Nothing beats a day on the river fly fishing. If you’re in Colorado one of the best rivers to find yourself on is the Arkansas River. There are multiple options for fishing these churning waters from the headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to the southern portion of the state and while each spot presents its own unique challenges you can’t go wrong fishing any hot spot on the Arkansas. Let’s learn about fly fishing this Colorado honey hole including which fish frequent the waters, what type of techniques bring in the best fish, when to fish, and where to find local help.
The headwaters of the Arkansas begin near Leadville, Colorado before meandering down through the mountains, past Pueblo, and eastward into Kansas. There are several spots across the Centennial State where you can fish the Arkansas but the Buena Vista / Salida and Pueblo area are among the most popular.
You can fish multiple sets of roads, reels, and flies with success on the Arkansas, but an ideal rig is a 9 foot 5 to 6 weight rod with a floating line. 9-foot leader is a great base for great bites. For flies you can use dry flies, nymphs, and streamers, depending on the hatch. The Arkansas has many distinct hatches and you can easily find success by matching the hatch. Unlike other spots in Colorado fish on the Arkansas hit a wide variety of flies so bring plenty of tackle to find the biggest fish. You can fish from the shore, wade, or float the Arkansas River so match the waders to your fishing. Chest waders are recommended if you know you’ll be wading into deeper spots.
There are a few good hatches on the Arkansas, but the Mother’s Day caddis hatch is the primetime to find yourself on this river. The best season according to locals is March 1st through October 31st but you can catch fish all through fall and winter with the right flies and right timing. Like any other trip look to local resources to figure out your best strategy depending on the time of year.
Finding yourself at the river during the wrong time of day can result in plenty of great views but zero fish. Let’s go by the season so you don’t waste time angling at the wrong time.
If you’re looking for a favorite Colorado fly fishing spot you can’t beat a day on the Arkansas River. Use our resources, local know-how, and rig your line up right for a successful day nailing brown trout. It doesn’t get much better than pulling out a lunker in the shadow of Colorado mountains.