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Southeast Colorado Fishing Conditions – April 18

Arkansas River
Upper River: Flows have declined on the upper river, in part due to an effort to achieve the spring fishery flow recommendations and in part due to cooler weather and a cessation of the daily melt cycle. Expect low flows supporting the brown trout fry emergence and pre-runoff fish conditioning until the melt begins in earnest, typically around May 20th. While the Salida area is probably the most productive stretch of the river currently, the upper basin is seeing some changes with the warming weather. Nymphing slow, consistent pools and runs mid-day in the upper basin can be productive, with fish moving into faster riffles to feed when nymphs are drifting, primarily in the afternoons. If you find one fish, you will likely find several grouped together. Be thorough in your approach, and adjust your weight and depth often to locate fish.
Middle River: Spring fishing is now underway up through Browns Canyon and the Milk Run. Daily nymphal drifts of BWO’s, as well as some good cloudy day hatches have energized the fish population and allowed them to disperse from winter water. Also, look for morning caddis larval drifts. With the significant decrease in flows, crowing the river at Hecla is now relatively easy and the wading through the Big Bend area is very accessible too. Cloudy weather later this week should produce some excellent afternoon hatches. Be prepared by stocking up on BWO dry flies and emergers in the #16 to #20 range. Nymphing will still probably be your best bet throughout the day, but don’t limit your strategy to deep water; shallow riffles can be productive in the afternoons once mayflies become more available.
Lower River: Flow are now within the prime range for spring, specifically for the brown trout population. Though the river is still floatable, it is now very easily waded. The cloudy weather in the forecast should make for great fishing conditions. We are seeing consistent BWO nymphs drifting daily, and duns on the water on cloudy afternoons. The recent warmth seems to be motivating fish to move into shallower water as they feed; so don’t spend all your energy on the deep runs. There they can be best tempted by striated midge patterns (black beauties, zebras, etc…), golden stonefly nymphs, mayfly nymphs and emergers, and “meat & potatoes” patterns like pheasant tails, hares ears, and princes. Focus fishing efforts on the periods of peak warmth from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.(Courtesy of ArkAnglers)
Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area

Trinidad Lake 
Fishing from the south shore has been good with anglers catching 16 to 20 inch trout around the lake using PowerBait and worms. Reilly Canyon, where the river comes in, has been slow due to the muddy water from recent rains. Anglers have also been catching a few walleye and catfish. Boaters have been catching mostly trout and walleye. Perch fishing is starting to pick up, with anglers having success from both the shore and floating. Jigs tipped with worms have provided the most bites.
Trinidad Lake State Park