January 20, 2020:
Fishing on the Ark below the Pueblo Dam has been great. However, with winter conditions, trout are growing increasingly sluggish and conserving energy for extended periods of time. As such, timing will be a critical driver to your success. The mornings will be slow as temperatures are forecast to flirt with sub-freezing levels during the early hours. If you hit the water in the morning, stick with very small (#22-24) midge nymphs and focus on the deep pools and the slack water near the bank. Once 11 am rolls around, trout will feed more heavily and be more prone to spread out. During this time, be conscious of hatch activity and and actively rising trout. Parachute (Adams & BWO), Hi-vis Griffith’s Gnats, CDC Dun and Sprout Baetis patterns have all been productive dry fly patterns. Otherwise, you are going to want to stick with the heavy nymph rig. This week is forecast to have above normal air pressure, meaning that you will want to go with small attractor patterns and fish deep.
Ideal Days to Fish: Tuesday, Friday & Saturday
Sub-surface: RS2 (#20 - 22), Barr's Emerger (#22), Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger (#20 - 22), Stalcup's Baetis (#20 - 22), JuJu Baetis (#20 - 22), WD 40 (#20 - 22), Prince Nymph (#18 - 22), Pheasant Tail (#18 - 20), Hare's Ear (#18 - 22), red Copper John (#18 - 20), Black Beauty (#22 - 24), Zebra Midge (#18 - 20), Top Secret Midge (#22 - 24), Miracle Midge (#24-26), Red Midge Larva (#24-26), Electric Caddis (#16 - 18), Pats Rubber Legs (#10 - 12), Rainbow Warrior (#20 - 22), Pine Squirrel Leech, Wooly Buggers, and Squirmy Wormy.
Surface: Parachute Adams (#20 - #22), Griffiths Gnat (#24 - 26), Elk Hair Caddis (#16 - 18), and Amy's Ant (#10).
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Detailed River Info:
The Arkansas River below Pueblo Reservoir is a tailwater that flows through the town of Pueblo. The city of Pueblo has made significant river improvements over the last several years, making this stretch of the Arkansas a productive and highly sought after fly fishing destination, especially in the winter. The river consists of deep pools, slow runs and riffles. The insertion of rock weirs created additional pools where trout of various sizes feed and hold. Compared to other tailwaters in Colorado, the Pueblo tailwater is generally more off colored throughout most of the year. This makes sight fishing more difficult, requiring anglers to diligently fish deep pools and runs. Anglers will have the opportunity to catch brown and rainbow trout ranging from 8 – 20 + inches”.
This stretch of the Arkansas River is best fished with a nymph setup but does provide for exceptional dry fly opportunities. During the winter, anglers itching to fish a hatch and toss dry flies should check out this stretch as the warmer weather in Pueblo aids in more consistent hatch activity compared to the other tailwaters in Colorado. This stretch experiences all the major Colorado hatches including midges, baetis, caddis and stoneflies. Terrestrials are also present during the summer and early fall. Trout primarily hold and feed in the deep pools and runs making a heavy nymph setup an ideal tactic. Along with nymphs, leech and worm patterns are highly effective. In the presence of a hatch, trout will rise in the tailouts of deep pools as well as the slow riffles. Throughout most of the year, 4x and 5x tippet is sufficient. However, during periods with low flows (30 cfs – 100 cfs) and/or high water clarity, 6x and 7x tippet may be necessary.
Located only 2 hours from Denver, the Arkansas River below Pueblo Reservoir is an easy trip to make. Once in Pueblo, drive west through downtown and continue west for a few miles. Multiple parking lots along this stretch of river make parking easy and provide a good opportunity to bounce around to different sections throughout the day. If you’re not interested in getting in and out of the car, there is a bike path along the river that makes exploring the river easy. Be aware, a $7 entrance fee is required if you access the river near the dam.