CLIFF DWELLERS LODGE
Lees Ferry Anglers was established in 1989, and since then has expanded to include Cliff Dwellers Lodge and The Cliff restaurant in order to provide a complete fishing lodge experience.
Terry and Wendy Gunn own this great operation and they write: “The angling at Lees Ferry has brought us to this desert oasis and we’ve built this business around providing the best possible fishing experience on the Colorado River. We have 13 full-time guides on staff, and every one of them is competent in assisting all types of anglers: from beginner to the most advanced fly caster.”
The mighty Colorado River and its tributaries carved an extraordinary landscape, with intricate mazes of canyons, delicate arches and massive rock monoliths. Nowhere is the landscape more extraordinary than around Lees Ferry.
As you fish the incredibly clear waters and cast to football-thick rainbow trout, tilt your head back, look up at the 1,000-plus-foot tall sandstone cliffs, and view it as Col. John Wesley Powell, Lee and the other American pioneers found it. The word to describe the scene is “breathtaking”.
Described as “The World’s Largest Spring Creek,” the Colorado River at Lees Ferry is a massive, clear running tailwater fishery. The river runs 15.5 miles from the outflow of Lake Powell at Glen Canyon Dam to the upper end of the Grand Canyon. At times, it gives the impression of being not one or two, but a series of parallel spring creek-like waterways.
The Colorado River is much like a giant limestone river or spring creek with diverse fishing opportunities. The gravel bars, backwaters, eddies and main river channel offer opportunities to fish dries, nymphs and streamers within a few hundred yards.
Stalk rainbow trout in water only a few inches deep or cast size #18 or #20 midge or pupae patterns to trout feeding in deep, dark runs. It’s hard to believe that a very large trout in the massive Colorado River will seek and eat such a tiny fly. They do.
While the Colorado River at Lees Ferry is ideally suited to fly-fishing and is our primary emphasis, spin casting with appropriate barbless lures can be equally rewarding.
See for yourself why Lees Ferry is on every fisherman’s “must do” list.
At a Glance
Location: Marble Canyon, Northern Arizona
Target Fish: Rainbow Trout. The average size of these trout is determined by fishing conditions, or the time of year. Expect fish from 12 to 17-inches. These fish are all healthy and strong.
Time of Year: We fish year round
Lodge Capacity: 40 people with 21 rooms plus an adjacent air conditioned house for “groups”
Nearest Airport: The closest major airport to Cliff Dwellers Lodge is Page Municipal Airport (PGA / KPGA). This airport is in Page, Arizona and is 50 miles from MYH.
Documents Required: Arizona fishing license which can be purchased at the fly shop on site.
You will meet your guide in the morning after a great breakfast and get into a comfortable and safe jet boat. Your guide will have a lunch for you and you will spend 8 hours on the river.
The only way to access the 16-mile section of river at Lees Ferry is by powerboat. You leave the boat ramp and head upriver. Water levels and conditions decide whether you wade or fish from the boat. Most times you can do both.
The guides look for the largest concentration of food because that is where the largest number of trout can be found. This can change from day to day and month to month. The guides know how the river fluctuates and then where to find the fish depending on river flows.
Prolific numbers of midges hatch throughout the year; however, by far the largest hatches occur in the spring. When midges hatch, they often do so in mass numbers and for long durations. The fish know this is happening and move into the riffles to feed on the emerging midges.
Depending on the season, water flows and conditions, there are a number of different fishing techniques at Lees Ferry. The food base is more limited in diversity than many other rivers, consequently the main food items consist of Scuds (freshwater shrimp), Midges (50 different varieties), and worms (San Juan). As a result, most of the fishing is done with nymphs, however there is dry fly fishing In July with the huge Cicada hatch and August with terrestrial patterns.
The nymph fishing tactics and techniques used at Lees Ferry are likely different than those elsewhere. At Lees Ferry, it is said “there are perfect dead drifts and all other drifts.” It’s all about the drift, it has to be perfect and natural in order to catch fish here. Our guides will make sure you are getting the correct drift.
The most effective way to spin-fish Lees Ferry is to drift from a boat. This style of fishing can be highly productive and is a great way to see and experience the river and its spectacular scenery.
