flows were around 300 cfs, and this level allows crossing the river safely assuming one has a wading staff and is reasonably cautious with foot placement.
Once I crossed the wide tail out below my parking location, I decided to work my way upstream. I selected my new Sage One 9′, 5 weight rod, and seeing no insect activity at 10:30AM, I decided to set up the standard nymph configuration with a strike indicator, split shot, ultra zug bug and hares ear nymph. This set up would serve me for the remainder of my time on the Arkansas River. I switched flies infrequently, but I never deviated from the deep nymphing approach for prospecting the clear river.
The first half hour failed to yield a fish, and I began to see a handful of small caddis flitting about near the surface, so I exchanged the ultra zug bug for an emerald caddis pupa and swapped the hares ear for a beadhead RS2. This change seemed to do the trick, and shortly after 11 I landed two gorgeous brown trout in the 13 to 14 inch range. Unlike most of the fish that I landed so far in 2015, these trout carried more girth. Before breaking for lunch at 12:15, I landed three additional brown trout, and my long drive to the Arkansas was beginning to pay dividends.
After lunch I continued fishing the caddis pupa and RS2 with similar results to the morning. I landed an additional eight fish in the next 3.5 hours, so the catch rate was down a bit, but steady enough to prevent my thoughts from straying to baseball or food. Normally if I find myself thinking more about topics other than fishing, I view that as a sign to quit.
My approach for Tuesday was consistent throughout the day. I lobbed the nymphing rig upstream and allowed it to drift back toward me while quickly stripping in the slack. Deep holes did not produce, and the best places tended to be the tail of long riffles and runs where the river rushed over a rocky bottom at a moderate pace with a depth of three to four feet. Not all locations with this type of structure produced, but enough yielded fish to keep my interest focused. Several of the fish grabbed the flies upon the lift to make another cast, but when I simulated the lift by jigging or bouncing my flies as they drifted toward me, I never found success.
In short I covered a huge amount of water, and this entailed climbing over numerous rocks in the streambed and along the bank. In addition my shoulder endured its heaviest test of the season with repeated casting of the nymphs upstream and into the wind which kicked up in the afternoon. I’m certain that all this effort far exceeded the calorie burn incorporated into the FatSecret application.
From 11AM until 2PM I spotted an occasional blue winged olive, and the RS2 produced four fish during this time frame. I went through a slow spell after 2, so I tested a bright green caddis pupa and size 20 soft hackle emerger, and the bright green caddis produced two fish. Eventually I concluded that the emerald pupa was more effective than the bright green version, so I reverted, and the BWO hatch seemed to end, so I returned to the ultra zug bug. These flies produced the last two browns in the late afternoon.
I had the entire Arkansas River to myself and the weather developed into a beautiful spring day with the high temperature reaching the low seventies. I managed to land thirteen fish on my new rod, and the average size exceeded my previous 2015 efforts. It was a great day to be retired in Colorado.