Ark Anglers




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Fishing Conditions

Lower Basin: Salida to Canon City

Apr 18, 2019

Thursday 4/18, 2019

Flow at Wellsville: 519 cfs

Water Temp.: Mid 40s - 50

Clarity:  Good visibility in upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon, several feet of clarity.  Poor conditions below Coaldale.


New Conditions Video above - posted 4/16/19!


(Scroll down for Spring Sale info)


Spring 101 Fly Fishing Class Dates: April 27, May 11, May 25, June 1, June 15

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


Thursday Report - Braden


***According to the BOR, they plan to reduce project water releases from Twin Lakes around April 24 with the goal being to match the releases to native inflows and minimize project water releases through May.  What this means is that flows right now are pretty good and will be getting even better soon, dropping right in time for the heart of prime spring fishing.  If you are on the fence about fishing the Arkansas in the next month, the next few weeks have the highest potential of the spring, and come at a time when other rivers are already entering their runoff.


*Both our Salida and Buena Vista shops will be closed on Easter Sunday.


Flows have stabilized over the past week in the 500 cfs range below Salida, and clarity is excellent. The movement of water from Twin Lakes during the winter and spring is being made in anticipation of the impending snowmelt during late May and June, with the goal being to move some water early in the spring and then reduce flows in late April and early May (if possible) to benefit the fishery before true runoff begins.  Target flows for the river during the spring are between 250-400 cfs (which is the ideal flow range for the health of the local brown trout population and coincidentally ideal for spring hatches of mayflies, caddis, etc.), so we're a little above the ideal for this time of year.  However, current flows are a significant improvement from the near 900 cfs we saw last week, and is a great level for both wade fishermen and float fishermen.


Anglers and guides are reporting success with shallow dry/dropper and nymph rigs focusing along the edges.  Blue winged olive hatches have been strong around Salida the past two and a half weeks, and anglers are finding lots of fish keying onto the insects as they emerge.  We've had lots of good dry fly fishing as a result!  There's been a marked migration of the nymphs out of deeper water into the shallower riffle and edges, and the fish have followed them.  Traditionally, these spring mayflies are #16-18, and are more likely to hatch in the afternoons on cloudy days.  The overcast weather in the forecast the next few days could make for some exciting dry fly opportunities! 


Water temperatures in the next week should finally prompt the beginning of our spring "Mother's Day" Caddis Hatch downstream of Salida.  Stay tuned, as we will sound the horn at the first sign of the bugs!


The best time of day to fish is generally 9am to 5pm.  Midges and baetis are your primary forage, but we've also sampled considerable numbers of golden stonefly nymphs, free-living caddis larva and cranefly larva.  Golden stonefly nymphs, caddis larva and midge larva/pupa are realistic offerings for the morning, and attractor nymphs and blue winged olive patterns are good afternoon alternatives to match the active insect activity.


Salida Spring Sale Items

(Discontinued or previous years models):


Simms Waders ~40% off!

Men’s Freestone Stockingfoot Wader – Retail: $249.95, Sale: $150

Men’s Freestone Pant Wader – Retail: $229.95, Sale: $140


Simms Boots ~40% off!

Men’s Freestone Felt and Vibram Boots – Retail: $149.95, Sale: $90

Rock Creek Felt Boots – Retail: $99.95, Sale: $60


Sale also includes:

Discontinued rods from Sage, Scott, Orvis, and Redington

Discontinued reels from Ross and Sage

Discontinued fly Lines from Rio and Scientific Anglers

(Call 719-539-3474 for specific pricing and sizes.)



Salida Shop: 7500 W. Highway 50, 719-539-4223 / Open Monday-Saturday 8:00-6:00, Sunday 8:00-5:00.

Buena Vista Shop: 517 S. Highway 24, 719-395-1796 / Open Monday-Saturday, 8:00-6:00, Sunday 8:00-5:00


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: 489 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: 528 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!