Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM
Location: Below Salida
The high temperature was predicted to reach the low eighties on Tuesday, October 17, so I decided to take advantage of the summer-like weather with a trip to the Arkansas River. I departed Denver at 7:30AM, and I arrived at my favorite pullout along US 50 by 11:00AM, and this enabled me to be on the river fly fishing by 11:30AM. I geared up with my Sage R8 four weight, and I wore my Under Armour long-sleeved undershirt. The air temperature was in the upper fifties with a periodic chilly breeze, so I added my raincoat as an outer layer and windbreaker. The sky was bright blue with no clouds in sight, and the flows on the river were in the 285 CFS range and crystal clear.
I hiked downstream for .3 miles and cut to the edge of the river, where I configured my line with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, a 20 incher nymph, and a size 22 olive zebra midge. I covered a spectacular long run and shelf pool, but the fish were not cooperative, so I moved on toward the narrow island. Between the long run and the island, I landed a nine inch brown trout on the 20 incher, but several prime locations failed to produce, so I swapped the olive zebra midge for a blue-green perdigon. This combination was unproductive, and I once again paused to exchange the perdigon for a size 22 sparkle wing RS2. The trout provided another resounding thumbs down, as I worked my way along the south side of the island to the very top.
Before approaching the smaller and shallower right braid next to the island, I sat on a nice rock and munched my lunch. After lunch I cautiously approached the right channel, and given the low water conditions, I decided to modify my approach. I switched to a peacock hippie stomper and trailed a beadless soft hackle emerger. A small brown trout responded to the hippie stomper, and I elevated the fish count to two, but I was sensing a tough day under the bright sun and clear skies. I made long casts with no positive results, until I arrived at the very top of the long pool, and a nice twelve inch brown trout sipped the soft hackle emerger in a bubble seam next to a large submerged rock. In the attractive feeder currents at the head of the pool, I witnessed a refusal to the hippie stomper, and then I moved on to short angled riffles on the north bank above the long pool. I sensed that trout were present and ignoring my flies, so I removed the soft hackle emerger and replaced it with a beaded size 22 sparkle wing RS2.
I methodically sprayed casts across the fifteen foot wide riffle, and as the hippie stomper bobbed along the north bank, it paused, and I immediately set the hook and found myself connected to a brutish fifteen inch brown trout. This proved to be the best fish of the day, and it inhaled the trailing sparkle wing. Unfortunately the trout escaped my net in the process of removing the fly, so I was unable to capture a photo.
I continued prospecting the remainder of the narrow braid, but when I reached the very top, I crossed the upstream tip of the island and approached the nice deep pool and riffles bordered by a huge vertical rock wall on the south side of the river. I committed to experiment with streamer fishing, and this was my moment to pursue it. It was around 1:30PM, as I studied my fleece wallet and the messy flap that contained an assortment of streamers. I had decent success with classic bucktail and feather wing streamers, the gray ghost and Mickey Finn, in Iceland, so I gravitated to that style. Unfortunately the versions that I tied, when I first started fly tying, unraveled or lost bucktail fibers, but I did notice an Edson Tiger Light, that I tied in the same early stages of my fly tying career. The Edson Tiger light contained the same red and yellow bucktails as the Mickey Finn, so I plucked it from the fleece and knotted it to my line.
I began to cast across the current to the vertical rock wall, and on the fifth cast and strip I felt a bump and then stripped and hooked a ten inch brown trout. Although I was expecting more size, I was quite pleased with my streamer success story. After I covered the lower half of the area, I waded up the river for ten feet, so that I was positioned across from the upper portion of the riffle, where the river deflected off the large rock. I threw some long casts across the current, and on the third pass I felt a solid shock, and I made another strip and connected with a fish. I immediately knew this was a bit larger, and sure enough, when the fish rested in my net, I inspected a chunky thirteen inch brown trout. It was a thrill to earn success on the Edson tiger light, a fly that I tied thirty-five years ago, when my skills were in their infancy.
I crossed the river to the north bank and worked my way upstream and cherry picked a few spots with deep troughs, but the river structure was not very conducive to streamer fishing. When I reached my original crossing point, I crossed back to the side of the river near the highway, and I ambled along the path to the top of the wide and deep pool below where my car was parked. I maneuvered the Edson tiger through some very attractive deep riffles and runs to no avail, and then I moved upstream thirty yards to a gorgeous shelf pool. Once again the trout were not kind to me, so I searched my fleece wallet once again and replaced the Edson tiger with an articulated streamer with dumbbell eyes and a clump of rust colored marabou. This fly was quite heavy, and I worked it diligently for fifteen minutes, but the trout were not interested.
By 3:00PM I was bored and weary, so I climbed the bank and returned to the Santa Fe and ended my day of fly fishing. Six trout was a rather anemic quantity; however, I landed a thirteen inch and fifteen inch brown. so that was rewarding. Catching two trout on the classic bucktail was another highlight of the day, and I definitely plan to construct more classic streamers and bucktails this winter. With my improved tying skills I look forward to this challenge.
Fish Landed: 6