Hawley

Got away with Brian for a day and a half in the White’s.  Hit Hawley first looking for the big boys we found last year.  They were there but didn’t hang around for long.  We managed to pick up a 4 lb’r before they vanished.  Hit EP for awhile and picked up an 18″ brown but the lake was pretty crowded so we headed back to Hawley for the rest of the evening.  The big boys never returned and weren’t in again this am.  Brian picked up a 3 lb’r but the big boys eluded us this trip.  

Trinity River Shop Trip

 

 

A group of 8 of us headed up to Weaverville, Ca to try and catch some elusive West Coast Steelhead.  The reports that had been coming out had been slower fishing with fewer fish in the system.  Although the fishing was slower than it had been in previous years we were still hoping that we could fool a few.

The fishing was difficult, the takes were very subtle and you had to be on them immediately.  You could do everything right and still it was a challenge.  We managed to find a few more fish milling around than the week before and by the end of the trip our group landed 18 fish.  I wish I could say everyone in the group landed one, although I believe everyone hooked one.  That is how it goes when chasing Steel.

 

 

 

It was a great trip and we had such a good time.  We could not have asked for a better crew, lots of laughing and poking fun at each other.  Weaverville is a great little town and we enjoyed some good meals as well as the Cardinals Monday night win at the Sawmill Bar & Grill in the heart of 49er country.  I cannot wait for next year and hoping we find some more fish in the system.  I am also glad Steve and I were able to redeem the shop’s good name after Rohmer’s skunking the week before…

Lees Ferry Synopsis By Terry Gunn

Lees Ferry Fishing Synopsis and Forecast by Terry Gunn 11/12/08

Recent Fishing Conditions: At a time when just about everything you read is bearing bad news, it gives me great pleasure to bring you some good news: The fishing at Lees Ferry is not just good it’s great! The fish are in the best shape and size that I have seen in several years and everything points to this being a trend that I expect to continue. Fishing is just going to get better and better as 2009 arrives….  Isn’t it great to hear some good news for a change! Not only is the fishing upriver great but rumor has it that the Walk-in area is fishing extremely well. One other thing; there has been no one here…come up (you can probably book a guide for tomorrow) and see the best fishing in years and you will likely have the river to yourself. Read on for the full story.

The experimental steady flows that occurred in September and October (12,000 constant) were as I predicted, beneficial to the river. 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.

The trout spawn last winter was off the charts, never has there been such a productive spawn in the river. The high flows of summer and the steady flows this fall provided the perfect rearing habitat for the fry and fingerlings. I’m seeing them all over the river and they are growing fast! In addition to last winter’s great spawn, the survival rate from the spawn of 2006-07 was substantial and the river has a very good population of smaller fish that are growing fast.

The fish that we have been catching are probably averaging 16 to 17 inches and most are thick, fat, and heavy. We are also catching lots of larger fish, 18 to 20-inches. I have recently had clients hook into fish that were probably much larger, but as you well know, the big ones almost always get away.

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.

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. This 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 nutrient load in the water that enters the river from Glen Canyon dam. I believe that we are just now starting to see that as evidenced by the recent warmer than normal water temperatures. The river temperature this time of year is normally 48-degrees but the recent temperature has been 54-degrees which is the IDEAL water temperature for trout. The increased nutrient load in the lake and river will be evident this coming spring by the enormous and 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 stopped fishing from the boat and have been wading the riffles. The best fishing technique has been using a “heavy nymph rig” which is a 9 to 12-ft leader, strike indicator, split shot, and dual fly rig. I have been using 6X 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.

Flows should increase in December and I predict another year of a normal and strong spawn. I have already seen a few fish spawning; I have not seen this is several years.

We have recently lost a couple of friends who have contributed much to the sport of fly fishing. Mel Krieger passed away last month after a brief illness from a brain tumor. Denny Breer, from Trout Creek Flies and Green River Outfitters, passed away 11/07, he was involved in a freak accident. Our hearts and best wishes go out to all their families

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: http://coloradoriverconservancy.org/

For details on Lake Powell conditions and snow-pack, go here: http://lakepowell.water-data.com/

For a real time graphic view of water releases and ramp rates go here: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/uv?09380000

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. This past 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 recently detected whirling disease in a small percentage of Lees Ferry trout that were collected for a random sampling. A 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: http://www.whirling-disease.org

Terry Gunn
Lees Ferry Anglers Fly Shop, Guides, & Rentals
Cliff Dwellers Lodge
http://www.terrygunn.com
http://www.leesferry.com
http://www.cliffdwellerslodge.com
800-962-9755
Fax 928-355-2271
Hm. 928-355-2220

Trinity ’08

Fishing on the Trinty this year was tougher than previous years.  The runs were not nearly as prolific this season…at least not yet.  Everything has been later this year so maybe there is still a chance of more fish entering the system later.  Four of us fished hard for three days in the rain mostly and landed 5 total steelies.  Now it’s all coming back to me about steelhead fishing…..the fish of a 1,000 casts.   We’ve gotten spoiled the past five years…it was bound to come to an end someday.   Here are some pics of Eric Hansen with a couple nice steelhead.

