WS Smallies/Trout

Made it up for a day at Willow Springs with Daryl.  We went targetting smallies on the beds.  That didn’t prove to be very fruitful as a lot of the beds were empty and all but one that we saw were of the 10″ variety.  The one good smallie we found didn’t want to play and with the wind and clouds that finally hit midday we finally gave up on her.  The early monsoons have made that country as pretty as I’ve ever seen it and the lake is full.  We did manage to find a few stripping dark colored simi’s over the rocky shorelines. 

All the smallies we caught were prespawn and in great shape.  I even landed a bluegill that looked like a tennis ball, it was so fat with eggs.  I’m not sure how many trout we caught.  They were pretty much swimming around in pods with thier mouths open.  We ended up with a half dozen smallies each and enough trout action to make the day interesting.   Nice day on the water.

Christmas Tree/Memorial Day Weekend Report

Christmas Tree Lake

Like a lot of folks, we were up in the White Mountains for the Memorial Day Weekend.

The highlight of the trip was Saturday at Christmas Tree Lake on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. Not only does it have the reputation of the world’s best Apache Trout fishery, but also as a fine dry fly destination. Its rep held true.

Christmas Tree Apache Trout

Christmas Tree Lake

Christmas Tree Lake

Lon Ellington gave me a Grinch and I fished it for a while. After further consideration, I decided to snip it off and save it for a later occasion.

Most of the fish were about 16″, but very fat. A few up to 20″ showed. Terrestrial patterns like foam ants and parahoppers took fish as did droppers. Simulators and beetles tricked a few as well.

While we mainly fished from tubes and toons, walking the shore and sight fishing nailed quite a few.

Chritmas Tree Lake Arizona White Mountains

Other waters were fishing well too.

My son Matthew, his friend Cooper, both 8 years old, and I went out on Sunday. We fished both Little Bear and Hawley. Once again, dry flies were working and it was a good chance to practice the hook set with a couple budding fly anglers. I think they are already better than I am. Stimulators and small black-bodied EHC worked anywhere fish were rising.

I also tried Earl Park briefly a couple times over the weekend. Not a lot of fish were rising, but I got a couple strikes on foam ants and small Adams. Friends Ken and Emerson were there and they had some success during the day.

I also heard good reports from Crescent, Bog Tank, and Lee Valley.

Can’t wait to get back up there – the fishing is fine!


Brian Westfall Sr. Casting on the Black River, Arizona

Brian Westfall’s, both Jr. and Sr., Ben Manahan, and I spent four mid-May days backpacked into the heart of darkness – Arizona’s Black River. The hike is always a challenge and seems more so every year.

Yet the rewards can make you feel young. Scores of fish will do that to you.

Black River AZ Rainbow Trout Back

Black River AZ Brown Trout

Black River AZ Brown Trout

Many techniques were  effective. Nymphing would take fish all day, but larger flies drew vicious strikes. Both Tim Oliver’s Rubber-legged, Mid-bead Simi Seal leeches and Josh Owens’ Black River Bugs drove them crazy. We are fortunate to have them as shop tyers.

Towards late afternoon pale duns, baetis, and other bugs came off prompting the fish to look up. Appropriately-sized attractors fooled ’em.

Mayfly on Pine Tree Black River AZ

The aches and pains will fade away, but the moments spent in the backcountry hiking, fishing, and hanging around the campfire with friends will prevail.

Black River AZ Rainbow Release

Back to Nevada

 Headed out with JG to check out some lakes around Elko.  We met some friends from Idaho and had a great few days chasing fish.  We caught rainbows, cutbows, smallmouth bass and wipers.  The trout averaged about 3lbs and boy did they pull hard.  It seemed like their first instinct was to go airborn after being hooked.  We also had some sightfishing opportunities for crusing trout, smallies and wipers.  Nevada has so much water to explore, we are already planning our next trip.













Colorado River Top Water Bass

I had a chance to hit the Colorado River for three days around Yuma with Larry Allen for some great top water bass fishing.  Larry has been doing this for years and I have always wanted to hit it with him but am usually in the mountains by now.  I’m glad I finally made it and will certainly do it again.

The routine was to be at the attack zone at first light.  That meant getting up at 3:30 am, grabbing a cup of coffee at the local gas/grub and launch at Fisher’s Landing 30 minutes out of Yuma.   Luckily we only had to motor upriver about 5 minutes and the bass were waiting.  We were fishing during full moon so I’m sure it hindered our efforts some but you go when you can go.

