March 22nd, 2019
Flow: 277 cfs
Water Temp: 39F from the Dam, 38 – 44F downstream
Water Clarity: Good, about 3 feet
Hatches: Strong Midge and sparse BWO
Most calendars list March 20th as the first day of spring, but on the Pueblo Tailwater March 15th marks the end of the “Winter Water Storage” program and the beginning of improved spring flows. Flows will now be managed based on Colorado water law (which I will not elaborate on because I will only end up confusing all of you, as well as myself!) and the forces of nature. Every year is different, but I will go out on a limb here and guesstimate that flows will most likely stay between 100 and 400 cfs through the end of March. (Last year flows shot up much faster despite a poor snowpack. However, that was due to significantly higher water levels on Lake Pueblo.)
While predicting flows below a dam in Colorado is akin to predicting what the stock market will do next, other factors effecting fishing conditions are much more reliable. Midge will continue to be the significant hatch for a few more weeks. However, as water temperatures trend up into the mid to upper 40’s, Blue Winged Olive mayflies will start hatching in force. This water temperature shift coincides with the completion of the rainbow spawn, and the combination of strong BWO hatches and hungry, post-spawn trout results in some of the best fishing of the year.
Until the BWO’s make their presence known, you can count of peak midge activity in the midday hours from around noon to 4pm. Before the hatch gets going, we recommend nymphing with midge larva and pupa combined with a larger searching/attractor pattern such as and eggs caddis larva or small streamer. During the hatch fish will generally be found in or near primary currents, feeding selectively on midge pupa in sz 20 – 24. Brown and Black have been the best color choices. (we have some excellent shops patterns you won’t find them anywhere else that have been highly effective) We aren’t seeing many large trout feeding on the surface during the midge hatches but you can have a ball catching 8 – 14″ fish on a small parachute, eric’s midge or griffiths gnat. Late afternoon is generally fished similar to the morning, with the exception of isolated surface feeding on spent adult midge.
If you are looking for a guide to help you explore this unique, urban fishery, The Drift has the most experienced and knowledgeable fly fishing guides on the Pueblo Tailwater. We are always happy to answer your questions and assist in arranging a trip that is sure to exceed your expectations. Thanks for checking in and as always “Tight Lines!”
ARKANSAS RIVER – CANON CITY TO BUENA VISTA
Flow: 632 cfs at Wellsville
Water Temp: 36 – 44F depending on weather and time of day
Clarity: Mostly clear above Coaldale
Hatches: Midge and sporadic BWO
The upper Arkansas River has seen a steady increase in flows over the past several days due in part to recent precipitation, as well as increases in “project water” being moved down to Pueblo Reservoir. Clarity has been mixed but should stabilize over the coming days barring additional increases. Flows are conducive to both wade and float fishing and should remain that way until for the foreseeable future. Fish are just starting to disperse from their winter holding lies so anglers should still focus on fishing in or near deeper pools until water temperatures are consistently in the mid to upper 40’s. Midge larva and pupa, small mayfly nymphs and golden stonefly nymphs are good choices for nymphing.
Current Flow for the Arkansas River Tailwater in Pueblo
Current Flow for the Arkansas River near Wellsville
Flow Charts are courtesy of the Colorado Division of Water Resources http://www.dwr.state.co.us/