Time: 1:00PM – 3:30PM
Location: Lunch Rock upriver a mile.
After packing up our campsite at Shavano on Wednesday morning, Jane and I drove to the trailhead for the Little Rainbow mountain bike trail near Salida on Methodist Mountain. We biked east for half an hour and then turned around and returned. Little Rainbow is a relatively new easy to intermediate single track with constant tight turns and loops, as it follows the contour of the mountain through a pinon pine and juniper landscape. We agreed with the rating, since the trail was wider than most single tracks, and it did not include any significant climbs, but it remained single track and thus incorporated a higher degree of concentration and technical bike handling skill than a paved surface.
After we completed our ride, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on our blanket in a small park next to the Salida Hot Springs. Our timing overlapped with the traditional lunch hour, and we were surprised by the number of park visitors. After lunch Jane and I parted ways, as she returned to Denver for Thursday tennis, and I proceeded east on US 50 to a location five miles below Salida, that I refer to as Lunch Rock. A huge rock juts into the Arkansas River, and I often park next to it and consume my lunch before fishing. I planned to give the Arkansas River another edge fishing trial on Wednesday afternoon to assess whether to commit a full day to the large freestone river on Thursday.
Between 1:00 and 3:30 I covered approximately .75 mile, and I can report that it was not the “fish in a barrel” experience touted by the fly shops. I landed three brown trout with the first and largest measuring fourteen inches. I began the afternoon with a yellow fat Albert, iron sally, and ultra zug bug; as these three flies generated some decent action in the late afternoon on Monday. I persevered with this combination for an hour or more, and the fat Albert produced three refusals, while I managed one brief hookup on one of the nymphs. I covered a lot of water, and I finally conceded that the three flies deployed were not effective trout enticers.
I shifted to a solo yellow Letort hopper in an effort to downsize but retain the yellow body color, and this fly elicited two looks but no takes. Another step down to a size 12 yellow stimulator finally yielded the first landed fish; the fourteen inch brown trout I mentioned earlier. I thought that perhaps the stimulator was the answer, but after the initial success it began to generate refusals as well. I adhered to the yellow stimulator theme and switched to a size 14 version, but once again refusals were the answer from the trout. How about a size 14 lime green trude? It was knotted to my line, but it was totally ignored.
In a last ditch effort to salvage a slow day I tied a size 16 light gray caddis to my leader, and this finally generated interest from the previously selective or lock jawed trout. I landed two brown trout on the caddis, and in addition I endured two long distance releases. A fair amount of glare existed along the bank, but assuming a more advantageous position for lighting was not an option as a result of the high flows and the thick streamside vegetation. The small size 16 caddis was quite difficult to follow in the poor lighting, and gusting wind made it very challenging to know were the fly landed on each cast. The two escaped fish probably benefited from late hook sets linked to poor visibility.
In summary it was a tough outing, but I concluded that a return to Denver was preferable to another day on the Arkansas River. I checked off edge fishing the Arkansas from my goals list, but I did not experience the success I anticipated. Monday and Wednesday results were significantly inferior when compared to previous years during receding run off, and I am uncertain of the reasons. I plan to move on to other rivers and streams in Colorado, and I am undecided about when I will return to the newly certified gold medal Arkansas River.
Fish Landed: 3