The fish were all in post spawn and averaged about 2-21/2 lbs.  The awesome part is they ate Larry’s Burglers and my Umpqua frogs fished right along the tulies.   Everything was on top.  The bite seemed to get shorter every day so we did some exploring of the river.  It would take a long time to get to know all that is available down there but we found some interesting little lakes off the river and found a few bass and gills that wanted to play.  You would motor into a small cut and it would wind around and open up into a lake.  I am definitely going to have to learn my GPS to further explore it all.

After the am bite died we would head in and rest.  The afternoon was spent fishing a lake about the size of Becker in our tubes and ‘toons fishing for lmb’s up to 10 lbs.  Larry’s long time friend, Dickie Thomas joined us as well as his nephew, Brian.  The lake was lined with tulies and again the same flies worked.  Dickie and Larry got into some bass subsurface but I had much better luck with top water.

On his way in the last evening Dickie landed a solid 4 lb’r but no pic sadly.  We never really landed “Old Moe” but Larry had a good 5-6 lbr on that was wrapped over a limb and he finally pulled the hook and I had one break me on the take using 18 lb tippet so we had our chances.  Maybe next time!!??

Lee Valley, Carnero and Becker Lakes

Looking like it is going to be a great year in the White Mountains.  I have done a mid April trip the past 5 years and this is the best I have ever seen the water look.  We set up camp at Carnero and fished there on Thursday evening.  I caught a dozen fish in an hour or so fishing copper johns and pheasant tails under an indicator.  That night was cold, thankfully the wood stove in the tent made things a little more bearable.  Thanks to Emerson to providing some wood for me on my way through Pinetop.

Got up early on Friday and headed down the hill to Becker.  I fished there from 5 A.M.-7:30 A.M. and landed several fish in the 16-18″ range.  All hard fighters with girth.  This lake will hopefully continue to produce these quality fish.  I was starting to get pretty cold, so decided it was time to make a hike into Lee Valley to see what was happening.



 Took the hike in from the junction of 273 and FR87 out of Greer.  There was still a road closed sign, so took the 3 mile hike through the Forest, across the Little Colorado and up to Lee Valley.  As soon as I got up on the road about 45 minutes later a truck with a boat passes by me on the road, then a couple minutes later I see another car.  They could not make it to the Lake due to a large snow drift on the hill past Sheep’s Crossing.  I arrived to the lake just in time for a snow squall and 30+ MPH winds.  I did manage to pick up a couple of fish, but 1/3 of the lake still had ice and the fish seemed lethargic.  This lake has a ton of water in it.





 Saturday we got up and fished Carnero again for a bit.  Lots of eager 12-16″ rainbows.  The bite seemed to slow down a bit, so we decided to take the 273 to the snow drift and hike back into Lee Valley.


 We arrived at the lake to much nicer weather than the day before, as well as some other people.  The ice from the day before was gone and the fish seemed to be a little more active.  Travis started to catch some fish stripping his version of a Simi Seal leech and it was not too long until all of us managed to catch a few fish.  These fish were chunky and average 14-16″ with a few nicer ones coming out.  Brandon caught the fish of the trip with an extremely fat 18-20″ Apache that had to be pushing 3lbs.   Oh and Travis caught a Grayling as well!!!




We did get a visit from a NF Ranger while we were on Lee Valley.  He said there is currently a “soft closure” of the Forest, which means you can access it, but if you get stuck you will be ticketed and fined.  He drove the 273 from Big Lake to Lee Valley and said there were a couple of drifts, but no major problems.  He said he was going to call the Highway folks early this week and expected an official opening and clearing of the final couple snow drifts in the next week or two(barring any major storms).  I also heard from Virgil at Hon Dah today and they officially opend the 473 into Hawley this morning.

 It is going to be a great year in the White’s, time to go fishing!!!!!!





Sunrise, Crescent Alive & Well

Had a chance to get away for the weekend.  Headed up to check out how Sunrise and Crescent faired over the winter….looks like all is well.  Daryl and I hit Sunrise sometime after 8 am Sat and fished it until around 12.  Found the fish at the dam area and didn’t really spend much time investigating other areas.

We caught several 20″rs and a 19″ on simis in dark colors.  All the fish were shallow and still in spawn mode.  One was spitting eggs as I released her.  Water temps were low 40’s and the lake is a tad bit higher than last year. 

We hit Crescent in the afternoon.  The 273 rd is still closed so you have to go through Eagar.  The road closed sign on 261 is still up but traffic is going through it.  Crescent is as full as I’ve seen it and from the images on my fish finder, there was no kill.  If there was a kill it probably was the rainbows and the lake is still loaded with brookies because I marked a lot more fish in Crescent than at Sunrise.  We only caught brookies, though.  Maybe the water’s not quite up to snuff for the rainbows yet…..hopefully.  They were not the footballs of last Fall but were in decent shape and several pushed 15″s so they have grown a bit over the winter.  Again we used simi’s on intermediate lines.  One was caught trailing a small Copper John.

