Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM
Location: Downstream from Salida
After a mildly disappointing fly fishing day on Tuesday (great wildlife viewing), I decided to make the long drive to the Arkansas River. The weather was projected to be very nice with high temperatures in the low seventies and clear skies and sunshine for most of the day. In fact, the lack of cloud cover was a concern, as I planned my fly fishing adventure. The Arkansas River is primarily a brown trout fishery, so spawning interest overshadowing feeding was another issue, but I concluded that the larger and warmer river at lower elevation meant spawning season was later in October. Being able to park next to the river, and the avoidance of a lengthy hike also appealed to my sensibilities on Wednesday.
The drive to the Arkansas River took three hours and fifteen minutes, as I overcame heavy traffic on I70 in Denver and a slow moving dump truck during the early stages of my climb over Kenosha Pass. I also had the misfortune to endure two areas with road construction, where I was forced to stop and wait to funnel through one lane of traffic. A final hurdle to my arrival was a detour from Fairplay to Hartsel and then west to Trout Creek Pass. A trip that normally requires two hours and forty-five minutes extended to three hours and fifteen minutes. This angler was not happy.
The dashboard digital display registered a temperature in the low sixties at the start of my fly fishing venture, and the thermometer probably peaked in the low seventies with minimal cloud cover. The flows were 352 CFS at Salida, and water clarity was excellent.
Two other anglers arrived at my chosen pullout before me, and as I prepared to fish, they crossed the river and headed downstream. This was my anticipated destination, and I debated hiking along the highway and crossing at a lower point above the island to cut them off, but in the end I relented and crossed the river to the north shore and worked my way upstream. I covered .8 miles between 11:15 and 3:30, and I managed to land five brown trout. The catch rate was abysmal, however, all five trout were quite nice. One was around twelve inches, but the others approximated fourteen to fifteen inches, and they were quite chunky.
I used my Sage R8 four weight, and I cast a dry/dropper for most of my time on the water. A tan size 8 pool toy hopper was the featured surface fly, until I switched to a peacock hippie stomper for the final forty-five minutes. For nymphs I cycled through an iron sally, salvation nymph, hares ear nymph, and 20 incher. The hippie stomper was accompanied by a size 16 muggly caddis with a tannish body for the final forty-five minutes. The first trout landed grabbed the iron sally, and then the next one fell for a salvation nymph. The hares ear attracted the twelve inch brown, and the muggly caddis was the target of the final two brown trout.
I spent the day making a ridiculous number of relatively long casts, and I covered a significant amount of river in order to attain my five fish count. The double dry combination seemed to be the most effective, and I probably should have experimented with it sooner. Had I worked the north bank with the double dries and confined my casts to areas with moderate depth and medium current speed, I suspect I would have generated more success. The clear sky, bright sun and lack of any discernable insect activity probably explained my slow day.
In spite of the low catch rate, the quality of my catch was outstanding, and the warmth was a welcome change after several chilling experiences.
Fish Landed: 5