Colorado – Lees Ferry Reach

Last year, almost to the day, we fished the Lees Ferry Reach of the Colorado River with Skip Dixon and Kevin Campbell of Lees Ferry Anglers.  We were joined by fishing buddies Dan McCormack, James Kelly and his son, Andy.  What we discovered was one of the most strikingly amazing landscapes you can imagine…. as well as a world class fishery.  At the Lees Ferry put in, we watched as anxious rafters prepared for their journey downstream through the Grand Canyon while we boarded a jet boat for our run upstream toward Glen Canyon dam.  After a great day fishing, Skip and Kevin shared their perspectives on this fishery and its surroundings in Lees Ferry Fanatics.  While we were in Arizona, we also took numerous photos and incorporated them into our highlight video post, AZ Memories.

Our time last year was so good here, we decided to come back this spring.  Skip took us out again on a beautiful day in the canyon.  We found some gorgeous fish that Skip captured in his photos shown above in this post.  I told Skip that our post on this trip was going to be about him and his photos.  He has an eye for photography that captures not just the fish, but most importantly, the surroundings in this magical place.  He also uses a variety of filters to further enhance the images and their meanings.  His pictures are always treasured as mementos of our time with him on the water.

Skip avidly chronicles his time on the river, as well as providing fishing reports.   He takes a very mathematical approach to his guiding, making sure to document river flows, temperatures, hatches and fishing success among many factors.  His methods help assure his clients have the best chances at success on the river.  You can find his reports and chronicles on both his Instagram feed as well as on his Facebook page.

When to come fish with Skip?  Anytime is the right answer, but according to Skip, the summer Cicada hatch is not to be missed.  He also hinted that if you want to target big browns, think about fishing in January or February.  We can’t wait to get back whenever we are in the area to fish the river and experience this vividly stunning landscape.

When we were planning our trip to fish the Lees Ferry Reach of the Colorado River, we contacted Lees Ferry Anglers in Marble Canyon, AZ.  We were excited to fish with them because the owners of Lees Ferry Anglers are Terry and Wendy Gunn, who have written several fishing guide books that are must reads.  While we are currently fishing our way through the Trout Unlimited Top 100 list, Terry and Wendy have written books on the 50 Best Tailwaters to Fish and one I’m sure we’ll be fishing our way through, 25 Best National Parks to Fly Fish.

Our Lees Ferry Anglers guides for the trip were Skip Dixon and Kevin Campbell.  I say guides because we were joined by Dan McCormack, James Kelly and son, Andy.  It must have been a tough decision for Skip and Andy to determine who got Barb and me and who got the “guys”.  It ended up, Barb and I went out with Skip and the guys went with Kevin.

We put in at the Lees Ferry put in site, which is also the put in for rafters going down through the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon trips are 14 days on the river, packing in everything you need for sleeping on the banks of the river and shooting some Class 8-10 rapids (many western rivers use a 10 point scale vs. the usual class I-V scale).  Needless to say, we headed UPSTREAM in jet boats to fish the sections from Glen Canyon Dam down to the Lees Ferry put in.

While we went upstream in boats, we actually wade fished on the trip.  We’d scurry from spot to spot, fishing for a few hours at each spot along the river.  We were fortunate to hook into some really nice rainbow trout along the way with the guidance of Skip and Kevin.

Our guides also pointed out some canyon features and wildlife along the way.  We saw wild mustangs, osprey (they love to fish more than we do!) and even 6 condors riding the wind currents above the canyon walls.  The guys saw Peregrine falcons soaring the red cliffs of the canyon.

We always, always say “Its Not About the Fish”, and in this case, while the fishing was great, the scenery was even better.  We fished at the curve of Horseshoe Bend, but the view from above was spectacular, if not a bit scary.  You walk out to take the iconic picture of the area, and there are no handrails, fences or other barriers between you and a huge drop into the canyon.  I couldn’t get Barb to go near and she hid her eyes watching others peering over the edge.

Everyplace we’ve fished thus far has been beautiful.  The saying, “trout don’t live in ugly places” is so very true.  However, we’d have to say that of all the rivers we’ve fished, this is one of the most spectacularly scenic places yet.  That said, we’ve now fished 48 of the TU Top 100 Trout Streams so there are 52 more to go!

We hope you enjoy this “Guide Talk” with Skip and Kevin.  It’s incredibly informative and these guys obviously love this river and having fun along the way.  If you come to the area, make sure to contact Lees Ferry Anglers and ask for Skip and Kevin!!!