By: Terry Gunn
April, 1, 2013
Recent Fish rating
Upriver: 6.5 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 50 High 80
Midges, swallows, great fishing, and perfect wading flows; this pretty much describes what is currently happening at Lees Ferry.
Upriver: 2-3 No Crowds during the week & 4 on the weekends
Walk In: 2 Few people 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:
Spring has arrived and is in full swing at Lees Ferry. We knew this was true when on March 23, the swallows returned to the canyon as they do every year near this date. Their arrival is always timed to meet the first major midge hatch of the year, which coincidentally, (or not), occurred the day before the swallows arrived. The midge hatches continue to pour off and should build in intensity as the spring progress and the weather continues to warm. Our recent weather has been near perfect, with highs near 80 and lows of 50. The positive news for fishers is that there has been very little wind this spring which is atypical for this time of year, although it is normal for dry springs which this current one has been, at least so far. That is not good news for Lake Powell which will receive little runoff from the Rockies due to the continuing dry conditions.
The fishing has been good, not off-the-charts great, but that should change any day as the midge hatches increase in intensity. The fish are moving into the shallow riffles to feast on the prolific midge pupae as they slowly emerge and rise to the surface to hatch. The more midges the better the fishing.
An important note: On Feb 20, a portion of road on Hwy 89 collapsed. This is the section of Hwy that goes from the junction of Hwy 89A, up to Page. This road closure in no way affects anyone who is traveling to Lees Ferry/Marble Canyon as long as you do not go through Page. All north-south travel can be completed by using 89A which is much quicker and shorter that the detour through Page. For more info visit: http://www.azdot.gov/us89/
We are catching all sizes of fish from little guys to a few that are nearing 20-inches, which is indicative of a healthy, wild rainbow trout fishery. It has always been an interesting and puzzling phenomenon that some days at the Ferry the larger fish will eat, while other days it is all the smaller guys that are feeding. On the days that the larger fish are eating it is not uncommon to catch several larger fish. Like a day this week when I had two clients catch several fish that were in the 18-in class and the next day we could not find a fish that was near that size, however, that day, few fish were eating much of anything that we offered them.
We ended up with a near normal spawn that took place almost exclusively in deep water. A normal spawn is to be expected when our current trout population is robust, with lots of health fish of all sizes inhabiting the river. When the trout population is low, the fish compensate by engaging in a massive spawn throughout the river.
Current water flows are prefect for wading and the projected flow forecast call for April and May flows to be near the same flows that we saw in March, with a low of 7,000 cfs occurring in the morning then a slow rise to 13,000 cfs. These are perfect flows for fishing Lees Ferry. Remember that the flows are lower on Saturday and Sunday and these lower flows are almost always better for the midge hatches and fishing. It is more crowded on weekends but the fishing sure can be good. The projected flows for June will be slightly higher but should still be good for wading and fishing. The flows in July will be much higher and this is the time of year that we get back in the boats and spend most of our time drifting and fishing from the boat. July is the month for cicadas and the biggest fish of the year.
Walk-in Fly Fishing Report
By Dean Windham & TJ Carrington
After a slow start the walk in is fishing very good. Everyone seems to be getting fish and everyday someone reports a 18 inch plus fat boy being caught. Just a few weeks ago you had to search to find any fish, now they are everywhere. The weather has been very nice with very few wind days. This has made for some pleasant days on the water.
The water flows have been 6,000 cfs as the low flow and 14,000 cfs as the high flow. The water is lowest in the morning and rising until about one or two in the afternoon. Then it drops and the fish move out farther and wait for the flow to stabilize and then they start feeding again. When it comes to location, the Paria riffle up to the big rock is where you want to be. The first warm weather run and the spring break crowd has put the pressure on the fish these past few weeks but the fish are there and they’re hungry. Midges have been pouring off the water all day, especially in the afternoon. You will see a lot of fish breaking the surface but they are not feeding on surface bugs. They are feeding on sub-surface midge larva’s and breaking the surface with their back and dorsal fin. Although the midges are doing well, you will want to have a few eggs and San Juan’s in your box. The fish are holding in the seams where the water starts getting depth to it and you can find any slight break in the current. The rigs have been pretty simple, a 9 ft. 5 x leaders with 2 ft. of 6x tippet with your fly on the end. Place your indicator towards the top of your leader with a #1 or #4 shot about 18 inches above your fly. Dark colored streamers on a good sink tip line have been working well in the boulder field also.
Fishing has been good top to bottom at the walk in with some of the best fishing just above and below the large rock. Fish have been caught just a few feet from the shore so making long casts is not always needed. The boulder field has also given up some really nice fish especially in the morning hours. The area where the Paria River enters the Colorado River is also doing well, however, keep in mind that wading in this area can be dangerous due to silt buildup and you can get stuck really easily. It is best to approach this area by walking down from the big boulder. It is not recommended to wade across the Paria in any area.
The light nymph rigs are still the ticket with darker zebra midges, san juan worms and glo bugs being the go to flies. Remember when using the nymph rig to make the length about twice the depth of the water. I start at 8 feet and work from there. As the water rises you will have to make some adjustments to keep up with the depth of the fish. Always remember here at the ferry, it’s all about a drag free drift. The key is to get your fly to look just as it would in Mother Nature. With these tactics and a little luck you should be able to land some good fish and take some good memories home with you.
In the afternoon as the water drops and the fish move farther out, streamers are a great option that should not be over looked. Some real nice larger fish have been taken in the later afternoon.
Spin Fishing Report Walk-in
Spin fishing has not been as good as fly fishing but it can be done and is a lot of fun. Spin fishing works well with the deeper water which is in the late morning and mid-day. Fishing below the Paria riffle has been good and the water is always deep in that area.
Kastmasters, Panther Martins, and jigs have been the favorite lures this week. Remember to cast upriver and bring the lure slowly down river. Let the river do the work and you just get to enjoy catching a beautiful Ferry rainbow in spawning colors.
The rating for spin fishing the walk-in would be 4 to 5 at this time.
To help understand why midges are so important to our fishing success it’s good to know more about the life cycle 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. It all begins when 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. By some process that is not understood, 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 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..
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 200F) 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.
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!
GIFT CERTIFICATES AVAILABLE!!
We have several SAGE rods that are discontinued models on Sale.
Call for all current sale items as they change quickly.
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. Captains 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, Dean Windham, Kaila Bruner, TJ Carrington, and Eran Howarth, 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.