Dec 17, 2014
Friday 12/12, 2014
Flow at Wellsville: 474 cfs
Water Temp.: 40
Friday 12/12 Update - Greg Felt
Conditions are excellent on the Arkansas right now, with a good wadable flow and warm weather forecasted through Saturday. Bighorn Sheep Canyon is seeing late morning to early afternoon feeds on drifting midge larvae, though fish are certainly willing to take stonefly nymphs, caddis larvae, and attractor patterns. Key to success is fishing the right water, mostly the slower, deeper stuff that has a good adjacent current. Warm days will see fish move into riffles too when food is available. In the deeper water, make sure flies are getting deep where the fish are holding. The browns are not apt to move far to take a fly this time of year.
Another strong option this time of year is the Pueblo Tailwater, a warmer, low-elevation fishery below Pueblo Reservoir. AA guide Abe Gaspar specializes in winter fishing on the tailwater and can meet guests in Pueblo for instructional or orientational guided wade fishing trips. Current flow on the tailwater is 100 cfs.
Simms Rivertek Boa Boots on Sale: Retail $180.00, Sale Priced at $129.99! Call or stop by the Salida shop for sizes/shipping info!
Outcast Boat Sale: Scout oar/kickboat, regularly $649, sale price $499! Fishcat 4 Float Tube, regularly $219, sale price $179.00!
We will be offering float trips through early November and wade trips right through the winter. Call us at 719-539-4223 for information or reservations.
Salida Shop 7500 W. Highway 50, 719-539-4223 Open M-Sat 8:30-5:00, Sunday 8:30-3:00.
Buena Vista Shop 517 S. Highway 24 719-395-1796 Open Thursday-Saturday 9:00-5:00, Closed Sunday-Wednesday.
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: 427 cfs
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: 518 cfs
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.
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.
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 a boat ramp and parking on the north side. 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!