There is still quite a bit of snow left around the banks and the same is true with Big Lake.  It is full and bank fishermen were doing well. 

We hit Luna Sunday am and the lake looks great.  It has been ice free for over a month now.  The bite was off for me, but Daryl picked up quite a few, one that went 17″s.  I found a bank that was loaded with big fish and I spent the majority of my time trying to get them to go, but never figured them out.  We talked with an older gal that fishes the lake just about every day and she said this was the first day for much action yet.  When the water gets right this will be one to hit because I marked a boatload of big fish on my finder.  Looking forward to a great season in the White’s this year.  We haven’t had conditions like this for a long time now.

Lees Ferry Fishing Synopsis and Forecast by Terry Gunn 4/17/09

Lees Ferry Fishing Synopsis and Forecast by Terry Gunn 4/17/09

Lees Ferry Rainbow

Lees Ferry Anglers celebrates our 20-year anniversary this month and we want to thank all of our customers for making this possible

Visit for daily fishing reports and updates.

Recent Fishing Conditions: Spring arrived with a roar at Lees Ferry. In my 26 years here I have never seen so much wind and nasty weather. Most springs we can expect one really windy day each week. This season we have had as many windy days as calm days. Despite the weather we have seen some good fishing. The spawning has mostly concluded; it was a deep water spawn with very few fish using traditional shallow water spawning areas…the exception was 4 mile bar. Beginning in February and through March we caught few large fish because they were all actively spawning in deeper water than we can effectively fly fish. The past few weeks the larger fish (18-in +) have started to reappear in the riffles and are actively feeding on midges.

This last week we actually had 2 nice days of weather in a row and the midges popped…there were so many swarms that they looked like smoke on the water. Mid April is usually the turning point for weather patterns in this part of the state, it turns moderate and is dominated by high pressure. When this happens, the fishing is going to get really good and the midge fishing is going to be on fire for the remainder of the low water release period, at least through May and likely through June.

Over Memorial Weekend (May 22-27) there will be constant water releases of 8,000-cfs so that the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center can conduct flights to photograph the river for monitoring purposes. It is very likely that this flow will result in PHENOMIAL FISHING, both upriver and in the Walk-In section. Normally this is not a busy weekend at the Ferry so you should put this trip on your schedule.

The current water flows are perfect wading and drifting flows for fishing Lees Ferry. These same flows will continue until the high summer flows begin in July. The average size of the fish is the largest of this decade; most of the fish that I put in my net are 16 to 17-in with many that are larger. Is this a peak before another down turn in the fishery? No. This is the beginning of a trend that is set to continue for at least a couple of years, and if nature cooperates and gives us moisture in the Rocky Mountains, and Lake Powell continues to rise, this trend of healthy trout populations and good fishing will continue for the next several years. Current snow pack in the Rockies’ is in excess of 100% of normal.

The turning point and the beginning for the recovery of the Lees Ferry fishery occurred in 2005 when Lake Powell had the first above normal snow-pack and runoff year since 1997. Last year we had almost exactly the same conditions. The above normal winter snow pack and runoff into Lake Powell in 2007-08, stirred up a tremendous amount of nutrient laden sediment that had accumulated at the lake mouths of the Colorado River, San Juan River, and the Green River. Lake Powell elevation increased 43-ft. and the rivers flowing into the lake mixed the sediment and nutrients into the lake water. It usually takes several months before we see this mixing affect. The increased nutrient load in the lake and river is evident this spring by the dramatic increase in aquatic vegetation and aquatic organisms throughout the river.

For those of you that remember what the fishing was like in 1999 and 2000…you should be as excited as I am about the current conditions and what the increased nutrient load should do for the fishing at Lees Ferry.

Lots of stuff happening at the Ferry and it is all good!

Recent Fishing: With the water flows once again fluctuating and lower flows; we have been fishing from the boat as well as wading the riffles.  Fishing techniques have been mixed between using a “heavy nymph rig” which is a 9 to 12-ft leader, strike indicator, split shot, and dual fly rig, a “double tiny” rig with a long leader and 2 bead-head midges on 7X, or a dry and dropper rig. I have been using 6 and 7X fluorocarbon tippet and feel that the lighter tippet results in a much higher success rate than say 5X. Anglers might argue that they break fish off on such light tippet but my argument is that in order to break a fish off, you first have to first get a fish to eat your fly and you are going to get more eaters with lighter tippet than heaver tippet.

