The towering red cliffs of the Glen Canyon cast a welcome shadow on the clear green waters of the Colorado River. At 15,000 CFS and 55 degrees the powerful flows, are still very wadeable. The trout are everywhere, from the base of the massive Glen Canyon Dam, all the way into the beginnings of the Grand Canyon itself. Fine wild rainbows from a few inches long to some burly 18”-20” specimens that will rip line off your reel and make you wonder if they’re going to stop any time soon. They have a constant supply of midges, gammarus shrimp and annelid worms that are carried to them in the clear currents. Limited access ensures that these fish can feed and grow without undue pressure. Other than the walk in section the only access is by boat and, because of shifting gravel bars, the guides who fish this river every day prefer jet boats.
Steve and I were at Lee’s Ferry for a dealer meeting with the Orvis Company and we had planned an additional day to fish with the fine guides from Lee’s Ferry Anglers. We stayed at Marble Canyon Lodge and enjoyed our meals at the great little restaurant across the dirt parking lot from the fly shop. Owners Wendy and Terry Gunn are long time friends and it was fun to get together and reminisce about good times and old friends. Lee’s Ferry Anglers has been guiding in this are since the 80s and have seen the river go through a few changes. After some down years the river has made a great comeback in the past few years and multiple good spawns bode well for the future. It is very fine fishery with a huge number of wild rainbows in all sizes that eagerly slam the fly and fight hard in the swift currents.
While dry fly fishing can at times be outstanding, this is primarily a nymphing river where midge pupae, scud patterns (olive and orange) and San Juan worms (tan and red) will get tagged on almost every drift. Dry dropper and standard indicator rigs should be used to bounce the appropriate patterns along the bottom. We fished a dry dropper rig and had action all day long with fish to 18” landed and several broad shoulders models hooked and lost. I hooked one of the hottest fish that I have ever hooked in fresh water and she proceeded to tear all the fly line and fifteen yards of backing off my reel and rip the tiny size 20 Zebra midge out just as the guide was about to put the net under her. Too bad! She would have made a pretty picture. This fishery is about a nine hour drive away (perfect for a long weekend) and because of the awesome scenery and fast action is highly recommended. Call us if you would like more info on this great destination.