Frozen Fishing Report from the Arkansas River

Frozen Fly Rod EyeletsAs I write this report about my chilly experience fly fishing the Arkansas River near Salida, CO a couple weeks ago, I’m contemplating fishing Williams Creek near Pagosa Springs where we are now.

But it is snowing, the water is pretty rough, and those who are giving it a go don’t look very happy.

After my windy morning on the Arkansas, I doubt I’ll be contemplating much longer. Even though we had heard the fishing was hot, it was definitely not. And while there is no such thing as a bad day fishing, I don’t care to repeat that adventure.

When we were camped along the Arkansas at Hecla Junction, we had heard the May Fly hatch was in swing and that meant the fishing was hot. It was actually quite cold. Not only did I not get a single nibble, I did not see a single Caddis Fly.

Hecla Junction Camp Site on Arkansas RiverI had read about the clouds of bugs and swarms of fish feasting on them this time of year. And I also read some good tips an how to fish this section of the Arkansas.

These writers obviously hadn’t read the weather report. And we were obviously a few weeks early for the hatch.

The first morning I went out, I got in some good wading and great casts. Not a single strike, but I had a great time. I should always remember to quit while I’m ahead.

The next morning it was cold, but I thought I’d give it another try. I hiked downstream further to some nice long stretches of the river. As soon as I started casting the wind picked up. Pausing between gusts, I started to feel the chill. Then my rod did.

My casts became difficult. The line wasn’t flying as it should. And I knew it wasn’t me. It just felt sluggish. I looked for a knot in my line and discovered the eyelets on my rod had frozen. I’d heard of ice fishing but this was ridiculous.

I took a break to clear the ice plugs from my rod, tie on a new fly, and wait for the wind to calm down. It didn’t. Working my way upstream, I decided to give it one last shot in what looked like another nice spot.

My reel quickly started acting sluggish. Now it had frozen and my line was having a hard time with ice in the eyelets again. Time to call it a day and go get some hot coffee! Better luck next time.

At least we got in a great hike for some awesome views of the Collegiate Peaks later that day!

Hecla junction Hike to View Collegiate Peaks

My hands are cold just writing about this. I dn’t think I’ll be going fishing today.

9 Responses to “Frozen Fishing Report from the Arkansas River”

  1. Jim, I have never been fishing in such conditions, I am a fair weather fisher dude and I never would have thought about ice in the eyelets. Wonder if any companies make heated poles? Could warm your hands and keep the eyelets from getting iced up.

  2. Nice adventure, but as you have experienced fly fishing with ice in the eyelets is not fun. As you seem too have enjoyed the fishing at first I hope you will return under better and warmer conditions

  3. Anyone fished the Arkansa during August? What’s the best time an flies to use. I’m heading out that way on business and hope to get some fishing in during my down time

  4. I just fished the Arkansas River in CO last week. I found that after 5pm the fish really started to bite. I used yellow sallies.

  5. Wow that’s wonderful adventure, Jim. Love your blog.

  6. Hey try chalk creek next time your in the Salida area, it’s simply beautiful if the fish aren’t biting, and complete bliss when they are! PS- I do sites for fishing guides, so if you ever have bait questions, hit me up on the email provided above & I’ll try to dig up a report or two for you. Love the blog.

  7. that`s why it`s called “fishin`, not catchin` !!

  8. Lovely, BEAUTIFUL memorial day weekend here in Palm Springs.. knock off all that silly nonsense and come back.

  9. Hey Rat,
    Just catching up on your adventure. I can’t find your e-mail, but wanted to let you know that the Abels are hitting the road this summer. We can’t take quite the trip you’re doing, but we plan to be touring southern and midwestern U.S. for about a month-6 weeks. Will be in Texas (Austin) through July 7 then heading toward New Orleans before we go North to make a Mt. Rushmore, Ft Collins, Lake Tahoe, Sutters Mill, Golden Gate loop. Let me know where you’re landing. We’d love to hook up for dinner or somethin’.

    See ya soon
    Nay

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