Fishing Lees Ferry

The fish: Introduction and a lesson learned.

by Killroy

ScudNestled deep in the in the canyon walls of the Colorado River Basin lies one of the best “Blue Ribbon” Trout waters in the USA.  Lees Ferry is located in Northern Arizona.  It sits between the Glen Canyon Dam and the entrance to the Grand Canyon.  It is one of the most picturesque place in Arizona and somewhat appears to be out of an old western movie.  If you look closely, you can still see the wagon trails etched into the canyon walls as you enter the area.  Lees is also steeped in early American history.   There is a great article found here if your interested in the history and area information.

On one of my trips to Lees Ferry a wary old trout taught me a valuable lesson that has changed the way I have fly fished from that point on.

A word of Caution:

The waters is fast flowing and the rivers terrain is in constant flux due to the Glen Canyon Dam periodically changing  water release levels.  The swift undercurrents are not always easily recognizable at wide areas in the river and caution should be used when wading out into the water.  Its definitely not a place for children to go out into the water or for inexperienced fisherman to wander into the deep currents. You’ll need to go by boat if you really want to get to the premier fishing spots.  If you’re considering a trip to Lees,  you would be well advised to hire a guide or go with an experience angler that is familiar with fishing in  this type of environment. I have had acquaintances loose  their boats due to inexperience and a lack of river boating skills.

Numerous fly patterns work well at different times.  The most popular seem to be:

  1. Scud (Pink and Brown)
  2. San Juan Worm
  3. Orange Glow ball with red dot

These patterns are easy to tie and you’ll want to take plenty of them with you.
Tie up a few others such as some midges or emergers.  You may find yourself catching fish while other are just casting their lines.

There is a gap limit on the river at Lees Ferry.  One fish under 18″ and one over 24″.  If it falls between 18″&24″ you can’t keep it.  With a two fish limit, you might want to consider it  a catch and release spot. Only artificial bait is allowed.