Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado


Fishing in the Upper Arkansas Valley is a superb blend of river and big country. With 102 miles of Gold Medal water, the longest contiguous stretch in Colorado, the Arkansas flows through a diverse landscape. Mild winter days in the 40s and 50s make angling on the Arkansas River a year-round experience. Whether it’s late fall or mid-winter, anglers head to the Arkansas knowing that the sun will warm the water and trout will actively begin feeding.

Interactive Fishing Map

Get your free visitor guide

102 Miles Of Gold Medal Waters

Water quality improvements and fishery flow management have helped the Arkansas River become designated as the longest stretch of Gold Medal Waters in Colorado. For a dozen years, the wild brown trout fishery has exceeded the minimum metrics for number of fish over 14 inches and pounds of fish per acre. This, combined with extensive public access, has made the Arkansas River Colorado’s most popular fishing destination.


In cold months from November to February, early afternoons are the best time to fish with trout often rising to the surface to feed on midges beneath warm cliff faces. In deeper waters, midge larvae or pupae get good results.In spring, the Arkansas distinguishes itself. Starting in mid-February, hungry trout help themselves to a variety of insect protein that lasts all the way to spring runoff, when melting snow from Sawatch, Sangre de Cristo and Mosquito mountains swell the river.

In summer months, outfitters recommend stoneflies in early morning or late in the day or streamer patterns. Labor Day to Veterans Day, the Arkansas offers some of its best, most pleasant fishing on clear, warm fall days with mayfly or midge pupae patterns.

It’s Not a Fee, It’s a Contribution

Fishing licenses are required for any person 18 years of age or older. Be sure to check the fishing laws and regulations that apply in your area. Anglers are required to follow both statewide and waterway specific rules so that fish populations are protected now and into the future. Always check for fishing regulation updates prior to each fishing trip.


Ethical Angling

Ethical angling practices not only help with conservation efforts, but also help in building a positive angling community. Do your part by taking the time to learn as much as you can about fish species, habitats, fishing regulations, and proper fish handling. If you already apply these practices, think about how you can mentor or pass along this information to new anglers.

Catch and Release

Whether you are a beginning angler or someone who has been fishing for years, ask yourself if you really need to keep any fish within the legal regulations that you catch, or if it makes more sense to catch and release. Smart catch and release techniques help ensure the survival of any non-invasive fish you catch. When fish are released healthy, and can continue to reproduce, this plays a major role in sustainable eco-systems.

buena-vista-salida-colorado-fishing-lakes map

Nature Pledge banner

The Adventure By Nature Pledge is an outreach and education project supporting outdoor recreation, economic and visitor growth in Chaffee County by encouraging responsible recreation, stewardship principles and best practices for visitors and residents recreating in the outdoors.

We believe that stewardship of the environment is everyone’s responsibility. Please help us protect and preserve our home so future generations can enjoy it just as you have.