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Old 07-16-2019, 01:37 PM
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T Gunn T Gunn is offline
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Lees Ferry Fishing Report 7/16/19

The cicadas are singing and the midges as still hatching. In addition to the cicadas, grasshoppers are covering most of the banks with vegetation and I would say that there are probably more hoppers than we have ever seen on the river. Sadly, the fish rarely recognize hoppers as food, and they will often float unmolested in the river. The cicadas appear to be late this year which should mean that the bite will last longer too. I think that this has something to do with our wet and cool winter and spring. The hatch appears to be good, not epic, but good.

Besides the cicadas, the water is high, and this moves the food around and puts the fish into a feeding mood. The high flows move the large food items (scuds and worms) around and the trout begin keying on these larger food items. There are not a lot of wading spots when the water flows are high on weekdays, so the most effective techniques are fishing from the boat, drifting with heavy nymph rigs and long leaders. The good news is that with these larger flies (size #14 to #16 scuds and worms) you can use 5X tippet…I would not stretch it to 4X but 5X works.

Current flows from Glen Canyon dam are 10,180 cfs during the early morning hours to a high of 18,180 cfs. Weekend flows on Saturday and Sunday are 10,930 cfs constant with no water fluctuations. Weekend flows are perfect for wading and fish will be keying on midges as well as cicadas, scuds and worms.
Experimental “bug flows” began on May 1 and will continue through the summer. This means that the flows on Saturday and Sunday will be steady low flows with no rise. Details below *.

The fish are looking healthy and their condition is good. In addition, the overall average size of the trout is larger than we have seen in a couple of years. Trout numbers have also increased compared to the past two years and we are seeing all sizes of fish from little guys to some slabs … looking forward to another great year at the Ferry.

Arizona Game and Fish Department recently stocked 500 rainbows in the lower stretch of Lees Ferry. This is the first time trout have been stocked here since 1996. This is a really big deal since the political environment has prevented any stocking of fish in the river for more than 20 years. By conducting this stocking, the precedent has been set that sport fish are indeed a priority and if the need should arise, there can be a rapid response to introduce fish into the river. Thousands of hours of diligent work by countless individuals working behind the scenes have brought this change in management to fruition … we will be forever grateful for your efforts. This is an experimental stocking …the fish are triploids, which means they are sterile. Triploids generally grow larger and faster than wild trout since they do not spawn; it will be very interesting to see how they do.

Lees Ferry Anglers is embarking on a new service. We will be “back-hauling” personal flotation boats, passengers and gear up-river from Lees Ferry to wherever you want to go, even just below the dam. Our new boat dedicated to this service was designed for carrying kayaks, canoes and up to 6 passengers with lots of gear. In the past, you had to schedule your departure around the operations of the guide or service and often had to launch late in the day. This new boat is dedicated to transportation only, so we will coordinate with your schedule and be operating throughout the day with multiple departure times. You can do a day float, a partial day float, or camp along the river on a multiple day float. Call the shop to schedule your trip. We also rent kayaks!

Snowpack conditions were great this year and Lake Powell has already risen over 50-ft and is still coming up! This is a banner snowpack to make up for the dismal runoff last season. Another important consideration is that this year’s large inflow into Powell will stir up tons of nutrients which will be good for the river for several years to come.

