Lees Ferry Fishing Report
By: Terry Gunn
June 12, 2012
Recent Fish rating
Upriver: 6 to 8.5
Walk-In: 6 to 8.5
Spin-Fishing: 5 to 8
Key: 1 = Go fish somewhere else 10 = Rent a helicopter and get here now!
Today’s Weather: Sunny, Low 63 High 99
Summer weather is here with hot days and cool nights. It has been extremely dry with only 1.13-in of rain so far this year!
Upriver: 2-3 No Crowds during the week & 3.5 on the weekends
Walk In: 1 Nobody here during the week & 3 to 5 on the weekends
Key: 1 = Sleep late and fish where you want. 10 = Very crowded, get up early
Fly Fishing Up-River:
Currently the fishing is good on the weekdays and great on the weekends due to the lower water flows on Saturdays and Sundays. The higher flow that began June 1, is moving more food around and we are beginning to transition our flies from midges to more scuds and worms. Midges are still working well but as the weather warms and the flows increase it will be more and more about the scuds, worms, and big dry flies.
I’m already hearing cicadas singing along the river. This is the earliest that I can ever remember hearing them; usually they don’t show until closer to the end of June. I’m sure that this means that the hatch and bite will happen much earlier than normal and if we are lucky it might just signal a mega hatch. I have seen years that you can throw a cicada pattern into the middle of the river and a fish will come 20-ft off the bottom to eat it! Every year the hatch is different and I know of no way to predict the intensity or number of bugs; last year was a poor hatch.
The tamarisk beetle has arrived in force at Lees Ferry and all of the tamarisk trees that line the river are either dying or dead. I can’t see how this is going to help our cicada hatch and it is possible that it could have a very negative affect of the cicada populations going forward. It is going to be very interesting to see what the future holds for this hatch. If the cicada hatches declines it will cause no harm to the trout, however, I would certainly miss seeing the trout crash giant dries.
In July the water flows will be increasing and this is the time of year that the fish really begin feeding. This is a result of the higher velocity water moving the larger food items (scuds and worms) around. The flows are not really conducive to wading so most of our fishing is from the boat, drifting cicada patterns or heavy nymph rigs with scuds and worms.
The water flows increased in June as expected. Current weekday releases are from 9,000-cfs to 15,000-cfs. These flows are OK for wading some areas while a little high for wading everywhere on the river. The weekend flows have been low with hardly any rise and if you are in the right spot fishing the right way on the weekends fishing can be incredibly good.
Here is a chart that shows how the flows changed from May to June. This chart is from the real time river recording station at Lees Ferry and can be found here: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?site_no=09380000
It is important to note that this station is 16 miles below Glen Canyon Dam and there will be a time difference between what happens at the dam and at Lees Ferry but learning to read these charts can give one a very good idea of when the water is rising and falling. Also note that there is only one rise and fall every day as opposed to the 2 peaks we often see in the spring. Each vertical line represents a 24-hr period, from midnight to midnight.
We have been mixing up wading and also drifting midge rigs from the boat which is a great way to get to the feeding fish in the deeper water. This is also a terrific way to cover lots of water and show fish that get very little fishing pressure a fly. The trick is to know where the fish are and then set up your drift do that the boat drifts through the area that contains the most fish. You always want to cast away from the boat towards either shore. The trick is to get a perfect dead drift the same as when you are wading. The best way to do this is to fish slack line on the water. You will need a long leader and the right amount of split shot and as a general rule, if you cannot see the bottom, you are fishing water that is too deep.
Be sure to stop by the shop to see the flies that are currently working. The flies change on a daily basis and every day the LFA guides let everyone at the shop know the top producing flies and how to use them.
The streamer fishing has been picking up and will likely get hot when the water flows increase this summer. The reason for this is that the higher flows move larger food items around (scuds, worms, etc.).
Whirling disease detected for 2nd time at Lees Ferry.
