Friday & Saturday, May 5th & 6th, 2006 - Arkansas River – Salida to Howard
600+ cfs, water was off color. Friday was cool and windy in the afternoon/evening. Saturday was sunny in the upper 60’s.
I was lucky enough to get invited down to float the Ark on Saturday by Brian (Hyde Drifter). I got down there early on Friday night and fished my secret spot (just south of Big Bend) from 4pm to 8pm. The water was high and off color so I stuck to the big pool. On my third cast I caught a 13-inch brown on a chartreuse midge with a red bead head. I continued working the pool and hooked a big brown on a streamer, but he broke me completely off. Most of the other areas were too off color to see or catch anything. I did manage to hook one more a little lower down – he was a nice 14-inch brown.
I headed over to eat dinner in Salida and then headed to meet Brian at his camper and introduced myself. We decided to meet at 6:30 am the next day to get breakfast and then jump on the river. I just assumed that we'd both get in some rowing and fishing, but Brian's raft was only a two-seater and he just wanted to row and watch - which I'm not sure I could do with fish showing everywhere.
We dropped in just below Salida and planned to float all the way to Howard. Brian is a hell of a guy - the guy can row that raft "in a phone booth" (inside joke) - basically I didn't spill my tea the entire trip! Even Brian enjoyed the satisfaction of rowing one of his best days - with flows around 600 cfs.
Although I felt a little awkward taking advantage of Brian's rowing skills it turned out that he just loves being on the river - he loves talking fish, talking flies, teaching casting, trying new patterns, and showing new techniques. He's also amazing at spotting fish areas - but then again when all the GUIDES on the river know you by first name, that usually means you have floated the river a few hundred times. He hooked me up with some killer PMX's and some soft hackle nymphs and chartreuse pheasant tails - and the caddis patterns where spot on and caught lots of fish.
The river was high (600 cfs) and slightly off color - the banks are where the fish were at. The morning was slow, but as the water warmed the caddis started popping and the fishing picked up. I caught fish on one of his newest patterns, had some killer dry fly action in the early afternoon, and had a bunch I couldn't land on a dry fly during the last 2 miles or so. It was a beautiful day, great weather, hardly a breeze, smooth water and good company. I saw the Ark from a new angle and I respect it more for some of the amazing private water it has stashed away. The entire Arkansas Valley is just amazing. And the fish are healthy and large (for that river) - they feed fiestily too on size 16 nymphs - which is a change for us South Platte size 24 midge guys.
I'd like to thank Brian and Mary for their hospitality and kindness and I owe them big time! Although Brian doesn't want the publicity, he's a hell of a fly tyer - he donated over 40 dozen flies to TU this year for their auctions - and for that (and everything else he does) he should be commended. This is just another story of how this board brings us all closer together.
Brian was nice enough to donated almost 2 dozen flies to me, of which I donated directly to the fish Gods. Did I mention he's a hell of a fisherman too? He grabbed my rod in a great hole and made some beautiful casts to some nice fish - he only "landed" one - but it was one memorable fish!