Lees Ferry on the rise

By Randy Scholfield

Over the years, the Colorado River at Lees Ferry in Arizona has seen its ups and downs both as a tailwater fishery and destination for anglers. The health of the rainbow trout population has fluctuated widely, which hasn’t been helpful for local guides and businesses that depend on recreation tourism.

In its early days, the 16-mile stretch between Glen Canyon Dam and Marble Canyon became renowned for monster rainbows. In more recent years, the rainbow fishery has been on the decline, and angler visits have dropped off.  

So it was good news this week that Trout Unlimited, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and other groups released a report offering detailed recommendations for reviving the Lees Ferry trout fishery. The report was presented to the federal agencies responsible for managing and improving the fishery.

Among other recommendations for Lees Ferry, TU and partners want to see more stable flows to bring back larger bugs such as mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis, and larger spring flushing flows to improve the aquatic food base and enhance trout spawning areas.

“Our recommendations will improve the quality of the trout fishery and benefit many other Colorado River resources below Glen Canyon Dam,” said John Jordan, conservation chair for Arizona Trout Unlimited.

It's a timely call to return this unique fishery to its full potential. Read the report here.

Randy Scholfield is TU's communications director for the southwest region.


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