This is the 2nd time that WD has been detected at Lees Ferry. The first detection was in 2007; this was the year that Lake Powell dropped to its lowest level and as a result, the discharge temperatures from the dam were more than 60 degrees. This past year the discharge temperatures increased again, this time it was a result of the huge inflows into the lake which caused another 60 degree discharge. There has always been the thought that it was our cold water that prevented Lees Ferry from being infected with WD and I find it an interesting coincidence that both detections were made during periods of warm water. Water temps returned to normal (48 degrees) last December.
Fishing here this year has been off the charts good and most all the fish that we are catching are in prime+ condition.
Like the Green and San Juan, I’m not expecting this WD detection to have an impact on the Lees Ferry fishery. The one thing that it should impact is our awareness to make sure that we all take the necessary steps to clean our gear so that WD is not spread to other waters in AZ or elsewhere.
Here is some great info: http://www.tu.org/whirling-disease
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ARIZONA GAME and FISH DEPARTMENT
PHOENIX – The parasite known to cause whirling disease – that can affect trout but is not harmful to humans – has been reconfirmed at the renowned Lees Ferry fishery within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in northern Arizona, advised Arizona Game and Fish Department officials.
“Although the parasite has been confirmed in fish samples from Lees Ferry, to date no trout have displayed any disease symptoms such as the classic whirling motion,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young. “In fact, just the opposite is true; the Ferry is currently providing some of its best fishing in more than a decade.”
Young emphasized that there are no human health implications for this fish parasite.
Whirling disease is caused by a microscopic parasite that damages cartilage and compromises the nervous system of trout and other salmonids, but no other fish species. The disease takes its name because it can cause fish to swim in an uncontrolled whirling motion.
This is the second detection of the whirling disease parasite in trout at the Ferry; the first was in 2007. While the parasite was detected in 2007, it did not become established in the trout population and until now was absent from annual samples taken since then.
“It’s pretty clear from the recent tests that this parasite is back again in the trout population at the Ferry,” Young said. “What we don’t know is how the parasite got to the Ferry, nor do we know how it may manifest itself.”
There have been no fish die offs detected due to the whirling disease parasite at Lees Ferry. “Its presence can, but does not always cause significant trout population losses and typically affects young or immature trout the most,” Young advised.
The whirling disease parasite is found at hundreds of waters in 25 states across the nation, including Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. “We have been very fortunate in Arizona – we don’t have this parasite showing up anywhere else in Arizona. We want to keep it that way,” Young said.
It’s critical to have the conscientious cooperation of boaters, anglers and other recreational users along this stretch of the Colorado River and at other waters as well.
“The life cycle of this parasite, which involves both trout and tubifex worms along with microscopic spores, results in this parasite being readily transportable unless anglers and boaters are conscientious about cleaning and decontaminating their equipment,” Young said.
Anglers and boaters are asked to:
* Never transport live fish from one body of water to another – anywhere, not just from the Ferry;
* Do not dispose of fish heads, skeletons or entrails in any body of water, this can spread the disease-causing parasites;
* Do not discard entrails or heads of fish down a garbage disposal. The whirling disease parasite can survive most water treatment plants and infect areas downstream;
* Carefully clean mud and vegetation from all equipment, such as boats, trailers, waders, boots, float tubes and fins. Rinse all mud and debris from equipment and wading gear, and drain water from boats before leaving the area where you’ve been fishing;
* Drain and dry boat bilges, live wells, and lower units.
BEFORE using waders, wading shoes, or fishing gear at another waterway, clean equipment with one of the following:
* Saturate waders and other gear with full-strength “Commercial Solutions Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant” or “Formula 409® All Purpose Cleaner Antibacterial Kitchen Lemon Fresh” or other cleaners, that contain at least 0.3 percent of the quaternary ammonium compound alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride for at least 10 minutes or,
* Dip, wipe, or spray waders and other gear with 50-percent bleach solution (one part household chlorine bleach to one part water) or,
* Soak waders and other gear for 10 minutes in a 10-percent bleach solution (one part household chlorine bleach to nine parts water) or,
* Pour boiling water (at least 200°F) over your gear and allow to cool.
“The spores of the whirling disease parasite are known to adhere to these kinds of materials and can potentially be carried on gear from one water to another,” Young advised.
