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Old 09-17-2015, 10:30 AM
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50 Arizona groups and businesses share recommendations for Lees Ferry trout fishery

This came in an email from AZ Game and Fish....
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50 Arizona groups and businesses share recommendations for Lees Ferry trout fishery

Sept. 11, 2015

A coalition of conservation/sportsmen’s groups, fishing guides and local businesses has submitted a list of recommendations for management of the Lees Ferry trout fishery to the federal and state agencies responsible for maintaining and improving the blue-ribbon fishery. The collaborative recommendations were made possible through consultation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Geological Survey Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center.

The news release below was recently sent out on behalf of the coalition by three of its member groups: the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, and the International Federation of Fly Fishers.

___________________________________________

50 Arizona groups and businesses share recommendations for Lees Ferry trout fishery
Sportsmen, conservationists and fishing guides suggest ways to enhance conditions for rainbow trout and native fish downstream

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- To address concerns over an unstable rainbow trout population in northwest Arizona's Lees Ferry, a coalition of conservation and sportsmen's groups and Marble Canyon fishing guides has submitted a list of recommendations to the federal and state agencies responsible for maintaining and improving the blue-ribbon fishery. The recommendations will be provided to the Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service as they develop an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the adoption of a long-term experimental and management plan to determine Glen Canyon Dam operations and river restoration actions for the next 15 to 20 years.

The coalition--which includes the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, the International Federation of Fly Fishers, Northern Arizona Fly Casters, Arizona Fly Casters, Desert Fly Casters, Anglers United, the Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, and Marble Canyon guides and businesses--delivered the report titled "Lees Ferry Recreational Trout Fishery Management Recommendations: The voice of Lees Ferry recreational anglers, guides, and businesses" at the meeting of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work Group in Tempe, Arizona, on Aug. 26. This group advises the Secretary of the Interior on matters related to the operations of Glen Canyon Dam.

Currently, dam operations have direct and indirect effects on rainbow trout in the 16-mile stretch of the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Marble Canyon--an area commonly referred to as Lees Ferry. Completion of the dam in 1964 created a unique tailwater rainbow trout fishery that has grown in importance and reputation locally, regionally, and nationally. But varying water releases from the dam are currently affecting the production and diversity of insects in the river, the survival of young trout, and the growth and condition of adults.

The trout in Lees Ferry have experienced several significant population swings over the years, which has been bad news for local guiding and lodging businesses that depend on a reliable sport fishery. "Currently, the Lees Ferry trout fishery is ecologically unstable," says John Hamill, Arizona field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "Rainbow trout are exhibiting strong natural recruitment, but these populations aren't fully supported by the amount and diversity of food in the river. Scientific studies also suggest that food supplies are also limiting to native fish populations downstream in Grand Canyon National Park."

"Our goal is to make sure the trout fishery gets a fair shake in the EIS process," Hamill says.

Here’s a summary of the recommendations:


Establish a more diverse and stable aquatic food base by experimenting with more stable flow regimes to bring back bigger bugs, like mayflies, stone flies, and caddis flies. A more diverse aquatic food base will also benefit the native fish community and other wildlife in the Colorado River corridor.

Conduct high-flow releases in the spring to improve the aquatic food base and enhance trout spawning and recruitment when needed.

Test the use of flows to manage trout in the Lees Ferry reach and reduce downstream migration. This could help minimize competition with and/or predation of endangered humpback chub.

Implement a water temperature control device that has the capacity to release both cold and warm water from the Glen Canyon Dam. Recent studies suggest that the amount of water in Lake Powell will likely decrease in the future as a result of increased water demands and climate change, leading to warmer water releases from the dam. This would seriously impact the Lees Ferry trout fishery and lead to an invasion of cool- and warm-water fish which would seriously impact native fish in Grand Canyon National Park.

Establish re-stocking and environmental compliance protocols for responding to potential catastrophic losses of the rainbow trout population in Lees Ferry.

Create action strategies to reduce or avoid the potential effects of poorly-oxygenated water passing through the reservoir. Though a rare occurrence, these conditions can pose a direct and immediate hazard to rainbow trout in Lees Ferry.

These recommendations aim to boost the Lees Ferry fishery without detriment to downstream resources.

"Our recommendations will improve the quality of the trout fishery and benefit many other Colorado River resources below Glen Canyon Dam," says John Jordan, conservation chair for Arizona Trout Unlimited. "We expect these steps to support the recovery of the endangered humpback chub, the improvement of camping beaches in Grand Canyon National Park, the development of hydropower generation, and the protection of archaeological sites."

Read the full report here.
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Old 11-16-2015, 04:47 PM
PaysonLazerLiner PaysonLazerLiner is offline
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I am somewhat relieved to see an acknowledgment by this study that past flow regimes, and particularly the occurrence of HFE's in the fall, have caused significant reduction of fish numbers, especially larger fish, by decimating their food sources and I'm hopeful that the recommendations of this study are enacted.
It does appear that there are no fall HFE scheduled for this year so maybe some of the decision makers at the respective bureaucracies are listening. My guess is that we will see a noticeable improvement in both size and health of fish thru the winter and spring without a fall HFE to flush all the food base down river. I guess we'll know soon enough if I'm right.
Does anyone know anymore about the acceptance and/or implementation of the recommendations of this study or is it too soon?
Thanks.
Tightlines
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Old 11-16-2015, 06:57 PM
Litespeed1 Litespeed1 is offline
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I will take this as a positive. Hopefully I'm not focused on the right hand while they slap me with the left one.

Drip a little bit of Page effluent in the river below the dam and presto! nutrients for the new bigger bugs.
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Old 11-16-2015, 08:24 PM
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Introducing more aquatic insects would be nice if they are able to establish themselves (which I believe they had a hard time accomplishing in the past?)

I remember being able to catch fish non stop on caddis stimulators only a few years back.
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Old 11-17-2015, 08:17 AM
Litespeed1 Litespeed1 is offline
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I believe I have read when they first introduced rainbows the included an introduced food base of gammarus, caddis and mayflies. Only the gammarus took hold in substantial numbers.

I would add poop, step back and watch.

Life shows up in the craziest places as long as there's habitat. The most productive waters are rarely crystal clear. The Ferry is like a giant spring fed creek. Or a high mountain freestone in that its not loaded with bugs because the water is too clean (plus of course we humans cant seem to leave it alone...). Cutthroats are fun and easy to catch because they live in an environment (high mountain freestones typ) with hardly a bug to eat. So they slam whatever dry fly that floats by.

Some of my favorite creeks are productive because there's poop in them.
Poop I tell you. Poop is the answer.
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Old 11-17-2015, 01:27 PM
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The water is too cold for most of the usual suspects. Mayflies & Caddis, etc.
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Old 11-17-2015, 03:43 PM
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the climate and temperature range is unsuitable for mayflies and caddis
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Old 11-18-2015, 10:50 AM
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Then if they know that the water and climate isn't right for those EPT insects, it seems like a waste of time/money/resources to try and establish them again instead of working on other means of rehabilitation...Unless that's a really cheap/quick thing to try.
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