Arkansas River – 04/07/2023

Arkansas River 04/07/2023 Photo Album

Finally an extended streak of nice weather encouraged me to seek out another day of fly fishing. High temperatures in the upper sixties on Friday, April 7, 2023 translated to fifties on the Arkansas River and South Platte River. I chose the Arkansas River because the ArkAngler’s report stated that blue wing olives were active and hatching in the Salida area.

I departed at 7:40AM, and this enabled me to pull in to my favorite pullout along US 50 by 11:15PM, and the temperature registered 46 degrees. Yes, if you do the math, you can determine that my usual 2 hour and 45 minute drive took 3 hours and 25 minutes. I sat in the first position of a long line of traffic for twenty minutes while waiting for a flagman to release us at the top of Kenosha Pass. I was not happy.

A Good Place to Start

I pulled on my North Fork light down coat and my raincoat for a windbreaker, and then I rigged my Sage R8 four weight for a day of casting. Two anglers ambled past me, while I was preparing to fish, and I held my breath that they would not head toward my chosen starting point. They did not, so I crossed the river and hiked downstream, although a guide with an inflatable raft was sitting on top of the nice deep run and shelf pool that usually serves as my starting point. I killed some time rigging my line with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, olive-black Pat’s rubberleg and sparkle wing RS2; and then I prospected a nice trough behind an exposed rock with no success.

Yielded a Trout

By the time I was ready to move on, the raft had disappeared down the river, so I circled around on the adjoining floodplain and positioned myself to fish the normally productive deep run and shelf pool. After ten minutes of unproductive casting, the indicator dipped, and I found myself attached to a feisty thirteen inch brown trout that gobbled the RS2. I snapped some photos and savored my good fortune and resumed my upstream migration.


I experienced a momentary hook up in the short run, where I began, when I lifted the flies to recast in front of a submerged rock. The wide deep run and riffles below the upstream island looked very attractive, but I was unable to generate any interest, so I continued along the main branch of the river on the south side of the island. Near the top I once again connected for a split second with a fish, but it escaped very quickly, and it almost felt like it was foul hooked.

I retreated back to the downstream point of the island, and by now I could see the two fishermen that hiked past me at the car, but they were seventy yards away. The north branch of the river next to the island was very low as a result of flows in the in the 200 CFS range, so I decided to modify my approach to a softer presentation. I removed the split shot and the two nymphs, and then I knotted an olive hippie stomper to my line and dropped the beadhead sparkle wing RS2 below it. I left the tuft of neon chartreuse yarn that served as an indicator in place, as it was near the end of the fly line, and I felt it was far enough away from my flies to not affect the trouts’ interest. The ploy worked to some degree, as I landed a second trout, when it grabbed the trailing RS2, as it drifted along the bubble line near the head of the pool. I also generated two refusals to the hippie stomper, but that was the extent of the action in the usually productive north channel.

Yucca Clump

I advanced up the river above the island and stayed with the dry/dropper for a bit, and in a relatively shallow pool along the right bank, I managed to land a small brown trout in the eight inch range. This little guy also nipped the RS2. I was gaining confidence, but then I approached a long section with faster riffles and a few pockets, and the stomper/RS2 combination did not seem appropriate for exploring the deeper and faster water, so I once again made a switch. I reverted to the indicator (which remained in place), split shot, and a 20 incher nymph and RS2.

20 Incher

Sparkle Wing RS2

With this deeper water rig I decided to cherry pick the most attractive spots that featured depth and a slower current. My strategy seemed sound, but the fish did not agree, and I moved all the way back up the river to my crossing point with nary a fish to add to the count. At this point I crossed the river and climbed the bank and then dropped down to the juicy riffle section just upriver from the high rock wall and pool below my parking space. I began covering the wide riffle over four foot of depth and a very rocky bottom, and after ten minutes the indicator paused, and I set the hook into another fine thirteen inch Arkansas River brown trout. This healthy fish nailed the 20 incher, and I was fairly confident that the promising riffles, pockets and deep runs along the left bank would produce more action.

Nice One

Alas, my confidence was misplaced. During the 2:30 to 3:30 time period two circumstances commenced. The wind, which was bothersome due to intermittent gusts up until the early afternoon, began to blast down the canyon on a more consistent basis, and this made punching casts an arm-challenging event. Also during this time frame some heavy clouds blocked the sun, and I noticed a sparse hatch of blue winged olives, as they tumbled along the surface of the river. They never rested in one spot long enough to catch the interest of the fish, and consequently, I never spotted a single rise. I was, however, convinced that my RS2 would represent a tasty subsurface treat, but that thought was misplaced.

I reeled up my line and hooked the RS2 to the guide and clambered up a very steep bank to the highway at 3:30 and called it a day. Three hours and fifteen minutes of fly fishing yielded four trout. Two were fine thirteen inch chunks. I made the trip seeking the BWO hatch, and I found it, but I never intercepted the surface feeding that I was anticipating, and the nymph action was very slow. On the plus side I mostly had the river to myself, and my Sage R8 performed admirably. With another five days of nice weather ahead of me, I will continue to search for blue wing olive hatches in Colorado.

Fish Landed: 4