March 16th - Upper River: The cold nights on the upper river will make fishing the upper Arkansas very difficult this time of year. It has iced up a lot above the Twin Lakes confluence, and can be challenging to effectively fish, if you can even find any active fish in the limited open water. Better conditions will be found further to the south below Buena Vista and near Salida throughout the winter.
March 16th- Middle River: With a little cooler weather today (~40 degrees this afternoon), dress appropriately for snow if you're going to get out on the river. Sometimes the snowy days can be excellent. We should remain in the 40s-50s this week, which should make for some good opportunities on the river. The middle basin directly above Salida to Stone Bridge has been the most productive as of late, but even the river near Buena Vista may offer some opportunities on the warmest days. Midge activity will get fish moving mid-morning through the afternoon, but don't be surprised if fish eat caddis larva and larger attractor pattersn, as well.
Fish will not be far from deep runs and pools, and will likely be concentrated together in the best winter lies. Midges are usually the most plentiful food items available on these colder days, but fish will give larger food a look if it drifts into them. Stonefly nymphs and other attractors like hare's ears, prince nymphs, and pheasant tails are all effective as larger offerings.
March 16th - Below Salida: We're looking at a cloudy, potentially snowy day here in Salida, probably hitting 40 degrees this afternoon. Dress appropriately, and sometimes the snowy days can be excellent. We'll be warming up again throughout the week, with temperature reaching the 40s-50s. Midge activity mid-day seems to be ticket most of the time, but if you're lucky a morning caddis larval drift may bring fish into shallower runs to intercept. On warmer days, getting an earlier start has begun paying dividends, as more insect activity starts the feed-train earlier in the day. 9:00 is not too early to start fishing. On colder days, wait until 10:00 or 10:30. Stonefly nymphs, caddis larva, and midge larva have been producing in the mornings, with midge pupa and immature mayfly nymphs becoming more available mid-day.
Fish are now podded up in or near winter (deep) water, so where you find one fish, there are usually more. Fish have begun moving into shallower water at times as food is available (2-3' depth) so don't neglect those areas! Current flows make for ideal wade fishing conditions near Salida. Though floating is still possible, current flows require you to boat right on top of lots of the best holding water, whereas wade fisherman can target the prime lies without disturbing fish.
Strong midge activity has had fish moving in the morning and active through the afternoon on the warmer days. The volume of subsurface food this time of year usually makes for nymphing. Midges are active throughout the day, and mayfly nymphs sizes #16-18 work well through the afternoons. The key is finding the right water. Spend more time picking apart likely lies just inside the main current and adjusting dropper depth til you find the sweet spot. Deeper water fished with a tandem fly rig should be your best bet in the morning, but don't ignore shallower runs and riffles in the afternoons. Best hours of the day are 10am - 3pm where sun is on the water.