woman fly fishing in buena vista

Fly Fishing Buena Vista – An Angler’s Guide

Welcome to Buena Vista, Colorado, the ultimate angler’s paradise in the Rocky Mountains.

Buena Vista, CO, has about 102 miles of Gold Medal fly fishing in the Arkansas River – the longest stretch in CO. What does gold medal mean, you ask? It’s not just an arbitrary title! “Gold Medal” bodies of water must consistently support a minimum trout stock of 60 lbs per acre and a minimum size of 14″. The Arkansas River holds 170 lbs per acre!

Anglers can come here and know that they won’t be bumping elbows with a dozen other anglers – there is always enough space and fish to go around. From ample fishing space to amazing views to quality bites, every fly fisher should try their hand at some Buena Vista fly fishing. 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, here’s the info and tips you need to get to the right area at the right time with the right gear. Get ready to cast your line and discover the wonders of fly fishing in Colorado!

Fly Fishing in Buena Vista: How Will You Cast Out?

Guided vs. Unguided Fly Fishing: Know which setup would work best for you. 

Do you have all the skills and knowledge you need to have a successful day on the river? Then you can get your fly fishing license and get in the water! But if you want some local expertise and easy logistics, we are happy to show you a good time. Regardless of fly fishing experience, many people choose a guided fly fishing trip for easy transport, quality gear rentals, and insider knowledge on the best places to cast out. 

Wading vs. Float Fishing

Buena Vista fly fishing offers fantastic opportunities for both wading and float fishing. 

Wade fishing is genuinely easier for beginners as you can focus on one run and fine tune your casting, mending and fly choices. Float fishing is great for more experienced anglers as the constant movement of the boat lets you cast out to banks and pocket water. You get to fish the whole river, including private property. While it’s a more challenging environment for casting out, anyone can choose this option if they want more scenery, adventure and just want to be out on the water.

Whether you want to cast out from a fishing raft or throw on waders and feel the current, our fishing trips can get you the experience you want. You can even plan a wade and float combo fishing trip!

Day Fly Fishing Trips vs. Multi-day Fly Fishing Trips

Do you want to enjoy a day on the river or ready for a multi-day adventure? We can get you on either. Our half-day and full-day trips are perfect for someone who wants a shorter trip or simply wants to test the waters. Our multi-day fly fishing trips meld the rugged beauty of the river with unique luxuries like warm meals, secluded riverside camping and a guide to handle all of the camping, cooking, boating, and fishing logistics. 

Understanding Buena Vista Fly Fishing Regulations

Buena Vista fly fishing operates under regulations to preserve the beauty of this area and create a minimal impact on the surrounding ecosystem. Here are some important rules to know before getting on the river. When in doubt, fishing with a guide who understands the river will ensure you follow all regulations and avoid fines. 

Catch limits:

Buena Vista bag and possession limit is four fish. There is no fish size limit, but all rainbow trout must be returned to the river immediately – catch and release is mandatory for rainbow trout from Stockyard Bridge to Badger Creek. Different river sections have different regulations, so it’s always important to keep up with the different rules and limitations.

Fishing License:

Anglers 18+ will need a license to be fishing in Buena Vista. See the different permit options for fishing licenses here.


It’s also essential to minimize your footprint while enjoying Buena Vista nature. Always leave no trace, follow pathways instead of paving your own, don’t feed wildlife, and follow light and noise pollution best practices.


When fishing in Buena Vista, only artificial flies and lures are allowed.

Seasonal Fishing in Buena Vista

Best Fly Fishing Near Buena Vista

Arkansas River – Cast out with 102 miles of Gold-Medal fly fishing opportunities – the entire stretch has fantastic areas to explore for wading and float fishing.

Browns Canyon – Experience unmatched dry fly fishing adventure in a remote wilderness setting.

Spring Fishing

Time Range: April to June

Best For: Rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, and occasional brook trout.

Suggested Flies: Stonefly patterns, caddis larvae, mayfly nymphs, and attractor nymphs. Dry flies like Blue Winged Olive and midge patterns can be effective, especially during hatches.

Hatches: Experience the famous St. Patrick’s Day Hatch in March, the Brachycentrus Caddis Hatch in April and the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch in May. 

Spring fly fishing in Buena Vista comes with snowmelt, higher water levels, and increasing fish activity. Spring fishing is all about finding the calmer water in eddies, pockets and river edges. 

Early springs can be great fishing with lots of hatches, but roughly the 3rd week of May through 3rd week of June there is muddy high water, so there aren’t many opportunities for fishing during that time frame.

Summer Fishing

Time Range: July to September

Best For: Same as spring, but in abundance

Suggested Flies: Same as spring

Hatches: BWO, Caddis, and Stonefly hatches happen in late spring and early summer

Summer is the most popular time for Buena Vista fly fishing, thanks to great weather, consistently cool water temps, impressive fish activity and breathtaking views. This area has consistent hatches and great dry fly fishing. Early Mornings and late evenings can yield the best results and get you some exciting catches in riffles, seams, and runs. 

Fall Fishing

Time Range: September to November

Best For: Larger fish, Brown Trout, fishing during the spawning season

Suggested Flies: Egg patterns, streamers in natural colors, and mayfly imitations like Blue Winged Olive nymphs.

Fall fishing in Buena Vista has fantastic opportunities for big-fish catches, predominantly brown trout. Since it’s spawning season, focus on the deeper runs and pools to attract larger trout. 

*Many guide companies stop offering float fly fishing trips after September, so guided wade fishing is more prominent in the fall. 

Connecting with the Local Fly Fishing Community

The best way to get the most current, up-to-date, and in-depth information about day-to-day river and fishing conditions is by visiting a local fly shop, which will get you in touch with some of the most knowledgeable anglers in the area. Not to mention that they can hook you up with all the best flies, gear and licenses for the area. whitewater rafting in royal gorge colorado

Other River Activities Near Buena Vista

Can’t get enough of the Arkansas River? We don’t blame you. Get back on the water for more adventure with a Colorado rafting trip on some of the best rapids in the state! We offer trips for all rafting levels, from splashy trips great for first-timers (Bighorn Sheep Canyon rafting) to rowdy rapids perfect for seasoned rafting adventurers (Royal Gorge rafting). 

Ready to cast out? Get ready to experience the angler’s dream. Reach out to our team to plan a guided trip today. 

By: brandon
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