Spring Awakening: Fly Fishing the Arkansas River

The Arkansas River can be a special place from mid-March through early-May. Fish in this freestone river are just waking up and as water begins to warm, the bugs come out and the fish turn on. We got in one, last trip before the state was essentially shut down due to Coronavirus.

Our Takes: Nymph the deeper holes and transition water between seems early in the day with stonefly imitations and larger midge patterns. Then, as temperatures begin to climb, switch out the midge for a baetis nymph and begin moving up into the run to the shelves that form in the riffles. Look for any type of sudden change in depth or speed in the middle or edge of the riffles to find fish. As the day goes on, keep your eyes on the slack water for noses as fish will begin to key on the emerging mayflies and dry fly fishing becomes an option. Once we get into April, expect caddis to take the place of the midges. Tax day is our cue to begin fishing caddis.

Nymphs: prince nymphs, psycho prince, two-bit hookers, hot wire stonefly (size 10-16); beadhead flashback pheasant tails, rs2, barr’s emerger, Cheesman emerger (16-20); graphic caddis, any caddis pupa pattern (16-18)

Dries: arachute adams, purple haze, extended body bwo (18-20); elk hair caddis, X-caddis (16-18) Fish 4x and 5x mono with dries and 4x-5x fluoro with nymphs. 5 or 6 weight rod.

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