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Arkansas River Weekend: The Post-Mortem

Brown In NetOur jaunt down to the Arkansas River last weekend wasn’t quite the annihilation I’d portended, unless you take into consideration that we only fished three hours on Sunday. No, we weren’t being lazy – we were just trying to rehydrate, so to speak, and catch up on lost sleep.

We begin by mugging other fly fishers for info

After driving down and settling in, we made plans to hit Wellsville first thing. Wellsville is this little stop just south of Salida, and while a fairly short stretch it’s known for some smooth deep runs that are usually stacked with sizable rainbows and browns. When we arrived there was only one other vehicle at the access point, and we found only one fisherman had occupied said auto. With most of the stretch to ourselves, trial and error began. My trials were with frequent movement and fly switching, while Corey and Jeff spent their time fishing anything I wasn’t (and probably a good strategy, since I was catching jack). A few hours into the game, I bum-rushed the stranger (who was getting his net wet), and intelligence gathering pointed to small mayflies. On what would turn out to be the roughly twelfth pattern of the morning for me, tan WD-40s hit the mark. My colleagues quickly raided my nymph box.

It was now breakfast time, which meant finding a greasy spoon (and not forgetting to pick up a case of beer for the evening). Having satisfied our omelet and black coffee fetishes, we moved on to a double super secret spot Corey had been blathering about since we’d left Denver the afternoon before.

Fly fishing often requires loose interpretation of “No Trespassing – Violators Will Be Shot On Sight” signs

thearkIn hindsight, the fact that one of our buddies actually owns the barbed wire fence that runs up to a gate we were definitely going through, armed to the teeth just in case slightly unsure about passing through probably gave us some rights, in some jurisdiction, someplace, to proceed. At least that was my justification, and since I was driving that probably put us over the 50% chance of not winding up in jail mark. In reality, the stretch of water we happened upon is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be heading down with unadulterated bribes bags of fine goodies for all the neighbors so they’ll keep the lips zipped just in case they spy us passing that way again.

Boy oh boy was the fishing good. There was all kinds of structure on this stretch, from huge boulders laying smack dab in the middle of the river to shallow cross current rifts running over ledges into much deeper fast water moving straight ahead. I lost count of the actual number of deep, quiet pools and picture perfect seam water we fished – we could have kept hiking deeper in for eternity without wanting for another hole worth trying.

Brown trout heart gold PsychosThe only bummer turned out to be the lack of dry fly action. There was about a half-hour period late in the day where some BWOs came off. And as I sat down to tie on a gray Parachute Adams a caddisfly landed on my leg. So I put one of each on, but alas the moment I started working some quiet water off a small island the hatch disappeared as abruptly as it had arrived. No matter – the fish were in love with our little Gold Psycho Prince Nymphs and Barr’s Emergers. As time grew near for Jeff to leave, he and Corey bounded by to grab the truck keys. An inquiry came in regarding performance, but before I could respond I’d hooked up again – it was the sixth fish in the span of an hour.

Me thinks my truck got a good undercarriage workout after that, because Corey was back fast enough to otherwise assume he possessed some type of transporter device. We marched further upstream, debating which pristine piece of new water to wet the lines in, and continued picking off trout until the other half of the Salida Party Patrol, Tim and Tom, arrived. Thereafter, we decided we would definitely fish this place again tomorrow, hit the Boathouse for some grub, and then headed back to the newly dubbed Van Dyke Fly Fishing Ranch for the night’s festivities.