Lees Ferry Fishing Report
By: Terry Gunn
March 14, 2012
Recent Fish rating
Upriver: 7.5 to 8.0
Walk-In: 5 to 8.0
Key: 1 = Go fish somewhere else 10 = Rent a helicopter and get here now!
Today’s Weather: Sunny, Low 46 High 76
The weather this past week has been clear and warm (70’s). Spring has arrived at Lees Ferry and the trees are budding out and the birds are migrating. A cold front is expected at the beginning of next week that will bring moisture and cooler temperatures for a few days. The fishing has been so good that the fish have even been happy in crummy weather!
Upriver: 1 No Crowds during the week & 3.5 on the weekends
Walk In: 1 Nobody here during the week & 3 to 4 on the weekends
Key: 1 = Sleep late and fish where you want. 10 = Very crowded, get up early
Fly Fishing Up-River.
New water flows began March 1 and the river is running 7,000cfs to 13,000cfs; the water is slowly and steadily rising throughout the day and not dropping until late in the evening. This flow is very different from the flows in February which were rising and then dropping at noon and then rising again after 5 PM. The current flows are better for fishing as fish are much happier with rising water than falling water. These new flows have really opened up the river creating an abundance of wading opportunities. To help put the current flow levels into perspective; our current high flow is approximately four vertical feet lower than the flows that we saw last year…the river is finally back to normal. It is really good to be back in the river, wading and sight casting.
The most important news is that the sun is moving higher in the sky each day and sunlight is really starting to shine through much of the canyon. The prolific spring midge hatches are sure to follow and should start any day now that the air is warming. The hatches are starting but have yet to pour off. When the midges really come off, the fish move from the deeper water into the riffles to feed on the abundant feast of the emerging midges. This is when the entire river fishes good. Until the midge hatches begin in earnest some areas of the river fish better than others.
The spawn is very weak this year. I figure that this is a “compensatory response” due to the fact that the spawn and recruitment has been so successful the past couple of years. This is a natural response by the fish and I have seen it many times over the years and next year will likely be different.
Nymphing the riffles using either a standard nymph rig or double tiny has been very productive with the rising water conditions. Glo-Bugs or San Juan Worm with a zebra midge dropper or using two zebra midges of various sizes and or colors has been fishing the best.
Using a dry fly with a dropper such as a Zebra Midge or Glo-Bug has had some success depending on the water one is fishing. The dry dropper rig has been most productive in the shallower water. As the weather continues to warm up and the midge hatches increase, the fishing in the riffles and the back eddies will get better. Another option as the fish move into the shallows is using a double tiny rig as described on our website. http://www.leesferry.com/main/area-information/fishing-techniques-rigs-gear
Although the water has come down another option is fishing a small streamer or wooly bugger. With these lower flows a person can wade and continue to fish streamers. The better streamer areas tend to be where the riffles drop off into slower deeper pools. Emphasizing the swing then stripping the fly up the seam has produced some good fish. The key to successful streamer fishing is varying the strip retrieve. When streamer fishing, we were recommending a Teeny 120 or 200 grain sinking tip or a similar line in the higher flows. But now a shorter and lighter sink tip line will work better and even a streamer fished on a long leader and floating line will work in several areas of the river.
Walk-In Report: By Andy Vincent
This area of the river has been fishing well. Nymphing has been the most productive technique lately. Fishing with a Midge below a San Juan worm or bead head scud has worked well. Managing your depth and weight is the key to success. You want your rig to be double the depth of the water your fishing from your lead to your indicator and increase or decrease weight to match the water speed and you should do well. You can also try Glo-bugs as there has been some spawn activity. Extend the drift and cover as much water as possible to increase your chances. Stripping Wooly Buggers is also productive when all else fails. Olive, brown and Black have been working well but don’t be afraid to try other colors. As far as areas in the Walk-in to fish, the confluence of the Paria with the Colorado always seems to be productive as well as the area just above and below the big rock. The Boulder field should turn on as the temperature increases and hatches take off. Look for the clean rock and gravel to concentrate your efforts. The areas with lots of moss tend not to hold the fish as well.
Spin fishing the walk-in: By Dean Windham
Spin fishing has not been as good as fly fishing the past few weeks. The river flows are fluctuating and these flow changes appear to make the fish take the spinner only at certain times of the days. The feeding habits have been changing on a daily basis so I can’t give a specific time but mid-day has been when I have had the best luck. Gold is the color and it works with kastmasters or panther martin size 1/4 oz. or size 6. Jigs and bouncing Glo-Bugs works has been working well at times if you can get the lure down to where the fish are. There is a lot of moss in the water due to the fluctuating flows so you will have to clean off the moss every other cast or so.
The upper walk-in area is not great for spinners as the water is low and there are many underwater obstacles such as rocks and branches. The area at and below the large boulder fishes very well and has some nice seams out about 20-30 feet from shore. There are some really fat fish holding in these seams that will take spinners or drifted jigs and Glo- bugs. The trick here is to keep moving and change your lure or color of your lure often.
Always be aware of the rising flows and enjoy all of the great scenery.
Spin Fishing Up River:
Spin fishing is good! It’s all about bouncing Glo bugs, San Juan Worms and Scuds off the bottom. You can also try fishing with gold Kastmasters, black and gold Panther Martins #5s or Rapalas in Perch or trout. Also definitely don’t forget about the marabou jig, this one has been working great and has been very reliable. When spin fishing up river look for the seams that are out where the fast and slow water meet. This is where you will find some nice fish holding. Don’t be afraid to make long cast but accuracy is important.
• If you have some news you would like to report about fishing lees ferry, the walk-in section or up river please e-mail your report to: email@example.com Attn. Lees Ferry Fishing Report
• We would be happy to have your input, and pass it along.
Here is a report form one of our customers.
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 9:50 AM Subject: [Lees Ferry Anglers] Fishing report
My Son Scott and I decided to fish Lee’s Ferry as a “last minute” hey lets go fishing trip. The walk in on Saturday was crowded and a bit slow, but worth the effort. On Sunday we fished with Guide Jeff English from your shop. Again a last minute booking so we were fortunate to get him. Jeff put us on fish all day and needless to say we caught a boat load. Dry-dropper was the ticket. I have been fortunate to fish some A+ and blue ribbon fisheries with great success. Sunday was as good if not the best day as any I ever had on the Big Horn, Madison or Yellowstone!!! Thanks Jeff!!! AND your teaching moment was a success—I now understand that if you don’t land the fish, it is never the fishes fault…;} Thanks to the shop staff and kitchen for great treatment! We’ll see you in July/!!!
For details on Lake Powell conditions and snow-pack, go here: http://lakepowell.water-data.com/
For a real time graphic view of water releases and ramp rates go here: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/uv?09380000
Lees Ferry Anglers Fly Shop maintains a large inventory of Abel, Sage, Winston, Temple Fork, Tibor, Galvin, Orvis, Simms, Patagonia, Scientific Anglers Mastery, Ex Officio, William Joseph, Fish Pond and Rio among others. We have been one of the largest fly tackle retailers in the southwest U.S. and we are Arizona’s oldest fly shop. We guarantee our prices to be the same or lower than any other fly shop or retail store. We offer free shipping on all orders over $100 and no sales tax on out of state sales. Call us for the best advice!
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Our lodge has rooms with cable TV (20 channels), in-room coffee, and the basic amenities. Choices of rooms are ONE king-size bed, TWO doubles and TWO queen-size beds. Also our group unit we call the HOUSE, sleeps six with two baths, dining area, kitchen, patio with a view, and cable TV. Rates vary with season. We are excited about the winter season and have some great “black board” specials planned. Patio dining is available. (Enclosed in the winter months)
Meet the Guides:
THE GUIDES AND STAFF OF LEES FERRY ANGLERS have thousands of days on this water, and over 100 years combined fish-guiding experience. Captain’s Terry Gunn, Jeff English, Skip Dixon, Natalie Jensen, Tyson Warren, Tyler Smith, Kevin Campbell, and Dale Gauthier make up our guiding staff. Lees Ferry Anglers is proud of our fly-fishing guide team! Wendy Gunn, Ted Welling, Tyler Smith, Dean Windham and Andy Vincent work in the fly shop. We strive to provide you with the best customer service in the industry. All of our prices in our shop are the same or less than any of the Big Box stores and we really do appreciate your business.