September 17, 2020:
*** The Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently announced a voluntary fishing closure for the Arkansas Pueblo Tailwater (Pueblo Dam to I-25). Extreme heat and water temps (70 deg F +) have led to low oxygen levels and distressed fish. For sake of this incredible fishery and future generations of trout, please refrain from fishing here until restrictions are lifted.
While flows bumped momentarily, they have since returned to previous levels. Air temps are forecast to sit in the low 90’s through next Tuesday which is an improvement, but will continue to lead to above average water temps further downstream of the dam and in the afternoon. Hatch variety is dying down, but we should see BWOs and midges present throughout the day. By and large, nymphing the deeper runs and pools will produce the best results. However, don’t disregard the riffles and tail outs as the day progresses and water temps rise. Small and simple midge and baetis nymphs will produce the best results.
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.