We’ll be back next year.  The big goose egg is going to fester in me for the whole time.

Earl Park and Crescent

Made it up for a couple days with Brian B.  Got a late start Wednesday and didn’t get on EP until around 3 pm.  Heard that the top water bite had been good but we didn’t do anything with top water.  Threw some simis and picked up a few rainbows but pretty slow for us and several others who had fished it all day.  Water temps were 50 but there was a bad algae bloom which may have hindered us a bit, who knows?  Went back the following am and had the same results so we packed it up and headed to Crescent for the rest of the day.  We pounded the spawning brookies and landed lots of 13-15″ rainbows as well.  The lake has plenty of water and the fish are in great shape but AZG&F failed to cut the weeds this year again so again we will have to depend on how our winter goes to see what we’ll have left for holdovers. 

I urge everyone to sign the petitions to help Crescent.  If those fish could make it through and grow another year this time next year we’d be catching brookies pushing 16-17″s  or possibly BIGGER.  It’s a no-brainer for me.  Keep the fish alive, let them grow and everyone catches big fish.  AZG&F sells more licenses again, the store opens up and sells tackle and rents boats.  Everyone wins.

Chevelon Canyon Lake

Headed out to Chevy last weekend with a small group.  The weather was beautiful, which is the opposite of what we were looking for.  In my experience the worse the weather in October, the sooner the Browns start staging for the spawn.  With water temps around 55 degrees, there is still a couple of weeks until the browns will start to show up.  We obviously encourage everyone to leave the spawning fish alone once they enter the creek to do their thing.

The fishing was really good for rainbows in the 10-16″ range.  There is a big fathead minnow hatch that happens in September and the shorelines are just teaming with tiny bait-fish.  We used size 12-16 simi leeches in various colors, but white and peacock seemed to produce the most fish.  The lake was also stocked with 20,000 “sub-catchable” fish about 6 weeks ago.  Not sure about the sub catchable part as we caught many of these small fish.  We decided to throw some larger Diamond Hair Minnows that looked like Rainbow Trout.  I had a couple of big bumps on these flies fishing deep with a Type IV line, but could not seal the deal.  Some of the others in the group did land some bigger rainbows on this fly.  Everyone caught around a dozen fish a day with many, many more fish missed.  Did not take any pictures of the bows as I am sure everyone has seen enough 10-16″ rainbows.

 

Since the browns had not shown up yet, JG and I took a day to explore some other water in the area known to hold large Browns.  It is one of those places that are only accessed by lots of work and rarely mentioned to anyone.  After a long 4 x 4 ride in and a few mile hike, we found a flat that had several Browns over 20″ milling around.  We spent 40 minutes just watching these fish, then we finally figured out their pattern and gave them a shot.  I hooked a 14″ bow on my first cast and within minutes JG was hollering for the net.  The pictures do not do this fish justice, it was 21″ and pretty fat with just some awesome colors.  I hooked a 24″+ fish a few minutes after releasing JG’s, but was not in the cards this weekend as it broke me off.  It was still worth the hike to see JG catch the largest brown of his life.  Both fish took a rubber legged mid bead Simi Seal Leech.  A great way to end the trip.

 

 

Fall Fishing at Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry

When you think of fall fishing, it is likely that one of Arizona’s premier fisheries does not come to mind. After all, it is not historically the best time of the year for fishing Lee’s Ferry. The trout are active in the high country of the Mogollon Rim country and White Mountains, and the bass are aggressive in shallow water down on the desert floor.

However, even if fishing at the Ferry is not at its prime, it can still be very good. Also, this is the time of year when you are likely to enjoy chamber of commerce weather. Both of those were evident for Rusty Topping, Scott Holbrook, Keith Pennington and I this weekend.

Friday afternoon we got into some fish at the walk-in fishing tight to the bank. Saturday was a dynamite day upstream at 4 Mile and near the dam. Sunday at 4 Mile was one of the best days of fishing I have had this year.

Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry

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After a great day on the water, it is tough to beat the good meals and lodging at Cliff Dwellers.

What a blast!

Zebra midges, sizes 16 and 18 in copper/black, black/black, small San Juan worms, and sparkle worms were the consistent producers.

Henry’s Lake, ’08

Another great Henry’s Lake trip is in the books.  We had 9 guys this trip.  Some caught the biggest cutt, hybrid rainbow and brookie of thier lives.  Weather was a bit challenging but that didn’t seem to bother the fish much.

Four of us started the trip off at Panguitch for a couple days of “breaking in”.  The fishing was a bit off but we all managed to catch some nice 2-3 lb rainbows that fight as hard as any I have caught.  I set up a trip for June of next year with a cabin site that should be prime time for the callibaetis hatch.  Along with the damsels, scuds and leeches it should be an excellent trip for some rainbows and Bear Lake cutt’s up to 5 lbs.  The timing should also coincide with the smallie spawn at Piute Reservoir just 45 minutes away.  Should be an awesome time.  Daryl and I landed smallies up to 3 1/2 lbs there last year.