When wading the riffles you need long dead drifts. There are 2 types of drifts; perfect dead drifts and all other drifts. Perfect dead drifts catch fish at Lees Ferry; all other drifts don’t catch fish here. You get a dead drift by mending the line, then throwing slack line on the water. If your line is straight from your rod tip to your indicator or you move your indicator during the drift, then your drift is not perfect and will not catch fish. The key to success is to stay over fish, get the flies down to the bottom, and get a long, perfect dead drift.

The high flow experiment, 4/08, was basically a non event as far as the fishery is concerned. It came and went with few visible changes to the river or the fishery. For more details and to see my complete comments go here:

The experimental steady flows that occurred in September and October 2008 (12,000 constant) were beneficial to the river and are scheduled again for 2009. In years past, the flows in September and October have been the lowest flows of the year and have reset the “green line” to the 5,000-cfs level from the 12,000-cfs level of the summer flows. This has effectively reduced the food supply in the river by a significant amount. Then the higher flows of November and December arrive; but because of the declining sun angle and the shade of the cliffs, photosynthesis and aquatic production in the river declines and the areas of the river that were desiccated by the low flows do not regenerate until the following spring. This did not happen this year because of the steady flows in September and October the green line stayed high. The current fluctuating flows (7,500-cfs to 13,000-cfs) are continuing to keep the green line higher than in years past. There have been prolific midge and black-fly hatches every day and it appears as though the scud population has a higher density than any time since 2004.

For details on Lake Powell conditions and snow-pack, go here:

For a real time graphic view of water releases and ramp rates go here:

New guides at Lees Ferry Anglers: The last couple of years we have had several long time guide staff move on to bigger and hopefully better things. Last year we had 3 new guides join our team, though new to our organization they are not new to guiding. Luke Blaser, Tom Jones, and JD Miller have joined our team. They bring with them a couple of decades of combined guiding experience on various waters around the world, college degrees, and an enthusiasm for guiding that is contagious. I’m proud to introduce these fellows and I’m sure that you will agree that they are a great addition to our team.

The AZ Game and Fish Department has detected whirling disease in a very small percentage of Lees Ferry trout that were collected for a random sampling. A more recent sampling turned up no sign of the disease, which may mean that it was a “one time” exposure, where the disease was not established or that the disease is present but at a very low prevalence.  Anglers should still use caution in cleaning their equipment both before and after they have fished here or in other waters. For more information visit:

Terry Gunn
Lees Ferry Anglers Fly Shop, Guides, & Rentals
Cliff Dwellers Lodge
Fax 928-355-2271
Hm. 928-355-2220

fish on a 4-mile Lees Ferry


I have been hosting Shawn West from Idaho for the past week, fishing some of the local ponds with him and Gary Hitterman.  We have enjoyed catching some of the gills and bass, mostly small.  Finally got him up to Havasu…got tired of waiting for the weather report to say something different than WIND.  It blew while we were there but not unmanagable.  We found a few bedded smallies still hanging around so he and Gary got a taste of bed fishing

The smallies were smaller than earlier in the season but just as aggressive and fought just as hard.  We even managed to find some decent crappies, which I had not caught in Havasu before.

We never found the bedded lmb’s we were looking for but had a great time and fooled several more stripping Shawn’s version of a Clouser.  I had to borrow one just to catch fish the last afternoon.

All in all, a nice trip with good people.  Still need to figure out where the lmb’s are hanging out, but that always gives me a reason to go back.

Pyramid Lake, March 2009

Another year is in the books at Pyramid Lake and although the fishing was slower than the previous couple of years, we had a great time and some huge fish were caught.  We spent the first few days just rolling from beach to beach looking for fish.  We finally found some fish milling around on the Southwest side of the lake.  I would say we averaged about 3-5 fish a day per angler, down from 12-15 fish a day.  We saw a good amount of fish that were smaller this year as well, but we had a 15lber, 10lber and several fish in the 7-9lbs range landed.  Pyramid is different from any place I have fished.  It is a social fishery where everyone gets to share and enjoy everyone’s success.  I would not want to do it every week, but a chance to hang out with friends in this setting will be bringing us back for many years to come hopefully.  Add that to the fact that at any given moment you have the chance to catch a fish of a lifetime and it is tough to beat Pyramid in March and April.  Next year we will be doing this trip a couple weeks later to hopefully find more fish in the shallows.  Many are heading up again, so I would book early if you want to guarantee a spot.  Thanks to everyone in the crew for some great memories.  Already counting the days until Camp Lahootie 2010.

















JG “Kid Keno”









Brian with the 15lbs Lahontan