Bug Flows*
Implemented at Glen Canyon Dam beginning May 1 through August 31, 2019.
Bug Flows consist of steady weekend releases from Glen Canyon Dam and normal fluctuating releases during the weekdays. The steady weekend flows are expected to provide favorable conditions for aquatic insects to lay eggs along the Colorado River downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, while the minimum flows on weekdays are designed to be similar to flows on the weekends. This flow regime would decrease the amount of stage change in the river on the weekends, thus preventing the insect eggs that are laid along the river margins from drying out. Technical experts at the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC) and Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) have coordinated the design of the recommended experiment to optimize the benefits for insects throughout the Canyon while minimizing negative impacts to hydropower. This experiment is expected to have positive benefits to the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in Glen, Marble, and Grand Canyons. The purpose of the experimental flow is to test the effectiveness of Bug Flows for improving insect production and to increase the availability of food for desired fish species including the endangered humpback chub (Gila cypha) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), an important sportfish, as well as terrestrial wildlife like birds and bats.
For each month of the experimental period (May through August), weekend low, steady releases will be maintained at 750 cfs greater than the weekday low for that month. Normal fluctuating releases will be maintained during the weekdays. The LTEMP maximum ramp rates (4,000 cfs
per hour when increasing and 2,500 cfs per hour when ramping down) will be adhered to throughout the experiment, as will the maximum daily fluctuations (9 times the monthly release volume in May; and 10 times the monthly release volume in June through August). The daily fluctuating range is not to exceed 8,000 cfs. In addition, minimum releases of 5,000 cfs during the nighttime and 8,000 cfs during the daytime will be maintained.

There was enough sediment that flowed from the Paria River last summer to trigger an HFE (artificial flood) in November. This event has come and gone, and the fish have begun to settle into normal behavior. You are probably aware that we think that these fall floods make little sense. This is not a normal time of year for a flood to occur! These fall floods scour the vegetation and aquatic food base at a time when the river is entering winter; the sun lays over to the south with very little sunlight entering the canyon, so any photosynthesis is delayed until the spring. If these HFEs are to continue, it would make much more sense to occur in the spring, a natural timing for floods and could potentially provide some benefits to the river resources.

Quagga mussels have become very well established in Lake Powell and we are now seeing them in the river below the dam. So far, there has not been a major infestation and there is some thought by experts that they will not become very well established in the river due to the current. Be aware and remember to dry waders and boots before using them in any other body of water. Also, all private boats should drain all water from the boat and live-wells as soon as you exit the river. We all need to do our part to limit the transport of this and all invasive species.
For details on Lake Powell conditions and snowpack, go here:
For a real-time graphic view of water releases and ramp rates go here:
Cliff Dwellers Lodge has been proudly serving guests for more than 60 years!
Our lodge has rooms with cable TV (20 channels), in-room coffee and refrigerators, and the basic amenities. Choices of rooms are ONE king-size bed, TWO doubles and TWO queen-size beds and one 2-bedroom unit. 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.
As for dining, we have some great blackboard specials planned along with our regular menu. Patio dining is available.

Walk-in rating: 5

We have not been hearing lots reports from the walk-in area. The low water on the weekends should be great for fishing as these flows are very wadable and offer access to lots of good water for fishing in this stretch. Weekday flows are high, and this really restricts the wadable areas in the walk-in. We have heard reports of people doing well on cicadas in this stretch. If you fish it, be sure to drop us a note and let us know how you do or better yet, swing by the shop and fill us in.

Spin Fishing rating: 5 to 6

Spin fishing up-river is an effective way to fish the Ferry. The best recent fishing has been to drift glo bugs from a boat, making sure they are bouncing along the bottom. Casting Panther Martins, Castmasters, Z-Rays (if you can find them), and Mepps spinners toward the bank is a great method in the slower, deeper water. In the shallower water (3- to 15-feet) try drifting plastic worms. Rig with ¼- ounce of lead, swivel, a couple feet of tippet and bounce the lead so your lure stays just off the bottom.
Spin fishing the walk-in is best in the deeper water due to all the rocks. From the top of the boulder field all the way up to half a mile past the boat landing is good. Gold ¼ ounce Castmasters and ¼ ounce Panther Martins are the best. Using the quarter ounce lures you can really cast them out for some distance and cover a lot of water. Small, sinking Rapalas in rainbow trout and original have also been working well. Cast out, let them sink for a few seconds then retrieve them at a steady speed (and maybe even give it a little twitch here and there) to trigger a strike. When spin fishing, you need light line (4 pound test); you can cast further and the fish cannot see it. Remember to set your drag light!
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