Arkansas River Fishing Report

Headwatered high in the Collegiate Range of the eastern Rockies, just north of Leadville, the Arkansas River begins its long journey to the gulf. It traverses the valleys of Mt. Ebert and other 14,000+ peaks, passes through Buena Vista, and turns east to Pueblo before reaching the Kansas state line. Measuring over 1,469 miles, it is the second longest river in the Mississippi-Missouri river system and the 45th longest river in the world.

According to several sources, including the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency, this freestone section on the Arkansas River has become the most popular fishery in the state. This may be attributed to high fish counts, easy public access and its recently acquired, (2014) 102-mile Gold Medal Water designation, the longest continuous run in the state. Once polluted by mining runoff, state intervention and conservation efforts have restored the water making the Gold Medal status possible.

Once home to native cutthroat, the river is now predominately rainbows and browns. Densities range from 2,000 to 5,000 fish per mile with an average size of 13 to 15 inches, while 18+ inchers are not uncommon and are there to be taken. Within the Gold Medal section it is catch and release for rainbows.

In contrast to the upper freestone part of the river, east of the Pueblo Reservoir there is great tailwater fishing. Here the river is characterized by gentle bends, deep holes and majestic stands of cottonwood groves. Here cutthroats and rainbows are abundant while the trophy browns, usually older and wiser fish, tend to be difficult to catch.
Featured Fishing Trips
Guided Fishing Trips
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
1 day
Experience the best that Arkansas fly fishing has to offer with a full day guided fishing trip on the Little Red River. Full day trips are for 1 or 2 anglers. Arkansas Drift specializes ... morein guide service dedicated to education. Teaching will always be part of the day and will help you become a better fisherman. You can bring your own fly rods if you prefer, or let us know if you need to borrow one as we have several on hand. Whether it's Nymphs, Streamers, or Dries, let Arkansas Drift take you to the next level! We are located in Little Rock, Arkansas, about an hour and a half from the Little Red River in Heber Springs.
/ Boat
1 - 3 anglers
4 hours - 1 day
Fishing Waters:
The White River is a truly world class fishery like few others anywhere in the world and our home waters below Bull Shoals Dam is the finest of this river's 3 tailwaters. Its reputation ... moreas a brown trout fishery is well deserved, producing some monster "once in a life time" fish, but also holds good numbers of 19"- 24" fish. Chasing these trophies can be an immensely rewarding challenge. The White River is also heavily stocked with 12"-14" rainbow trout to provide consistent sport all year round on all water levels for all skill levels. Some rainbows, and cutthroat, can be still found well over 20", truly remarkable captures. Few tend to talk about the beauty of the White River as it glides past hill and holler: the soaring limestone bluffs, the dogwoods and redbuds of spring, the subtle mists and lush green banks of summer, the reds and gold of fall, and the stark gothic tones of winter.

The White River is best known as a nymphing water, with consistent year round midge hatches and a plentiful supply of scuds and sowbugs plus bigger fare. Less well known are the increasingly strong hatches of Caddis (March-May), Sulphurs (June-July) and Terrestrials which can offer superb dry fly fishing depending on the water flows. These first two hatches can also add some nice variety to the nymphing. Want to know more? read the detailed hatch info on our Articles page. Our team is also seriously streamer addicted, as the best way to chase a genuine White River Trophy with a fly rod and we pride ourselves on our knowledge and gear selection. On low flows the White is easily waded, on higher flows there is still a surprising amount of fishing available for those on foot. But the White also offers tremendous watercraft based fishery on all water levels.

Being a fly fishing guide isn't just a way to earn a living. The best guides we know or have met have one thing in common, a burning passion, even obsession with the way of the fly rod. The ones who might guide you all day, then slip off to the river to fish of an evening; who schedule family holidays around fly fishing destinations and who climb out of bed in the middle of the night to tie that latest idea. There are plenty of guides on the White River system to "show you where the fish are" but fewer who can find the fish, know the rigging and tactics for changing conditions; have the right rods, lines and fly boxes for any eventuality; can teach you how to double haul, or single spey with a trout rod. Who share your passion. Our guide team, which also makes up most of our shop ownership and staff, are these guys. They go through waders and boots like others wear out jeans and tennis shoes, have fished 4 continents and North America from Alaska to The Keys. Regular folk would probably think them "not right". Our tailwaters can be some of the most complex to deal with anywhere, given the enormously varied water conditions you could face on any day. There aren't many places you can start the day wading at 50 cfs, and by midafternoon, be drifting on 20,000 cfs, and our guys will still have you catching fish and having fun.

These are the guys you want to make your fly fishing holiday one to remember for all the right reasons and keep you coming back season after season. The team offers wade, drift boat and river boat trips. They are state-licensed, properly insured and totally professional. They also happen to be a lot of fun.Bring your favorite rods or use our guide rods, at no extra charge, just give us a heads up when you book if you need gear. We can also arrange you to trial that next rod on your shopping list during your guide trip.You need to have appropriate clothing for the conditions, sunglasses, hat and sunscreen. Waders are optional on higher flows, essential on low water.

Our full day trips include lunch, which could range from sandwiches, cold meats, southern fried chicken, fajitas or bbq. Generally as standard we don't do cooked "shore lunches" which eat into your fishing time. But if your party would like a fish fry, bbq or other cooked lunches we are more than happy to arrange these services for an additional fee. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements or serious dislikes, we can give the guide a heads up, particularly for soda choices alongside our standard bottled water.
Additional Information
Big Sandy Creek, Horse Creek, Rush Creek and Saint Charles
Confluence of East Fork Arkansas River and Tennessee Creek
Mississippi River
1,469 miles
Seasonal Conditions
SpringBWO, Midges, Grannom Caddis
SummerMidges, PMC, Trico, Caddis, Terrestrials
FallBWO, Midges, Terrestrials
WinterMayflies, Midges
Game Fish Opportunities
Current Forecast
Water Flow
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Fishing Quality
Water quality

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