So I haven't posted a report in a while, but it wasn't for lack of trying. The prior three weeks have been filled with fishing and spending quality time with family, and good friends. I have fished for Northern Pike and Brown Trout in northern AZ and targeted Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike in Wisconsin. All to no avail, however the whole time I was getting the dreaded skunk all I could think of was my upcoming trip to Lees Ferry in northern AZ.
Lees Ferry is a portion of the Colorado River coming out of Glenn Canyon Dam from Lake Powell on the border of Arizona and Utah. It is miles and miles of fishable water, but for this trip my buddy Eric and I stuck to the large walk in portion of the river. While the fishing in the walk in portion of Lees Ferry is not regarded as highly as the upriver section, it was still my first trip and I was more then just excited. Eric and I left the valley heat of 108 degrees Saturday, and began the 4 1/2 hour journey north. Upon arrival the temps were in the high 90s and supposed to peak at 100. So we were by no means escaping the heat. Dawning the waders, the sweat immediatly began to drip from our foreheads, but we powered through knowing what we had in store. We rigged the rods, and diligintly picked out which flies were going to be our first. As we approached the river I was in awe at its size and luster. Surrounded by steep cliffs, heavy water, and midges everywhere, the fishing began.
It took a while to land the first fish, and let me tell you it is not what I was expecting.
While not what I was expecting, I was overly excited to have gotten the skunk off from my prior 3 weeks, and ready to catch some bigger fish. Fishing an olive conehead bugger trailed by a zebra midge for the first day seemed to be the ticket, as it brought in two of my three largest fish of the trip to hand.
I finished day one landing 5 fish and Eric landed plenty to make the first day in the books epic. We noticed an incoming storm, and decided we should set up camp.
So we headed back to camp, and within 30 minutes we were confined to the car, as an hour and a half storm pounded down on us. Once the storm passed we set up camp, ate a quick meal, and caught some sleep. The whole night I dreamt of big rivers and beautiful fish.
Day 2 started a little later then planned and the fishing wasn't the greatest. Flows were low and locating the fish wasn't the easiest. After about 4 hours of fishing we decided to re energize with a meal at a nearby resturaunt and sit down for a while. We finished our meal and came up with a new plan to attack the river. We hit the boulders section of the walk in, and disected it like a small stream. Up to this point Eric and I were hooking fish, but bringing them to hand was another story. The canyon was filled with swear words, and grunts of frustration as we would get the bend in our rods yet never get the satisfaction of the fish in our hands. A couple fish came to hand however, and we decided to move back down the walk in. We ran into another gentleman fly fishing and stopped to chat with him for a couple minutes. He revelled us in stories of lots of fish and the fly that worked. As we parted ways the flows picked up, and so did the midges. I witnessed the most prolific hatch I have been lucky enough to see. The midges were so thick in the air that I had to pull my buff up to keep from breathing them in. As the flows picked up, the midges began to hatch it was extremely difficult for me to not tie on a midge, but I stuck to what the gentleman had told us earlier trailed behind a killer fly I was turned on by my buddy Matt.
We arrived at the section of river Eric and I wanted to fish, and I immedieatly saw silver flashes, and almost an orange tint as numerous rainbows were rolling just under the surface. Seeing my target I cast upstream at 45 degrees, mended my line, and had a perfect drift right through the riffle. Watching my indicator anxiously, I watched as it darted under the surface, I set the hook and it was fish on. Over the next 30 minutes I hooked 10 fish and brought 6 to hand. All came on the pink scud and Matt's fly. I had keyed in on what the fish were eating.
Day 2 ended and same story as day 1. Storm rolled in, and the night was filled with little sleep. We both woke up ready to fish for the morning and head back to the valley that afternoon. Fishing that morning was slow again, but both Eric and I landed the most memorable fish of the trip. My biggest fish of the trip was a 17 incher on a size 16 pink scud.
And Eric's most memorable fish of the trip came in the last half an hour of fishing. We both decided to put on a sink tip line and swing some streamers. While we both thought it would just be fun and weren't expecting much from it, we both tied on a streamer and began to cast.
Eric tied on his own creation he calls his Muddled Zonker, and was slammed by this nice fish, and the last fish of the trip.
While the fishing was great it wasn't the easiest experience I have ever had. Finding the fish, finding the depth they were sitting at, and playing the game of flow always kept you changing the depth you were running, and the fly you were fishing. It kept you on your toes, your mind working, and every fish memorable. I am already awaiting my next visit to Lees Ferry!
Parting Wisdom: For anyone making their first trip to the Ferry something that will always stick with me is this: If you aren't catching fish.....add another splitshot. The depth you run at the Ferry will either make or break your trip. So add another splitshot and make your trip memorable.