In looking at the long range weather forecasts, we are slated for warmer than normal temperatures this winter. The Arkansas from Canon City to its headwaters, can be pretty icy in January and February, but may not be so much this year if that prediction holds out. If we experience warming trends in late February, then early March can be excellent. This is the time that stonefly nymphs begin to molt and that process literally turns on the switch for spring fishing. Baetis nymphs begin to appear in mid March by adding the option of dry fly fishing with something other than Midges by the end of the month. I love March fishing due to the fact that Southern Colorado can experience some really beautiful days and most people are still skiing instead of fishing. Put the upper Arkansas on your March calendar. Nymphing with Golden Stones, Rubberleg Stones, big Princes, and Baetis nymphs can lead to spectacular results. Warmer overcast or snowy days can produce terrific Midge and BWO hatches. Without a doubt, this river can be spring nymphing at its best. Give the new habitat improvements a try on the riverwalk in Canon City. This could be spectacular in late February and March.
The Arkansas below Pueblo Reservoir can provide a good winter fishing fix. Even though it is not a “traditional” tailwater (it is not rated as quality water and bait fishing is allowed), you can have a lot fun catching big numbers of stocked Rainbows and a few Browns that can make your day. Baetis hatches occur here almost every day during winter months and can really take off in March. A #22 Parachute Adams or Hi Vis Baetis will do the trick. Most folks don’t think of the Arkansas as being all that productive this time of year, but if you will make a few calls and watch the weather reports you can be rewarded with some really good early season fly fishing.