Salida, Colorado: Fishing in the Gem of the Rockies
When you talk about the Heart of the Rockies, many towns come to mind. But there is only one out there that sits, quite literally, in the middle of the state that’s referred to as the “Gem of the Rockies.” What’s so special about it, you ask? The list runs long…
Set two hours from Colorado Springs, Salida is a pure Western retreat that welcomes every angler and seeker of outdoor adventures. When seeing any review in regards to this town, the word “inspiring” can always be found – which is not an exaggeration. Here, everything inspires a visitor: from the endless mountain activities to the endless list of fun events for the whole family to enjoy.
A perfect choice for anglers, Salida has sixty miles of amazing fishing to be had on the mighty Arkansas River, plus another forty-five miles that stretches across Bighorn Sheep Canyon, as well as high elevation meadows, steep canyons, and productive pocket water that holds anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 fish per mile.
Having exceptional public access to those who come and fish the Arkansas River, Salida is home to one of the most popular and best Brown trout fishing sites in the entire state. Opportunities like this don’t grow on trees, so to speak, which is why Salida and the Arkansas River stretch found in and around the town have become so unbelievably popular. Up to 5,000 trout per mile; 70-plus miles of public access; and, many sites to launch boats and float-and-fish. In addition, this area boasts year-round insect action, which excites the soul of all those who love to cast the fly.
Introduced in the 1800s, the Brown trout has since taken over and become the self-sustaining “King” when it comes to fish calling the Arkansas River home. With the introduction of a Hofer/Colorado River Rainbow trout in 2009, the River was stocked in order to increase the angling experience and offer more species. The experience with Rainbows also adds a spark of excitement, considering the fact that when a Rainbow is hooked, the species are known for their jumping and acrobatic moves while trying to reel them in; whereas the Brown trout usually head for the deeper water and simply wait for you to leave. Even though most caught fish are in the 12-16 inch range, there are trophy-sized catches of Rainbows coming in at more than 20 inches.
When it comes to the Salida area, the Arkansas River traverses over 100 miles of terrain, but having the wide amount of access has made anglers revisit the location again and again. But not only is access important, the quality of the water is too. Fact: Fish recently disturbed will not immediately return to feeding. As a result, people across the country will note how polite and respectful this community is, with one angler giving another a lot more space than on many other Colorado tailwaters. Believe it or not, it’s become customary between fellow anglers to leave a few hundred yards of water between them and their neighbors when entering the Arkansas, giving each angler many more chances at success.
When it comes to learning what’s best to use in Salida on the Arkansas River, note that the swift and turbulent water requires extra weight and high buoyancy strike indicators when looking at nymphing. Dry fly anglers turn their focus on using patterns that float well and are highly visible, or fish with an indicator dry to help locate low visibility patterns on broken water. Another note is that, whether nymphing or dry fly-fishing, using a variety of patterns has become the “norm” and the “dry-dropper” approach is nearly universal when the weather turns warm in the summer.
No matter what season you’re planning to travel, however, simply go online and check out the beauty, mystery, and majesty of Salida. Then enjoy your angling adventure in the one and only “Gem of the Rockies.”
Gear for fishing the Arkansas from Leadville to Salida:
I have fished it with as light as a 3wt to a 7wt. depending on the time of the year and what you are doing.
Take a look at the rods Snowbee USA Offers: Click Here
Fly Line, I perfer the Thistledown 2-5wt & 5-7wt.: Click Here