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Trip report: Lee's Ferry, AZ

December 1998

Diana Gerritsen, Wayne Caywood, Dan Millis, Bill Becher

By Bill Becher

Monday November 30 1998

Diana with a nice 'bow

We fished the walk-in section of the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry. This fishery is the 17 miles of the tail-water formed by the Glen Canyon Dam that creates Lake Powell at Page, Arizona. The river is beautifully clear, reflecting the copper colored canyon walls. While the river is best fished from a boat as the walk-in is only one and a half miles long, this was a travel day for most of the group so we fished the walk-in. Best fishing was from about 10 am to 11 am when the sun first hits the water and triggers a midge hatch. I hooked six fish, but only landed two. The moss was fairly heavy and the fish knew to dive into it to unhook themselves. Keeping the rod tip up, not side to side helped land more fish. Afternoon fishing with the rest of the gang was slow.

Tuesday December 1 1998

Lee's Ferry Anglers rented us an 18 ft. boat with a 45 horse jet drive outboard that accommodates up to four anglers. We tried to leave at 7am but I was a bit slow so we were the second party to land at Four Mile Bar, fortunately this area accommodates a number of fisherman. It's important to dress warmly for the ride up river due to the early morning cold and wind chill before the sun hits the water. Later in the day air temperatures warmed up to the 50's and it was sunny. Water flows started out at 10,700 cfs and rose to 18,700 late in the day.

While there is 17 miles to fish, much of the water is steep sided red rock canyon, and the places to fish are limited with the busy mornings a race to get to the good locations first. I managed to hook lots of fish to 17". The rest of the gang did well too.

Dan and Wayne

Wednesday December 2 1998

We got an earlier start this morning and headed up to the dam (about a 45 minute ride in the rental boat). Unfortunately one of the guide boats blew by us and reached the island we wanted to fish first. We headed back down river and fished at Russel's Spot and Fourteen Mile Bar with fair results. At lunch time we headed back up river and joined the guide party. We felt that while "first-come-first-fish" was a reasonable goal, it presupposed that fishermen wouldn't hog the productive areas all day. We tried not to discommode the two fishermen there, and only two of us fished until the others left.

Fishing was great here, both in the runs along Dam Island, and in a side channel Dan christened "The Love Canal" for its spawning fish. We caught a number of really colorful fish to 19" here. Wayne caught some the hard way, on dry midges.

Gear: By far the most productive flies were a #16 copper bead head zebra midge pupa tied in black thread with a copper wire rib, with a #14-16 ginger variant deer hair scud as a dropper. The "ginger variant" is an orange-rust color. We used 5 wt dry lines and fished with indicators. Dress warm for the ride up and down the river! It's a good idea to go with a guide before tackling the river on your own - watch for water level fluctuations. Fishing is open year-round.

Resources: Lees Ferry Anglers The fly shop and guide service run by Terry and Wendy Gunn. Rent boats. Website includes daily fishing report.

Marble Canyon Guides Guide service run by Dave Foster, who has spoken to the CVFF. Webpage includes fishing reports and information about the Marble Canyon Lodge, a good place to stay. Camping is also available on a first come-first serve basis at the National Rec. Area campground on the road to the boat launch Several campsites are available on the river, accessible only by boat. Weather at Page, AZ Books: Arizona Trout Streams and Their Hatches by Charles R. Meek and John Rhomer, Backcountry Publications, 1998 has a chapter on Lee's Ferry.

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