Ark Anglers




Print PagePrint Page

Fishing Conditions

Lower Basin: Salida to Canon City

Nov 30, 2023

Tuesday 11/28, 2023

Flow at Wellsville: 332 cfs

Water Temp.: 30s-40s

Clarity:  Some icy flows in the AM otherwise clear


Tuesday Report - Braden Baker


The weather has been colder since Thanksgiving but the river continues to be productive once the days warm up a bit.   Generally, fishing in the shade wil be minimally productive.  Brown trout spawning is wrapping up and fish are definitely migrating to their typical lies of winter.  Colder weather will constrict productive fishing hours during the day and send fish into the slower, deeper pools and runs where they can comfortably hold without expending much energy.  11AM to 3PM is your prime time on the river, particularly in areas that receive a lot of sun exposure throguh the day.  Expect fish to be a bit more lethargic than we've seen this fall, though still eager to take a well-drifted fly.


The river flow is within the optimal flow range for resident trout populations (250-400 cfs at Wellsville) and is incredibly wadeable everywhere at these flows, offering tremendous access for wade fishermen.  Be cautious when wading, as brown trout eggs are very vulnerable on the still visible redds following the spawn even if the active spawning has wrapped up.   


We're seeing more anglers switch to strictly nymph fishing with indicators and sighters but deep dry-dropper fishing continues to be productive in the lower basin, though most fish are taking subsurface food.  Midges are the predominant hatch at the moment with lots of larvae and pupae available subsurface throughout the day.  These are typically size #18-22 with adults in the #20-24 range.  Fish will still eat small baetis nymphs and caddis larvae throughout the fall and winter.  With the year-round availability of stonefly nymphs in the river, fish will also readily take well drifted stonefly nymphs and other large attractors throughout the colder months.


Always be prepared to take time carefully releasing fish.  Minimize trouts' time out of the water and do your due diligence giving them adequate revival time before moving on.  


We sell fishing and hunting licenses at both our locations.


Follow us on instagram at @ArkAnglers!


Salida Location - 7500 W. Highway 50, Salida, CO 81201.  (719) 539-3474.  

Open Monday-Saturday, 8:30am-5:30pm.  Sunday 9:00am-3:00pm.  


Buena Vista Location -  517 S. Highway 24, Buena Vista, CO 81211.  (719) 395-1796.

Open Tuesday-Saturday, 8:30am-5:30pm.  Open Sunday, 9:00am to 3:00pm.  Closed Mondays.


Please call us at 719-539-4223 with questions or to make your reservation. 


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: 2,850 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: 2,450 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.  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!