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Fishing Conditions

Lower Basin: Salida to Canon City

Jan 17, 2018

Tuesday 1/16, 2018

Flow at Wellsville: 311 cfs 

Water Temp.: Upper 30s

Clarity: Some slush early when overnight lows drop into mid-teens, but very clear during warmer weather.  Lower Canyon has some ice, but the river is quite open from Coaldale up to Stone Bridge. 

For information about current snow conditions at Monarch Mountain, please visit


FOUND: A fishing waist pack, fully loaded.  Discovered last season near the Salida low-head dam by one of our guides.  If you believe this belongs to you, please call 719-539-4223 with a thorough description of the pack and its contents in order to reclaim it.


Tuesday Update - Braden Baker

With the significant drop in temperature last nght, we once again see slush floating in the river this morning.  With a high of 45 in Salida today, the sun should thaw the river by noon and get things going for a few hours this afternoon.  It will be all the more important to find water that gets plenty of sun exposure today, and be prepared for lethargic fish and subtle takes.  Constantly adjusting depth and weight on one's leader to thoroughly fish likely water may make all the difference between catching zero fish and cathcing several.  The warming trend Wednesday-Friday should make for improving fishing conditions the next couple of days. 


Fish are now podded up in or near winter (deep) water, so where you find one fish, there are usually more.  Current flows make for ideal wade fishing conditions near Salida.  Though floating is still possible, current flows require you to boat right on top of lots of the best holding water, whereas wade fisherman can target the prime lies without disturbing fish.   


Strong midge activity has had fish moving in the morning and active through the afternoon on the warmer days.  The volume of subsurface food this time of year usually makes for nymphing.   Midges are active throughout the day, and mayfly nymphs sizes #16-18 work well through the afternoons.  The key is finding the right water.   Spend more time picking apart likely lies just inside the main current and adjusting dropper depth til you find the sweet spot.  Deeper water fished with a tandem fly rig should be your best bet in the morning, but don't ignore shallower runs and riffles in the afternoons.  Best hours of the day are 10am - 3pm where sun is on the water.


Spring Rowing School Dates: 4/4-4/8/18

Spring Fly Fishing 101 Dates: 3/10, 3/24, 4/7, 4/14, 5/12, 6/2.  

Call 719-539-4223 or email with questions or to make your reservation. 


Through our partnership with Monarch Mountain, we are offering ArkAnglers' guests booking winter wade fishing trips a discount coupon for Monarch that gives either 40% off a day lift ticket OR 10% off their lesson package. This is a limited time offer this winter, so if you're traveling for the holiday or are looking for a last minute gift, this is a great way to take advantage of two of the excellent winter recreational opportunities in the valley.  


For those who already have a Monarch day pass or season pass for this winter, bring your pass with you to ArkAnglers to receive a 20% discount on a Never-Ever Wade Trip Package.


Our End-of-Season Sale is underway at the shop in Salida.  We've discounted select products from Sage, Simms, Orvis, Umpqua, Fishpond, and Scott (to name a few), so swing by our Salida store or call us at (719)539-3474 to see where you can save big heading towards Christmas.

Call 719-539-3474 or stop by the Salida shop to check sale prices and inventories.


Salida Shop: 7500 W. Highway 50, 719-539-4223 / Open Monday-Saturday 8:30-5:30, Sunday 9:00-3:00.

Buena Vista Shop: 517 S. Highway 24, 719-395-1796 / Open Thurs-Sat 9:00-5:00.



Location Information

Stockyard Bridge

The Stockyard Bridge, crossing the Arkansas River just downstream of Salida, is the geographical landmark associated with the mouth of Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Crossing the bridge to the north side of the river, one can drive around behind the Stockyards and downstream to the end of the road, progressing on foot along the railroad for as much as 3.5 miles downstream. On the highway side of the river, there is an RV park below the bridge and then public water downstream to the Wellsville Bridge (3.5 miles). The public water begins with the Salida East primitive camping area (BLM). There are restrooms there and a good boat ramp with parking.

Special Regulations Apply – From Stockyard Bridge downstream 7.5 miles to confluence with Badger Creek, artificial flies and lures only, rainbow trout must be returned to the water immediately.

Current Flow rate: 260 cfs

Wellsville Bridge

The Wellsville Bridge crosses the Arkansas River with a county road about three miles below Salida East. Just above the bridge, the river begins a two mile passage through private land on both sides. Also above the bridge is a popular parking area for wade anglers, providing access to some excellent water. There are also numerous pullouts along the highway between there and Salida East. By crossing the Wellsville Bridge and continuing downstream on the north side of the river, one will come to the Point Barr area, where primitive BLM camping is allowed.

Current Flow rate: 310 cfs

Badger Creek

Five miles below the Wellsville Bridge, Badger Creek feeds the Arkansas River from the north. Though not a major tributary in terms of regular flow, Badger Creek empties a vast drainage north of the river and can flashflood to massive proportions when summer thunderstorms focus their energy in its basin, making it the most frequent culprit in terms of muddy water in the lower canyon. The years of flashflood activity have pushed significant debris out into the river, creating Badger Creek rapid a short distance below the Rincon campground and launch site.

Coaldale & Vallie Bridge

Bighorn Sheep Canyon is really a series of canyons: Salida to Howard; Coaldale to Texas Creek; and Texas Creek to Parkdale. From Howard down through Coaldale, about six miles, the river travels through a more open valley with spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and generally gentler water. There is good public access upstream of the private water above the Vallie Bridge state park site (boat launch and restrooms) and there is another state park site about five miles downstream at Canyon Trading Post. Fishing in this area is excellent due to the slower water and patchwork of private land. With the absence of canyon walls, it gets good sun exposure during the lower light of spring and fall.

Texas Creek

The tiny community of Texas Creek is the last in Bighorn Sheep Canyon and sits at the entrance to the lower canyon. There is a bridge across the river at Texas Creek and the bridge road continues downstream for half a mile and one can continue downstream from there on foot. Currently, there is no public boat launch site at Texas Creek, though Colorado Parks and Wildlife is trying to negotiate a lease for one with the railroad. From Texas Creek to the Parkdale bridge (14 miles), the river passes through public or railroad land and there is a great diversity in types of water. The upper 5 miles, above Pinnacle Rock, are mostly gentle water with a few small rapids interspersed. As one moves downstream from there, the rapids are more common and significant. This creates a lot of excellent pocket water, particularly for fishing in the spring and fall. The water temperature tends to run high in the summer, making the upper river more productive, and in winter pack-ice build-up can make much of this water difficult or dangerous to access.


Parkdale is the southern terminus of Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the launch point for whitewater trips through the Royal Gorge. There is a boat launch, restrooms, and picnic area at the state parks site there and a fair bit of public water adjacent that fishes well in the spring and fall. Approaching the river from the east, Parkdale is the first spot where US 50 intersects the river. As a result, fishing decisions get made at Parkdale based on the appearance of the river, decisions that may not be supported by conditions upstream. In particular, murky or muddy water at Parkdale does not mean that the river is looking shabby in Salida, or even Coaldale. There are many, many tributaries and arroyos that feed into the Arkansas River – anything they discharge into the river will eventually flow past Parkdale. Cell phones don’t work well west of Parkdale - a call from there to our Salida shop, 719-539-4223, will clarify where murky water may have originated and how far an angler needs to drive in order to get upstream of it!