Guide to Fishing the Arkansas River Tailwater
There are a number of great tailwaters in Colorado and the Arkansas River Tailwater in Pueblo is definitely on that list. Driving to Pueblo might not be top of mind when deciding where to go for your next fly fishing adventure, but we encourage you to learn more and give it a closer look.
The Arkansas River below Pueblo Reservoir is a tailwater that flows through 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 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. It’s also not uncommon to find a carp on the end of your line.
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. While this stretch of the Arkansas River is best fished with a nymph setup it does provide exceptional dry fly and streamer 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. 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. As far as streamers go, trout can often be enticed by small, dark partners, such as a black or olive Wooly Bugger, stripped through the deeper pools and runs. We recommend casting towards the opposite bank and ensuring plenty of time for your fly to sink.
Located only 2 hours from Denver, the Arkansas River below Pueblo Reservoir is an easy trip to make. Once in Pueblo, drive west through town and continue for a few miles until you’ve reached one of the multiple parking lots that parallel the river. Parking optionality makes bouncing around the river extremely easy. 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 as well. Be aware, a $7 entrance fee is required if you access the river near the dam.
For more information on current fishing conditions and a list of the hot flies, check out the Arkansas River – Pueblo Tailwater page on our website.