Time: 1:30AM – 5:00PM
Location: Lunch Rock upstream
Fish Landed: 3
I convinced Dan that since the fishing slowed on Chalk Creek we should move to the big river, the Arkansas, and give that a try. We returned all our gear to the Santa Fe, and I drove the half hour or so to the Arkansas River below Salida. I parked at the big rock I refer to as Lunch Rock. We made sure we had our water and sunscreen as there was less cover and we were at lower elevation.
The river was still running fairly high at 1320 cfs when ideal is typically 500 – 700 cfs. The edges were clear and there was usually around five feet of water to fish. Dan and I took turns casting to the likely runs and pockets. Dan continued with the Chernobyl ant, but in spite of some expert casting wasn’t creating any interest. I switched to a yellow Letort hopper because the fly shop reports usually recommend something large and yellow. I landed three 11-12 inch browns over the first hour or two, so I switched Dan to the same fly with a hares ear dropper. I had a beadhead pheasant tail dropper, but most of my action was on the hopper.
The wind did gust from time to time and we were punching casts directly into the wind most of the afternoon. The conditions seemed to support good hopper fishing. We arrived at a large rock that protruded out into the river ten feet or so, so we walked out on the rock and observed the eddy created behind it. We were probably ten feet above the river and we initially spotted a nice rainbow hovering a foot or so below the surface where a myriad of currents met. As we continued to observe, we spotted two more fish further out in the eddy right along the seam of the downstream current where the backflow met. Dan cast for the near rainbow first and in short order the fish darted up and grabbed his fly. Dan set the hook and for a split second felt the weight of a decent fish but it managed to free itself before being introduced to the net.
Next he cast a bit further out and in a flash a fish crashed the hopper. Dan played the fish expertly while I clumsily scrambled around and down the rock to net it. The brown was a nice fat fish, and Dan loved the visual experience of seeing it all develop. We tried to find additional spots to sight fish in this manner, but they didn’t exist at this stage of flows in the area where we were fishing.
We were re-energized and moved up along the bank continuing to cast our hopper/droppers until five PM. I had a couple refusals and missed a decent fish, but our fish catching pretty much ended mid-afternoon, and we suffered through a long dry spell at the end of the day.