While fishing at the Arkansas Pueblo Tailwater can be hit or miss, comparatively mild weather and stable water temps will work in your favor over the next few days. Keep in mind, however, that it has been crowded, even on weekdays! Flows have held steady for the last couple of weeks and water clarity is on the upper end. While trout are spreading out in the afternoon, they have been more prone to hold in the very deep and slow pools and runs. It is here, where trout are finding the most protection from aerial predators and can conserve the most amount of energy. Hatch activity is dwindling, but we’re still seeing some sporadic midge and, to a lesser extent, BWO hatches throughout the day. We’re finding that the occasional smaller trout will rise to the occasion. However, by and large, trout are sticking to their winter lies most of the day. As such, a heavy nymph rig with small and simple midge and baetis patterns will prove to be the most effective. As the winter progresses and air/water temps drop further, you’ll want to consider downsizing your flies. In general, a #20-22 will get the job done, but don’t hesitate to go a size smaller and fish some #24’s. Depth and persistence will be imperative to success. Adapt to the water you are fishing and don’t get lazy when it comes to adding more weight or adjusting your indicator. We like to lead with heavy flies in the tungsten variety so as to get our flies down faster. Otherwise, add or subtract split shot accordingly.
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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.