We motor up to the top of the run, kill the motor and begin drifting. Your guide will usually use oars to keep the bow of the boat facing into the current (upstream.) When the drift is completed, you’ll motor back up to the head of the drift to repeat. Lees Ferry fishing regulations require barbless hooks, so be sure to crimp the barbs on all your lures.
This is the stretch of Colorado River that leaves Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and enters Grand Canyon National Park. You are literally fishing the headwaters of the Grand Canyon.
The Walk-In stretch of water is the area of the river that offers easy drive up access. Drive to the river near the boat launch or park and hike across the big gravel bar to access the area near the “Big Rock.”
This is the most productive area of the Walk-In stretch (about a mile long) and, depending on the water flows, can be easy to wade and provides a huge variety water and fishing situations from classic pocket water to flat runs mixed with some swift riffles. This stretch of river holds thousands of healthy wild rainbow trout and can be fished 365 days a year.
This fishery is considered one of the most beautiful places to fish in the U.S. Not only are you fishing in a spectacular setting, but you will also have the opportunity to encounter some of the most incredibly healthy native rainbow trout to be found anywhere. Many opportunities await you at the Walk-In. This is big water and can be intimidating, but it is also equally rewarding.
Visit Lees Ferry Anglers Fly-Shop, located 9 miles from the Navajo Bridge, at Cliff Dwellers Lodge. It is here that you will find a helpful and knowledgeable staff dedicated to providing you with the best information to help you maximize your fishing experience while visiting this section of the Colorado River.
Lees Ferry provides the following:
8 hours upriver
Lunch (let us know if you have special dietary needs)
Flies (charged for flies lost at the end of day)
Rod (if necessary)
Specially outfitted power-driven riverboats and fuel
Professional fly fishing guide (U.S. Coast Guard Captain licensed)
Lees Ferry suggests the following:
Fly Rod (5-weight, 9-foot)
5X, 6X, or 7X tippet
Waders (we rent them)
Western tailwater flies
What to Take
Lees Ferry requires that you bring the following items, most of which can be purchased at their fly shop:
9-foot 5X leader
Arizona fishing license
Captivated by the Vermilion Cliffs and endless blue skies, it’s no wonder settlers chose to homestead in such an inimitable environment. The Arizona Strip, with its isolation and solitude, offered a unique way of life for travelers seeking the mythological freedom of the American West.
The lodge has 21 rooms with variety of floor plans. Close a room with a single king or a room with two double or two queens. All the rooms have an outside entrance and are very clean and comfortable.
About the Restaurant
The Cliff Dwellers Restaurant is the restaurant of choice among locals and avid fishers in the area. The chefs and service staff at Cliff Dwellers Restaurant have created a reputation as a “destination” dining experience. Choose from hearty breakfasts, specialty sandwiches, burgers, fine steaks, BBQ, or other local favorites.
You’ll quickly see why Cliff Dwellers is the restaurant of choice and an unexpected culinary delight in this part of Arizona. You may choose to dine outside in view of the majestic cliffs or sit inside by a crackling fire. Cliff Dwellers Restaurant was named one of the Best Restaurants of 2013 by Arizona Highways magazine.
Many clients fly to Las Vegas or Phoenix and rent a car for the 5 hour drive to Lee’s Ferry. For a group of 4 or more, it may make sense to take a charter flight from Las Vegas or Phoenix. Give us a call and we can help with logistics.
All prices are based on double occupancy and two anglers per guide & boat.
3 nights/2 fishing days: $600. per person
4 nights/3 fishing days: $875. per person
5 nights/4 fishing days: $1375. per person
6 nights/5 fishing days: $1650. per person
7 nights/6 fishing days: $1925. per person
BOOKING, DEPOSIT AND CANCELLATION POLICIES
Lee’s Ferry requires a name, address, phone number and credit card number to book a trip. If you cancel the trip inside of 30 days notice, you will be charged $100 per day, per guide. If you cancel inside of seven days or fail to arrive for your trip, you will be charged the full rate. The above fees will not be charged if we are able to rebook the canceled dates