Ark Anglers




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Fishing Conditions

Lower Basin: Salida to Canon City

Sep 26, 2018

Tuesday 9/25, 2018

Flow at Wellsville: 205 cfs 

Water Temp.: High 50s - mid 60s

Clarity: Clarity is good through town and the upper part of Bighorn Sheep Canyon.  Below Coaldale, there is dirty water due to runoff from the Hayden Pass Fire burnscar.  We advise anglers to stay above Vallie Bridge.


Tuesday Report - Braden Baker


The river is at a flow similar to what we find in the spring, and summer insect activity is still strong.  With terrestrials like grasshoppers moving along the banks and late season golden stoneflies sporadically active, fish are still very aggressive and will surface feed if conditions are right.  We're finding our fall blue winged olive hatches throughout the river corridor on cloudier days, and caddis are still being seen fairly consistently.  Due to the lower flows of the summer season, the resident brown trout population is extremely healthy around and below Salida.   


During the cooler morning temperatures, fish will still readily move on dry flies, but it seems that more and more we are finding fish out in the main channel of the river.  Nymphing in the middle of the day and afternoon through the deeper riffles and pockets will find the fish holding in the cooler water, and heavy beadheads can help cut down through the faster, more oxygenated water in heavy riffles.  A large dry fly is an excellent indicator to nymph beneath, so pick something large and buoyant that is easy to see.  Don't be afraid of fishing small flies!  Small midges and mayfly nymphs are common right now, and fish are looking for them.


Flows are absolutely perfect for wade fishing, and are still floatable around and below Salida.  For boaters, be very aware of public and private property, as it is easy to hang up at these flows, and you do not want to trespass, even accidentally. 

New Fly-Fishing 101 Dates: Saturday, 9/29 in Buena Vista in conjunction with 14'er Fest. Call 719-539-4223 for details or reservations.

FYI Salida East is no longer a free access point!  Prepare for day fees as you would the other recreation area sites.


Beginning Monday, June 18 Cottonwood Pass will be closed for the season for road maintenance and improvement.  CR 306 will be closed as far east as the Avalanche Trailhead.


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


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: 187 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: 205 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!