Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM
Location: Below Salida
Arkansas River 10/06/2021 Photo Album
After a rough day on Monday, I decided to give fly fishing another try on Wednesday; however, I opted for a destination that was lower in elevation and a place that offered more openness for solar penetration. My choice was the Arkansas River. Flows below Salida were in the 280 CFS range, and the fly shop reports highlighted blue winged olive activity, with fish spread out across the river and ideal wading conditions.
The temperature when I arrived at a favorite pullout on Wednesday morning was 57 degrees. I chose to forego additional layers, as I viewed my raincoat in my backpack as an insurance policy. Heavy afternoon cloud cover actually forced me to cash in my insurance, and I wore the rain shell for several hours in the afternoon. The river, as expected, was exceptionally clear, and I took advantage of the low flows to wade to the shoreline away from the highway for much of my fishing day.
Early Action in This Area
I began casting at 11AM next to two very attractive deep runs with tantalizing seams along the main current line. I chose a tan pool toy hopper as my top fly and extended a long four foot leader to a 20 incher and then added a salvation nymph. I spent twenty minutes drifting this combination along the seam and shelf pools next to the deep run, but a sign of trout never appeared. I covered thirty yards of prime water with nary a sign of fish, and I knew from past experience that fish occupied this area.
Beast Mauled a 20 Incher
Good Fortune Continued
I pondered my situation and decided to probe the depths, so I converted to a nymphing rig with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, 20 incher, and a sparkle wing RS2. Much to my amazement I hooked an energetic fish on the first drift, but it shook free from my hook after a pair of powerful streaking runs. It was not long after this disappointment that I hooked and landed a battling sixteen inch brown trout. I quickly learned the importance of depth during fall fishing expeditions. For the next hour I progressed up the river and netted two additional brown trout, with one being a muscular thirteen inch beauty. Several additional momentary hook ups were also part of the before lunch story.
After lunch I was positioned to explore the small north braid of the river, which is one of my favorites on the entire Arkansas. The low, clear flows; however, caused me to be leery of using the deep nymphing set up, so I changed my approach to a double dry with a peacock hippie stomper and a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis. I probed the low, slow-moving bottom third of the braid, and I managed one look for my concentrated effort. The two flies seemed totally out of favor, and I did not wish to waste the final promising two-thirds of the braid on unproductive flies. I converted the double dry to a dry/dropper with an iron sally and a salvation nymph. The change yielded results , as two nice twelve inch brown trout nabbed the salvation in fairly obscure locations.
For the next 1.5 hours I progressed up the river along the right bank and probed likely deep runs and slower-moving small pools with the dry/dropper combination. I was confident that the same tactic that worked in the top one-half of the braid would also succeed along the bank of the large river. Alas, it did produce two additional trout in the sub twelve inch range, but I felt certain that a deep nymphing set up would have produced better results.
The reason I suspect this to be true is that I switched back to the New Zealand indicator with a split shot, 20 incher, and RS2 for the last hour, and I built the fish count to eleven. Several of these late afternoon catches were wild thirteen inch browns. All the trout landed during this time frame nabbed the size 22 RS2. Moderate riffles over a rocky bottom and depth of three to four feet produced all the brown trout. By 3:30PM I reached a nice deep eddy and pool, and after I fished it thoroughly, I decided to call it a day. I angled along a steep bank for a considerable distance, before I found some hidden stone steps that led me to the guard rail and the highway.
Wednesday was not a spectacular day but a success nonetheless. I achieved double digits that included five brown trout in the thirteen to sixteen inch range. I feel certain that a commitment to deep nymphing for the entire day would have elevated my fish count, but testing various approaches is an enjoyable aspect of the fly fishing game.
Fish Landed: 11
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Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM