Lees Ferry Fishing Report
By: Terry Gunn
March 30, 2012
Recent Fish rating
Upriver: 6 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 56 High 84
The weather this past week has been near perfect. Spring has arrived at Lees. The migrating birds are passing through and the midges are really starting to hatch.
Upriver: 2-3 No Crowds during the week & 4.5 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.
The river is running 7,000cfs to 13,000cfs and the same exact flows are forecast for April and May. The key will be the ramp rate and when the water rises and falls. The recent ramp rates have been inconsistent and we will just have to wait and see what they give us the next two months. The water flows will be lower on the weekends and holidays. 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 midge hatches are just now beginning which means that they are really late this year. I’m not sure why they are so late but I would imagine it has something to do with the high water flows of last year and likely our warmer than normal water temperatures that occurred from June-December 2011, when the river water temps were 10-degrees above normal due to the huge water inflow into Lake Powell last spring. The good news is that the midge hatches nave really picked up the last few days and should continue to grow in intensity and duration the next few months.
To help understand why midges are so important to our fishing success it’s good to know more about the lifecycle of midges and their importance to the trout diet. The adult midges contribute very little to the trout diet. It is rare that you will see an adult trout rise to feed on an adult midge; the reason is that the amount of energy expended is not worth the food intake. The adult midges breed then release their eggs into the water. The eggs sink and hatch into a tiny caterpillar (larvae) that lives on the bottom of the river for an extended period of time. At some point the larvae pupates and forms a chrysalis. The midge pupae will release in mass, and countless pupae will begin slowly drifting to the surface. This in turn flips the feeding switch for the trout and the fish will move into the shallow riffles where the pupae are concentrated by the shallow water. This is when the trout are feeding so heavily that they get careless and will eat our fly if it has a close resemblance to the midge pupae that they are feeding on.
The bigger the hatch the better the fishing; this is why the best fishing always occurs during big hatches and why the midge hatches are so important to the trout diet. The biggest midge hatches always occur in the lower water flows. During the lower flows trout are not eating worms or scuds because these food items are not available; the only time that worms and scuds are available is during the high water flows when the higher velocity water moves the suds and worms around. If there are no midge hatches in the lower flows the fish will not be feeding and the fishing will be slow. I go into a lot more detail on fish feeding behavior here: http://www.leesferry.com/main/area-information/fishing-101
Be sure to stop by the shop to see the flies that are currently working. The flies change on a daily basis and the LFA guides let everyone at the shop know every day the top producing flies and how to use them.
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.
The streamer fishing has just been so-so and will likely not pick up until the water flows increase this summer. The reason for this is that the higher flows move larger food items around (scuds, worms, etc.).
Walk-In Fly Fishing Report: by Andy Vincent
The Walk-in continues to fish well with the lower flows allowing anglers much more access to the river. Zebra midges are still the best choice with San Juan worms and scuds working as well. Fish are hitting the dry fly sporadically now so the dry dropper is a viable set-up for fishing different columns in the water. When all else fails fishing a black or olive wooly bugger in the deeper, slower water will work. We are starting to see fish in the shallower water of the upper boulder field so this could be a good place for the dry dropper rig. The area above and below the “big rock” is always a good area to find fish as they have quick access to deep water when spooked. The lower flows are making for much more fishable water around the confluence of the Paria with the Colorado. Be careful when wading this area as the shifting sands and fast water make this a treacherous place to fish. Remember that the water flows will be lower on weekends and holidays and higher on weekdays. As the midge hatches increase expect the fishing in this section of river to get better every day.
Spin fishing the walk-in:
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..
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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Cliff Dwellers Lodge:
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, Dale Gauthier, and Jared Nelson 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.