Fished the upper Arkansas River around Buena Vista on Sunday and the lower Arkansas in Bighorn Sheep Canyon on Tuesday - it was a tale of two rivers.
The upper Ark was pretty dead. No real hatches to report and very few fish. The water levels are very low and clear. Areas that usually hold aggressive browns were not producing. Caught one fish and had five or six others take a run at my fly but not commit. The weather is turning colder up there and it feels like Fall already. Tried various dries from stimulators to small parachute adams. Also tried short nymph rigs with caddis, p-tails, and small stones.
But the colors are really starting to pop up there so the drive was really nice. Beautiful time to be in Colorado.
The lower Ark was much more productive. I wouldn't call it lights out, but the fish were eating. Early they were on dries and droppers (size 12 PMX with a baetis dropper). Fish were charging the top in the skinny riffles. Then, things went dead. We moved to deeper water and nymphed with stonefly and baetis combos. Took a few on the baetis. After noon, we headed for the longer runs that are three feet deep or so and nymphed up a few with the same rigs. Also took a couple on a foam hopper along the edges.
The most fun, however, was the streamer fishing. Fish were hammering the fly, but not always really eating it. We had twenty or so hard "hits", but only landed about a half dozen. Still, a lot of action and a lot of fun. Try any sculpin pattern about size six. The Space Invader was particularly hot. Key on the faster water right in front of larger boulders. Swing and strip and twitch like crazy.
The browns are getting really aggressive and both they and the rainbows are really getting fat and colorful right now. The next month should be really good on this, and any, brown trout fishery in the state.
This brown crushed a Space Invader.