September 17th, 2018
Flow: 156 cfs from the dam (Arkansas River Above Pueblo Gauge)
Water Temp: 60f from the dam
Clarity: Good, about 3 feet
Hatches: Caddis, Aquatic Moths, Tricos, Pale Evening Duns, Midges, Damsels and Dragon Flies
River conditions are quite good on the tailwater, with the only limiting condition being the record heat that’s settled in this past week. The extended forecast is calling for more seasonable weather by Thursday. We expect to see a notable improvement in both hatches and fish activity once the cooler weather arrives.
There continues to be a wide range of bugs hatching, although somewhat sporadically. Be observant and come prepared to imitate caddis and aquatic moths in sz 14 – 18, a variety of small mayflies sz 18 – 24, midge sz 18 – 24, as well as craneflies, damsels and dragon flies. Hatches will be shifting to the mid-day hours over the coming weeks, but for now, expect to see the best bug activity before 1:00 pm and after 6:00 pm.
The next 4 – 6 weeks should offer up some great streamer fishing due to a plethora of juvenile trout, white suckers, crayfish and leeches. We get asked “What’s the best time/method to fish streamers?” quite often in the shop and the simply answer is “anytime and whatever way elicits a strike!” However, here’s a few things to keep in mind if you’re new to the streamer game. Rule # 1 – It’s impossible to catch fish on a streamer if you never fish streamers. Go ahead and tie one on!!! Rule #2 – Use heavier leader/tippet to prevent break offs. The first time you feel the tug of a fish slamming your fly you’ll instinctively give it the ole’ “Bill Dance” hook set. 2x and 3x is fine for sz 6 – 10 patterns, but go even heavier if fishing at night or throwing patterns 4″ or longer. Rule #3 – There is no wrong way to fish a streamer. Dead drift, slow swing, fast strip, long pause, short pause….. all can work on any given day. Play around with different retrieves until you find one that the fish respond too, and be prepared to mix it up if it stops working. Rule #4 – Adjust your drag based on the size tippet your fishing. One advantage to catching fish on streamers is that you can fight fish more aggressively and have a much better chance of landing them compared to using light tippet and small flies. Rule #5 – STRIP SET!!! Unless you’ve done a fair amount of saltwater fly fishing, your muscle memory is programmed to quickly lift the rod tip to set the hook, a.k.a. “Trout Set.” It will take some time before your instincts allow you to set the hook with a quick strip of line, rather than a rod lift, but after enough self-berating you’ll figure it out. If you prefer a more hands on approach to learning the joys of fishing steamers the Drift has several great guides that can take you out day or night.
After a week of historically low flows, the tailwater is back in great shape with an increase in flows this morning to 320 cfs from the dam. Division of Water Resources anticipates the current release to last until the middle of the month, or about 10 days. We are grateful to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for stepping up and releasing some of it’s limited water in Pueblo Reservoir to bring flows up to 60 cfs through the weekend. As a result, there were no reports of fish kill and the despite water temps on the lower half reaching the mid 70’s. In an effort to prevent a similar low flow happening in the future, we encourage folks to reach out to the community leaders in Pueblo and let them know how important this fishery is to the area, both from a recreational and economical standpoint.
Now that flows are back to a healthy range and water temperatures are staying cool, fishing should be much improved. The hatches were sporadic and hard to predict during most of August but we are hopeful that the cooler weather and improved river flows will result in more consistent bug activity. This is also a great time of year to fish streamers and you can bet the bump in flows has pushed around school of juvenile suckers and displaced plenty of crayfish.
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. Flows are great for both wade fishing and float trips so stop by the shop or give us a call. 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: 200 cfs at Wellsville
Water Temp: Buena Vista to Wellsville 52-62, downstream of Wellsville 54-66F
Clarity: Good above Wellsville and generally poor downstream due to lingering sediment from burn scar.
Hatches: Blue Winged Olives (BWOs), Midge and Caddis
Fall is settling in fast in the high country. Nighttime lows are in the upper 30’s and low 40’s and the aspen are already changing colors. The water temps have dropped significantly at elevations over 8,000′ and the blue winged olives are starting to hatch in earnest. The low flows are ideal for wade fishing and the dry fly action has been fairly consistent in the morning and late afternoon. In additions to the BWO’s, there is still a wide variety of terrestrials available as well as small caddis. When nymph fishing on the upper Ark, a golden stone is always a good choice as either a lead or point fly. These bugs take three years to fully develop, meaning there is always at least two year classes of nymphs crawling around the stream bed. Steamer fishing on the upper river should also be effective as the wild browns become increasingly aggressive prior to the spawn.
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