Lees Ferry-Colorado River

Fishing Synopsis and Forecast by Terry Gunn 7/25/07

The fishing this past month can be summed up in one word…CICADA!

The hatch began two weeks earlier than normal, around the first of July the fish started keying in on the prolific bug. It began with a bang and as any of the people that experienced this action would tell you…it was nonstop. It is still happening this week but the “wide open” bite has slowed considerably. We are getting most of our action in the deeper runs where the fish are coming off the bottom, in water that is 5 to 20 feet deep, to eat the fly. Long casts are necessary and the best strikes have been while fishing the large dry fly directly downstream of the boat. One technique that we have employed to get the fly away from the boat is to keep the bow pointed upstream and cast downstream then put the boat in gear while throwing slack line on the water which allows the fly to move downstream. I’m not sure how much longer the top-water action is going to continue but the cicadas are still singing and I have seen the action continue well in to August in years past.

The drift fishing with heavy nymphs has been hit or miss most days. We have not been spending a great deal of time with this technique since the dry fly fishing has been so productive.

September 1 is when we will experience a flow change to lower water. Most years this is the very best fishing of the entire year so if you are waiting for cooler temps and want to experience some great wade-sight fishing this is the time to be at the Ferry.

The AZ Game and Fish Department recently detected whirling disease in a small percentage of Lees Ferry trout that were collected for a random sampling. This is not good news nor is it necessarily terrible news. Whirling Disease has infected many of the Western State's fabled trout streams with greater and lesser affects. The Madison comes to mind as one river that was severely impacted while the San Juan suffered little notable impact from Whirling Disease. Lees Ferry has more in common with the San Juan than the Madison…both Lees Ferry and the San Juan are Tail-Water rivers with clear, cold water that is a consistent temperature year-around. Consistent cold water temperatures are believed by most experts on the disease to keep the spread and severity of the disease in check. I'll be sure to keep you informed as more data becomes available. In the mean time when you do come to Lees Ferry be sure to clean your wading gear thoroughly before you leave to prevent the spread of Whirling Disease. For more information visit: http://www.whirling-disease.org

The summer drift fishing is often the best and most productive fishing of the year and this has certainly been the case recently. The high summer flows are great for the trout by providing more drifting food. I can’t wait to see what our fish look like this fall; my bet is that they are going to grow all summer and be fat and sassy this fall.

The trout spawn is over. We saw the best spawn that the river has experienced in years. Most all the spawn is occurred in deep water which bodes well for fry survival and future recruitment of juvenile trout.