Fishing the Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is one of the mightiest rivers in Colorado, as well as the country. Whether it be fishing, kayaking, or whitewater rafting, outdoor enthusiasts flock to this amazing river from around the globe.
Running adjacent to some of Colorado’s highest 14,000 feet peaks, as well as deep into the depths of the Royal Gorge, the Arkansas River offers many scenic fishing opportunities. If you are interested in Arkansas River trout fishing, you can find a great location to suit your needs and abilities.
Where is the Arkansas River?
The Arkansas River finds its headwaters high in the alpine expanses of Leadville, CO. Gathering momentum from tributaries in the Collegiate Peaks, the river gains both size and momentum as it flows downhill past the towns of Buena Vista and Salida. Once the Arkansas River finally spills out of the Rocky Mountains, it continues to flow eastward until it finally meets the Mississippi River.
You can access the Arkansas River in multiple places within a 1.5 – 2.5 hr. drive from Denver. If you are interested in fly-fishing below snow capped peaks, head west on Hwy 285 and you can pick up the river in multiple places. For a bit easier access and calmer water, drive south along the edge of the mountains closer to Pueblo, CO.
Where Can I Fish on the Arkansas River?
The Arkansas River makes great fishing for people of all skills and interests. If you are interested in Arkansas River fly fishing, there are incredible areas for fishing both dry flies and nymphs. Similarly, if a spinning rod is your preference, the Arkansas River has ample deep pools to fish with small spinners and spoons.
There is ample public access to the shoreline of the Arkansas River. However, if you aren’t familiar with the area where you plan on fishing, be sure to consult a map so you don’t accidentally wind up on private property. It’s important to note much of the river corridor falls in the realm of Colorado State Parks and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, so plan to pay minor day use fees for parking and access within the park. If you are planning on fishing from a raft, plan on reaching out to a float fishing outfitter like Royal Gorge Anglers located outside of Cañon City, CO.
Where Are the Best Spots for Fishing the Arkansas River?
In total, the Arkansas River flows 152-miles from Leadville to Pueblo. This entire stretch of river has been denoted the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) and rated as “gold medal trout waters.”
The most popular fishing spots on the Arkansas River are located near Buena Vista, Salida, and Cañon City. Please bear in mind, water levels and flow rates in the Arkansas River vary greatly in different seasons due to snowmelt. That being said, late summer and early fall generally offer the lowest water levels for fishermen.
What Kind of Fish are in the Arkansas River?
Most people fish the Arkansas River for trout. As these types of fish prefer cold and clear water, the Arkansas River provides the perfect habitat for several key species of trout.
The most common type of fish in the Arkansas River include:
- Brown trout
- Rainbow trout
While the Arkansas River boasts several fish species, brown trout are by far the most prevalent.