I fished the Ark yesterday, Monday, May 1, near Howard. Sunny and high of maybe 65 or so. Water running just slightly off color.
At 10:30 am, we saw caddis in a light hatch. At 11:30 am, the water temp was 51.5. Then, around 12:30 or so, look out. The hatch went from medium to heavy til there were all sorts of caddis on the surface, in the air, doin the Wild Thing on my waders in public, no shame whatsoever, on my neck, in the willows, you name it, they were there. It was amazing! Have now caught the hatch perfectly two years in a row!
Lots, imo, of wading/rafting fishermen out and about but we found some private water by permission, so saw only one other fisherman. At first they were floating for a long time and then flying off, but no trouties were feeding off the surface. Saw a few trout coming up subsurface but the main attraction was toward the bottom and in the middle of the water column. We were in up to knee deep water in a side channel and then a bit deeper water in the main channel of the river.
Ok, you soft hackle nuts, here goes... I was using 3 fly rigs, all various soft hackle. Some were those recommended by royalgorgeanglers.com (beadhead caddis pupa with the ice dubbing and dark hackle, etc), several were similar, one dark green thread/partridge, brown hackle peacock, peacock and partridge with red thread head, an olive Poopah or thereof, with sh, only used an egglayer pattern, Hot Butt... peacock body with a fuschia tail for the egg sac in order to have a "washing line" rig, a technique that has the dry fly at the point and the wets as droppers so they will stay barely subsurface.
Yeh, man! We got a bunch of trouties from small twirps to pretty good size.
The wind picked up around 3:30 pm or so and, around 4, we decided to start making our way back north and then back to Denver as we needed to be back reasonably early, so, therefore, missed the egglayer possibilities coming evening or so. We went to a section near the Salida junction where we saw some but not many caddis flitting about, got some more trout and then called it a day.
The hatch itself was everything it was billed. The hatch is moving upstream, so if you go, plan accordingly.
Oh yeh, check out askaboutflyfishing.com. There is a VERY informative one hour podcast with Bill Edrington of Royal Gorge Anglers, The Man for the Ark/caddis.