Dam Operations

River Report

Everything you need to know from our guides to your lines. Get a heads up of how the mighty Colorado will treat you before you head out.

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September 8, 2023

Fishing Report

Upriver Report

Walk-In Report

Spin Report

1 = Go Elsewhere

10 = Get Here Now!

Crowd Report

Upriver Crowd

1 Weekday

3 Weekend

Walk-In Crowd

1 Weekday

2 Weekend

1 = Sleep late and fish wherever

10 = Very crowded, get up early

Up-River Summary

Lees Ferry Fishing Report – September 8, 2023


Fishing Report by Kevin Campbell, guiding on Lees Ferry since 1997


Fishing is great

Flows are much lower

Clarity is excellent

Fishing pressure is low

Fishing report

Fishing remains very good. With our lower flows, fly fishing while wading has been excellent. There are numerous spots to wade and riffles and seams have been occupied with very eager trout. Drifting remains very productive. Spin fishing continues to produce as well. In short, the Ferry is alive and well. There is no change to fishing techniques from last month.

As of Sept. 9th, the flows are dropping big-time. The Colorado is now fluctuating 5,700 to 10,600 CFS. Updates on the flow can be viewed in the Dam Operations section just below this fishing report. The Bureau of Reclamation makes their updates on the 15 of each month and they will be posted here on or about the same time.

Wading: Midge hatches continue although sparse and dry/ dropper rigs with beadheaded midges and other nymphs, especially scuds, are working well in riffle seams and drops-offs.  Additionally, San Juan worms and scuds fished in conjunction with midges have been popular fished on a moderate length (3-6 foot) rig with split shot. For dry/ dropper rigs, 4x leader is fine and droppers can be fished on 4x in faster current or 5x in slower water. Streamers such as woolly buggers, semi-seal leaches and larger articulated patterns have been producing on sink-tip lines in riffle seams and tail-outs; olive, black, wine and brown are always the go-to choices. Fish streamers on a minimum of 3X or 8 pound test. I personally have clients fish them on 2X or 10 Lb test.

Boat Drifting: Fishing from the drifting boat is always great technique and our clients have been having great success with dry/ dropper rigs along the banks with  beadheaded midge patterns. Also, longer (6-10 foot) indicator nymphing rigs with pink, ginger, olive or gray scuds, red, brown, wine and tan San Juan worms and even wooly buggers and leeches. There is no need to fish light tippet on the drift, a 9 foot 4X leader with the flies also tied on 4X works great and loosing fish to break offs is greatly reduced. 

Walk-In Summary

Walk-in report:

According to recent reports, streamers like wooly buggers on sink-tip line have been working best. Also, a scud or San Juan worm followed by a midge with plenty of shot to get it deep in pocket water and runs. Let’s talk streamer fishing. Cast perpendicular and allow the fly to swing downriver on tight line while giving the fly line twitches with your non-rod hand. The erratic movement can elicit violent strikes from the trout. This is not a game for light line because the fish take so hard and the current is fast. I recommend a short leader made up of either a normal tapered leader cut back to the diameter of about 10 or 12 pound test or 20 inches of 20 pound test followed by 20 inches of 10 or 12 pound test. 

Spin fishing the walk-in is good in the deeper water due to all the rocks. From the top of the boulder field all the way up to half a mile past the boat landing is good. Gold ¼ ounce Kastmasters and ¼ ounce Panther Martins are the best. Small, sinking Rapalas in rainbow trout, gold and silver colors. Cast out, let them sink for a few seconds then retrieve them at a steady speed (and maybe even give it a little twitch here and there) to trigger a strike. 

Spin Fishing Summary.

Spin Fishing upriver remains good for both rainbows and browns. Please remember, AZ Game and Fish regulations require barbless hooks on everything. Smash them down with a needle nose pliers or my favorite tool, smooth jaw hemostats. Recent reports have Rapala-style minnows working very well. One note on these. I personally take the belly treble off and only fish the barbless tail hook. fishing 2 trebles will often tear up the trout’s mouth and we want to be easy on these precious fish. Also working as always are marabou jigs, Kastmaster spoons, spinners like Panther Martins and Rooster Tails. When fishing jigs, don’t be too subtle with your presentation. Cast out and let it sink until the jig is near the bottom but not on the bottom collecting grass. Vertically snap the jig 1 to 3 feet and let settle back until it gets tight to your rod tip and repeat. Strikes will come as the jig falls back down. You’re basically making a hook set each time you hop the jig this way. The same snappy motion can be used with Kastmasters as well.

Dam Operations

Last Updated: September 8, 2023

This notification confirms that the release volume from Glen Canyon Dam for September 2023 will be decreased to 550,000 acre-feet beginning on Friday, September 8, 2023.  Hourly and daily average releases from Glen Canyon Dam for September 2023 will be scheduled through Western Area Power Administration to be consistent with the Glen Canyon Dam, Record of Decision (dated December 2016) and to also achieve, as nearly as is practicable, this monthly volume.  

Hourly releases will fluctuate from a low of approximately 5,710 cubic feet per second (cfs) during the early morning hours to a high of 10,659 cfs during the afternoon and evening hours. The anticipated monthly release volume for September will be confirmed throughout September as Reclamation balances the contents between Lakes Powell and Mead by the end of water year 2023 as nearly as practicable, as required under the Lower Elevation Balancing Tier, Section 6.D.1. of the 2007 Interim Guidelines.