Young added that there are also other reasons to clean and decontaminate equipment and boats.
“We have a long list of potential invasive species from New Zealand mudsnails, rock snot, to invasive mussels that can be spread from one body of water to another if simple precautions are not taken. Please make it a habit to Clean, Drain, and Dry, and don’t give any of these invaders a free ride to a new water.”
Walk-In Fly Fishing Report: by Dean Windham
Well lots of changes to report this week. The biggest change is that the flows are now peaking at 15,000 CFS. This has put the fish in a transition stage for a week or so but that did not stop them from biting. We had to work a little harder to find them but they were still hitting the midges. Right now it appears that the fish have become used to the flows and they are back on track to being more predictable. The weather is also starting to heat up and that means that the cicada hatch might be just around the corner. We have had some wind the last couple of .weeks and that has made fishing challenging at times. If you would like to see some of the fish we have been catching take a peek at our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/lees.anglers.
The upper boulder field has been fishing really well. It is now harder to see the pocket water but the fish are still there and not as far out as last month. The slower water at the upper end of the boulder field is still producing some nice fish. Zebra midges and san juan worms are working well here. A few have had luck with a dry dropper set up. A gentleman from the Valley came up with his six year old son and they caught some nice fish here as well as some great memories. The boulder field is an easy walk from the parking area so don’t overlook this as a good place to start your fishing adventure.
The area around the big boulder has been fishing well. The area seems to not be affected by the higher flows upriver. Midges have really been the ticket here. San juan worms in natural colors have been working well as the attractor fly. I have also heard that glo bugs have been working at times. This area is also a good place to use a streamer and some of your larger flies. From the big boulder down to the area where the Paria River flows into the Colorado have many seems where larger, fat fish like to hang out. Remember with the higher flows the fish will be closer to the shore than last month.
The point where the Paria enters the Colorado has not been fishing as well as early spring. There have been fish but not in the numbers that were there in early May. With the higher flows scouring the bottom expect new holes to start appearing and fish will be moving into these areas quickly. All of the above listed flies are working here with the black zebra midge topping the list.
Please keep in mind that with the flows wading is much more hazardous and a wading staff can be very helpful. The water is very cold when it gets inside your waders.
Also keep in mind with the higher flows, the area where you waded last week may not be as safe to wade in the afternoon now. Bring plenty of water as dehydration can be an issue. If you are like me I just fish and forget to take a water break several times during the day and then have a headache all afternoon.
I would rate the walk in at a steady 8 for the past few weeks. So that means get up here and fish. See you on the water
Spin fishing walk-in report 6-12-12
Spin fishing at the walk in has not been great during the low water flows. Expect spin fishing to just get better as the summer progresses.
There is still a lot of moss in the water and this does test ones patience. The best area to try and spin fish is where the Paria and the Colorado rivers meet. There you can fish from the shore or wade but you must be very careful if you wade here. Also above the boulder field is an area that spinners have worked well at times.
Kastmasters in gold and 1/4 oz and Panther Martins number 6 with a gold blade and black body have been working well. Remember cast upstream and use a slight jigging motion to let the lure drift down to the fish. Also remember the longer the high flows continue the deeper holes that will appear and hold lots of larger fish. Search the holes out with a maribou jig by bouncing on the bottom and then when you feel the lure drop a bit let out line and jig slightly. This will produce some really hard strikes so be ready.
When you come to the Ferry make sure that you have fresh line. I only use 4lb test. If your line has been sitting in your garage for any amount it is most likely brittle and will fail the first Lees Ferry fish you hook up with.
Another option for spin fishing is the Paria beach area just below the Paria riffle. There are two seams here and with the faster water dropping food into the holding water a spinner looks pretty good to a fish as it tumbles into their hole.
I would rate the spin fishing a 6 but rising to a 7 this week due to the higher flows.
Spin Fishing Up River:
Spin fishing is just OK. The reason that it has slowed down is due to the fact there is so much algae floating in the river that it is difficult to get a good drift.
• 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
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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, Andy Vincent and Katie McClenathen 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.