May 5, 2005

Thanks to generous stocking and a multi-million dollar improvement project, the Arkansas River through the city of Pueblo has become a top-notch fishery.

Over the years, Pueblo anglers have known the section of river below Pueblo Reservoir as one of the best kept fishing secrets along the Front Range. But according to Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) aquatic biologist Jim Melby, the completion of the Arkansas River Legacy Project has produced an improved river with outstanding opportunity that will soon become known statewide.

“It’s always been a good place to fish. There was almost always someone down there fishing, even sometimes in nasty weather,” said Melby. “But now that the Legacy Project is complete, we expect to see even more people taking advantage of a great place to fish.”

While the Arkansas River above Canon City seems to attract a larger proportion of fly fisherman, there are no restrictions on bait or lures in the section through Pueblo, Melby said. That makes it a big draw for folks who like to use a variety of tackle and enjoy taking home a meal of fresh fish after a day on the river.

Melby thinks there might even be a big increase in catch and release fly fishermen once the word gets out that the improved habitat has created an opportunity for big trout to thrive in the deeper pools and new structures that will provide resting places for fish.

The DOW has an annual allotment of 30,000 to 40,000 catchable-sized rainbow trout for the river below Pueblo Reservoir. As a result, fish are stocked frequently. When available, the Pueblo section also receives brood fish – ranging from 3-5 pounds. There is also a small contingent of big brown trout lurking in the river, but Melby notes that they are rare and difficult to catch.

Because Pueblo Reservoir creates clear, cool water and stable outflows from November until the middle of March, anglers have an opportunity to enjoy stream fishing during times of the year when most streams are locked in winter conditions. From the middle of March on, the flows increase but do not reach peak flows until mid-to-late April.

Like any fishery in the state, angler success varies depending water conditions and methods used. The Arkansas River through Pueblo might not compare to some of the legendary tail-water fisheries elsewhere in the state, but it is a good place for anglers to practice their hobby without driving up into the mountains.

There are at least seven access points where anglers can park right next to the river. A hiking trail/bike path runs along the entire stretch of river through the city, making it accessible by foot. One of the most popular access points is just below the dam, which can be reached by taking U.S. Hwy 50 west to Pueblo Blvd., turning south onto Pueblo Blvd. until you reach the Pueblo Nature Center road, and then turning west into the Nature Center parking lot.

For more information on fishing conditions or water flow, contact the Pueblo office of the DOW at (719) 561-5300; or check with any of the local fishing supply stores in the Pueblo area.

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