The Arkansas Pueblo Tailwater is not for the faint of heart right now. Flows are low, water clarity is high and trout are very skittish. Additionally, water temps are reaching dangerous levels on a daily basis during peak heat hours. As such, we’d encourage you to avoid Pueblo all together or fish the early hours (7 am to noon). Hatch activity has been fairly consistent over the last couple of weeks with sporadic midges appearing first, followed shortly after by tricos and eventually caddis and BWOs. That said, trout haven’t been terribly opportunistic when it comes to surface flies. Nymphing will produce the most consistent results. Focus on the deep and slow pools, runs and pockets as this is where trout will stack up in numbers for most of the day. On Friday (9/17), air pressure will hold at ideal levels most of the day leading to increased feeding activity. During this time, you’ll want to think small and imitative flies. The Rojo Midge, Manhattan Midge, Black Beauty, Chocolate Foam Back Emerger, Sparkle Wing RS2, Darth Baetis and Juju Baetis are all great options right now. Otherwise on Thurs (9/16) and over the weekend, you’ll want to lead with bigger searchers/attractors like a Pine Squirrel Leech, Pat’s, Barr's Tungstone, SJ Worm or Wooly Bugger. Trail any of the aforementioned lead flies with one or more of the aforementioned imitative patterns.
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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.