Henry’s produced more fish than usual but the double digits eluded this year.  Biggest fish was Daryl’s 8 1/4 lb hybrid.  Simi’s again were the main producer but several good fish up to 7 lbs were landed by Brian and Brandon using nymphs below an indicator.  Always something new…  great to learn.


Quite a few 6 and 7 lbr’s caught and 3 lb brookies.  Biggest brook went 4 1/2lbs.  Pic wasn’t good so you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

Can’t wait ’til next year.  The state takes really good care of this lake and like Panguitch it will have a future.  If we could just get Arizona to commit to taking better care of some of our lakes we could all be experiencing similar fishing here.  Several of our lakes, although not as large, are every bit as rich as Henry’s and could easily grow 5 lb fish consistently if we could keep them alive to grow.

White Mountains Report

Spent the last 4 days (10/5 to 10/8) in the White Mountains.  The conditions were perfect, highs in the upper 60s to low 70s during the day, lows in the 30s at night.  Fished Pacheta Lake Tuesday afternoon and it was fabulous.  focused in and around where the stream comes into the lake.  The Browns were busy spawning in the stream(make sure and leave them to do their business).  Fished Chironomids under a strike indicator all day long.  Black and red were the best colors.  Went to a dry/dropper at about 5 when they started coming up to the top.  Spent a couple of hours at Drift Fence Lake on Wednesday afternoon with my 10 year old son and he had a blast.  Fish were in any spot there was a little shade and they were very willing to take an Adams.  Also added a chironomid dropper which worked great.  If you are looking for a sure thing, I would try Drift Fence Lake soon.

Tim Oliver

Idaho, Montana, Sunrise

Just got back from a 14 day road trip through Utah, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming.  It mainly was an overdue family trip Linda and I took every year.  This was to be my first time back since her death in ’06.  I was to meet Kevin at the end to attend the flyfishing retailers show in Denver.  Managed to get a few days in fishing along the way.

Started off at Henry’s Lake.  Got two days in before the wind started howling and put me on the road to Montana.  I fished a different area that I never been on before just to check out new water.  Fished patterns I had used previously (simi’s) but only managed to pick up one fish the first couple hours.  I started changing flies and finally ended up putting on a 4x long #6 simi and “game on”.  I landed 20 fish the next several hours.  It was tough taking pics of fish but I got a shot of a six and a piggy 4 in the net.  These fish are just tough fish.  I was treated rudely by a couple that just cleaned me in a matter of seconds on 2 x tippet.  The lake was exceptionally clear and in great shape with temps around 57-58.  Usually at this time of year there is an algae bloom and fishing is slow.  Can’t wait ’til the Oct trip…. should be awesome.

Headed up to the Madison next and saw a buddy.  The dam had a problem with a headgate and the river was blown out so it became a good day to check out his shop on the river.  If you are ever up there hit his shop, Beartooth Flyfishing.  It’s out there all by itself between Henry’s and Ennis.

Next I went to Cascade, MT to see another friend with a shop on the Missouri.  Stayed at his place and fished a day over a spot I had found several years back that held quite a few large browns that cruised a large boulder covered flat.  It was all sight fishing and I really looked forward to it because I had missed a brown a few years back that went at least 8-9 lbs.  This year the river was quite a bit higher and most of the flat was too deep for sight fishing.  I got a couple shots at some fish in the 20″ range but blew the shots.  I sure could tell I had been throwing a lot of heavy sinking lines lately.  My delicate approach was more like someone throwing a hand grenade.  It was good to see the river with lots of water anyway.

Hit central Montana and stayed with Linda’s sister and husband.  Luckily for me Ron was waiting with fly rod in hand and we fished for the next four days, hitting farm ponds and streams.   My approaches improved and I got used to throwing a 3 wt dry fly setup again and landed some nice fish, biggest being a 17″ brown that inhaled a hopper pattern.  The farm ponds were excellent fishing.  The first was about three acres and held rainbows that were all 3-4 lbs.  There were callibaetis and water boatman coming off so we had a blast.  The second pond was a lake really, probably 20 acres.  It had rainbows in all age classes.  Biggest I landed there went 8 lbs.  I got a pic of a six but didn’t get any others.  These pond fish all came on simi’s or Daryl’s stillwater nymph.  This is his version of a Denny Rickart fly and it works great.  I make sure I have plenty of several sizes in my box when I’m on any lake.

Hit Denver, went to the show… saw the new goodies for ’09….blah, blah.   Decided to hit Sunrise on the way back home.  Hadn’t heard much about the lake all year and I have not hit the White’s as much as usual this year.  Lake had ample water but with quite a bit of weed growth.  The weed cutter was there but didn’t look like it had started cutting yet.  Lake fished well for small 9-11″ fish.  These must have been a recent plant as that was all I could get to hit.  I saw plenty of good sized fish on my finder but could not get them to go.  Often at this time of year the fish are not very grabby.  Larry Allen used to say “they’re just nauseated”.  I believe the ph gets bad and they go off the feed.  Didn’t seem to affect the new plants.  This is a lake I will hit for sure come Oct, Nov.  When the temps hit the 40’s (they were 57-58) the lake will turn on…..there are plenty of big fish left.

Nice to get back home….and get ready for Henry’s in a couple weeks…..work, work, work!