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Fishing Conditions

Lower Basin: Salida to Canon City

Feb 26, 2015

Thursday 2/26, 2015
Flow at Wellsville: 553 cfs 
Water Temp.: 36-40
Clarity: Clear

*Here is a link to Greg's 1/31 Blue Quill presentation on Spring Fishing on the Arkansas River: 


Thursday 2/26 Update - Greg Felt

We have a cool week ahead of us, several fronts coming through in succession, and though the fish seem to be continuing the strong feed we were seeing earlier in February, it is worthwhile to time one's fishing to coincide with periods of best direct sunlight. There are currently 2-3 entomological events a day that drive a fish's behavior but those events do not generally lead to a highly selective state of mind. There are midges hatching, there are some early mayfly nymphs drifting, and there are some caddis larval drifts as well. Aside from the latter, the active bugs are tiny, it takes a lot to make a meal, so when a big chunk of meat comes by fish will take the opportunity. At this time of year, we tend to ascribe that behavior to the availability of golden stonefly nymphs. I think that is part of the equation. But I think the stonefly nymphs work much more often than when there are stonefly nymphs actually available and it is because of the protein quantity they represent. For that very reason, I think a lot of big nymphs work well now - pheasant tails, hares ears, princes, copper johns...The question you ask a guy who is being fed one grain of rice at a time is not "What kind of burger would you like?" but rather "How many burgers would you like?"

While winter water remains productive, we are finding more and more fish during the warm period of the day in mid-speed water. They aren't necessarily suspending in that current, the catch rate will go up dramatically once one is really drifting that very bottom laminar of the the current, but they are using the bottom structure to position themselves in places with a lot of water (and food) going by. Getting a good, long drift is critical for this type of fishing - one isn't really fishing until the flies are down at the level of the fish.  For those who need some instruction or a tune-up, some of our senior wade guides are available and glad of any work at this time of year. A mid-day half day trip is a great way to figure out the techniques that we utilize during the cold third of the year.


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!


We will be offering our popular Fly-Fishing 101 class on the following spring dates: 3/14, 3/28, 4/11, & 5/16. This is a full day class combining classroom time, casting clinic and on-river demonstration. Course fee of $125/person includes a $100 gift certificate good for either ArkAnglers Fly Shop. Call or write for information sheet.


The ArkAnglers 5-Day Rowing School will be conducted March 25-29, 2015. This is an intensive 50-hour course for those looking to improve their skills at rowing/guiding for fishermen. Course fee is $1050/person.


We will be offering 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 Monday-Saturday 9:00-5:00, Sunday 9:00-3:00.

Buena Vista Shop 517 S. Highway 24 719-395-1796 Open Thursday-Saturday 9:00-5:00, Closed Sunday-Wednesday.



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: 497 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: 533 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 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!